Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two cases of "tolerance"

First, a case of typical (nowadays, anyway) European *tolerance*: doing unto others worse than they have done to you. Check out "Papal Inquisition" (A16, NO subscription required!) for full text. Some quotes, and my comments (bold):

  • "On Tuesday the pontiff canceled a speech scheduled for today at Sapienza University of Rome in the wake of a threat by students and 67 faculty members to disrupt his appearance. (The question is, how many students? That could make quite a lot of difference.) The scholars argued that it was inappropriate for a religious figure to speak at their university." And yet the Imams have no problem whatsoever speaking there.
  • "This pope's specific sin was a speech he gave nearly 20 years ago in which, they claimed, he indicated support for the 17th-century heresy trial against Galileo." Yes, those two little words, "they claimed." Granted, I do have issues with Catholicism, but that's no excuse for letting the opposition get away with a lack of evidence. Quotes, please?
  • Here's the best quote: "The censoring scholars apparently failed to appreciate the irony that, in preventing the pope from speaking, they were doing to him what the Church once did to Galileo, stifling free speech and intellectual inquiry." Need I say more?
  • "It is a pope's task, [Benedict] wrote, to "maintain high the sensibility for the truth, to always invite reason to put itself anew at the service of the search for the true, the good, for God." La Sapienza -- which means "wisdom" -- was founded by one of the pope's predecessors in 1303. Another unappreciated irony." Not to mention the clay rebelling against the potter.
Arthur C. Brooks, on the same page, writes about an interesting poll-type "thermometer" that I haven't heard of before, plus the (not) surprising results.

  • "A politically progressive friend of mine always seemed to root against baseball teams from the South. The Braves, the Rangers, the Astros -- he hated them all. I asked him why, to which he replied, "Southerners are prejudiced."" Lovely introductory quote.
  • "According to University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, "Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others." They also "believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference." Indeed, generations of academic scholars have assumed that the "natural personality" of political conservatives is characterized by hostile intolerance towards those with opposing viewpoints and lifestyles, while political liberals inherently embrace diversity." Oy veh. Maybe that used to be true, but it's all too rare today.
  • Here's the "feeling thermometer" description: "[P]eople are asked on a survey to rate others on a scale of 0-100. A zero is complete hatred, while 100 means adoration."
  • Here are the results of one survey:
People in this survey who called themselves "conservative" or "very conservative" did have a fairly low opinion of liberals -- they gave them an average thermometer score of 39. The score that liberals give conservatives: 38. Looking only at people who said they are "extremely conservative" or "extremely liberal," the right gave the left a score of 27; the left gives the right an icy 23. So much for the liberal tolerance edge.
  • And another:
And sure enough, those on the extreme left give President Bush an average temperature of 15 and Vice President Cheney a 16. Sixty percent of this group gives both men the absolute lowest score: zero.

To put this into perspective, note that even Saddam Hussein (when he was still among the living) got an average score of eight from Americans. The data tell us that, for six in ten on the hard left in America today, literally nobody in the entire world can be worse than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

  • Brooks explains:

In 1998, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were hardly popular among conservatives. Still, in the 1998 ANES survey, Messrs. Clinton and Gore both received a perfectly-respectable average temperature of 45 from those who called themselves extremely conservative. While 28% of the far right gave Clinton a temperature of zero, Gore got a zero from just 10%. The bottom line is that there is simply no comparison between the current hatred the extreme left has for Messrs. Bush and Cheney, and the hostility the extreme right had for Messrs. Clinton and Gore in the late 1990s.

Does this refute the stereotype that right-wingers are "haters" while left-wingers are not? Liberals will say that the comparison is unfair, because Mr. Bush is so much worse than Mr. Clinton ever was. Yes, Mr. Clinton may have been imperfect, but Mr. Bush -- whom people on the far left routinely compare to Hitler -- is evil. This of course destroys the liberal stereotype even more eloquently than the data. The very essence of intolerance is to dehumanize the people with whom you disagree by asserting that they are not just wrong, but wicked.

I couldn't say it better.

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