I sometimes find in life that the most curious of conjunctions occur where such a meeting is seemingly impossible or at least unlikely. Such was the case recently when two news stories almost collided on our screens.
The first story was about a proposed Model National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance. Never before have I seen such an unwieldy title to a document, but in essence the model proposes that, within Europe anyway, it will be illegal to both hold and express racist, or bigoted views, and to express personal or communal views on antisemitism and holocaust denial, or as the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation so pithily states
Its purpose is to fill a vacuum: although all European States are committed to the principle of tolerance, nowhere is this principle defined in binding legal terms. The principal challenge in preparing the Model Statute was to go beyond rhetoric and generalities, spelling out concrete and enforceable obligations that ensure tolerance and stamp out intolerance.
The second news item that came into view concerned recent statements by Boris Johnson, tipped by some to be the next tory leader, concerning the intelligence, the driving force, and what can only be described as the sexual activities of all young men who sign up to become jihad extremists so as to fight what I can only assume to be a Holy war
There you go, the two stories in question, and the one thing they have in common, tolerance, or the lack of it, for individuals or groups that hold different views to your own. The question then is which standpoints should be tolerated or supported, so as to reach a conclusion that has the best fit for all
Can such a conclusion be reached, or despite the very best of endeavours, are such intended conclusions, however worthy, little more than an empty dream
Let’s begin with the first news item, and see where such noble intentions might lead
On the face of it it seems to be a sensible model to follow, for if it works intolerance and ignorant postulating would surely come to an end, but bear in mind I use the phrase-if it works-. The phrase itself sounds so harmless but in this case I believe it to be a powerful stumbling block, that can never be removed or circumvented, and upon which all such noble ideas must regrettably fall
Why so, well, look at the phrase below
” You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”
This is a classic phrase in English, and one that is very pertinent here, for though you can stop people doing things or saying things to other groups or people, you cannot change of forcibly legislate how they think. Sure you can lock them up, or fine them, but if their views were so firmly held so as to lead them to such a position or punishment, is it likely that such treatment will change there mind?
So it is that we have a panel of 5 eminent and experienced scholars discussing how things SHOULD be, and OUGHT to be, rather than facing up to conditions of the ground. I wish them well, I really do, but are they doing anything more than producing hot air in the pursuit of an impossible dream, especiallly because of all the denial of freedom of speech implications.?
Onto the next story, oh yes our genial joker Boris Johnson, seen, on our left throwing a tiny ball
Why he is doing so I neither know nor care, but his recent utterances have left me sitting, rather precariously between two stalls
When I sit on one stool, I find myself rather liking the man for his performances as a clown are simply magnificent and are something to be seen. Wether his is a witty fool or a foolish wit is, I suspected, in the eye or mind of the beholder, and personally I regard him as the former of the two, as the fool in past times had to be very astute and clever indeed .
The other chair though states that he is a fool, and in this recent outburst, I wonder as regards the wisdom, let alone the accuracy of his words. I have never been to any public school or university, and any degree that I have come across has been within a retail environment, but is it so wise to so simply classify a group of individuals of whom (or is it of who) the experts state
there is no evidence that extremists are lonely or lack social skills, and many confound easy classification
For how many decades have human rights and religious groups fought against phrases such as…all of XYZ are…well, you chose the ending; or have decried generalisations regarding race, sex, or creed. Not only that, how many of us ordinary citizens could calmly go on T.V or Radio, and say, without fear or prosecution, that whole groups of people are are sexually dysfunctional, or mentally deficient in some unspecified and quite frankly unpleasent way?
The problem is that both positions are untenable, despite coming from a totally different mindset, and the result of this disturbs me.
My position on tolerance for all individuals and communities within this blog is there for all to see, despite my occasional rant regarding what I perceive to be human stupidity and greed, and nothing would make me happier to see all intolerance come to an end, but sadly I see no way that such aims can be achieved
Finally have I any thing to say to Boris. Well, yes. If I were in your position, I would expect to be prosecuted for expressing such views so publicly, yet, in the spirit of Voltaire, I respect your right to hold your own views. But if you really wish to be an eminent politician, or even a more considerate human being, be a little more circumspect as regards your utterances, as others may be offended by your views.
So there you go, to quote our dear Boris, my views on tolerance and the real world, what do you think about the proposals from Strasbourg, or wherever, and do you support Boris’s views?
Maybe the animation below might help all of us decide