The Inappropriateness of Dichotomous Thinking about Values

Values are by definition attractive. But once we latch onto a value as one of our favorites, we too frequently forget that just because doses of a value are socially beneficial, it hardly follows that huge magnitudes of that same value create even more beneficial effects.

In this regard, one of the soft, vulnerable portions of the underbelly of  a liberal democracy is its full-throated embrace of tolerance. In short, tolerance of the intolerant in a scenario where the intolerant have the capacity to destroy the institutions that define and activate a liberal democracy is a recipe for suicide.

D.A. Carson’s The Intolerance of Tolerance is a theologian’s thoughtful explanation of the epidemiological flabbiness of reflexive tolerance. His concern is that reflexive tolerance squeezes out the possibility that one spiritual path is better than others.  But mutatis mutandis,   the same arguments he makes can be used to focus attention on the confused desire of liberal communities to tolerate Taliban slayings of schoolchildren and ISIL enslavement of women.

One of the most successful things that universities accomplish in my  mind is the encouragement of universal tolerance. That such an endeavor has noble intent does not weaken the harm that such an attitude can cause.

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