There aren’t that many simple rules when it comes to interacting with other people in a civilised society but in the aftermath of Nazis openly marching on the streets of Charlottesville, here’s another one to toss on to the list:

If you want to live in a tolerant society, it is your personal duty to be intolerant of intolerance.

That doesn’t affect your duty to treat people justly or fairly or with honour. But it is not your job to tolerate the actions of a group of sodding Nazis marching around with burning torches while chanting “blood and soil”. We know where that goes, we know how it ends and we know what it costs. We have zero duty as a society to appease racial supremacists who preach fascist philosophies. The most recent time we had to battle these pricks it cost millions of lives. It is not a world we want to revisit.

Sure, it isn’t always easy to stand up to racist morons and we don’t always have the energy to do it. That’s unfortunate but it’s fine. And I can presumably guarantee that all of you know at least one person who is a different colour to you whom you don’t like, not because their skin is a different colour but because they’re an asshole. That’s fine too.

But if you’re the sort of person who treats or regards people in a different way automatically because they’re a different colour to you or they have a different religion or because they fuck in a different way to you, odds are very high that they’re not the problem – you are. And when people complain that you’re not acting like a reasonable human being for doing that – when they’re being intolerant of your intolerance – they’re right and you’re wrong.

Don’t worry. You still get to tell jokes about people who live one town over from you. They’re telling jokes about you too and none of you take it seriously. Just don’t be a sodding douchebag.

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