The Word War: Tolerance Versus Acceptance

For quite some time, I have observed the use of the word “tolerance” used in several discussions involving social issues. On a continual basis, I have observed the word and arguably the incorrect usage on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, , and other social media sites on the same issue: same-sex marriage, which I will be addressing here. Bare with me as I use Websters Dictionary to give the definition of “tolerance” (Professors told me time and time again not to begin any sort of written document with Webster’s, so I am using it after the first few sentences here because of reasons): “the act of allowing something” or “capacity to endure pain or hardship” or “the allowable deviation from a standard”. Don’t take my word for it, check for yourself.

Now that the boring part is out of the way, let us dissect what exactly this word means in the context of same-sex marriage. Tweets such as  and  are only mere examples of hundreds that I have encountered of how “tolerance” is used incorrectly given the context.

Tolerance is used far too often and in the wrong contexts when discussing the heavily debated social issue of the time: same-sex marriage. While I fully support same-sex marriage, I do not support the idea and meaning of tolerance when used in this particular context, and here is why.

I tolerate my family on Thanksgiving; I tolerate horrible drivers who cannot make a complete stop (yeah, I’m talking to you California Rollers); I tolerate Starbucks when they only put two espresso shots in my Iced Venti Soy Latte when I specifically asked for an extra shot (I still love my Barista, though); I tolerate people who say that the sky is orange when it is clearly not; I tolerate my dog (she’s super cute!) when she accidentally does potty in the house. Tolerance is not the appropriate use of the word when individuals discuss the civil liberties granted to them under the Constitution of the United States of America. In other words, “tolerance” means, in my opinion, “I put up with…” or “I will barely allow it to exist…” or “Ugh, I guess it is okay…”.

Same-sex marriage demands more than mere “tolerance”. It calls for acceptance. When I see tweets, such as those mentioned above, that are advocating tolerance, I want to shake them up and say “No! It demands acceptance.

Accept(ance) means “to give admittance or approval to” or “to endure without protest or reaction”, and here is the big one: “to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable[...]” As always, don’t take my word for it. Check for yourself.

I realize that what I am asking requires that same-sex marriage have the same socially constructed values as heterosexual marriage, and as of right now that is definitely not the case. I also realize that perhaps in order for one to accept, one has to first tolerate; however, by simply changing the choice of words and using acceptance instead of tolerance, it may send a different message. This small change can empower others and perhaps penetrate their brain with compassion, love, and acceptance, and have some kind of positive outcome. Maybe it will not change a damn thing and everything will stay the same. But if one does not take the chance and make the effort to change, one will never know.

Personally, I feel that my support for same-sex marriage is accurately portrayed by the word acceptance. I do not want to simply “tolerate” same-sex marriage; I want to embrace it. Because no matter what position you may hold on this heavily debated social issue, the marriage of two consenting adults is covered by the Constitution. Also, I hear this Constitution is, like, the Supreme Law of the Land, you guys. It is the be all tell all of the United States of America. It is a pretty big deal. If you’d like to know exactly which part of the Constitution supports same-sex marriage, my friend Toni Goodman (who runs this fantastic blog) has been there and done that.

Here is my call to action:  instead of advocating simple tolerance of same-sex marriage, I am asking those who support same-sex marriage to disregard the use of “tolerance” and pick a word most aligned with the belief that same-sex marriage is a civil liberty that should be fully supported no matter religious, moral, or ethical stance. I call for the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

Forever yours, Always, and Cordially, blah blah blah,

The Doctor

About tardisdoctor

I am The Doctor. If I am known by any other name, it wouldn't be as sweet. I have opinions, and those opinions are posted here. Seriously, though, I like SciFi and science. I read too much and I spend outrageous amounts of time on the internet. I am getting too old for this. I also enjoy long walks in the middle of the night in Inglewood, CA.
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3 Responses to The Word War: Tolerance Versus Acceptance

  1. Evan says:

    Um, excuse me. *snorts, pushes glasses up nose*
    At Starbucks, an iced venti drink already gets three shots. Venti hot drinks get two.

    Post was good though.

  2. the doctor says:

    *takes glasses off* They LIED to me. It is okay. I can tolerate that, too ;)

  3. Cecilia says:

    I found this blog to make a very valid and I would say correct way of putting awareness to the way we should address this social issue..I agree..tolerating something and accepting something is very different when you sit down and think about it
    –nice job Doc :)

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