Beware the Dictators of Virtue

finger-gun-elite-dailyAmerica is becoming a more tolerant nation, we are told. Each new thing that we learn to tolerate makes us more progressive. But tolerance is a relative thing. For every new thing we learn to tolerate, there is a thing that we must stop tolerating. 

Tolerance can only be allocated to so many places. The balance of tolerance and intolerance remains the same no matter how progressive a society becomes. A tolerant society only allocates its intolerance differently.

America today tolerates different things. It tolerates little boys dressing up as little girls at school, but not little boys pointing pencils and making machine gun noises on the playground.

The little boy whose mother dressed him up in girlish clothes once used to be a figure of contempt while the little boy pretending to be a marine was the future of the nation. Now the boy in the dress is the future of the nation having joined an identity group while the aspiring little marine is suspected of one day trading in his sharpened pencil for an assault rifle as soon as the next gun show comes to town.

The Duke of Wellington once said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton. What battles will the boys playing on the playgrounds where dodgeball is banned and finger guns are a crime win and what sort of nation will they be fighting to protect?

The trouble with tolerance is that there is always someone deciding what to tolerate. A free society does not tolerate people; it allows them to live their own values. And a tolerant society is not free. It is a dictatorship of virtue that is intolerant toward established values in order to better tolerate formerly intolerable values.

A free society does not tell people of any religion or no religion what to believe. A tolerant society forces them all to pay for abortions because its dictators of virtue have decided that the time has come to teach this lesson in tolerance.

An open society finds wisdom in its own uncertainty. A tolerant society, like a teenager, is certain that it already knows all the answers and lacks only the means of imposing them on others. It confuses its destruction of the past with progress and its sense of insecurity with righteousness.

To the tolerant, intolerance is the most powerful act possible. They solve problems by refusing to tolerate them. School shootings are carried out with guns and so the administrative denizens of the gun-free zones run campaigns of intolerance toward the physical existence of guns, the owners of guns, the manufacturers of guns, the civil rights groups that defend gun ownership and eventually toward John Puckle, Samuel Colt, John Moses Browning and the 82nd element in the periodic table.

None of this accomplishes a single practical thing, but it is an assertion of values. The paranoid mindset that cracks down on little boys who chew pop tarts into deadly shapes, little boys who point pencils and fingers at each other, is not out to stop school shootings, but is struggling to assert the intolerance of its tolerant value system over the reality of violence.

It’s not about preventing school shootings, but about asserting a value system in which there is no place for the aspiring marine, unless he’s handing out food to starving children in Africa in a relief operation or serving as a model of gay marriage to rural America.

To understand the NRA’s argument about the moral value of a gun deriving from the moral value of the wielder would require a worldview that is more willing to accept a continuum of shades, rather than criminalizing pencils and pop tarts for guilt by geometric association. A free society could do that, but a tolerant society, in which everything must be assigned an unchanging value to determine whether it will be tolerated and enforced or not tolerated and outlawed, cannot.

That is as true of Newtown as it is of Boston. The same tolerant liberalism that can see deadly menace in a pencil or a pop tart is blind to the lethal threat of a Chechen Islamist. If a gun is innately evil, then a member of a minority group, especially a persecuted one, is innately good. In the real world, it may take bad guns to stop good Muslims, but the system just doubles down on encouraging students to recite the Islamic declaration of faith while suspending them for chewing their pop tarts the wrong way.

Liberal values are at odds with reality and they are not about to let reality win. In their more tolerant nation, there is more room than ever for little boys who dream of one day setting off pressure cooker bombs at public events in the name of their religion, but very little room for little boys dreaming of being the ones to stop them.

The little boy in a dress has put on the uniform of tolerance while the little boy making rat tat noises with a pencil is showing strong signs of playing for the wrong team. The wrong team is the one that solves problems by shooting people, rather than writing denunciations of them to the tolerance department of diversity.

The complainer is the hero and the doer is the villain. Reporters and lawyers are the heroes because they are the arbiters of tolerance. Soldiers and police officers are the gun-happy villains because they respond to realities, rather than identities. They unthinkingly shoot without understanding the subtext.

A free society is practical. It acts in its own defense. A tolerant society acts to assert its values. The former fights terrorists and murderers, while the latter lets them go to show off its tolerant values.

This is the clash of values that holds true on the playground and on the battlefield of war. On the playground, little boys are suspended for waving around pencils and on the battlefield, soldiers are ordered not to defend themselves so that their country can win the hearts and minds of the locals in the endless Afghan Valentine’s Day that has stacked up a horrifying toll of bodies.

In their cities, men and women are told to be tolerant, to extend every courtesy and to suspect nothing of the friendly Islamists in their neighborhoods. It is better to be blown up as a tolerant society, they are told, than to point the pop tart of intolerance on the great playground of the nanny state.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • AdinaK

    Leftist dogma, on its face, is absolutely intolerant. As such, it is the same wherever it embeds itself –

    Their bible, Rules for Radicals, ensures that no other viewpoint is allowed. Simple as that.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel

  • truebearing

    Drugs, gambling, or any other addiction, has one thing in common: it is progressive in nature. What will satisfy an addict in the beginning of his addiction will seem puny as the addiction progresses. The Left is actually proud of this sick dynamic when it comes to their obsession with political power.

    The Left's perverse mantra of "tolerance" was first a ploy to make people feel guilty for condemning their radicalism, which gradually gave them power over people's emotions. Tolerance eventually became a shifting qualification for those who feared social ostracization (the intolerant aren't cool, don't you know). Now the Left is using tolerance to enable the epitome of intolerance, Islam, to help destroy what has always been a wonderfully tolerant country. Once again, the progressive disease of the Left is to move toward destruction, whether it is economies or human lives. It can't tolerate goodness, prosperity, or truth.

  • Tan

    Excellent article Daniel!!!!!

    • Cassandra

      I feel the same way. As always a very good article.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Thank you Tan and Cassandra

        • Mary Sue

          indeed, thirding that right up. :)

  • Gylippus

    Great insights Daniel. Another way to say it is that Progressives legislate emotionally. Conservatives use reason. Progs think "ban the unpleasant outcome, and anything that allowed it to happen.". Conservatives think "People sometimes commit evil. We must stop them and deal with them when they do. We cannot control all outcomes, to attempt to do so would result in an intollerable restriction of human freedom.". As you said, are basically stuck in adolescence.

  • AnOrdinaryMan

    This article should be sent to Rabbi Jerome Davidson, who refused to let Pamela Geller speak, at the Great Neck, NY synagogue. Talk about intolerance! Daniel, you're a genius.

  • NHTom

    Along the same lines as what Adina wrote: All creative ideas are tolerated except those that disagree with me.

  • Alvaro

    Disagree with the "tolerant" ones, and you'll get beaten up or hit in the head with a lead pipe – all in the name of tolerance.

  • Edward

    Great article, everything is left to your own interpretation. There is an opposite outcome, perception and action for everything i.e. where there is a wrong there is a right, for every action there is a reaction, good and evil etc. It’s the way the world works.
    Cheap taxi insurance

  • Chezwick

    One thing's for certain, whatever martial qualities we ever had as a nation, we're losing them rapidly. But there's hope yet. We were on the same trajectory to feminized dystopia in the 1990's, when 9-11 came along and woke our young people out of their slumber. Many of our best and brightest – out of a new-found sense of patriotism – enlisted in the Armed Forces and the CIA. Given the Muslim propensity for violence, there will be continued impetus down the road for young Americans to embrace defending the homeland, our educational cesspool notwithstanding.

    • ltcdmward

      Perhaps the best thing that prepared me — in the 1960s — for the physical and emotional stress and the required teamwork of the military was the work of playing football. Development of individual fitness and skills and then having to function on and with a team, under the tutelage and direction of a coach and assistant coaches. And then there's the marked boundaries, referees, and the scoreboard. Therefore, football as an American institution needs to go for the "tolerant".

      • Chezwick

        Thanks for your service to our country.

  • Daniel

    Excellent article, we are tolerating ourselves to death.

  • clarespark

    We don't tolerate intellectual diversity, but smother it. That seems to be to be the biggest problem facing us, especially those in the media and in teaching, even blogging. I wrote about activist scholars here:…. "The New Left Activist Scholars." They have given up the search for truth and for resynthesizing the past for the imposition of a specific ideology.

  • Spider

    I used to get a kick out of the signs that administrators were putting up on college campusses for a while. "INTOLERANCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED"

  • Alex Kovnat

    Let's hear it for freedom for young boys with feminine feelings to wear dresses AND freedom for boys and girls alike to pick up a stick and make machine-gun noises without being suspended or expelled under neurotic zero-tolerance-towards-weapons rules.

    A problem with tolerance as opposed to genuine freedom is this: If making an AR-15 replica out of Lego blocks is punishable by expulsion or suspension, the same powers-that-be might someday declare it equally intolerable, perhaps under the banner of zero tolerance for sexual harassment or some other issue, for a young boy to come to school dressed in a skirt.

  • gee59

    I remember my high school (very rural Northern California). Half the vehicles were pickup trucks and in every single one of those trucks was a rifle in their rifle-racks, yes every single truck had one or more rifles.

    All of us males carried hunting knives on our belts at all times. We worn flannel shirts, blue jeans and logging boots every day.

    Total number of shootings – zero, number of knife attacks – zero. In my four years number of fights – one. Yes both had rifles and were carrying knives at the time. Result a few bruises – that was all.

    When the fire alarm in town went off – 1/4 to 1/3 of the student body left school because they are volunteer firemen.

    I fear for my grandchildren

  • Robert A. Hall

    I would point out that “Marine” should always be capitalized, but this is a great column. I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog. (

    Robert A. Hall
    USMC 1964-68
    USMCR, 1977-83
    Massachusetts Senate, 1973-83
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    All royalties go to help wounded veterans
    For a free PDF of my 80-page book, write tartanmarine(at)

    • tagalog

      Depends on whether you're talking about the USMC or nautical matters, doesn't it?

    • gee59

      Semper Fi – Marine

      Loren Griffith
      USA 1977-81
      USAR 1981-86

    • KarshiKhanabad

      God bless the Marines!

  • ibnAbu

    The problem is tolerance of evil.

  • tagalog

    Classical ethical philosophy differed on the virtues. About all the ancient philosophers agreed on was that they were few in number. Aristtole's list is the most common list of virtues that I know. He said the virtues consist of 1. Courage; 2. Temperance; 3. Justice, and; 4. Prudence. About 1200 years later, St. Thomas Acquinas listed 3 Christian virtues in addition to the classical virtues: 1. Faith, 2. Hope, and 3. Charity.

    Tolerance has never appeared on ANY list of virtues that I have ever seen.

    Aristotle argued compellingly that virtue is knowing and following a mean course between extremes. The current understanding of tolerance borders on the extreme. It is an outgrowth of another claim, namely, that it is good (i.e., a virtue) to be non-judgmental. Neither the pagan philosophers of classical Greece nor the Christian philosophers would agree that it's a good thing to be non-judgmental. In fact, they would both argue that being judgmental is the method by which we come to distinguish between that which is praiseworthy and that which is not.

    Of course, the logical positivist philosophers would say that all that is mere wool-gathering. Logical positivists also believe that nuclear weaponry and genocide are expressions of humanity that have no moral components except possibly situationally (of course, just about everything is situational), and that talk of virtue is so subjective that it's unproductive.

    • Mary Sue

      not only that, the true definition of tolerance isn't even being used when the leftie hippie crowd speaks of "tolerance". It's like they said on South Park: Tolerance is putting up with something you DON'T LIKE. What's being called "tolerance" these days is actually "acceptance", and nothing short of that will do, for the radical left.

      • tagalog

        I'd also add that for libbies, "acceptance" is a synonym for "celebration."

  • UCSPanther

    The left always likes to mock Christians for moral panics, but they are guilty of exactly the same thing.

    There is simply nothing else to call it (Moral panic) when people freak out over anything even remotely resembling a gun and try to harass and demonize anyone who so much as shows a hint of support for private gun ownership.

  • Bill

    "Repressive Tolerance" straight from the playbook of Hebert Marcuse, a major influence on many in the New Left. He came from this country from Germany. His ideas and those of Italian communist Antonio Gramsci were adopted by many in academia in the 1960s and 1970s. Gramsci saw the intellecual class as the new vanguard of the revolution and indoctrination in the schools as the method. Marcuse developed the concept of "Repressive Tolerance" and the "Great Refusal" espoused by many on the left like "Occupy" but not actually lived.

    • Bill

      I should have said he came "to" this country.

    • UCSPanther

      I read some of Marcuse's writing and I consider them a recipe for Balkanization.

  • Chris_Shugart

    C.S. Lewis said it well: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive…those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

  • Ghostwriter

    What the great apostles of tolerance need to learn that it's a two-way street. Unfortunately,they don't know that.

  • Me Doctor

    LOL.. This website is so stupid's laughable.. HA! poor morons. My guess it that it's just one guy posting on here under different names in a crappy attempt to drum up business. Because surely there can't more than one person in this world as stupid as you.

    • gee59

      You are free to leave at any time moron – it will improve the site

    • KarshiKhanabad

      Nuke Makkah NOW!

      Watcha think 'bout them apples, Me D*ckhead?

  • who cares?

    Actually, it is not "tolerance" the Left is demanding for so many things– it is ACCEPTANCE. A person can tolerate something, but not accept it as positive or moral. The Left demonizes *anyone* who doesn't think gay marriage is a good idea, or that abortion is wrong, or that little kids should not be taught how to put on condoms, etc. They want not only 'tolerance' of behaviors and ideas abhorrent to people firmly rooted in traditional morals, but ACCEPTANCE of these things as not only normal, but "good."

    We need to stop using "tolerance" in our vocabularies– it is NOT what the Left means. We need to address the endgame, not the doublespeak.

    • F.K. Juliano

      It's not even acceptance that the Left demands, it's unquestioning approval. For instance, it's not enough for one to refrain from throwing rotten eggs at two sodomites intent on "marrying" each other. Rather, one must actively support such a travesty, including by acting as a caterer or photographer at the event if requested to do so. It's a lot like in the old USSR, where the first person who stopped applauding Stalin at a speech went to the gulag. But then again, Leftists never saw anything wrong with Stalinism.

  • tagalog

    For most scholars and philosophers of virtue, the development of virtue requires strong family values when one is young, so that the person develops the ability to discriminate reasonably between what is good and what is not good, develops the habit of choosing the good over the bad, needs enough wealth so that one doesn't need to work all the time (and can therefore devote some thought and energy to reasoned self-actualization), is a rational being so as to be able to make appropriate observations and draw conclusions, and has some luck. The idea is to develop enough self-knowledge and habits of observation and conduct that one can choose the virtuous over the vicious. Some of those factors Mr. Lupica would probably find to be obstructive to his version of virtue, since virtue in the Western world now involves validating what would, in earlier times, have been classified as vices.

  • Shake

    "Tolerance" is a misnomer at best or a totally misleading term (lie) at worst. Progressives don't want us to simply "tolerate" their protected groups or ideas or causes. I can "tolerate" a lot of stuff. They insist rather that we acquiesce, accept, agree with, accomodate, and preferably promote. Tolerance is only the first baby step in this cascading descent into Amerika the Tolerant (because beautiful just reeks of lookism, don'tcha know).

  • tagalog

    Modern-day progressive thought demands minds that are so open that peoples' brains fall out.