So what will replace it?
I am calling my theory "the ethics of isolated toleration." Dunkelman discusses the idea that we are sorting and segregating ourselves along lines that we find currently acceptable. For some this remains race, for most socioeconomic status, for others it is a lifestyle. We don't care what others do as long as we don't have to see it. However, the moment that we have to see it we get uncomfortable. If we are truly tolerant, then we metaphorically close our eyes until we are behind our protective walls. We may not like what they are doing and it is making us uncomfortable, but they have every right to be doing it. If for some reason, a moral opposition does exist, then it should be presented as such, with support. Then the public gets to decide whether to tolerate it a not.
On the other hand, if we may be intolerant at heart, but do not wish to see our intolerance. If this intentional blindness is correct, then we demand that the things that make us uncomfortable go far away from us. The distance allows us to build our private playgrounds where we want to. After all, if we did not find the act or the object offensive on our playground, we wouldn't create a problem.
Which one sounds more like today's world?
To me, our world currently looks like the second one. College students send up a social media ruckus because a literary text in a class contains a trigger word. Statistical minorities scream for better treatment.
In the first case, I have an initial question: If class has not started, how do you know which texts have the trigger words and which don't?
Let's assume that has been answered to my satisfaction. Now, instead of avoiding the class (which may not be possible due to the requirements of the major), you could speak to the teacher, the department head, and the dean before the media about alternative texts, assignments, and plans. Also, if you want other people to accommodate you then you better be working on getting over your issues.
Conversely, as long as the student is showing that she (or he) is being treated for the trauma that caused the trigger then the school should work with the victim. However, if the student is not seeking help to work through the traumatic event, then the school should not be under any obligation to help the student.
The other subject - the statistical minorities being louder than the masses - is a very touchy subject. However, I think I can make my point about our walled isolation gardens and what happens when we step outside of them using two examples. One will be from Dunkelman's book and the other from current media.
Dunkelman points out that technological magic allows a racist, sexist white guy to willingly and comfortably sell a baseball card, or any other thing, to a black woman who lives just down the street or on the other side of the world. The immutable facts of the buyer's life never have to be known to the seller, and vice versa. In this manner, we are isolated but still productive.
On the other hand, several recent news stories depicted a homosexual couple trying to buy a wedding cake from a small business that held to strict Christian principles. The company in question refused, and the story went to the media. For the purpose of this essay, it is not pertinent which side you believe to be correct. The relevant part is whether this would have happened if the cake transaction could have occurred like the baseball card sale. If neither the buyer nor the seller had to reveal polarizing details about themselves, would the cake have been sold without any fuss at all? I think it would have.
When not confronted with details about a person, we assume that the individual fits into our idea of "good people," thus being tolerant. However, when we do see those details - by accident, by choice, or by force - and the person does not conform to "our ways" we send up a hew and cry about how it isn't okay. Depending on the who, the what, and the why the brouhaha may be termed acceptable or unacceptable. These factors will also help determine how viral the issue goes.
Is that ok? Is it okay to appear tolerant and accepting when we can hide our ignorance behind technology? Is it permissible that we stop trying to eliminate the heart of bigotry because the data says that more cross-cultural interactions occur today than in the past? Is it ok to hide pieces of ourselves, even from ourselves?
More to the point, what happens when a catastrophe tears those walls down, and forces us to confront the reality of other people? The ethos of "isolated toleration" is slowly taking over, and it looks good on paper. Is it really what we want?
If it is, then how do we avoid the problems presented by catastrophes and isolated toleration? If it is not then how do we change it? What do we replace it with?
Personally, I don't like it.
Isolated tolerance is lazy, misguided and a giant step backward. It is lazy because no one works on a tough area of self-improvement. They only have to improve in those areas they want to improve. Acceptance, cooperation with people of different viewpoints, self-control in the face of something one finds inappropriate, and similar social skills don't need to be worked on. This is because nothing we see is out of line with how the world should work, in our opinion.
Isolated toleration is misguided. It presupposes that the world will continue to structure itself to our needs and wishes. The world is not static. It is constantly changing, and it has never ordered itself to our purposes. We have to adapt to it, and when we try to force it to do so bad things happen. Anyone remember seeding hurricanes?
I can see isolated toleration becoming the standard practice. I do not like it or agree with it, even though I am sure I practice it to some degree. The policy of you don't interfere with me, and I won't mess with you is a good idea, but when bolstered by technology is a terrible plan. Right now, I don't know how to change it, or what to replace it with.