One of the concepts upon which we all seemingly build our existence and activity in Second Life is tolerance. To some extent, this concept works: it allows avatars from all sorts of different walks of life and backgrounds (cultural, religious, ethnic, national) to exist in SL, as long as they don’t get into an uncomfortably close range from others who might be disturbed by what they stand for. So, it allows me to exist in SL in the form I possess, as long as I stay away from regions that are hostile to latex fetishists. Or as long as I make sure I exit even a region that is not hostile to latex fetishists (even if the region is rated “Mature” or “Moderate”) just in case someone might feel “offended” by my latex form and/or my display name (I have some personal experience on this and I’ll elaborate on this in an upcoming post) and file an abuse report against me.
So, exactly what is this “tolerance” that is so often touted as one of Second Life’s virtues? And is it really a virtue? This is what got me thinking and I ended up reading what Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek (“the most dangerous philosopher in the West”) has to say on the matter. This article, titled “Why Tolerance Is Not A Virtue” is what drew my attention. In the tolerant world of Second Life, you can be just about anything: homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, transvestite, a shemale, a demon, a latex drone, a gimp, an alien, a robot – as long as you stay away from those who might feel “offended” by your existence in the virtual world. Of course, far be it from me to condone abhorrent “preferences” such as Dolcett/snuff/guro, paedophilia (masquerading in SL as “ageplay”) or zoophilia (let’s face it: there’s nothing consensual in zoophilia and paedophilia and even in BDSM-related circles, the outrageous practices of Dolcett, snuff and guro don’t conform to RACK or SSC), or criminal ideologies such as nazism, racism and fascism. But the whole concept of “tolerance” is basically an answer to the wrong question and a provision that does not provide the right tools for coexistence.