The new climate of libertine puritanism

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Dalrymple-0-369-0-300.jpgThe always worthwhile Theodore Dalrymple (pictured) has added his tuppence worth to the discussion that has followed de facto sacking of Mozilla's Brendan Eich for donating to a campaign in favour of traditional marriage.

He says that Eich fell victim to the notion that 'repressive tolerance' must not be tolerated.

'Repressive tolerance'was a term coined by Herbert Marcuse, a German intellectual beloved of radical leftists in the 1960s.

In Marcuse's view, there is a kind of tolerance which is repressive, which allows ideas to be promulgated that repress certain groups. In today's climate, the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman is held to repress gays and lesbians and so must not be tolerated. Hence Eich's belief must not be tolerated. Hence he was shown the door.

So in the name of 'freedom' we must bring an end to 'repressive tolerance', but as Dalrymple says, this is simply a form of intolerance in itself. Indeed, it's a form of puritanism - puritanism in the service of libertinism.

He writes:

“One of the reasons our society appears less tolerant than it ought to be, and why so many people are now afraid to speak their mind in so many situations, is that a spirit of puritanism of opinion is abroad. This puritanism is not puritanical in the old sense. On the contrary, it is inclined to attach itself to libertinism. But it wants to send to Coventry all those who think that the removal of restraints on conduct is not necessarily a good thing. It brands them as ipso facto bigots (as, of course, some but not all of them will be), and is prepared to punish them, so far as is possible, for holding the wrong opinions.

“Thus are created what one might call microclimates of totalitarianism in which people live in fear: fear of losing their jobs, fear of social ostracism for having said or even thought the wrong thing.”

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