- This is – in general – a well-reasoned paper. Its ostensive aim is to sort out confusion within the Left about toleration and free speech.
- The paper draws a distinction between “ideological or value-laden commitments, and those that do not carry any such baggage”.
- The former “ideological” commitments are those that are in some sense optional – political and religious commitments are placed on a par in this respect.
- Those “without ideological baggage” are those that individuals can do nothing about – they are part of their ontological “identity” – basically, as the sub-title says – “racial, gender, or sexual identities”.
- The paper does recognise that this is a bit of a simplification and that there are cross-overs.
- The issue is to what degree should a (left-leaning) liberal society tolerate the holding or the criticism of these two groups of commitments.
- The basic idea is that anyone should be allowed to hold and promote their ideological commitments, but the various positions need not be accorded equal respect, but can be criticised1 – even fairly aggressively (while retaining a modicum of taste and decorum) – as stupid, ill-founded, malicious or whatever.
- However, while the non-ideological identities can obviously be held and promoted – they are, after all, non-optional – these “identities” simply reflect “diversity”. Criticism of them is not to be tolerated under any circumstances, in the sense that – for example – society should not allow deprecation – or eulogy – of women qua women. Those who criticise non-ideological identities are “bigots”.
- So far, so good. In general, I think this distinction is right. However:-
- It seems important to the author to restrict “bigotry” to criticism of “diverse identities” as such. So, one political or religious group can rant on against their ideological opponents without thereby incurring the epithet “bigot”. But surely this is to use “bigot” as a term of art2.
- The paper’s cover photo (presumably) shows a religious “bigot” ranting (or preaching) against same-sex marriage, and (maybe) being confronted by a lesbian. One might ask whether a minister of the established church might have a duty to promulgate its doctrines. Also, would it always be the case that such a one would be a “bigot” in the pejorative sense?
- Some might not be as convinced as others that gender – given the “trans” movement – and sexual orientation are as fixed as this paper suggests.
- Is “affirmative action” mandatory or forbidden according to the principles proposed?
- So, the author dislikes the term “Islamophobia”, claiming that Islam can be criticised as an ideology, where criticism of Islam isn’t a subterfuge for criticism of people of certain racial groupings.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)