What does it mean to be tolerant? Is it simply accepting others’ differences in opinions and thinking? If so, are there any limitations or exceptions to tolerance? When does tolerance become intolerance, where do we draw the line between the two? Well let’s start simple. Tolerance refers to the idea that people’s thoughts and lives can be different from ours and that’s okay. We can disagree with them and what they believe, but we “tolerate” it. Whereas intolerance is not being able to or willing to accept someone’s ideas or lives if they are different from what we see as “right.” You may have heard talks about tolerance in regards to politics. The left and liberal party is seen as more tolerant, whereas the right and conservative party is known for being intolerant. However, I’ve noticed that anytime someone criticizes horrific actions of someone on the right, they are quick to say, “so much for the tolerant left.” Which leads me to today’s blog. If you cannot be tolerant of people who are intolerant, does that make you intolerant as well? Well, that’s the paradox of tolerance. Personally, I don’t think that not tolerating intolerance makes you intolerant as well. Philosopher Karl Popper described it best, that “in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” 
“If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”  It sounds contradictory but tolerating behavior that is intolerant itself does not create a better society. If everyone is tolerant of every thought and idea, even the intolerant ones. In case anyone is wondering what I mean when I say intolerant ideas, these ideas are rooted in prejudice, discrimination, hatred, and antagonism. Some examples would be:
- Hate groups and hate speech
So, if tolerant people will tolerate this intolerance, and intolerant people will continue on being intolerant, hurting and causing pain to others. Eventually, our society will be that of intolerance. Therefore, we cannot tolerate intolerance. Standing up, speaking up, and refusing to tolerate behaviors and words that cause harm or pain for others is how we create a safer, tolerant, inclusive, and accessible world.
The First Amendment, or our freedom of speech, entitles everyone to their own opinions and to be able to freely voice their opinions. Extremist groups unfortunately use it to spew hate speech and promote dangerous ideas. Hate speech directed at ethnic and religious minorities stresses disapproval of their differences and often threatens violence. Our freedom of speech is integral to democracy, and it means that while people hold the right to think and speak intolerant ideas, others are free to disagree. We must continue to stand up against hate speech and hate groups. We must stand up for and protect minorities who are constantly and continuously targeted by intolerant groups. We must bring awareness to and amplify the voices of those who are targeted by intolerant groups. If we extend unlimited tolerance to those who are intolerant, we fuel the cycle of intolerance to continue. Silence and tolerance in the face of intolerance equals complicity.
References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance  Popper, Karl (2012) . The Open Society and Its Enemies. Routledge. p. 581.