Does Tolerance Mean Respect?

TheHonestAtheist June 1, 2016
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In this age of political correctness and clamoring for rights, beliefs come up a lot. We have begun to redefine tolerance where it's no longer tolerating beliefs, but accepting and respecting them too. And I found people that expect everyone to respect their beliefs. But I won't. Neither should you. At least, you should not at face value. Beliefs are separate from the individual holding them and should be judged on their own merit and standard.

For instance, suppose I told you some no name idiot was running for political office. Most anyone would respect their right to run, but it would be idiotic to expect everyone not to insult, demean, or discredit the person running. If that person was unsuited for office, then shame on him, and any amount of ridicule or critiquing necessary should be employed.

It sounds harsh to say the same about beliefs but it's true. You have a right to your belief. You have a right to ridiculous beliefs. You have a right to conspiracy theories, to falsehoods, to fairy tales, and to gossip.

Your beliefs do not have immunity to ridicule, however. All claims should be tested and verified, not accepted without proper reason. Your beliefs being attacked is not a personal attack, even if the beliefs you hold are personal to you. Your experience does not make your belief immune to critique. Your beliefs can be ridiculous without you thinking that they are.

Why have I been so harsh? Why have I directed this post at the reader rather than use third person?

  1. Freedom of expression and belief is being redefined even as we speak. Instead of the old form where we have a right to do something, we are trying to say we have a right to do something without repercussion.
  2. Religion is running out of places to hide. First, separation of church and state put religion out of government. Then prayer and creationism were taken out of schools. Science has all but obliterated the notion of intelligent design. Psychology needs no divine hand. Religion is whining again, and this time calling foul play when they haven't been touched.
  3. Open and honest discussion is the best policy. How can we advance if we are too afraid to question and analyze? With questioning and analysis come criticism.
  4. No subject is above critique. No idea, and furthermore, no belief, is perfect and should not be mulled over (that's why we have philosophy, folks; if there was such an idea, we'd have a premise to reason from).

If my above language has seemed offensive or overly bristled in nature, I'm not sorry. Get over it ☺.