Tolerance and diversity are words usually used by the Left in academia to squash freedom of speech, especially among conservatives. How would you define the true role of tolerance?—Luciana E. Milano, Harvard University
J. Budziszewski: The liberal rationale for toleration grounds it on an incoherency: supposedly we put up with some bad and false things because we suspend moral judgment about the good and true. But if we really suspended judgment, it would be hard to see why anything should be tolerated—or why anything shouldn’t be tolerated, or, if we are going to be tolerant, which things should be tolerated and which things shouldn’t be. Actually, the nonjudgmentalist wants only his opponents to suspend judgment. He rams through his own moral judgments by pretending that they aren’t moral judgments.
By contrast, the classical rationale for toleration grounds it on a paradox: we put up with some bad and false things because the nature of the good and true demands it. For example, we don’t coerce faith, because as St. Hilary of Poitiers said, God does not desire unwilling obedience; we don’t repress the expression of false opinions, because debate helps us find our way to the truth. Notice, then, what true toleration requires: not suspending judgment but judging more adequately.
Meanwhile, Marcel LeJeune has a good post up for the Aggie Catholics blog about judging--that was the subject of the readings this last Sunday, after all.