There is too much phoney tolerance

Jun 10, 2017 by

by Mick Hume, spiked:

A perversion of the t-word is being used to excuse restricting free speech.

There is too much phoney tolerance. That’s the perversion of tolerance which turns its meaning on its head, and uses ‘tolerance’ as an excuse for censoring views which are deemed offensive, whether about Islam or the trans lobby. It is captured in such statements as ‘We will not tolerate intolerance’. There is certainly far too much of such censorious phoney tolerance in our society, emanating from the government downwards.

The flipside of this is that there is far too little genuine tolerance in public life. Free speech is not the right to a free ride. Real tolerance does not mean allowing anybody to rant away, insult and offend without challenge because ‘everybody’s entitled to their opinion’. True tolerance means allowing anybody to express their views, however disagreeable – and then being free to tell them what you think of them. It is about bringing everything out into the open, tolerating the expression of views you don’t want to hear, in order to challenge or expose them. For advocates of true tolerance, the potential solution is never censorship, but ideological combat.

Phoney tolerance has been much in evidence in the UK General Election campaign, where it has apparently become intolerable for a politician such as UKIP leader Paul Nuttall even to utter the words ‘Islamist extremism’. The same phoney tolerance was on display in the BBC’s response to the terror attack in London last weekend, when presenters and reporters tried not to use the ‘i-word’ at all. When Mrs May had the nerve to name and attack the ‘evil ideology of Islamist extremism’ in her Downing Street statement, the BBC could not bring itself to repeat the evil words, but instead kept warning viewers that the prime minister had used ‘strong language’, as if May had said ‘Muslim bastards’ or something.

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