Tolerance, equality and diversity: three words that reflect the core values of our culture. But what do they mean?

Listen carefully, because these words now mean almost the exact opposite of what they used to mean!

A tolerant person is one who believes that all lifestyles and beliefs (within reason) are equally valid, and is therefore quite happy for people to hold these beliefs.

In contrast, intolerant people have a different (inferior) view of reality, thinking that different lifestyles and beliefs are not all equally valid. These intolerant people will try to persuade other people to change their beliefs. Tolerant people think that intolerant people are wrong about how they view reality: intolerant people need to learn that they are wrong to think of their own beliefs as superior to others and that it is wrong to try to persuade other people to change their beliefs. A tolerant society should not put up with intolerance.

A person is said to value equality if they consider all lifestyles and beliefs (within reason) to be equal. In contrast, people who do not share this conviction do not value equality and therefore should not expect to receive the same treatment as everyone else. This is because such people are responsible for the division and hatred that permeate society.

People may be described as welcoming diversity if they believe that the differences between various lifestyles and beliefs (within reason) are insignificant and certainly not differences in how right or valid they are. Holding this belief helps them to embrace diversity; anyone who draws attention to differences in a judgemental way is a hindrance to this.

If these definitions are accurate, it follows that

  • “tolerant” people are intolerant of those who truly disagree with them
  • people who value “equality” think that if people are truly different (in their beliefs), they should not be treated equally, and
  • welcoming “diversity” is the same as hating true diversity.

I hope I’m wrong.