Re: Should we tolerate religion?
At last, riverc0il, something we can agree on. Let us say, however, that you are the one being "tolerated" ("put up with"). (You can take this "you" as rhetorical or theoretical.) Let's say that you are not an extremist, but rather a mild-mannered, moderate person, but another person graciously suggests he will "tolerate" you and your beliefs. Or you and your skin color. Or you and your ethnicity. Etc.
How does this make any of us feel? Is there any sense of being patronized? Which is, of course, infinitely preferable to being tied to the stake and set alight.
Then, does Harris's argument for intolerance have any legitimacy in a particular situation? My husband and I have just been discussing "hate" speech; I am very wary of any form of censorship. I do not think people have the right to threaten to harm or kill other specific people (I do not have the right to call you up and say I am going to kill your child, for instance), but I would hate to censor even the ugliest forms of speech that fall short of specific threats.
I think people have the right to say "I hate [fill in the blank] people." I think they have the right to draw insulting cartoons. I think they have the right to write humorous novels about Moses and Jesus and Mohammed. Though some people make take these statements, cartoons, movies, whatever, as hate speech, that does not give them the right to stop such speech.
I stopped reading Harris's book, but if he thinks religion is passe (or whatever; and I don't know how to put an accent in passe), how about attitudes rooted in religion? Does he think the notion that people "deserve" their lot in life (Calvinism) should be rooted out? Does he think the concept of humans as somehow superior to other animals (Genesis) should be outlawed? He says he follows Buddhist practices, but I didn't see much evidence of that in his sweeping statements (not what Buddhists would term "right speech").
Did he write this book just to make a name for himself? I think fundamentalist preachers are essentially grifters, so I'm always skeptical about people's motives.