Frank Furedi introduced a discussion on contemporary challenges to the classical liberal ideal of tolerance.
Tolerance is a virtue in all regards, except when it isn’t. In the wake of last year’s riots there were plenty of conservative calls for A Clockwork Orange-style ‘zero tolerance’ clampdowns on Britain’s apparently feral youth. David Cameron can simultaneously reject calls for a burqa ban as against the British tradition of tolerance, yet call for an end to the ‘passive tolerance’ of multiculturalism which permits hate speech of Islamists. In contrast, liberals proudly counter that they will ‘tolerate everything except intolerance’. Yet when the accusation of ‘intolerance’ can be applied to opponents of gay marriage, footballers accused of using racist language and those who wish to send their children to a faith school, it becomes increasingly unclear how tolerance differs from respect or approval.
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Some background readings
On Tolerance: A Defence of Moral Independence, by Denis Joe, Manchester Salon August 2011
Planet Intolerance, by Rob White, The Global Warming Policy Foundation 8 November 2011
The intolerance of anti-sectarianism, by Stuart Waiton spiked 5 December 2011
Parental determinism: a most harmful prejudice, by Frank Furedi, spiked 21 May 2012
The moralistic, Malthusian war against fat people, by Frank Furedi, spiked 20 June 2012
The arrest of the Tom Daley tweeter was not an isolated act, by Brendan O'Neill, The Telegraph 1 August 2012
The immorality of compensation culture, by Tim Black, spiked 11 September 2012
We must be free to say what we want on social media, by Munira Mirza, London Evening Standard 20 September 2012
The intolerant war on ‘parochial pensioners’, by Frank Furedi, spiked 24 September 2012
This discussion is a satellite event of the prestigious Battle of Ideas 2012 weekend festival of ideas being held on 20 and 21 October 2012, hosted by the Barbican, London. Now in its eighth year, the Battle of Ideas festival comprises 75 debates and satellite discussions confronting society’s big issues and unresolved questions. It affords the opportunity for some clear thinking, rational debate and agenda-setting - above all, it's future-orientated, whilst retaining a healthy regard for the past achievements of humanity.
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