Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I've been thinking about what a wonderful example the marriage equality debate, negotiation and legislation are for toleration class, because it combines all three types: political, moral and social.

It is important to keep in mind that toleration is not the opposite of prejudice. It implies an action, not a feeling. It is the opposite of discrimination. It involves compromise. It is important in a society that values diversity, peace, and equality. Also, it does not mean "celebration," it just means "putting up with," and demonstrating intentional self-restraint from persecuting.

Political toleration involves acts in the public sphere such as government allowing free speech and free assembly. Moral toleration involves acts in the private sphere, such as personal relationships and sexual behavior. Social toleration involves characteristics that one has since birth, such as gender, race and ethnicity, or has acquired during early socialization, such as religion and language. Toleration's roots are in religion (see John Locke's (1689) A Letter Concerning Toleration).

In this case, it was a perfect intersection of all three types of toleration: securing political toleration for gay people without infringing on political toleration for religious groups, and it involved moral toleration of private behavior, as well as social toleration of gay people and for religious practices. I can hardly wait to add slides to my presentation this fall...

Political toleration is often the easiest to understand, and since it involves government, it sometimes is considered the most important. Generally speaking, groups desire toleration to replace the opposite, intolerance, persecution and discrimination. However, once toleration is common, most of the time the object becomes political rights. Simple "putting up with" is no longer sufficient, the goal is securing rights. Political toleration can be thought of as a continuum: 

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