Perhaps you’ve already seen this video of Adam Smith, former CEO of Vantar, bullying a Chick-fil-a employee as he comes through the drive-thru to receive his free water. It’s sad. Thankfully, he was shortly thereafter fired by his company for his behavior.
But the significance of this incident is that it serves as a vivid illustration of the increasing culture divide over the understanding of what “tolerance” actually is. Last week I wrote about the two kinds of tolerance illustrated in the whole Chick-fil-a uproar (you can read the article here).
Mr. Smith illustrates one kind of tolerance–either you make no absolute claims, understanding all viewpoints to have equal validity, or you will not be tolerated. This is the kind of tolerance that prizes tolerance so much that it refuses to tolerate those who don’t. Again, ironic.
Vantar, Mr. Smith’s former employer, admirably demonstrates the second kind of tolerance. This understanding of tolerance respects the right of others’ to hold differing perspectives and for those differences to be engaged civilly. Far from minimizing differences, this tolerance recognizes that differences actually do matter. They key is that they be hammered out civilly and respectfully. In short, tolerate the right of others to hold differing viewpoints.
Here’s Vantar’s press release, which serves as an admirable illustration of this second kind of tolerance:
TUCSON, AZ–(Marketwire – Aug 2, 2012) – The following is a statement from Vante:
Vante regrets the unfortunate events that transpired yesterday in Tucson between our former CFO/Treasurer Adam Smith and an employee at Chick-fil-A. Effective immediately, Mr. Smith is no longer an employee of our company.
The actions of Mr. Smith do not reflect our corporate values in any manner. Vante is an equal opportunity company with a diverse workforce, which holds diverse opinions. We respect the right of our employees and all Americans to hold and express their personal opinions, however, we also expect our company officers to behave in a manner commensurate with their position and in a respectful fashion that conveys these values of civility with others.
We hope that the general population does not hold Mr. Smith’s actions against Vante and its employees.