Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Teaching tolerance (yes, to you Bill James)

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Since "tolerance" has become the word of the week, thanks to the Mecklenburg County Commission's much talked about response to Bill James, likely the least tolerant guy in town, I thought I'd share a resource with you from the Southern Poverty Law Center. It's a website all about teaching tolerance. Check it out here. Teachers, there are ready-made classroom activities for you. There's even a magazine, whose archives you can browse here.

This all may seem very basic, but this is where we are with tolerance in some areas of Charlotte: at the beginning.

But before we start trying to tell other people what tolerance is, and isn't, let's get the definition on the record. According to, tolerance is a noun and means: 1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry. 2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own. 3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. 4. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance.

Synonyms for tolerance include words like patience and open-mindedness.

Now, I'm going to go ahead and assume that Bill James and his ilk won't like the definition of tolerance. Of course, it's probably also safe to assume that they think they're right to fear "others" and speak their minds about those fears. So, class, as you can see, we have a lot of work to do. Now, remember: Tolerance goes both ways.

On a lighter note, check out this adorable video called "What tolerance looks like."

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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