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Intolerance is the lack of ability or willingness to tolerate something.
More colloquially, people use the term to describe items or situations they dislike (e.g., "I cannot tolerate loud music"). Intolerance can also refer to behaviour (e.g., "I will not tolerate children jumping on the couch"). In these senses, the phrase "do/can/will not tolerate" is used instead of the word "intolerance."
In a social or political sense, intolerance is the absence of tolerance toward (acceptance of) people with differing viewpoints. As a social construct, it is open to interpretation. For example, one might define intolerance as an expressed, negative or hostile attitude toward another's views, even if no action is taken to squelch such opposing views or silence those who hold them. Tolerance, in contrast, can mean "disagreeing peaceably." Emotion is a primary factor that differentiates intolerance from respectful disagreement.
Common forms of intolerance include racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, religious intolerance, and intolerance of differing political views. However, it is not limited to these forms: one can be intolerant of any ideas or anyone. Intolerance is based in prejudice, and can lead to discrimination.
In its everyday form, intolerance is an attitude expressed through angry argumentation, looking down at people because of their characteristics or viewpoints, negatively portraying something due to one's own prejudice, etc. On a more extreme level, it can lead to violence - in its most severe form, genocide. Possibly the most infamous example in Western culture is the Holocaust. Colonialism was based, in part, on a lack of tolerance of cultures different than that of the mother country.
There is debate as to where a government can use its force to prevent what it defines as hate speech. For example, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution allows such expression of intolerance without criminal action. In some other countries people can be prosecuted for such speech. This is a question of how much intolerance the government should tolerate, and how it decides what constitutes the expression of hate.
As the debate as to what to do about other people's intolerance continues, what is often ignored is how to recognize and deal with one's own.
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