On Principles, Tolerance, and Offense

I moderate comments on my technical blog. I approve almost every comment submitted, even those that are unflattering (such as some of the comments in this thread).

Why? That’s a fair question. I personally believe in the two principles: freedom of expression and tolerance. I use the word “principle” deliberately. I believe much that is done in the name (or guise) of principle is in reality preference masquerading as principle. How can one tell the difference? Apply the thinking to all sides of an argument. Principles hold true when they work for and against one’s argument(s). Preferences apply unilaterally.

There’s nothing wrong with preferences. I have preferences; you have preferences. Neither of us need falsely elevate our preferences to the level of principle for our preferences to matter. The simple fact that one doesn’t like one thing or likes something else more or better – i.e. a preference – is credent.

…I choose to not take offense… because I am commanded, as a believer, to turn the other cheek.

Regarding tolerance and freedom of expression, I find these principles converge when someone engages in name-calling or labeling of any sort. Freedom of expression means nothing if it doesn’t apply to negative expression. We may disagree on where the line may and should be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable speech, or whether such a line even exists. I tolerate more than most, probably.

One reason for tolerance is I rarely take offense. I’ve learned taking offense is a decision on my part. And I own my decisions. I can decide to take offense or to not do so. Part of the reason I choose to not take offense is because I am commanded, as a believer, to turn the other cheek. Another part of the reason is because causing offense is one of the goals of the person posting such tripe. Why would I want to indulge them by being offended?

This book РUnoffendable Рhelped me reach these conclusions. You might want check it out, especially if you find yourself stressed by those with whom you disagree.