Tolerance is a noble principle, but some things are intolerable.
Based on statements in the Declaration of Independence, and in the First and Fourteenth Amendments, it is plain that every citizen of the United States appears before the law merely as a human being and a citizen, without any further qualification. Thus every citizen may be represented by the variable letter C, which makes no reference to that particular person’s appearance, ancestry, cultural or religious affiliation, or any other distinctive personal traits.
This is the mathematical notion of a variable. For example, in an algebraic equation, the variable letter X stands for any number—no matter whether that number is odd or even, prime, rational or irrational, and so on.
This mathematical notion can be used to formulate the informal notion that the law is “blind” and makes no distinctions between persons.
In summary, when a person stands before the law, there is nothing more to see but C. When a citizen appears before the law, the citizen steps as it were into an opaque Equality Box that has no other label but C for Citizen. This is how citizens get equal protection. But to get they also must give: if they want us to put up with them, they must be willing to put up with us.
The principle of tolerance is fundamental to the law of the land. It is not a particular law, or even a particular amendment; it is a fundamental principle. People who attack this principle want to peek into the Equality Box in order to discriminate against persons of some description whom they feel they cannot tolerate. By doing so, they show contempt for the rule of law.
In their thoughts and discussions, people may question the principle of tolerance. For educational and intellectual purposes, it is necessary to entertain the notion of negating it. For example, it may increase our understanding to consider the difference between living with this principle (at present in the United States) as opposed to living without it (in Nazi Germany).
We must be able to discuss the reasons for and against the Equality Box. Individuals must be free to play devil’s advocate and present reasons for abolishing it. By doing so, they give us occasion to think deeply and present better reasons, in more precise language, to explain and support it. Such exercises are indispensable for the development of intellectual freedom and integrity.
But we should not tolerate anyone entering our public space with obvious intent to attack this principle. Protestors should not be allowed to display the swastika or to chant Nazi slogans, because by doing so they suggest that one group of people, based on their skin color and ancestry, deserve supremacy over others. They are declaring their intent to violate the rights of other citizens. Such actions, like burning the flag, strike at the very heart of what it means to respect the rule of law in the United States. Such actions should not be tolerated, and groups known to perform such actions should not be granted permits to assemble in public places.
The sad events in Charlottesville show how badly things can go when overly permissive liberal policies validate intolerance by inviting its advocates to invade our public space.