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Truly tolerant societies allow the expression of intolerant speech,
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This review is from: On Tolerance: The Life Style Wars: A Defence of Moral Independence (Hardcover)
Tolerance has become a slippery notion full of paradoxes.It has mutated from a permission concept to a respect or esteem concept without discernment ,thus neutralizing any form of moral judgement.Furedi's task is to pare it down to it's essential core which is the promotion of freedom of speech.As a radical exponent of the libertarian ideal best articulated by J S Mill ,he upholds absolute freedom of speech without equivocation and rejects any form of censorship even of intolerant views and spiteful offensive speech as long as it doesn't lead to physical harm.He insists on the primacy of personal autonomy which he calls moral independence over and above any other sacred principles cherished by our unequal diverse societies particularly equity & security.
The text contains a powerful indictment of identity politics and it's constant preoccupation with group injury.In a highly charged rhetoric the author exhorts us to eschew the vacuous expressions of "politically correct speech" and invites us to resist the continuous encroachment of Governments, with their therapeutic patronising efforts , to regulate private behaviour.One may not necessarily agree with all his views but his book is an important contribution to the contemporary debate about freedom of opinion starting with the strident freedom of the Press that allows it on the one hand to uncover and report the abuses and moral flaws of those who hold political or economic power, but at the same time advocates any means "to obtain a story" through intrusive harassment and callous trespass over private lives or the spreading of malevolent rumours.The author in this context would reject the drawing of any line and would vehemently object to any form of regulation.
Furedi is a sociologist who is happy to live with unfettered dissent or social conflict as long as no voices are ever silenced and differences are always expressed freely.His trenchant cultural critique of our contemporary malaise is imbued with undoubted moral courage.This alone should make the reading of this book an urgent political duty.