The Intolerant Left

I grew up in a trailer park. My partner grew up in something just short of a gated community. There aren’t fences *all* the way around the enclave but it’s the type of place that has its own name, high property values, and covenants about lawn care and home maintenance and other bougie shit like that.

Given this vast difference in upbringing, it’s unsurprising that figuring out how to merge our money has presented some challenges. Not the challenges you think, though. Part of what drew us together is that we are almost completely aligned when it comes to attitudes about money, spending, and so on.

No, the difficulty came from the fact that we use the same words to mean different things. This took a long time to notice but finally, I thought to ask, “What do you mean when you use the word ‘luxury’?

It turns out we had very, very different ideas of what a luxury was.

Here’s the most obvious example: To me, it is a luxury (bordering on extravagant heresy) to leave the same number of blankets on the bed all year and (buckle up, folks, this is the crazy part) adjust the temperature of the house based on the weather outside.

I grew up in a house where we adjusted our behavior based on the temperature outside. Is it cold outside? Pile blankets on the bed and learn to like the feeling of being covered in warm blankets while the room is cool. Is it hot outside? No blankets and open the window to let in the cooler night air.

My partner grew up in a household where they had the same number of blankets on the bed all year long and the temperature of the house was adjusted so that it was comfortable to sleep in.

Now, imagine the thermostat wars we had when we first began to share a living space.

Further, imagine the confusion each of us had when we had mutually agreed to save a little extra money by limiting luxuries. I’m constantly turning off the heat and piling more blankets on the bed and wondering why my partner can’t stick to limiting luxuries. Meanwhile, my partner wonders why I’m trying to smother him in blankets.

This is just a small example of how the same words can mean radically different things to different people.

So, too, with the word “intolerance.”

There’s been a lot of talk about the intolerant left and I just want to take a moment to say, on the record, that I am a proud member of the intolerant left.

I will not tolerate the fear or hate of my fellow human beings.

“Ah!” the collective neo-Nazis* hiss, “But you’re not tolerant of our beliefs! You won’t let us peaceably assemble or display swastikas!”

“Yeah, Spencer. That’s because your beliefs involve the wholesale murder of people that don’t look like you or act like you. I don’t know or care if your beliefs are based on fear or hate. Either way, I’m not here for it.”

“See,” yells Spencer, “You are the Intolerant Left.”

“Exactly. And proud of it. Here’s the difference, and this shit is not hard, I tolerate your right to exist and am not threatening harm to your person, your family, or your livelihood. It’s kind of like how we, as a society, don’t tolerate serial killers. That doesn’t make us intolerant. It makes us principled.”

And that’s the core difference. The Nazi-fucks use the word “intolerant” to mean someone who won’t let them do everything they want to do, but imposing restrictions on harmful behavior is more accurately known as principle and maturity.

The Left uses “intolerant” to mean people who threaten physical harm or otherwise create an unsafe space for other folks. That is, in point of fact, actual intolerance.

So, yeah, I’m part of the intolerant left and damn proud of it. Feel free to join us.


*Can we just be done with all this “alt-right” bullshit? I am not here for the rebranding of Nazis and fascists and, frankly, I’m surprised that the so-called principled conservatives didn’t kill it in its cradle, but that’s none of my business.

One thought on “The Intolerant Left

  1. I love this so much. Intolerant left? Yeah, I won’t tolerate genocidal monsters, sue me.

    Also, you’re totes right in regards to the blanket debate 😉

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