Dr Stuart Waiton

Monday, June 15 2015 at 7:00PM

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14-18 Perth Rd, Dundee, Angus DD1 4LN

Dr Stuart Waiton

What's the talk about?

Tolerance is all the rage. The Scottish governments (past and present) hang their hat on the idea that we live in a ‘modern tolerant Scotland’.

Being forward thinking, progressive and ‘right thinking’, are all associated with this idea of being tolerant. But what is this thing, tolerance, and why at a time when tolerance is all the rage do we also get the promotion of zero-tolerance campaigns by the same individuals and groups who classify themselves as tolerant?

Tolerance historically meant tolerating different ideas that you hate, it was predicated upon people making judgements about one another’s ideas and behaviour, while not criminalising those we disagreed with. It was also the bedrock of free speech promoted by John Stuart Mill.

Today however tolerance means something very different; it means respecting difference, not judging others in case of offence, and perhaps most importantly, it means clamping down on freedom of speech. Can it be the case that those individuals and groups promoting the idea of tolerance are, in fact, the least tolerant people in society?

Dr Stuart Waiton is a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Abertay Dundee.