South Park and Philosophy: Bigger, Longer, and More Penetrating

By Richard Hanley | Go to book overview

6
The Death Camp of
Tolerance

RICHARD HANLEY

Hippies suck, according to Cartman in “Ike's Wee Wee,” “Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000,” and “Die Hippie, Die.” Cartman hates hippies, and I hate anyone who hates hippies. So are we just as bad as each other? Kyle, much of the time, also hates Cartman. Does that make Kyle intolerant?

To tolerate something is to put up with it, which you only do if it's something you disapprove of, or don't like. If Kyle really doesn't mind being called a stinking Jew, then his letting it pass is not toleration. South Park gets this exactly right in “The Death Camp of Tolerance.” Mr. Garrison is giving a courageous speech in the Museum of Tolerance:

Just because you have to tolerate something, doesn't mean you
have to approve of it. If you had to like it, it would be called the
Museum of Acceptance.

So we can call someone tolerant when they are relatively inclined to put up with things that they don't accept. But that doesn't mean that if you're not inclined to put up with something that you don't accept, then you are intolerant. Because intolerant is a morally loaded term: it means that you don't put up with things you don't like, when you really ought to.

At the end of the episode, Mr. Garrison, who has been outrageously trying to get fired for the compensation money, is sent to Tolerance Camp because “you are not tolerant of your own behavior.” Or for sticking a gerbil up Mr. Slave's ass.

-65-

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