Tolerate my intolerance or I will destroy you

5 Sep


It takes some arrogance to declare that your support for others is contingent upon their actions and speech being acceptable to you. In other words, they earn your support by dancing to your tune, not because you have any real interest in their cause. Your primary concern is that your own sense of decorum may endure temporary violation, and you will not tolerate that, no matter whose human rights are at stake.

“Do it my way or else” is hardly a respectful way in which to approach debate and disagreement.

(I’ve long been of the belief that arrogance is a psychological defence mechanism employed to conceal from self and others terrifying feelings of  insecurity, uncertainty, and lack of self-worth. It’s a thin veneer.)

Such arrogance has been expressed by several right-wing commentators and was yesterday reiterated by one Tom Switzer, currently employed by the ABC as a “radio host.” Fairfax recently published this piece by Switzer on marriage equality and intolerance. To paraphrase: I would vote Yes in the marriage equality postal survey, declared Switzer, but the same-sex advocates are being so objectionable I’m rethinking that and may vote No.

I like to think of this attitude as a desperate (and despairing) effort to retain control by those who feel they are perilously close to losing their hold on the status quo. The “If you are not nice to me I will not support your cause” position is narcissistic, in the sense that offending these people is experienced by them as a narcissistic wound, a threat to their very being. It reveals the fragile, threatened ego that needs everyone to be nice to it all of the time, otherwise it will blow you up, metaphorically speaking in this instance though the threats of annihilation are more substantial at the more powerful end of the narcissism spectrum where we find Trump and Kim Jon Un. Switzer of course is not in their league: his narcissism is of the petit bourgeoisie class for whom bad manners, language and graffiti are offences that far outrank just about any denial of human rights.

The ultimate exercise of control: do it my way and don’t offend me, or I will use my power to affect your life against you.

Many of us can likely find a parallel in childhood, when our parents told us we wouldn’t have what we wanted unless we were good.  Switzer, et al, are applying the same authoritarian discourse to adults seeking equality with other adults. They are demanding their own intolerance, either of marriage equality or the manner in which the fight for it is fought, be placed front and centre in a discussion on equality. In so doing they destroy any possibility of equality and respect in the debate, let alone in its outcome.

This is a tactic used by the privileged against many minority groups. The ruling class sets behavioural norms, and gives itself permission to break them while severely punishing and shaming those who are not of their tribe. Tony Abbott’s taxpayer-funded drunkenness comes to mind as an example, as he advocates for the humiliation of indigenous people with the imposition of a cashless welfare card to prevent their purchase of alcohol.

The intolerant, such as Switzer, are not interested in respectful debate and just outcomes. They are concerned with their own feelings of offence, and consider themselves to be so important that a vote on the lives of others hinges entirely on whether or not they suffer affront.

Respectful? I don’t think so. Tolerant? Nah. Silenced? Give me a break.





16 Responses to “Tolerate my intolerance or I will destroy you”

  1. Ambitious_Drifter September 5, 2017 at 11:12 am #

    Like many of the ‘vote no’ articles, Switzer’s is quite lame. He can’t make a case for ‘No’, so it’s the ‘bullying’ again. This is typical of his work… He got dropped from the ABC didnt he?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

      He did? I hope so.


        • samjandwich September 5, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

          Tom Switzer now heads the “Centre for Independent Studies”. I’ve not had anything to do with him personally but it’s true that I do occasionally go incognito (ie I wear a tie) to the public lectures that the CIS puts on, because I do genuinely aspire to understand how it is that ostensibly functional people manage to maintain the manifestly odd views that they hold.

          Like for example, that the ABC is somehow biased because it doesn’t run conservative content. Hmph, maybe having Tom Switzer on staff was an attempt to rectify that?

          I’m not making much headway to be honest, though I tend to agree it’s probably mostly a mix of psychology and power in the way Jennifer describes. I’m still not convinced there isn’t some intellectualism in it… insofar as perhaps there is some sort of justification at work for why developing one’s self-awareness is somehow not in one’s best interests. Maybe it distracts you from what’s most important, e.g. harnessing the world’s productive capacity for yourself so that you can spend your life winning yacht races and eating endangered species? But then such people usually don’t do particularly well at those things either!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson September 5, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

            That’s an interesting point, Sam – and I’m having trouble linking the deliberate lack of self-awareness with intelligence, certainly the RW types seem horribly lacking in emotional intelligence.

            Liked by 1 person

            • drsusancalvin September 6, 2017 at 10:35 pm #

              There’s quite a bit of science examining the link between low IQ, conservative beliefs and prejudice, and the “fixed” mindset that is not amenable to new facts. It makes sense that emotional intelligence would be affected too.

              Liked by 2 people

              • samjandwich September 7, 2017 at 11:05 am #

                Yes DrSC I have read a little about the IQ-to-prejudice relationship, though at the same time I’m pretty sure that if you sat someone like Tony Abbott down and got them to do an intelligence test they’d probably do quite well on both IQ and EQ – and I suspect this is why people like him remain influential since they are very good at targeting swinging voters’ insecurities while maintaining some semblance of acceptability to the mainstream. John Howard was the master at this.

                Hmmm perhaps I should be looking to literature on people who have sold their soul to the devil for parallels??


  2. Moz of Yarramulla September 5, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    It also firmly centres the discourse around the power to give or withhold what is being asked for.

    Viz, it is not demanding that rights be recognised, or equality acknowledged, it is a gift from the powerful to the powerless, and it’s up to the powerful whether it’s given. Indeed, it may later be revoked. So it’s all about maintaining power and control, rather than sharing it (or God forbid, giving some of it away). I like to remind those people that the whole reason we have this “voice of the people” stuff is that when it came to the crunch those who used to hold supreme power decided that voting beat the guillotine.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. drsusancalvin September 6, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

    “It’s a thin veneer.” Perhaps a brittle shell, but I agree with your point. I’m going out on a limb here but after following the High Court hearings, I’m getting ready to receive and return my appropriately funded altogether not unforeseen postally plebicitic surveyor’s questionnaire thingy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. drsusancalvin September 7, 2017 at 7:58 am #

    Good post Jennifer. This “effort to retain control” is absurdly on display in the comments section of The Australian in the recent columns by Janet Albrechtsen and Greg Sheridan making their case for a “Yes” vote. (sorry, no link, paywall) The pages of abuse and “whataboutery” are tinged with genuine distress. It’s clear the vast majority are not happy to have their “A” team go there. I know the left are accused of Group Think, but this is like the herd instinct of bison. This particular “buffalo jump” will leave a lot of wounded at the base of the cliff.


  5. paul walter September 7, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    Far more sinister, the High Court ruling for the survey..,welcome to the US Supreme Court era.


    • doug quixote September 7, 2017 at 11:01 pm #

      Haven’t had a chance to read the reasons for decision yet. It may be that the Minister simply has to be satisfied of urgency and unforeseen nature. Arguable, no matter how much it irks me to say so.


  6. doug quixote September 7, 2017 at 10:56 pm #

    Switzer and I are old sparring partners from the days when the Drum was a vigorous forum. (He bet on Rick Perry to beat Obama to the White House 🙂 )
    He is a conservative who pretends to libertarian ideas when it suits him; mainly as a vehicle for self promotion.

    Rather like Trump it is do what I want you to do or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and blow your house down.

    The sad part is that the Yanks have armed Trump with the US global arsenal. Thank fuck Switzer has only his tablet keyboard. 🙂

    Ignore the prick.


  7. paul walter September 8, 2017 at 12:29 am #

    The sort of scum that now run things. Lunatics with guns run the asylum, eagerly urging it toward the edge.

    Civilisation never did leave the Dark Ages, did it?


    • doug quixote September 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm #

      Enough to make you yearn for your gum tree and no inkling of clothing . . .



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