"Tolerance of intolerance is suicidal."

Tolerance towards intolerance is suicidal. I'm not talking about tolerance towards just religious intolerance. I'm referring to the tolerance that our society show to inequality (economic and gender), tolerance to injustice, tolerance to corruption, etc. My home state Kerala has been on this path of self-destruction for last few years.

In 2013, the victim's family (a Christian family) of the infamous Suryanelli sex scandal (1996) in Kerala was restrained from attending the masses in their Church by the vicar of their parish for citing the name of a senior Congress politician as one of the accused. There were attempts to remove her from her government job by filing false cases against her. She and her sister remain unmarried to this day because of the stigma associated with the high-profile case.

In 2010, Islamic fundamentalists belonging to the Popular Front of India (PFI) chopped off the right hand of Prof. T.J. Joseph, who headed Malayalam department in Newman College, for framing a question in a grammar test that had the name 'Mohammad' in it. Kerala society has shown astonishing 'tolerance' in this case. Newman College where Joseph taught is a minority Christian institution run by the Syrian Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam with Government aid. The college took the strange step of first suspending and then dismissing the professor following this incident. The Bishop of the Syrian Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam wrote in a letter that was read in about 120 parish churches in the area: ‘The teacher will not be absolved of his mistake just because a group of religious fundamentalists took the law into their own hands and cut off his palm. If we think that he has been absolved of what he did, it would mean that we are accepting the cruel deed of anti-socials.’

And the latest is the case of journalist VP Rajeena who is facing flak for recounting her childhood experiences of sexual abuse of students by the Ustads (instructors) in a Madrasa in Kerala. It is very likely that she is also going to face a tough ordeal in the coming days for these revelations.

All these incidents point to the need to be intolerant towards intolerance so that true tolerance can prevail in society and diversity of opinions are respected. An important distinction that we need to understand is that respecting a different opinion doesn't necessarily mean agreeing to it. So, one may criticize Amir Khan's double speak on intolerance even while respecting his right to be a hypocrite. But to label such criticism as being intolerant would truly qualify as intolerance to a differing opinion.

Peace out. :)

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