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Lately I’ve noticed a few things in the paper and other media about “toleration.” Well, guess what: “We” don’t want to be tolerated! “Tolerate” is what you do when your obnoxious brother-in-law comes to Thanksgiving dinner. “Tolerate” is what you do when your neighbor’s dog poops on your lawn every once in awhile. “Tolerate” is what you do when the town is repaving your road. “Tolerate” is perhaps what you do when I trap you at a party and start lecturing you about something or other. That sort of individualized toleration, for the sake of peace or good manners, is not my target here. Merriam-Webster defines tolerate as : to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done : to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed : to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone) That third definition is what people of good will often mean when they talk about “toleration” in a social, religious, or political context. Unfortunately, so far as I’m concerned the first two definitions lend a connotation to the third that I don’t like. It comes across as “accept [grudgingly].” Leaving aside the chip on my personal shoulder, consider this: toleration, or acceptance, is one-sided. It is something one bestows on another, without acknowledging the other’s rights. I don’t want my religion, politics, sexual orientation, or choice of aftershave tolerated. It is my right to practice my religion; to hold whatever political beliefs best suit me; and to browse the fragrance counters to my heart’s content. Granted, civil society should and will set some limits to the way I express my rights. Regardless of what is in my heart of hearts, I should not be allowed to indulge in child sacrifice. But I don’t want my religion, political beliefs, and so forth tolerated, or even accepted, by others. Acknowledge them, ignore them, share them, or think they’re silly, but do not tolerate or even accept them as though you were being gracious. Nobody has that privilege — not here, not there, not anywhere. Times and places where that privilege is claimed are called repressive. You might recall that I was on the receiving end of a letter that didn’t even rise to the level of acceptance. I was told that, because I am not a Christian, I am only a guest in this country. (Celebrate Columbus Day by asking the Cherokee or the Seminole who’s the guest in this country.) That’s piffle, and dangerous Nativist piffle at that. I am an American citizen, and like every American citizen I have the same rights as any other American citizen, born or naturalized. (I know, naturalized citizens cannot be President.) Those are rights, inherent in my citizenship (and, in many cases, in my membership in the human race). I don’t need anybody to bestow those rights upon me, to “tolerate” my exercise of those rights.