Homosexuals and other groups pushing a social agenda frequently bandy the term around to censure anyone who opposes the desire to fully legalise whatever social innovation they are seeking.
The virtue of tolerance is the virtue of living with people whom you don't like or disagree with. Tolerance isn't liking what you don't like or agreeing with that which you don't agree; that is acceptance. Of course, with the social innovators, these people aren't seeking tolerance, what they're wanting is full acceptance of their behaviour under the guise of tolerance. If a man wants me to be tolerant of his behaviour he wants me to leave him in peace even though I find his behaviour objectionable. What the liberal mob wants when it calls for tolerance is for me to accept without question their system of belief.
Take for example Homophobia. Whether you agree with homosexuality or not, does a man have a right to be homophobic? Or a Racist? The opinion may be disagreeable but provided a man leaves others in peace, should he be censured for holding that opinion?
Liberals of course would argue that every man has a right to an opinion, but when given legislative power they effectively nullify that right, and the way they do this is through anti-discrimination laws. Now let me be perfectly clear, society is divided into the public and private spheres, and tolerance is a virtue of the public sphere. What the anti-discrimination laws do is encroach on the private sphere. A private businessman may not like homosexuals but he is compelled to employ them. Catholics are compelled to hire and enroll Muslims into their schools under the name of anti-discrimination. Freedom of speech is effectively nullified by "Hate speech" laws, which are ostensibly designed to promote tolerance but in reality, legal mechanisms to enforce group think as Geert Wilders found out. Now I don't like Geert Wilders, but what I really hate is how any criticism of Islam is immediately characterised by the liberalised Dutch political class as hate speech and pretext for punishing Mr Wilders.
Of course, not all hate speech is hate speech. Criticism of white men(Racism) is perfectly acceptable, criticism of Christianity, especially the Catholic Church is not hate crime, but walk into any Government organisation or Media outlet and say Homosexuality is wrong or hold racist opinions and suddenly the call to punish is proclaimed far and wide. Young Carrie Prejean learned this the hard way. When asked what she thought about same sex marriages she gave this reply:
Well I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.Note, she was not calling for the gassing of gays, or their beating or their imprisonment, what she was saying in a free country where people can live as they please and I, Carrie, don't agree with that lifestyle.
Well the predictable happened--and it's predictable because it has happened so many times before--Ms Prejean was pilloried from pillar to post for holding an unacceptable opinion; not for acting inappropriately or for infringing anyones rights. The parties that most openly talk about tolerance are those who cannot tolerate anyone having an opinion that differs from their own, the whole liberal/multicultural/diversity industry rose as one voice condemning Ms Prejean. Liberal hypocrisy in action.
Tolerance is a public virtue which allows people with differing beliefs to share a common public life. It however implies a private sphere in which the individual has a right to be intolerant. It acknowledges the right to hold and freely express an opinion without censure from another. More importantly it demands from others the obligation to publicly tolerate the disagreeable. This of course is precisely what the "enthusiastic" Lefties do not want, they don't tolerate anyone who disagrees with their opinion. Under the threat of punishment, they want all of us to think a certain way, or more importantly, not to think at all.