Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Apr 28 13:49:47 UTC 2010

At 4/28/2010 08:36 AM, Jim Parish wrote:
>Herb Stahlke wrote:
> > On today's Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan has a piece on "tolerance"
> >
> (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/04/tolerance.html)
> > in which quotes, and seems to accept, the claim that the act of
> > tolerating entails disapproval of what one tolerates.  I've heard this
> > claim before, but I don't find this sense in either the OED Online or
> > Merriam-Webster Online, although MW does allow that inference.  I
> > wonder if the sense of entailed disapproval comes from the use of
> > "tolerate" with negation.  "We won't tolerate such behavior" obviously
> > implies disapproval of the behavior.
>I'd assume that it's a pragmatic implicature, arising from the fact
>that a stronger claim
>than toleration - acceptance, approval - isn't being made.

Don't some of the senses of "tolerate" imply or suggest acceptance of
something one does not favor?  (As Dan Goncharoff  suggested.)  For example:
      3. To bear without repugnance; to allow intellectually, or in
taste, sentiment, or principle; to put up with.

And the allegedly obsolete or more limited:
      {dag}1. trans. To endure, sustain (pain or hardship).
      1.b. Phys. To endure with impunity or comparative impunity the
action of (a poison or strong drug).

And even:
      2. To allow to exist or to be done or practised without
authoritative interference or molestation; also gen. to allow, permit.

In mid-18th century America, a distinction was made between
tolerating someone else's religion and accepting the existence of
other religions than one's own.  However, I don't remember where I
came across this, and would have a hard time (in the 21st century)
reconstructing an argument on exactly how they differed.  Perhaps one
has to start with established religions; the Toleration Act of 1689
(William & Mary), which left the Church of England established but
gave certain classes of dissenters freedom to worship; and evolution
in the American colonies towards exempting those not of the
established church of the colony (e.g., the Congregational in
Massachusetts) from church taxes.

It is also interesting to see the wording in the Wikipedia article on
the "Maryland Toleration Act":  "Passed on September 21, 1649 by the
assembly of the Maryland colony, it was the first law requiring
religious tolerance in the British North American colonies and
created the first legal limitations on hate speech in the world.
Historians argue that it helped inspire later legal protections for
freedom of religion in the United States."  Here "toleration" is
distinguished from "freedom".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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