The Tolerance Paradox

First, our official definition of a paradox:

A puzzle concocted with premises we know are false but which lead to a conclusion we wish were true.

Thus, because the conclusion is something devoutly to be wished for, the premises which lead to it cannot be abandoned. One such paradox, and a popular one, is the tolerance paradox. It is best explained by example.

Consider progressivism. This philosophy demands from us tolerance, a wellspring from which flows that magical thing diversity, the ultimate source of all of our blessings. This, as we all know, is the catechism of any modern university, the storage places of our smartest folk.

Suppose at one university enrolls a student named Gary. Gary has sexual preferences, perhaps involving feathered creatures, which are different than the majority’s, preferences which the majority consider deviant. Tolerance demands that we respect Gary’s experiment in living; some even claim that tolerance implies we must embrace Gary’s way and engage in a little experimentation of our own so that we appreciate Gary’s difficulties.

The first premise of tolerance is that we must be tolerant, or non-judgmental, of other people’s beliefs, sexual desires, cultural practices, and so forth. To be intolerant is to be judgmental. The worst kid of intolerance is one that leads to action, political or physical, which restricts the so-called unacceptable practices of another person or group.

It is difficult to imagine any university where Gary would not be cared for, protected from the opinion and actions of those that cannot tolerate him, perhaps even to the extent that Gary is given funds to begin his own officially sanctioned Bird-Lovers club

So much for Gary. But now along comes Mike, as cussed an individual who was even invented. Intolerant to the core! Mike thinks Gary is disgusting and refuses association with him. Worse, Mike publicly denounces Gary’s activities, he even writes vicious letters to the editor and blog posts which cry “Foul!”

Should we, in our enlightened philosophy of tolerance, tolerate Mike? Or should we be intolerant of him? Should we create a code of speech that bans Mike from talking against Gary? If Mike breaks these codes, should he be punished?

If we do any of these things, we are being judgmental and intolerant. Since that is not allowed by our first premise, a premise which we desire to be true, we must tolerate Mike’s intolerance. Well, that’s fine. Perhaps Mike should be allowed his rants. They are just words: sticks and stones and all that.

Enter Vladimir, a foreign student. One night as he passes by Gary’s quarters he hears a strange choked clucking and enters to investigate. What he sees is anathema, an affront to his most deeply held beliefs. Vladimir kills Gary. And is happy to have done so.

Should we, in our enlightened philosophy of tolerance, tolerate Vladimir’s action? Or should we be intolerant of him? His actions were certainly diverse, were they not? And we have praised diversity more than Bach praised God.

If we are to be consistent, we must tolerate Vladimir. In fact, we must tolerate any action at any time by anybody. This, of course, includes murder, rape, robbery, and so forth. To even have a police force or military is in contradiction to the philosophies of tolerance and diversity.

Of course, nobody, not even the insane, believes that all actions should be tolerated. Everybody believes that certain behaviors must be proscribed. Thus, the paradox of tolerance is no paradox at all. Even stronger, the reasoning that led to this conclusion is so trivial that all must know it.

Yet the paradox persists: a veritable flood of talk of tolerance, non-judgmentalism, and diversity abound. How can this be? The answer is that when a person uses the words “tolerance” and “diversity”, these words do not retain their dictionary definitions. They must mean something else.

What they do mean is obvious: the opposite of their senses. Thus, when a university administrator, politician, or activist speaks of tolerance, he is implying that there are certain actions he finds intolerable. He is also saying that these intolerable actions or beliefs should be proscribed.

For example, if an activist shouts “Homophobia!” he is saying that he finds a dislike of homosexual activity intolerable and, further, he thinks that any such dislike should be proscribed, at the least by restricting speech, and maybe even by a forced reeducation of those who hold opinions different than him.

We can now see that another (practical) definition of paradox is when an intellectual feels cause to use the words, “What I want to be isn’t so. How can this be?!”


  1. John Galt

    This bird thing is getting a little kinky. I do have a friend who’s a member of Stump Jumpers Anonymous.

  2. Ken


    How did you miss this: “Statistical Proof of Liberal Intolerance” (not just proof, mind you, but “STATISTICAL PROOF”!!!!) by Michelle Malkin:

    The links in the first & second paragraphs lead to some enlightening examples of how “tolerance” is actually practiced by those most inclined to espouse “tolerance.”

    Aside, another book along the lines of yesterday’s post that might interest some:

    It appears like it would be good, but I haven’t read it so I can’t say…which is a hint to anybody that has to give an opinion..

  3. Luis Dias

    You don’t understand the meaning of the word “Tolerance”. This much seems obvious throughout the post, where you claim that to be “tolerant” would mean for us to sympathize with molesters of animals and some such.

    Tolerance isn’t sympathy. Tolerance isn’t even “understanding”. To tolerate someone is not to suppress judgement either, but rather to suppress pre-judgement, and respect his own liberties, where they should apply.

    So you are all wrong on those accounts.

    Because the call to tolerance is a call to refrain our inner most egoistic charms.

    Imagine a stick. This stick is bended to the left, you want it straight. You will bend it to the right. Then you have a straight stick.

    You should view tolerance in the same light: a heavy call to do something apparently (and logically) outrageous, but nevertheless, psychologically necessary to stop the vicious circle of intolerance.

    If you see it as a “logical” system, you have failed your duties as an intelligent observer. It’s as logical as the “turn your other cheek” by JC. It’s not meant to be logical, but to transcend the vicious circles of tit-for-tat-for-tit-for-tat-for-tit…

    So, if you imagine a system where most people are pretty much intolerant, as we all are, then a call for tolerance can serve as a damper.

    To state that tolerance itself is something to be feared because it leads to acceptance of murder, etc., is idiotic and simplistic.

    To further imply that the call of tolerance is a call to be intolerant to a “disliking” is rethorical nonsense. There is no problem with “disliking”. People “dislike” every time. No one gives a zing whether if you dislike brown people or gay people. What people care is whether if a society’s general dislike of a certain group of people has a deep negative impact on those people.

    The fact that you put these serious problems under the word “dislike” is telling. It tells me, for instance, that you care more for bad mouthing young activists that have their own “causes” rather than the serious problems that “disliked” people have everyday.

    Lucky you that you live a good life.

  4. Briggs


    The so-called tolerance paradox is well known. Here, from somebody smarter than you are I, are some words:

    Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. 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.

    In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.

    We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

    Karl Popper—in a place in which we agree (I got the quote here).

    Here’s the Stanford Plato entry on toleration.

  5. Jon Petersen

    “Worse, Mike publicly denounces Gary’s activities, he even writes vicious letters to the editor and blog posts which cry ‘Foul!'”

    Given the context, shouldn’t that be “Fowl”?

  6. Briggs


    Besides admitting to living a good life, I forgot to say that the last point I made was logically correct. If a person says, Thou shalt not be intolerant of A, then that person is himself expressing an intolerant opinion. Note carefully that the person might be right that we should be tolerant of A (and thus intolerant of those who would suppress A).


    I had not seen this, no.


    I was too chicken to write that.

  7. Ken


    I think the paradox addressed in this blog really isn’t a “paradox” at all — it is hypocrisy manifesting as INtolerance masquerading as “tolerance.”

    This is a “paradox” only if the plain meaning of the label used, “tolerance,” applied. The plain meaning is falsly presented as being applicable (bypassing any definition of the term, some might note). The reality is the definition for an otherwise agreeable word has been co-opted into something quite different, actually its opposite.

    A term for that co-opting is “propaganda.” Though in this blog such patterns have been presented as “logical fallacies.”

    A key indicator of propaganda is used of vague, but feel-good, generalities instead of specifics (which facilitates complacency that dissuades detailed evaluation); and, use of buzzwords like a recurring cough, instead of specifics (creates the illusion of expertise where little or none is present); and, resort to attestations (invariably with the overt or underlying theme that the person making the assertion is there to “care for you”) where the individual’s behavior/example makes their motives self-evident.

    The famous saying regarding public service that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” is one historical example of such deceptive activity being called out to account.

    In modern social politics the feel-good banner of “tolerance” is the cloak of wholesomeness for the social policy du jour — whose adherents are characterized by particularly hostile intolerance to any disagreement, let along outright opposition.

    A better link to an article I referenced above that gives some sort of quantification to this is:


  8. Isn’t using reductio ad absurdum itself a logical fallacy, or at the very least a disingenuous way to argue a point? Gary’s kink as described, harms no one, except perhaps offending some people. Likewise, Mike’s response, so long as they don’t elevate to the level of inciting violence, might offend people, but should be tolerated. Vladamir is clearly behaving in direct physical harm. Is it logically inconsistent to say that we tolerate behavior that does not infringe upon the rights of others, but do not tolerate things that do?

    It appears that you’re arguing that being tolerant of personal, non-harmful behavior, is only logically consistent with also being tolerant of murder and theft. And since we can all agree that murder and theft is wrong, arguing for tolerance is meaningless. Even if this were true using your all-inclusive definition of “tolerance,” it seems a bit pedantic. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a person who hears the word tolerance and assumes you mean being permissive to ANY behavior.

    Finally, your little vignette sets up a false dichotomy (trichotomy?) of behaviors. One is a private behavior that does not infringe on anyone else’s rights. Another is a type of speech, which in most cases absolutely should be protected, though there are caveats, (if Mike is expressing his opinion of disgust, even if it’s insulting to some, that’s one thing. If he’s inciting violence, that’s another). The last is an aggressive act of violence. Equating these three things seems a bit ridiculous.

  9. PJ

    I actually dispute the assertion that tolerance leads to diversity. Over the long-run the cosomopolitanism that tolerance implies leads to homogeneity. If you actually want diversity in terms of truly different people, cultures, and lifestyles you need to be paraochial so that differences can build up. Otherwise you hold everyone to the same set of standards and the same values and they all end up acting the same.

  10. Briggs


    To answer your first questions: no and no. You say, Gary’s “kink” harms no one “except perhaps offending some people.” In other words, Gary’s kink causes harm to some people. You then argue that because this harm is not important to you, that it should be dismissed from consideration. Interesting.

    Then you say that speech “absolutely” should be protected, but then immediately weaken that word by admitting “there are caveats.” If there are caveats, there is no absolute.

    If Gary’s behavior causes harm to others—which you admit it does—we must weigh the cause of that harm with the harm cause by disallowing Gary his feather bed. This is coherent. But it is not coherent to dismiss the harm caused to others just because you yourself are not harmed.

  11. Briggs, (you silly man)

    You do like to poke your finger in the eye of the politically correct. Well, who doesn’t?

    ”To make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms indicative of groupthink (1977).

    * Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
    * Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
    * Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
    * Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
    * Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of ”disloyalty”.
    * Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
    * Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
    * Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.”

    I suppose we should tolerate them, just as we tolerate Islam. Actually, I didn’t learn all I have to know about Islam on 9/11. Since then I’ve learned that it’s OK to have sex with 9-year old girls, exactly how to beat your wife, that you should always seize on the opportunity to kill jews, and whom you may lie to (and during which circumstances you may lie). There’s much more, which doesn’t really fit in to western civilization, but what the hell, let’s be tolerant.

  12. Luis Dias

    What part of “it’s not meant to be logical” didn’t you read?

    Seriously. It’s like you talked past by me.

    Of course that if you try to build a logical system out of something utterly revolutionary such as “Tolerance”, you will fail. But if you even try to do so, you already failed at the get go.

    Because the purpose is not to build a system of tolerance. It is, rather, to tame the inner selfish intolerant prick that exists in all of us.

    When someone asks us to be more tolerant, *perhaps* they are doing *just that* (wow, what a find!) and not some other hidden psychological oppression of your invention.

    In this regard, this “refutation” may be true, but ridiculously irrelevant. It’s like making a ridiculous argument where if you build a system founded in love you will also reach paradoxical outcomes. Well then, are we to refute love, for it has been shown to be paradoxical?!? Let’s submit this proposal to all the lovers outside, and try to clock the average amount of seconds that it will take to get them to LOL.

  13. Briggs,

    You seem to be arguing that the harm caused by offending someone’s sensibilities is equal to the harm caused by murdering them. If I implied that the harm of offense is unworthy of consideration, I apologize, as that was not my intent. However, I do believe that equating offense and murder, and implying that tolerance of one must mean tolerance of the other is completely uninformative.

    What if we apply the same argument to laws, your logic seems to imply that if we do not make offending people illegal, then we should not make murder illegal, and the whole concept of having laws is paradoxical. I find it hard to believe that you would make this argument, though I will admit that I haven’t been reading your blog very long and may be misunderstanding something.

  14. Doug M

    Tollerance is not acceptance. It is quite possible to tollerate someones veiws or behaviors even if you find them repugnant.

    The left and the righ both have their own laundry list of acctivities that one group finds acceptable and the other finds intollerable. The more extreme the member is the longer thier list of the intollerable.

    In the spirit of tollerence that prevades college campuses, intollerance is the particularly intollerable activity.

    The college campus should be a place where tollerance is praised as a virtue. Colleges provide a place where many people can express some radical points of view where they can then undergo critisim and analysis.

    The danger lies when my criticism is perceived as intollerance.

  15. Briggs


    If I “seem to be” equating murder to proscription of chicken buggery then what you perceive is wrong. Nowhere do I even say whether Gary’s activity should be banned, and I certainly do not say that he should be murdered for it.

    I merely make the simple point—and I am by far the first from making it—that to tolerate everything is stupid and must lead to tolerating murder (among other barbarities), and that to say “We should tolerate A” is the same as saying, “We should not tolerate the activity of disallowing A.”

    Doug M,

    Your keyboard is sticking.

  16. Briggs,

    [First, thanks for the continuing discussion. I’m not trying to offend, though I know that vociferous objections to someone’s arguments can be offensive. I get the impression that you can take it as well as dish it, but I apologize for any offense nonetheless. Now, on to my vociferous objections:]

    Has anyone ever, in the history of the world, made the argument that “we should tolerate everything?” Maybe, but I can’t imagine that those people would ever be or have ever been taken seriously. You’ve set up a straw-man of “tolerance for diversity of opinion and personal action = tolerance for all behavior.” Just because you’re not the first person to knock this straw man down, it doesn’t mean the argument carries any greater weight.

    My perception of equivalence is drawn from these statements:
    “It is difficult to imagine any university where Gary would not be cared for, protected from the opinion and actions of those that cannot tolerate him[…]

    […]Should we, in our enlightened philosophy of tolerance, tolerate Mike? Or should we be intolerant of him? Should we create a code of speech that bans Mike from talking against Gary? If Mike breaks these codes, should he be punished?[…]

    […]Should we, in our enlightened philosophy of tolerance, tolerate Vladimir’s action? Or should we be intolerant of him? His actions were certainly diverse, were they not? And we have praised diversity more than Bach praised God.”

    This seems to say, “We praise the diversity of Gary and we praise tolerance towards Gary. Look at Vladamir, shouldn’t we then praise his diversity and tolerate his behavior?” You may not have said directly that we should proscribe Gary’s behavior, but you’re certainly implying that tolerance for Gary’s behavior necessarily equals tolerance for Vladamir’s behavior. I fail to see how that doesn’t fit my description of drawing an equivalence.

  17. Briggs


    You have to work a lot harder than that to offend me.

    Be careful when saying “Nobody in all of history would argue X.” Academic philosophers are particularly prone to finding every possible X. But, like I said earlier, the so-called paradox of tolerance is well know. Rawls was a prominent supporter of tolerance (of course), and there have been many answers to him.

    Be careful, too, when assigning equivalence. Nowhere did I equate any actions, nor support any. I intimate that Vladimir’s actions should not be tolerated (that is what I believe), and that neither should Gary’s (I believe this too; at the very least, Gary would frighten too many chickens). I hope I was exaggerating when I say that modern universities would set up chicken lover support centers: at least, I hope to God I was exaggerating.

    Once more, I was making two logical points, points I think you agree with. Now, we just have to find what follows.

    Have to run to class…

  18. Jerry

    But where in the personals does one look for single chickens?

  19. Mike B

    The reality of the situation is that most of the so-called tolerance “movements” are not at all about “tolerance”, but rather about changing the social mores that determine what should be considered tolerable behavior.

    I have no problem debating the merits of “feather bedding”. But am I intolerant for saying it’s abnormal, wrong, or merely distasteful? Is someone else intolerant for saying that eating meat is abnormal, wrong, or distasteful? What about smoking?

    So to restate, the battleground is (as usual) right vs wrong, and the problem I have is when people use “huggable” words like “tolerance” to stifle debate.

  20. Briggs,

    Since we’re trying to be careful about parsing words, I did not say that “No one in history has argued tolerance for ALL action,” I said that if anyone has or does make that argument, few people would take them seriously.

    You say that you’re making two logical points. From your earlier comment you describe them (I think) as:

    1) Tolerance of everything is stupid.

    2) “We should tolerate A” is the same as saying, “We should not tolerate the activity of disallowing A.”

    You’re right, I agree to both of these statements. However, in your original post, you set up “progressivism” and “the modern university” as straw-man caricatures that you imply disagree with these points.

    You say:
    The first premise of tolerance is that we must be tolerant, or non-judgmental, of other people’s beliefs, sexual desires, cultural practices, and so forth. To be intolerant is to be judgmental. The worst kid of intolerance is one that leads to action, political or physical, which restricts the so-called unacceptable practices of another person or group.

    But this definition of tolerance that you set up simplistic to the point of absurdity. Do you actually believe that progressives or universities would sanction ritual human sacrifice? Or advocate acceptance of blowing up buildings?

    It is difficult to imagine any university where Gary would not be cared for, protected from the opinion and actions of those that cannot tolerate him.

    He would (hopefully) be protected from physical violence, but are progressives or universities arguing that it should be illegal to criticize his behavior? I doubt it – they might argue that it isn’t nice, or that it’s unconstitutional to pass laws against his free expression (so long as it don’t hurt others), but I don’t think any progressive or university wants someone locked up because they think it’s gross and say so.

    You think Gary’s “deviant” sexuality should not be tolerated (by force of law?). Your intolerance may be offensive to some people, and they may say so. You seem to be disregarding that disgust of your disgust by attributing opinions they do not hold and then saying that (false) belief is logically incoherent.

    Enjoy class – I’m off to a rum tasting 🙂

  21. kdk33

    Tolerance is a liberal code word meaning: if we can marginalize those right wing activists as ignorant, racists, bigots, we won’t have to address their political positions.

    So, when a liberal talk show host named Keith encourages tolerance, he’s really saying: don’t listen to those guys, they are ignorant bigots. Which is exactly what he said in the previous segment, but it get’s repetitive, hence the code word.

    My experience anyway.

  22. Kan

    Kevin @ 23 Sept 2010 @2:31

    Who is this “we” that you speak of in “And since we can all agree that murder and theft is wrong, arguing for tolerance is meaningless. “?

    I can identify many people – possibly excluded from your “we”, but not from your “all” – who have developed exceptions to your preposition, which directly leads to meaningful argument about the concept of tolerance.

    Luis Dias says:
    23 September 2010 at 9:23 am

    “…dislike of a certain group of people has a deep negative impact on those people.”

    Who is the final arbitrator of “deep”?

  23. DEEBEE

    Briggs you nasty man, I had to read your post backwards before I realized what was starching Kevin’s shorts. Kevin thanks for catching Briggs in the dastardly act.

  24. sylvain

    Mr Briggs,

    Tolerance should let Gary love his birds as he wish to. Tolerance should let mike speak about his disgust for Gary’s love for birds, as long as it doesn’t effect Gary’s liberty. Of course, Vladimir killing Gary is intolerable, since it does not respect is liberty to live.

    Tolerance is limited by the liberty of each person. The fact that Gary’s prefer birds doesn’t affect Mike’s of Vladimir’s liberty, unless his action becomes public which could affect their liberty. We can tolerate that mike speak is mind as long as it doesn’t incite people to not respect Gary’s liberty.

    Some examples:

    1)Civil gay marriage doesn’t affect the liberty of heterosexual marriage in any way. It just gives to the gay couple the same fiscal privilege than heterosexual have benefited for a long time.

    2)That religious people dress differently doesn’t prevent other people to dress as they wish unless naked (even nudist are not always naked and there are nudist camp where they can express themselves as they wish). Just like wearing a burka doesn’t prevent from security check in election, airport, etc.

    To be tolerant is to accept that people may have different lifestyle than yours but to also admit that this lifestyle doesn’t affect yours. When the two collide arbitration maybe needed.

  25. Gary

    So the chicken’s might object to the tolerance of this act. One might argue so what, just an animal.

    Well what about cock fighting…no. Well what about dog fighting…no. How do those hurt another person? Where is the line? Who decides, if not society as a whole? Should there be laws for animal cruelty? Based on who’s tolerance of what?

    So maybe mammals are out of any sort of non-consensual activity (or maybe not, if one involved is a human). What about crushing bugs, poisoning them? Surely someone is not tolerant of that. Somewhere values come into play, a line is drawn.

    OK, maybe the crux is no animal/mammal is harmed in any fashion or made to do something non-consensual. So we are down to we must be tolerant of two (or more) animals of consensual age (who decides that?) being allowed to do as they will, as long as they harm no other animal/mammal that cannot give consent. I’m OK with that, I guess.

    Time for a steak/lobster dinner to think on this.

  26. Kan


    “…unless naked”

    A prejudice unmasked? Arbitration indeed.

  27. Yeah, well, you’d probably be surprised at how much crap I actually do tolerate. Not gladly but grudgingly. Still, I’m not afraid to draw the line, and you people should thank me for that.

  28. sylvain: I believe you’ve missed the point concerning dear Vladimir. Before heading to university he was a chicken grower in a large facility next to the Charysh River near Karpovo, Siberia in the Altai territory. He believed chickens had as high a value as humans. When he entered Gary’s room and saw

    ..anathema, an affront to his most deeply held beliefs

    what followed was in defense of a friend from the old country who was a precious being; totally helpless and innocent; and clucking for her life. Any good Samaritan would have done the same. Are you intolerably placing more value on Gary’s life than hers?

  29. Briggs

    Uncle Mike,

    No! It’s a different Mike altogether. And anyway, he’s the hero of our story.

    Incidentally, “Gary’s” real name is Gary.

  30. TomVonk


    Over my life and experience I have developped a very deep dislike for discourses about tolerance .
    Such discourses are (almost) always equivalent to the staggeringly stupid statement that “Anyone’s freedom ends there where begins the freedom of somebody else.” that you will hear at every (occidental) TV talk show with pseudo intellectual guests .
    Such statements pretend to vehiculate some deep meaning while they are just useless quasi tautological mess .
    Like you, I give high value to consistence and logics when uttering statements.
    There is neither the former nor the latter in babblings about tolerance or where “freedom ends” .

    If anything , we only learn something about the muddy and vague half stated beliefs of the person babbling . And this is SO devoid of interest that we may as well skip it .
    You are absolutely right , statements that we should tolerate something or somebody , are just statements about the personal preferences of the person speaking and there is nothing compelling that we should share the same preferences .

    In practice there are only 2 things that really matter and that define operationnaly significant meanings of both “tolerance” and “freedom” .

    First is what kind of beliefs shares the numerical majority of a population generally within the frontiers of a state because laws are decided at that level .
    Second is what kind of material strength is used to enforce these preferences in those few who don’t see the wrong of their ways .

    These 2 things are what governs the mankind since its beginnings and will govern it untill its horrible ending by global warming .

    So in your example the consistent and logical thing to do for Mike would be to make sure that his intolerance/dislike is shared by the relevant majority .
    Once this happens then Mike can act and get rid of Gary and his intolerable actions .
    Oh nothing dramatical , just a call to the local police station . Perhaps Mike can take a picture to substantify his allegations but that’s basically it .
    Of particular notice is that in this case trying something intolerant/hostile towards Mike would be harshly suppressed by the society .

    But it may also happen that there is no relevant majority sharing Mike’s dislikes .
    Well in this case Gary will continue to ventilate his avian preferences in the name of “tolerance” and it is Mike who will get significant problems because of his “intolerance” .

    Vladimir acts stupidly in almost all cases .
    If the majority is all but ready to stop Gary’s unspeakable activities , then Vladimir can spare himself all the unpleasantness and all the blood by just making a call .
    If the majority looks warmly on deviant activities hitherto unknown to Vladimir , then not only will his act change nothing but he will be eliminated himself thus weakening his cause .

    There is one particular case where Vladimir’s action makes sense – if his opinion is on the brink of becoming majority then in this moment of unstable equilibrium it just takes ONE symbol to get the landslide rolling .
    Vladimir sacrifices himself to become this symbol and it makes sense .
    History is full of examples of people who said “Well now enough is enough .” and became symbols for far reaching changes .
    Of course history is even fuller of morons who wanted to become symbols but were just wrong in their majority analysis instead 🙂

  31. John

    Paladin not paradox.

    The Toleratti – aka Socialists aka Social Justiceologists- are noble defenders of what they know to be the best for everyone else, ingrates who are incapable of knowing what’s good for them themselves and prone to making the “wrong” decisions in this respect.

    Only the Toleratti know what is the way, the truth and the right. No other condition can exist, therefore does not.

    The Intoleratti are a sub-human, congenitally malformed species whose behaviour or thinking is at odds with what is truth and right, and thus must be slain as noble Saint George slew the dragon, to save the People and deliver equality, fairness and Social Justice for the masses. Hurrah!

  32. sylvain

    @49er dweet,

    You have just put the finger on the justification of terrorism. Vladimir is not in his country anymore, maybe he can act on such things in his country. But within Canada and the US human life is at the top of the pyramid.

    Of course, since Vladimir was able to kill Gary, he was free to do it. He is just as free to live with the consequence of that action.

  33. Mike B


    On a semi-related topic, your hypothetical wasn’t by any chance inspired by a joke you heard in a ’72 Maverick on your way to a Bob Seeger concert during a pleasant Michigan summer, was it?

  34. Briggs

    Mike B,

    It was 1981, a Mercury Cougar, and Castle Rock.

  35. Mike B

    May not have been in a Maverick then. Most of them had rusted out of existence by ’81. The reason I asked is that I heard a dirty joke involving a chicken on the way to a Seger concert in/near Traverse City in about 75 or 76.

  36. Briggs


    I had a ’71 Maverick as my first car, but I bought it in San Antonio where it didn’t have a chance to corrode much. Also, forgot to say; it was a Bob Seeger concert at Castle Rock.

  37. sylvain: This has nothing to do with a Maverick, a Cougar, a chicken joke, a Bob Segar concert or rust, but – and I’m not saying I disagree with you – if we were being truly tolerant wouldn’t this be a classic case for the so-called World Court instead of our local – some might say “parochial” – justice system?

  38. Briggs: Bob Segar; Pete Seeger. But who’s counting?

  39. Katie

    It’s Castle Farm. Castle Rock is something you can climb for $1.

  40. Briggs


    I’d rather go to the Mystery Spot.

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