America 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.
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