Thursday, May 26, 2005
What He Says (again)
Rob Salkowitz does it again.
And that's just a short highlight. Read the whole thing.
In short, tolerance is a precondition to a successful democracy. If you arrive at a place in your thinking where your political opponents are not simply mistaken, but evil, treasonous, or in opposition to divine principles, then the rights and privileges one accords to them under a democratic system become not just irrelevant but positively diabolical. If there is one Right, one Truth, and one way to accomplish God’s will, why engage in any discussion? Why extend the least respect to views that are in error?
Those who claim their political views emanate from higher truth rather than resulting from the fallible (and correctable) process of human reasoning don’t see themselves as an interest group in a pluralist society, engaging in a give-and-take of democratic process. They don’t see the rules governing civility and respect for minorities as applying to them, because they’re Right, and their rightness suspends the obligation to entertain dissenting views. In the worst cases, the failure of anyone to subscribe to the fundamental belief set (or signify those beliefs in public) inherently renders any opinion they may have illegitimate and irrelevant. Tribal, religious or ideological identity comes to supersede common citizenship – in opposition to the basic precepts of Constitutionalism – and civil society proceeds to fracture along irreconcilable sectarian lines.