IN AN ARTICLE IN THE LA TIMES, Tim Rutten points out the difference between intelligent tolerance and blind tolerance. A knee-jerk tolerance fanatic can be as dangerous as any other kind of fanatic, especially if the tolerance fanatic is a writer and helping to form public opinion.
Religious tolerance has a long history in the West and almost everyone believes in it implicitly. But even it can go too far. When religious tolerance interferes with something even more basic, like say, self-preservation, then it is religious-tolerance extremism and it's got to go.
Rutten's article is called: Where Is The West's Outcry? Salmon Rushdie has a new price on his head by Muslim extremists. Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses years ago. Some Muslim clerics took offense to what Rushdie wrote about Mohammad, so they declared he must be killed. This is, of course, extreme intolerance, and because Rushdie has recently been knighted by Queen Elizabeth, a new round of calls for his death has issued from the Islamist's corner.
Where is the outrage in the editorials? Nonexistent. Why? Because of "soft bigotry," which means hesitating to disapprove of someone's religious customs (such as beheading infidel fiction writers or stoning outspoken women to death) because doing so would mark you as insensitive or intolerant.
You would think writers, of all people, would be intolerant of this kind of religious intolerance against a writer. But all we get is silence on the issue. A silence, as Rutten puts it, "in which the only permissible sounds are the prayers of the killers and the cries of their victims."