Quite so

A tolerant society does not mean an approving one:

Traditional attitudes to issues such as sexuality are being shut out of debate by a new form of liberal “censoriousness” which only allows “inoffensive” opinions to be heard in public, Britain’s most senior judge has warned.

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, said that Britain could be becoming less diverse rather than more because once common opinions are now deemed “unacceptable”.

He likened the new form of “moral reaction” to the opposite but equally restrictive attitudes of previous generations.

The problem seems to be that so few people actually understand what a liberal society is. Which is, for those who still don’t get it, one where consenting adults get to do whatever without breaching the Mills’ Nose principle. But it’s also one in which people are allowed to say anything they damn like and think and feel whatever about those who do so.

It is indeed necessary that you get to be a shirtlifter if that’s the way your tastes run, just as I am allowed to prefer redheads to blondes. But I no more need to celebrate, respect or approve of your desires or lifestyle than you have to of mine.

And we do indeed have a society which is intolerant of tolerance, demanding instead respect and approval. That’s, as Neuberger is indicating, just as intolerant as the earlier society in which behaviour was outlawed.

Another way to put this is that a liberal society is entirely open to prejudice, opinion and even hatred: it demands only tolerance and that tolerance has to work both and all ways.

21 thoughts on “Quite so”

  1. Except, of course, if you have a guaranteed Identity Card. Then you can demand a TV show labelled ‘BBCFreeSpeech’ cut out a gay Muslim from the programme to avoid upsetting the mosque you’re shooting in.

    And, instead of giving you a lecture in ‘celebrating diversity’, they cravenly agree.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, said that Britain could be becoming less diverse rather than more because once common opinions are now deemed “unacceptable”.

    It is absurd to think that Neuberger is a liberal, but he seems to be on to something here. If we allow opinions to be banned, everyone will try to get their pet hates banned. This will lead to an explosion in things that people really hate and think ought to be banned. If we allow people to speak their mind, except in the most extreme cases, people will learn to live and let live.

    But it is a waste of time. That historical period is over. Liberalism is dead as an ideology. The shirt lifters are a good example of people who are unhappy about merely being tolerated. They will control the schools and the media to push their agenda, they will poison your children’s minds, they will force changes in the law and they will bully absolutely anyone who expresses any dissent.

  3. Tim

    I used to think the principles you set out were so self-evident thet barely needed saying. However, I have found people staring at me in disgust when I bring them into conversation. Memorably a women once shouted (shouted!) at me “What, so you approve of people saying things like that!” The idea of tolerating and accepting whilst not approving is self-evident at all.

  4. True liberalism is allowing people to talk vile bollocks like “they (the gays) will control the schools and the media to push their agenda, they will poison your children’s minds” whilst not agreeing with said bollocks.

  5. Of the “liberal reforms” of the sixties, it seems to me that the only one that was incontestably liberal was the decriminalising of homosexual acts. It may have been the only one that was a Good Thing, too. It was probably the only one that was introduced without the accompaniment of a bodyguard of lies.

    Can these three matters be related, do you think?

  6. “Liberalism is dead as an ideology. ”
    Not necessarily. But it is necessary to push back.
    Left liberalism wasn’t handed on a plate. The left fought a hard road to bring their dominance to society. Leaving a series of routs of true liberalism scattered along their way. The defense was uncoordinated & lacked enthusiasm. Now we’re paying the price.

  7. So Much for Subtlety

    Ironman – “True liberalism is allowing people to talk vile bollocks like “they (the gays) will control the schools and the media to push their agenda, they will poison your children’s minds” whilst not agreeing with said bollocks.”

    Well I am enjoying it while I still can.

    But what about that do you think is bollocks? What about that do you think is not a simple description of the facts?

    Have you seen any recent TV or seen what they are teaching?

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “Not necessarily. But it is necessary to push back.”

    The Right has been losing for 50 years. The Thatcher years were an aberration and even then her victory was extremely limited – she did not reduce welfare spending for instance. Nor did she manage to reduce taxes over the long run. Nor did she manage a revival of traditional values. Push back all you like. You can’t win.

    “Left liberalism wasn’t handed on a plate. The left fought a hard road to bring their dominance to society. Leaving a series of routs of true liberalism scattered along their way. The defense was uncoordinated & lacked enthusiasm. Now we’re paying the price.”

    Indeed. And now we have had a generation change. People do not even remember what a liberal society was like. An increasing percentage of Britain’s population do not even have ancestors who experienced one.

    It is sad to say but it is true. Liberalism was glorious but it is over.

  9. ” Liberalism was glorious but it is over.”
    Rubbish.
    Liberalism could return if there was any will to fight for it. The left didn’t lack the courage or bicker about the cost.
    The best Liberals seem to be able to manage is hold wakes over the corpse of liberalism.

  10. “Liberalism could return if there was any will to fight for it. The left didn’t lack the courage or bicker about the cost.”

    An awfully high percentage of lefties are projecting their own loathing, envy etc onto the world. Witness the action groups, “charities” etc etc etc Worse they bask in their perceived “moral superiority”

    We’re losing because the lefty bastards are just fucking relentless..

  11. SMFS

    Whilst I cherish your right to free speech, I do feel obliged to ask again who “they” are, as in “they will poison your children’s minds”.

  12. I have noticed over the last year or two that one of the more common types of tabloid article these days seems to be…

    “[Insert name of celeb] has been forced to apologise for saying [insert comment mildly offensive to a tiny minority]”

    Opinion > backlash > apology. For all its usefulness, I blame Twitter and a media that demands atonement.

  13. @Johnnydub
    “We’re losing because the lefty bastards are just fucking relentless.”
    No you’re not. You’re losing because of a reluctance to tell the liberal left to f**k off. And the reluctance to enforce that view on them by any available means.
    They understand how the game’s played.

  14. Banning hate speech will destroy a society. The way to deal with hate speech is to argue back that they are wrong and why they are wrong. A society that bans hate speech will quickly lose the ability to argue back. Saying “you can’t say that,” is not an argument, and will leave you without the skills to argue.

  15. Two tenets of the modern progressive left

    – If I want it, everyone must approve of it

    – If I don’t want it, no one should be allowed it

  16. @sam
    I’d add a third
    If I don’t want it, no one should be allowed to speak in favour of it.
    It’s that third one, aids the whole process.

  17. To add to my comment above;
    It’s the reluctance to respond to
    “You can’t say that! It hurts my/our/his/her/this group’s feelings”
    With
    “Good. Being disagreed with often does. Get over it or don’t. Not my problem”
    Is the biggest capitulation.
    Manners are not an asset.
    You can count on rarely being shown any in return.

  18. tolerance is the credo of the weak. The 300 pound bully (and his mates) will get his way because he can assert himself and not have to listen to a lot of annoying talk.
    Hence gangs , feminists and the like.

  19. Sam, BiS, Mr Potarto: I think what you’re describing is the distinction between the mainstream left and the hardline left. The mainstream is content with approval for things they want and a ban on things they dislike; the hardline wants funding for things they like and speech restrictions for things they don’t.

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