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Dimensions of Tolerance, The

Dimensions of Tolerance, The: What Americans Believe About Civil Liberties

Herbert McClosky
Alida Brill
Copyright Date: 1983
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 528
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  • Book Info
    Dimensions of Tolerance, The
    Book Description:

    Reaching well beyond traditional categories of analysis, McClosky and Brill have surveyed civil libertarian attitudes among the general public, opinion leaders, lawyers and judges, police officials, and academics. They analyze levels of tolerance in a wide range of civil liberties domains-first amendment rights, due process, privacy, and such emerging areas as women's and homosexual rights-and along numerous variables including political participation, ideology, age, and education.

    The authors explore fully the differences between civil libertarian values in the abstract and applying them in specific instances. They also examine the impact of tensions between liberties (free press and privacy, for example) and between tolerance and other values (such as public safety). They probe attitudes toward recently expanded liberties, finding that even the more informed and sophisticated citizen is often unable to read on through complex new civil liberties issues.

    This remarkable study offers a comprehensive assessment of the viability-and vulnerability-of beliefs central to the democratic system. It makes an invaluable contribution to the study of contemporary American institutions and attitudes.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-386-9
    Subjects: Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
    Alida Brill and Herbert McClosky
  4. CHAPTER 1 An Introduction to the Nature of Freedom and Tolerance
    (pp. 3-24)

    WHEN, in 1762, Rousseau opened his classic treatiseThe Social Contractwith the thundering pronouncement that “Man is born free [yet] everywhere he is in chains” and asked how this curious condition might be legitimated, he was, in effect, raising the moral question that underlies all forms of social control: namely, by what right does one person gain the authority to rule another? If, as Rousseau believed, human beings are free by nature and therefore it violates the “natural order to alienate [their] liberty,” how can anyone legitimately curtail their freedom, censor their opinions and conduct, and compel them to...

  5. Preface to Research Findings
    (pp. 25-31)
  6. CHAPTER 2 The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech and Press
    (pp. 32-92)

    ALTHOUGH it contains only forty-four words and was not ratified until two years after the adoption of the main body of the Constitution itself, the first of the ten amendments that compose the Bill of Rights is considered by many legal scholars to be the cornerstone of American liberties. Despite the general and somewhat imprecise nature of its language, the First Amendment has served to set the democratic tone of American political life. No other provision of the Constitution has exerted greater influence in establishing and defending the conditions of free expression on which democracy rests. Nor has any other...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The First Amendment: Symbolic Speech, Conduct, Assembly, and Religion
    (pp. 93-135)

    FREEDOM OF SPEECH, as we have observed, enjoys unusual protection under the Constitution and, except for regulations governing the time, place, and manner of its exercise, is treated by the courts as virtually inviolable. Forms of conduct intended to express beliefs, however, enjoy much less protection. You may advocate a revolution, but starting one is a crime. Nothing in the First Amendment acknowledges the right of militants to assemble their followers into paramilitary cadres and distribute arms for the purpose of intimidating the government or inciting revolution. You may publicly recommend complete freeedom of sexual conduct, but (in principle at...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Rights of Due Process
    (pp. 136-170)

    ALTHOUGH the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom are often acclaimed as the foundations of American democracy, their enforcement depends heavily upon rights contained in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments which provide that no person shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

    The concept of due process is nowhere defined in the Constitution, but its general meaning is clear enough, and its more specific meanings have been fleshed out over the past two centuries by the courts, the legislatures, and various regulatory bodies. Due process is largely synonymous with “fundamental fairness.” Its fundamental aim is...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Rights of Privacy and Lifestyle
    (pp. 171-231)

    ALTHOUGH the Constitution makes no explicit reference to a right of privacy, it is among the most vital safeguards enjoyed by Americans against government infringements on personal autonomy. Privacy is not so much a single right as a broad class of immunities that Justice Brandeis, inOlmsteadv.United States(277 U.S. 438, 1928), trenchantly characterized as “the right to be let alone.” Actually, however, the right is broader than this, for it includes not only the inviolability of a person’s thoughts against unwarranted probes, but protections against government interference with certain forms of conduct considered personal and beyond the...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Learning of Civil Libertarian Norms Among Elites and the Mass Public
    (pp. 232-273)
    Dennis Chong

    WHO LEARNS civil libertarian norms, how, and why? Evidence from our earlier research and that of others suggests thatsocial learning—formal as well as informal—is the most powerful influence on the internalization of such norms. People learn (or embrace) the norms of tolerance, privacy, due process, and other civil liberties much as they learn any other set of social norms, and the conditions which promote such learning are in many respects the same: access to information about public matters, frequency and intensity of exposure to the norms, interest in public affairs, saliency of the norms, and the perceived...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Ideology and Tolerance
    (pp. 274-335)

    AMONG THE ATTITUDES which should relate most strongly to tolerance are those that fall under the heading of political ideology. Indeed, the connections between one’s support for civil liberties and one’s orientation toward such ideological outlooks as liberalism and conservatism are so intimate that, in analyzing their interrelationship, one must take special precautions to distinguish the two, both analytically and operationally. One must be certain, above all, that in measuring political ideology one is not simultaneously (and unwittingly) measuring tolerance as well; otherwise, any correlations one might turn up between ideology and tolerance would have to be regarded as spurious....

  12. CHAPTER 8 Social and Psychological Influences on Attitudes Toward Civil Liberties
    (pp. 336-414)

    WE HAVE ARGUED in this book that the willingne to permit others to express offensive or dangerous opinions, or to deviate from community standards in their beliefs or conduct, is not inherently congenial to human beings. Rather, it is a product of social learning. We have further maintained that individuals vary in their capacity for learning social norms. Some people are, by virtue of opportunity, intellectual endowment, or location in the social structure, better equipped than others to learn (that is, to encounter, comprehend, and absorb) the libertarian norms of a society that champions freedom as the cardinal feature of...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Summary and Conclusions
    (pp. 415-438)

    OUR STUDY of civil liberties and social control has been guided by two related questions: What influences impel some people to honor and protect the liberties of others, even when those liberties are employed for purposes they perceive as hateful? What leads some men and women, even in a democracy, to assail the rights of those with whom they disagree and to honor obedience, orthodoxy, and conformity over freedom?

    We began our analysis by observing that the inclination to tolerate beliefs or conduct that one considers offensive or dangerous is not an inborn trait, but is learned behavior. Although one...

  14. Appendices
    (pp. 439-488)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 489-493)
  16. Court Cases
    (pp. 494-496)
  17. Index
    (pp. 497-512)