Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Tolerance Is A Lousy Name For A Bridge


Above is a rendering of the so-called Tolerance Bridge that is planned to span Houston’s Buffalo Bayou.

Here is some explanation of the design of the bridge from the Houston Chronicle—

“The bridge design features a visual sleight of hand: a twisted archway at its center that from afar, project officials told City Council members, will make it appear impossible to cross. However, when pedestrians or bikers are closer, they will see the bridge is easily passable. From one vantage point, the “twisted arc” will frame the Houston skyline.”

The Tolerance Bridge will cost $7 million and will be funded by both public and private money.   

I’m all for the bridge. You can never have enough bridges. I just don’t like the name.

“Tolerance” suggests we are just tolerating other people. We’d might as well call it the “I Guess I’ve Got No Choice But To Live In This City With You Bridge.”  Or the “I’ve Suppose After All These Years I’ve Finally Developed A Tolerance For Your Kind Bridge.”

Why not instead call it the “Acceptance  Bridge?” Or the ” You Are My Fellow Human Being Bridge?” Or even the “I Like You A Great Deal Bridge?”

We don’t have to accept all that people do or believe. What we have to do is accept people as fellow human beings. Can’t we hope for more than to just tolerate people?

December 5, 2008 - Posted by | Houston | , , , ,


  1. Are you serious? That ugly thing is actually going to go up? Who decided that was art? And Tolerance is sure a dumb name for a bridge.

    I say we should name it the “All People Matter” Bridge. Even the artist who came up with this ugly idea.Seriously. No joke intended to you Neil.

    Comment by Saleema Gul | December 5, 2008

  2. tolerance is an obnoxious word overall. to tolerate is so far off from to understand that we are different and we dont agree on everything, we should chose or buzz words more wisely. the bridge should have a fun name, at least its not being named after reagan or bush, the would require tolerance.

    Comment by bill brady | December 5, 2008

  3. I am “tolerant” of the fact that some liberals are just looking for things to pick apart, be offended at upset about but really? The name of a bridge? I mean…it’s ugly but someone liked the name and probably appreciated the names meaning for some reason. Where’s your tolerance? Your accepting that whomever that person is “they” matter and for some reason had the right to name it what they wanted. I personnaly think the name is beautiful. Strong. It’s sad that no one thinks we need to be that way anymore. I will continue to be tolerant of that thinking though. That’s is what gives me peace. One individual at a time.

    By the way…definition of Tolerance: terms used in social, cultural and religious contexts to describe attitudes and practices that prohibit discrimination against those practices or group memberships that may be disapproved of by those in the majority.

    Now…does this word really have such a bad meaning that we have to criticize those who use it or feel it? OR…want to name a bridge after it. Like that kind of negative thought is so important it needs to be voiced. We know that personalities are not just born or bred their both. Just in case someone happens to be intolerant of certain things shouldn’t they learn tolerance first and acceptance will come? And vice versa. It is ok and expected to “not” tolerate some things. Of course it is.

    I say “good job” to whomever it is that put together this ugly bridge. I’m thankful he had the freedom to do what they did and name it what they wanted. I hope it’s tolerant of the weight it will carry and pray it will protect the people that will use it every day.

    Comment by Deanna | December 6, 2008

  4. Saleema & Bill–I agree.

    Deanna–I tolerate the name of the bridge. I don’t suppose I accept it. As for your comment, I tolerate it, and maybe even accept it as I’m letting it stay here on the blog.

    I’m mindful that the word tolerance can have a somewhat broader meaning, but I’m not sure that more subtle meaning is what will hit folks as they cross the bridge.

    And you might be right that tolerance might in some cases lead to a more open acceptance. But that can sure be a slow process.

    Still,I don’t think we are very warm to things we simply tolerate, as the word is most often used and I think we could give this bridge a better name.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 6, 2008

  5. I was involved in the publicity of this bridge and interviewed quite a few people from constituencies who feel Houstonians are biased against them. They are unanimously ih favor of this art bridge. If people cannot accept them for their choices (gay couples, tattooed individuals, Hispanic teachers, Muslim women) then they are happy to know that Houston is encouraging an attitude of ‘tolerance.’
    Given our diverse political and moral persuasions, perhaps that is a start–if nothing more. Give it a chance.

    Comment by margaret | December 8, 2008

  6. Margaret–Thank you for your kind comment.

    I don’t find the name of the bridge to be very hopeful. I get your point, but I’m ready to look for more.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 8, 2008

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