Tolerance paradox

Published in Thoughts on Jan 16, 2021

I hate the Tolerance Paradox and how it's being incorrectly interpreted to rationalize hurting people.

There's a thing called the tolerance paradox. Here's a one-line explanation from Wikipedia:

The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant. Karl Popper described it as the seemingly paradoxical idea that in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.

This is often cited by the more extreme people on the political left, and their conclusion is that they must they go after intolerant people. (Or rather, they go after people and then they use this as justification.)

However, that's the single worst way to understand the "paradox".

There are two main issues here.

Natural progression

The first part states: if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant.

And it, too, has two issues:

  1. It makes a very bold prediction that intolerance spreads completely. I do not believe this is the case. If it were the case, the world would have been completely intolerant by now, as we have had periods in the past when the society was more intolerant. And we have clearly gone in the opposite direction.
  2. The implied progression doesn't make logical sense

To draw a timeline:

  1. Tolerance 100% | Intolerance 0%
    • society is tolerant without limit applies
  2. Tolerance 99% | Intolerance 1%
    • society is tolerant without limit doesn't apply anymore, so the paradox's end result doesn't happen
    • Popper's solution is to add more intolerance the society must be intolerant of intolerance (we have seen an increase in intolerance, so we must be intolerant of it). That would only increase intolerance. It's purely counterproductive.

If you see an increase in intolerance, you should focus on making the society more united, kind, and compassionate. Fighting intolerance only results in:

A: creates intolerance
B: responds with intolerance, increasing overall intolerance
A: responds with intolerance, increasing overall intolerance
B: responds with intolerance, increasing overall intolerance
A: responds with intolerance, increasing overall intolerance
B: responds with intolerance, increasing overall intolerance

I don't see how anyone in their right mind could suggest increasing societal intolerance as a viable solution for getting rid of societal intolerance.

Increasing intolerance as a solution for decreasing tolerance.

Recognizing of intolerance

The second — in my opinon bigger problem — is recognizing intolerance. As I've discussed in the Intolerance piece, people are being very hurtful to people who only mean well.

In their head, they are fighting the intolerance.

But in reality, they are the intolerance. I dare to say that the bulk of societal intolerance we see today is coming from these people who react with intolerance, in hopes of getting rid of other people's intolerance.

I don't think people can reliably recognize intolerance, if anything, we're seeing people going after completely normal human beings as if they were the worst of evil.

So why anyone would encourage such behavior, by saying that intolerance must be fought with intolerance, is the truly paradoxical thing here.

Closing

I hate when people mention this thing, because — as a paradox — it doesn't make sense. It's adding guaranteed intolerance to the world and rationalizing it by the idea that potential intolerance may increase otherwise. That's so incredibly retarded.

This "paradox" is always used in defense of some completely idiotic argument, or plain evil.

Yes, being intolerant to the intolerant may work at an extremely small scale (like a classroom size scale), but at the political scale it's adding opposition to conflictive people. Adding fuel to fire.

Focus on making everyone be nice and some odd crazy people won't make a difference. But don't add more craziness and conflict to a mostly good society.

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