Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Tolerating the repressive
I see that this morning's Australian newspaper has a sensible editorial on extremist religious requirements in women's dress. Once again, we must tolerate a great deal in the name of religious freedom. Here, "tolerate" means "put up with" - i.e. decline to invoke the state's power of fire and sword. "Tolerate" does not mean something like "approve of" or welcome. Traditional religious views that demonise women's sexuality, require extreme kinds of sexual modesty, etc., may well be something we have no choice but to tolerate. At the same time, we can find them deplorable and certainly not grant them our respect. There is no contradiction here.