A Meerkat Rants: I won’t tolerate that.

This will open like a political rant.  It s not a political rant.

Okay, that’s kinda a lie, because politics is in everything especially these days, but seriously, it’s not a political rant, unless words and humanity are now political (disclaimer: they always were).


It’s become a standing refrain from the right apologists to snort, “so much for the ‘tolerant left’” when people object to the right’s policies or beliefs.  As though throwing the idea of ‘be tolerant” back at critics will somehow shame them into not pointing out when you’re being a shitwaffle.

Yeah, no.

The idea that we must tolerate everything is a stupid fucking idea that should only be espoused by extremist theoretical anarchists.  It certainly has never been a theme of the Left, where a certain pragmatic cynicism about human nature abounds (that’s why we endorse regulations, because we know that humans need regular and enforced reminders not to be schmucks).

Tolerance – being tolerant – isn’t something that comes out of fucking nowhere, just because someone demands it.  It’s built on two bedrocks: respect, and compassion.  Respect for another person’s identity and needs, and compassion – the awareness that everyone has their own story, and just as they are a part of yours, you are only a part of theirs.  None greater, none more worthy than the other.

Yes, tolerance is important to maintaining any group larger than, say, three people already bound by blood or affection and/or regular sex. Tolerance is about putting up with some shit that would otherwise drive you mad, like clipping toenails while in bed, wearing Axe cologne, and the inability to get anywhere on-time.

But claiming that to be tolerant you must put up with ALL the shit humanity can throw at itself?  That is the mark of a truly stupid human being.  Or someone with a vested interested in being allowed to do whatever they want without anyone calling them on it.  It’s the argument of abusers, of weak people who are afraid of being called out on their behavior, of bullies who rely on people turning the other cheek so that they can hit them there, too.

Tolerance isn’t about putting up with shit; it’s about making allowances for differences.  Giving people room to be themselves, so long as they’re not doing it in a hurtful or harmful way.  Because the moment you cause or advocate harm to others, your right to and your claim on tolerance goes out the fucking window. 

And so do you.



About Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne is a recovering editor-turned-novelist, with an Endeavor Award, a Nebula nomination, another Endeavor award nomination and a Washington State Book Award nomination under her belt. Her most recent series is the award-winning "Devil's West" trilogy, starting with SILVER ON THE ROAD, and her same-universe story collection, WEST WINDS' FOOL, AND OTHER STORIES OF THE DEVIL'S WEST. The novella GABRIEL'S ROAD was published by Book View Cafe on April 30th, 2019. Her Patreon, featuring original fiction, writing advice, and original Rants, is at https://www.patreon.com/LAGilman Learn more at www.lauraannegilman.net, where you can sign up for her quarterly newsletter.


A Meerkat Rants: I won’t tolerate that. — 5 Comments

    • “[Tolerance] is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.” (To quote the above, since I posted before I copied in anything but the URL, and I try not to do that.)

    • That is a very useful way of thinking about tolerance, thank you for sharing it.