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Pagan Virtues: Tolerance

One of my favorite illustrations of tolerance is from South Park’s episode “The Death Camp of Tolerance,” (2002). In this episode, Mr. Garrison discovers that if he could get fired again for being gay, then he could sue the school for a lot of money. He therefore hires Mr. Slave as teacher’s assistant and does some inappropriate things to that end. The boys are disturbed by the behavior and after complaining multiple times are sent to a Nazi-style concentration camp where they are forced to make macaroni pictures and finger paint images portraying tolerance. Mr. Garrison, meanwhile, is given an award for his courage for teaching children who do not tolerate him. In his speech, he goes all out – as South Park tends to do – and over the top with an embarrassingly stereotypical flamboyant homoerotic display with Mr. Slave. In frustration, Garrison shouts at the crowd that tolerance doesn’t mean acceptance. I paraphrase: “You tolerate a screaming child, or you tolerate a cold, that doesn’t mean you have to like it! This is the Museum of Tolerance, if you were supposed to like it, it’d be called the Museum of Acceptance.”

Keep that amusing image in your mind for a moment as I go to a far more intellectually rigorous source. One of my favorite theorist in religious studies, in response to Diana Eck’s work Encountering God, examines the power structures inherent in tolerance:
“Toleration…implies three things: (i) significant disapproval, (ii) the very real sociopolitical authority, even coercive power, to do something about this disapproval, and (iii) suspension of action for some practical reason,” (McCutcheon, Critics, not Caretakers).

Read the original article at: Discovering Paganism

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