Territory vs. Tolerance...
...according to Dictionary.com
, tolerance means (among other definitions) "The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
Humans, as a majority, tend to be tolerant creatures. They are also, as a good friend pointed out, very territorial creatures. I think that latter description best fits how folks discuss politics, especially of late. It's as if the opposite party is invading someone's sacred turf, and defending it to the death (usually meaning, until the opposition just slinks away because there's no point in having a discussion with someone who just wants to fight).
We learned as children to share - our territory was our toys and our friends. "You can't play with that, it's mine" or "You can't play with SueBobJane because you're playing with ME, and I don't want her to play with us." We hear those statements fall from a child's lips and we correct them - teach them to share and how to "tolerate" people that they may not like... and to learn how to open up their minds and possible learn to like the person.
Since it's such an early and valuable lesson in our lives, it makes me wonder what happened to tolerance...We accept or tolerate other people's morals, ethics, religions, child raising methods, needle threading methods, skin colors and foods. There are many that tolerate the more aggressive and vehemently vocal people who beat the same dead horse over and over again - tolerance here to mean "Decreased responsiveness to a stimulus, especially over a period of continued exposure" - yet there are many others who cannot. I don't know that those who can't build up a tolerance aren't aggressive, but they certainly get fed up a lot quicker.
Sometimes peacemakers step in - some appointed, others not - yet they get slammed for restricting speech. That's not the case at all - the peacemakers are generally there to remove the nasty element from things. The nasty element, however, is usually name-calling, which shouldn't be tolerated by anyone, and generally isn't except for those who are participating in such.
I know of one misguided individual from my past who seems to think that prohibiting name-calling from discussions is basically prohibiting someone's freedom of speech. It is their constitutional right to freedom of speech, and if they want to call someone a bleeding heart commie liberal, then it's their right to do so, and no one should stop them.
Last time I checked, libel wasn't legally protected by the Constitution. Libel also usually involves malice aforethought - you didn't just spit that out in reaction, you meant to call someone or some group a name to rile things up. Now, what I wonder is what's so entertaining about people stirring up the pot (creating chaos) and walking away from it. You'd think that folks would be smart enough to not bite and would just walk away. Too often, unfortunately, that's not the case, and you end up with a teeming mass of anger and resentment, and a little bit of wonder about how someone could just be so darn... well, you get the picture.
Clearly, discussions of a political nature cannot be ones of tolerance (or very rarely can they be of tolerance) - they are generally ones of territory. The Conservatives vs the Liberals, the Democrats vs. the Republicans, the Moderates vs the Independents... and no one's willing to give ground to the other because giving up precious territory shows weakness...
...and fate forbid that anyone show any weakness, right?