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How tolerant should we be of intolerant people?

Many years ago, I read a science fiction story -I can't even remember its title- about a group of police officers chasing the last murderer on the planet in a technological future. After cornering him, a police officer shoots him and kills him. And the policeman then exclaims: "I killed the last murderer!"
At that very moment, the police officer becomes aware that, by having done what he did and having said what he said, he had become precisely what the world wanted to eliminate. He himself was now the last murderer, replacing the criminal whose life he had taken. So, what should he do?

I very vaguely remember the rest of the story, but be that as it may, the policeman had only a few options: to tell himself that he was doing his duty and therefore his actions were not murder; to accept that he had committed a murder and that, therefore, the police were going to kill him, and the cycle would repeat itself; or take his life thus ending the cycle.

The story came to mind (in a fragmentary way and without its end) when thinking to what extent we can be tolerant with the intolerant without becoming intolerant ourselves and without falling into the easy way of saying that because we practice intolerance then it is not intolerance.

At this time in history with so many divisions in any of the social spheres one finds oneself; at a time when arrogant ignorance reigns to the point that, knowing itself as ignorance, it does not seek knowledge; at a time when the dialogue is reduced to a monologue of whims, how tolerant can we be?

We already know the deadly results of intolerance. Millions and millions of people have paid with their lives in the battles and wars fought by bigots against bigots, each one hiding behind "his" truth and "his" rights. And each group, even holding totally contradictory positions, share the same position of intolerance.

But beyond those historical mega events, to what extent can we continue to be tolerant in our daily lives against intolerant people? How long will it be until we shout, "I have been intolerant of the intolerant!", only to find that we have become precisely what we wanted to avoid.

Or, perhaps, we have become worse than that because we have become aware of our situation and, generally, a contradiction arises within us between keeping an open mind and a willing heart and not listening to the nonsense uttered by the intolerant. To top it all, we don't even know how to feign intolerance without losing control.

So, what to do? Committing a (metaphorical) "ethical suicide" and setting aside our values when faced with bigotry? Being intolerant, but saying we are not because what we don’t tolerate is the intolerant? Nothing of that? Perhaps something else?

I don’t have answers, but I would like to have them. Maybe someone who has them will soon share them to educate us all. 

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