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What is Tolerance?
Understanding the most misused word in the English language.
By JOHN LEAKE
As we relate in our book, The Courage to Face COVID-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the BioPharmaceutical Complex, Dr. McCullough’s journey as a public figure began when he was expressly prohibited from treating COVID-19 patients with repurposed, FDA-approved drugs.
In spite of his success in treating patients (including his own, 82-year-old father, whom he brought back from the brink of death) his former medical center objected to his public advocacy of early treatment, including his Senate testimony of November 19, 2020. The message was clear: Treating COVID-19 patients to the best of your ability and judgement will NOT be tolerated.
In the spring of 2021, the same drama played out again when Dr. McCullough started questioning the safety of the so-called COVID-19 “vaccines.” As he quickly learned the hard way, such public utterances were NOT tolerated, and he was swiftly and severely punished for it.
Because COVID-19 has been heavily politicized, it warrants pointing out that until SARS-CoV-2 arrived, Dr. McCullough was a political moderate who tended to vote for Democratic candidates. He did not view the pandemic as a matter of partisan politics, but as a practical matter of treating patients with perfectly safe substances (that had been used for decades) and then—after the “vaccines” were rolled out at Warp Speed—protecting patients from dangerous, experimental substances.
For my part, I’ve long thought of myself as a political conservative in the vein of my college professor, Roger Scruton. His was the conservatism of Edmund Burke and Lord Salisbury, and he was never really sure of how conservative ideas could be applied to American partisan politics.
One of the many lessons he taught me is that the virtue of tolerance is much better practiced by British conservatives like him than it is by self-identifying Leftists.
To tolerate an idea or expression does not mean that you approve of it or must approve of it. On the contrary, the only things we can tolerate are those that we don’t approve of. Nevertheless, in the British Parliamentarian tradition going back to John Milton’s 1644 pamphlet (titled Areopagitica) in the defense of free speech, we accept free speech, and therefore the expression of ideas with which we don’t agree.
For thirteen years in the United States, the sale and consumption of alcohol was legally prohibited. Ultimately, in 1933, our society concluded that—in spite of alcohol’s dangerous and destructive effects—it made more sense to tolerate its sale and consumption instead of prohibiting it. Millions of Americans still disapprove of drinking alcohol, but they nevertheless tolerate that millions of others consume it. This is the true meaning of tolerance.
Over a thirty year period, I lived in multiple cities with a distinctly leftist cultural bent. In all of these places, I was mostly surrounded by people who did not share my somewhat conservative view of culture and politics.
On countless occasions I sat at cocktail and dinner parties, listening to opinions with which I didn’t agree. I didn’t approve of them, but I nevertheless tolerated them, and it was my tolerance that enabled me to get along with everyone.
I remember only two occasions on which my old-fashioned views got me into trouble. For a brief time in Florence I subleased a room in a beautiful apartment overlooking Il Duomo. My landlady was a young and rich student at the University who had a huge library of leftist literature. Gramsci and Foucault were her favorite writers.
One afternoon, after a few glasses of wine, I asked her how she managed to reconcile her privileged, propertied state with her embrace of an ideology that would, if it became state policy, probably result in the confiscation of her ancient building. She responded to my provocative question by telling me to pack my things and vacate her apartment at once.
In the spring of 2016 I attended a dinner at the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts, honoring an old friend whose life work was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition. There I was, sitting at the table with the museum director (who came from an old aristocratic family) and assorted cultural and media people. At one point, a fashion model asked me what I thought of Donald Trump.
“I think he’s great!” I replied. “I think he’s the only man in the United States who has the balls to take on our corrupt Washington establishment.”
A look of extreme confusion appeared on the woman’s face, and everyone turned to look at me as though I’d just sat a hand grenade on the table. Everyone stared at me, waiting for me to say that I was kidding. I held their stares for a while, and then finally chickened out.
“I’m just joking! I think Trump’s a total buffoon!” I exclaimed.
Everyone sighed with relief that they could go back to enjoying their dinner and conversation, and did not have to worry about the unpleasant need to expel me.
Since SARS-COV-2 arrived, we have witnessed a proliferation of things we aren’t allowed to discuss or even question. I’ve already mentioned Dr. McCullough’s forbidden advocacy or early treatment and his questioning of the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. Other topics include:
1). Pointing out the obvious evidence that SARS-CoV-2 emerged from a lab.
2). Questioning lockdowns.
3). Questioning PCR tests of asymptomatic people.
4). Questioning mask mandates.
5). Questioning vaccine mandates.
6). Questioning the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.
7). Questioning “Climate Change” and “Alternative Energy” orthodoxy.
8). Questioning the prudence and morality of trying to change the sex of children.
9). Questioning the ballot results of the 2020 presidential election.
10). Pointing out the obvious signs that President Biden is suffering from senile dementia and may not be fit for office.
11). Questioning the official orthodoxy that the January 6 protest was an “insurrection.”
Anyone who questions any of the above will be vilified with an array of ad hominem labels such as quack, snake-oil salesman, misinformation spreader, conspiracy theorist, bigot, Putin stooge, anti-vaxxer, etc.
In other words, questioning the prevailing orthodoxy about these major public policy issues will NOT BE TOLERATED.
For my part, I have never once told anyone that they should or should not wear a mask, get injected, get a PCR test, stay at home, support the war in Ukraine, drive an electric car, get an abortion, sleep with the same sex, get a sex change, vote for Trump, or express their opinion. I believe that in free country, adults should be able to express their opinions, do what they want in the privacy of their homes, and make their own decisions about their health and safety.
However, just because I tolerate all of the above doesn’t mean that I cannot question the prudence and morality of it, especially when it becomes a matter of public policy.