The Difference Between Being Intolerant Or Sensitive

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1335 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2019

Words: 1335|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2019

Over the years people have been teaching their children more and more that they should be kind to one another and generally strive tobe good people. This was a fantastic idea in theory. However, somewhere along the line being a good person has turned into being oversensitive and judgmental of anyone who is not.

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Greg Lukianoff and Jonathon Haidt’s article discusses this phenomenon in great length. They claim that college students are trying to “to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense” (1). Professors at Harvard are even being told to not teach rape law because it might offend certain students or cause them distress. Many comedians have also started to refuse to perform on college campuses saying “too many of them can’t take a joke” (2). There are two main terms that are being thrown around a lot more in college campuses. The first one is microaggressions which “are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless.” (2). Mircoaggressions often happen by mistake, in fact in more often than not the culprit doesn’t even realize what they are doing and that they may be causing offence until the victim speaks up about it.The other term is a trigger warning which “are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response.” (2).The types of things that professors are expected to warn students about are generally works containing themes of suicide, war, physical abuse, rape or sexual assault,racial violence, or other offensive topics. Some believe that this is all simply “a reassurance of political correctness.” (3). While this may be partially true it is not exactly the same as what happened in the 1980’s and the 1990’s What happened then was to restrict hate speech but to also broaden minds to see things for as they were and for people to better understand diversity. What is happening today is less about broadening horizons and more about people having emotional well-being. This can be doing more harm than good since creating a space where the aim is to make everyone shielded just because there is a chance that some might be uncomfortable if it was not is not the answer. Making sure everyone is safe makes it very difficult for people to freely express themselves since “this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidently.” (4). This phenomenon is called vindictive protectiveness which can cause people to be more narrow minded even though they are trying to be what they now believe is to be open minded. Instead of using other people’s wisdom to question their beliefs and learn to understand the world better they try not to offend anyone or be offended and often shot new ideas down very fast. This also “prepares them poorly for professional life.” (5). In the workplace one must do their job regardless of what might be offensive and being overly sensitive could make it difficult to find a job as a result. One of the guesses on how people became to be this way is what happened in the generation gap. Children used to run around outside and play after school and generally speaking they were safe and this was just the way things were. However, there was a crime surge from the 1960’s to the early 1990’s made the Baby Boomer parents much more cautious parents than any generation before them.Parents wanted to keep their children safe more than ever and were going to extreme lengths to make sure that they were safe everywhere they were. Certain play structures were removed, zero tolerance policies were implemented, Christmas and some other holidays were no longer celebrated in public schools, and in some cases peanut butter was even banned from school lunches. It was clear what message the Baby Boomers were trying to give the Millennials; “life is dangerous, but adults will do everything in their power to protect you from harm” (6).More and more students are having mental illnesses and are seeing the world as badly as it is in their heads. Cognitive behavioral therapy is now being integrated more to try and help teach how to think in a more positive light. Through many almost unbelievable examples Lukianoff and Haidt have shown that one thing is clearly true “smart people do, in fact overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.” (21). Since both sides of this issue are so sure that the other is wrong it would be very difficult to find some sort of compromise that would put an end to this. What needs to happen is for Universities to try to educate these students as best as they can about how to balance freedom of speech with making sure all people still feel welcome.

Knowing a very diverse set of people this article is very interesting. Some of the people I know are like the students in this where every little thing offends them even if it was not targeted at them. For example I have a cousin, let’s call her Kate, who goes out of her way to put people in what she thinks is their place. I remember one time we were at the supermarket looking for sliced cheddar cheese and there were these two men in the deli section next to us talking to each other. They were telling some lame sexist jokes about women making sandwiches but it was obvious they weren’t talking about us since they had been talking before we got there and they weren’t exactly bothering us either. I was just going to leave it alone but when Kate heard them she went ballistic. She started chewing them out saying how what they were saying was offensive and I honestly thought they were going to get into a fight. Luckily the man’s friend told him it wasn’t worth it and they walked away but this all could have been avoided if Kate wasn’t so sensitive. This isn’t the way that people should think because no one should be a killjoy and the type of person that “can’t take a joke” (2).On the other hand some of the people I know are the types who always talk in a racist, sexist, and just all around rude manner. Just a few weeks ago I was with my cousin Deziree and her dad Lionel at the beach. Now usually Lionel is a real jerk but we put up with him for Deziree and he had a friend with him that day so he wasn’t as bad as usual. Everything was going fine until the Vietnamese people next to us, who didn’t speak English as far as we could tell, started to leave. Lionel was asking if they were leaving and if we could have their spot but when they obviously couldn’t understand he and his friend starting making a bunch of noise (like ching, chang, pow, and other “Asian sounding” noises) when they were standing right there until they left. When we tried to tell them to stop they claimed that they were trying to communicate. People that are like this are also not in the right.

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There is a huge difference between being complete intolerant and overly sensitive and there needs to be a middle ground. “Talking openly about such conflicting but important values is just the sort of challenging exercises that any diverse but tolerant community must learn to do.” (23). Schools and parents alike must teach that it is not ok to be mean and hurtful towards others, especially on purpose, but that it doesn’t pay to be overly sensitive either because then you will just be miserable your whole life. The simple solution is to just be polite and treat others as you would want to be treated.

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The Difference Between Being Intolerant Or Sensitive. (2019, September 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
“The Difference Between Being Intolerant Or Sensitive.” GradesFixer, 13 Sept. 2019,
The Difference Between Being Intolerant Or Sensitive. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Apr. 2024].
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