Monday, July 02, 2012

Meaning is use

Unfortunately, sometimes.

Tolerance used to mean putting up with something you'd rather not put up with, sufferance, forebearance.

The primary meaning in dictionaries nowadays is more akin to what used to be called acceptance and even embrace:

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.

2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.

3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.

Uberliberal supergay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson prayed thusly, in the space between the old and new meanings, before the Obama inauguration:
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

I am still thinking of the Orwellian atmosphere of my gay YouTube visit yesterday, where refusal to embrace and celebrate gaydom, where polite disagreement about it or admission of discomfort about it, was framed as poisonous evil that must be unmasked and punished.

Just the same attitude that these folks would project onto the Inquisition, they themselves embody, with exactly the same sense of unfettered entitlement.

Every victim is a tyrant in training.

PS. My problems with Christian morality --as opposed to Christian dogma-- are well known. All this endless forgiving is one of them. But here, if you change the language, it might mean being conscious enough and distanced enough from your own resentment to try to avoid becoming an exact replica of what you supposedly cannot stand, all the while denying what you are doing.

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