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Tolerate my intolerance or I will destroy you

It takes some arrogance to declare that your support for others is contingent upon their actions and speech being acceptable to you. In other words, they earn your support by dancing to your tune, not because you have any real interest in their cause. Your primary concern is that your own sense of decorum may endure temporary violation, and you will not tolerate that, no matter whose human rights are at stake.

“Do it my way or else” is hardly a respectful way in which to approach debate and disagreement.

(I’ve long been of the belief that arrogance is a psychological defence mechanism employed to conceal from self and others terrifying feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, and lack of self-worth. It’s a thin veneer.)

Such arrogance has been expressed by several right-wing commentators and was yesterday reiterated by one Tom Switzer, currently employed by the ABC as a “radio host.” Fairfax recently published this piece by Switzer on marriage equality and intolerance. To paraphrase: I would vote Yes in the marriage equality postal survey, declared Switzer, but the same-sex advocates are being so objectionable I’m rethinking that and may vote No.

I like to think of this attitude as a desperate (and despairing) effort to retain control by those who feel they are perilously close to losing their hold on the status quo. The “If you are not nice to me I will not support your cause” position is narcissistic, in the sense that offending these people is experienced by them as a narcissistic wound, a threat to their very being. It reveals the fragile, threatened ego that needs everyone to be nice to it all of the time, otherwise it will blow you up, metaphorically speaking in this instance though the threats of annihilation are more substantial at the more powerful end of the narcissism spectrum where we find Trump and Kim Jon Un. Switzer of course is not in their league: his narcissism is of the petit bourgeoisie class for whom bad manners, language and graffiti are offences that far outrank just about any denial of human rights.

The ultimate exercise of control: do it my way and don’t offend me, or I will use my power to affect your life against you.

Many of us can likely find a parallel in childhood, when our parents told us we wouldn’t have what we wanted unless we were good. Switzer, et al, are applying the same authoritarian discourse to adults seeking equality with other adults. They are demanding their own intolerance, either of marriage equality or the manner in which the fight for it is fought, be placed front and centre in a discussion on equality. In so doing they destroy any possibility of equality and respect in the debate, let alone in its outcome.

This is a tactic used by the privileged against many minority groups. The ruling class sets behavioural norms, and gives itself permission to break them while severely punishing and shaming those who are not of their tribe. Tony Abbott’s taxpayer-funded drunkenness comes to mind as an example, as he advocates for the humiliation of indigenous people with the imposition of a cashless welfare card to prevent their purchase of alcohol.

The intolerant, such as Switzer, are not interested in respectful debate and just outcomes. They are concerned with their own feelings of offence, and consider themselves to be so important that a vote on the lives of others hinges entirely on whether or not they suffer affront.

Respectful? I don’t think so. Tolerant? Nah. Silenced? Give me a break.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. diannaart

    Yes!, YES!, YES!

    The number of times I have argued that arrogance is not a form of confidence… well, not recently because I left the idiot spouting this nonsense.

    Thank you, Jennifer, again you have far more eloquently than I, expressed my seething thoughts.

    These authoritarian SOB’s lie to themselves even more than they lie to us – hard to be believe, however, I suggest it is true as self-deceit is the only way to continue spouting such rubbish without self-imploding.

    Also very happy to report that Switzer is no longer wrecking ABC RN’s Sunday Extra as his climb up the greasy pole has resulted in him accepting a position as CEO of some right-wing tank, somewhere, whose name I cannot recall, because I am not that into Switzer. The bad news is he will still be presenting whatever his half hour alt-right show is called and being presented as “balance” for the ABC’s “fair and balanced” reportage.

  2. Keith

    The same attitude is being displayed by the Minerals Council in suggesting that donations to groups should not be tax deductible unless 10% of the groups time is spent doing activities perceived as being community based. For example, Shut the Gate might need to spend time planting trees. But, whats good for the goose, is also good for the gander.

  3. diannaart


    I wrote to my local federal member regarding this policy. I suggested such a policy be applied to all listed charities such as the IPA and recommend that John Roskam spend 10% of his time planting trees.

    I received a reply full of, well, I have yet to decipher just what it was full of…

  4. Mark Needham

    “It takes some arrogance to declare that your support for others is contingent upon their actions and speech being acceptable to you.”

    I agree, 100%, no codicils, has to quote of the year.

    Now, If we can just remember this.!

    Learning Slowly,
    Mark Needham

  5. Harquebus

    ““Do it my way or else” is hardly a respectful way in which to approach debate and disagreement.”
    Michael Taylor: Where are you?

    I liked the comparison of “Tony Abbott’s taxpayer-funded drunkenness” to the “humiliation of indigenous people with the imposition of a cashless welfare card”. Something that I hadn’t considered and will now be sharing.

  6. Diane

    And the ABC in its continued efforts to show no bias last night managed to find a gay couple who don’t support equal rights. Along the lines of “we don’t want equal treatment so no-one else should have it either”! I do wonder what these people see when they look in the mirror sometimes…

  7. diannaart


    I do not support the anachronism that is marriage either – but that is my personal choice to make and I will defend the right of any other people to marry if they so choose. The carefully screened gay couple chosen by the ABC for “balance” can choose not to marry.

  8. guest

    I find it so disingenuous, insincere and hypocritical that Switzer should decide how he would vote according to how nicely people would express their opinions. He seems to think that the Yes voters have been rather too intolerant of No voters – so he will join the No voters; rather, it is about what someone else thinks, not what he thinks. You see how ridiculous that is; it is not so much what he thinks about SSM but rather about what other people think and the way they express themselves. Weak as water.

    And I will tell you why, First of all, the No voters are the most intolerant of all, and the most dishonest and the most bigoted. And I say this even if they are lovely people and had reasons to believe that SSM is wrong. But from my observations over the past few weeks, the religious people in group pronouncements, for example, are the worst in their lack of empathy and their willingness to perpetrate untruths to bolster their bigotry.

    And another thing. Anti-LGBTIQ-bashing has been around for a very long time. I remember very well the death of Dr George Duncan, May, 1972, law lecturer at Adelaide University, when he was thrown into the River Torrens by a group of men believed to be police officers. So great was the outcry that SA became the first state to decriminalise homosexuality.

    So many, many LGBTIQ people have been abused, spat on, vilified, bashed, murdered, imprisoned etc, that it is shameful that someone like Switzer and others should complain about intolerance when the history of the No side has a vile history going way, way back. And yes, the acrimony is mainly about being gay, but now that bigotry has been extended to include attitudes to SSM.

    And it goes wider. The Safe School program is about protecting LGBTIQ young people against bullying in schools, but the argument against protecting against bullying becomes some kind of vendetta based on accusations of Marxist ideology (does Marx even refer to LGBTIQ people?), about where will children go to a toilet, what clothes they will be allowed to wear, how children will be converted to being gay – anything but a sensible discussion. We can handle NDIS problems, but not LGBTIQ, apparently

    Debate is stifled because sensible debate does not sell in the news cycle. Better to stir up froth and bubble and the diehards will repeat the rubbish from the media echo chambers without question. Once both sides of debates would have been explored. Not any more. The cult of the individual allows all comers to rattle their chains.

  9. jimhaz

    The SMH rejected my comment on this article.

    “Dear Tom, Lyle and co.

    Natalia Sikora – “Cry Baby”

    one of the best starts to a song you’ll ever hear.”

  10. Andrew J. Smith

    Tom Switzer, not my cup of tea being a little too bubbly, although he did improve on Sunday Extra RN and some times asked a question.

    However, what did bother me was removal of comments function (which would not have been published anyway) and how big ‘C’ conservative guests, often British or American too, were allowed to put their hard Christian conservative beliefs and demands across, unchallenged by Switzer. Meanwhile they would speak about the need for society to respect Christian and/or Conservative beliefs, not unlike a sermon, on the basis of them holding strong beliefs vs. others e.g. normal people who don’t.

    Not only is this narcissistic but mirrors how the media in Oz, and elsewhere seem to have a strong bias for Conservative Christianity (actually protestant evangelical over RC), at the expense of encouraging more respect for diversity and multiculturalism which have been described by extremists as ‘white Christian genocide’; they really are paranoid.

  11. guest

    So who is the cry baby, jimmyhazbaby? Feeling rejected?

  12. jimhaz

    [So who is the cry baby, jimmyhazbaby? Feeling rejected?]

    The Right is the Cry Baby. I have noticed just how much they exaggerate the effects of the left. They are constantly carrying on about how bad the left are when they really will hardly be affected at all by what the left wants. I am well aware the left can be arseholes, particularly the thought police types, but the right wingers are completely blind to their own stronger facism and how much they can be drama queens.

  13. Shogan

    Switzer just likes the sound of his own voice & he could listen to himself all day!!

  14. Kaye Lee

    “they really will hardly be affected at all by what the left wants”

    That’s the really silly part. Marriage equality will make not one iota difference to anyone else’s lives except those who choose to marry someone of the same sex. One side wants the right to choose something for themselves, the other wants the right to deny something to others.

    Switzer is not as smart as he thinks he is.

  15. guest

    Interesting comment, jimhaz. The Right blames Labor for everything. Simple current example: Labor is responsible for power failures and now wants renewable power to be subsidised to the tune of $3bn but the Right omits to say that they subsidise coal and seem to be willing to pay for a railway line to the coast, all of which amounts to billions more dollars than the subsidy of renewables. Besides all that, Climate Change is real no matter what they say. Cry Babies! Coal is dead.

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