In DW Griffith’s silent-era powerful – if flawed – classic movie, Intolerance (1916) (IMDB | wikipedia), the contemporary story of a poor young woman, separated by the intolerant prejudice of social reformers from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from ancient Babylon, New Testament Judea, and Reformation France. These fables vividly warn of the dangers of intolerance. Two stories in today’s media demonstrate that intolerance of intolerance is simply intolerance, and is all the more dangerous for that.
UCC society withdraws Nick Griffin invite to ‘free speech’ debate
… In a statement this afternoon, the UCC Government and Politics Society said it had withdrawn the invitation as a result of submissions from University staff and Gardaí, who had outlined a “potential threat to the safety and welfare of our students and the general public”.
As with the earlier TCD debacle, this is as inevitable as it is dismaying.
French Senate passes bill outlawing genocide denial
… France’s upper house of parliament approved a bill on Monday that would make it a criminal offence to deny genocide, legislation that has caused tension between Paris and Ankara. The bill, which was approved by the lower house in December, has triggered outrage in Turkey as it would include the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey.
As with earlier attempts to legislate truth, this is profoundly misguided.
We must not meet intolerance with intolerance. We must persuade others to avoid the intolerant; but we must not ban the intolerant; because, if we do, we become as bad as they are.
Bonus links, from the Irish Times (24 January 2012): UCC invitation to BNP leader pulled; Turkish fury likely over French bill on Armenian genocide; and Shatter opens Holocaust exhibition.
4 Reply to “Intolerance of intolerance, and threats to free speech”
I am in support of tolerance but upto a limit.If it is unbearable then you have to go against it.Because many time when you tolerate people think that you are weak.So tolerate upto a limit only.
Whether a deed or speech should be tolerated or not all depends more on the situations and the reaction or effects that would be a result of that tolerance or intolerance.
Like if there is a situation when some goons try to disturb your peace it is important that one does not tolerate that and take legal actions through authorities at the first instant. So that he thinks twice before doing anything wrong the second time. Here intolerance is strongly advocated.
On the other hand if some servant who has been loyal with you and does a mistake due to which you face some monetary loss provided it is through human error, then we should surely be human enough to tolerate it and not react to it adversely. So in such situations tolerance is the key.
This world partitioned by many issues will be more segmented if we go on with our intolerance. Intolerance to right to protest is one of the more fearing aspects that is coming through worldwide. From continent to continent this is becoming a way of governance. Dialogue is better option than this but is anyone willing?