The limits of tolerance

To answer Carol Adams' question simply and succinctly: no. There is no tolerance for intolerance [“Is Tolerance One Way?May 23 Xpress]. I defer to the late Karl Popper to clarify the “tolerance paradox”: “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

Tolerance is a two-way street, but in this case it is you that fails to respect the reciprocity: you want your own heterosexual marriage to be tolerated but are unwilling to tolerate the marriages of others.

When people prefer to complain that they're being persecuted rather than direct scrutiny inward and re-examine their own position, they find themselves recipients of deserved scorn and denigration. Opponents of freedom to marry are caught up in the untidy enterprise of preventing other people from living their own lives as they would like to, in a manner that does not in any way affect others and that causes no other person harm. As the philosopher John Stuart Mill astutely noted, “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.”

Why arbitrarily oppose personal freedom, and seek the state's aid in disenfranchisement? Why not instead take stock of the considerable practical gains that would accompany expanding marriage freedom: children without parents would more easily find them; two people who love each other and commit to one another for a lifetime would have access to the same legal privileges the rest of us enjoy. Furthermore, under Amendment One, victims of domestic violence will have more difficulty attaining protection from their violent partners. These details should matter in a free society.

— Daniel Black
Asheville

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