Saturday, July 31, 2010

What is a Bigot?

I have noticed that many times we throw words around without knowing what the meaning is; or others call us something when they don't understand the meaning themselves. I find this to be the case with the word bigot. This word gets thrown around alot in the discussion on gay marriage, with those who desire marriage equality calling the other side bigots and then the anti-equality side responding with "Oh these gay people are soooo tolerant." Well what is the definition of bigot and does the word apply to those who are against marriage equality?

Merriam Webster online dictionary defines bigot as such...
A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices;especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
Since I have been contextualizing alot of issues within the idea of a fundamentalist or traditionalist, I will do so again with the discussion on the meaning of the word bigot. I will explain how those who are anti-gay marriage are in fact bigots based on general terminology, and those who are fighting for marriage equality are correctly intolerant when they call the other side bigots. Please remember that I am not attempting to be negative here in my discussion, I am just attempting to find the appropriate word to define an action and a mentality.

The first part of the definition is the most important, and thus one I will focus on - "A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices." The latter part of this sentence, opinions and prejudices, gives the idea that this means something like "unfounded assertions". Thus the person who is labeled a bigot has an opinion that is not necessarily grounded in reason; and instead base their views on unfounded assertions and opinions. Yet they do not see this; for whenever others attempt to reason with them, they fall onto unverifiable platitudes and divine texts. This is where the fundamentalist ideology comes in. A fundamentalist must necessarily believe in his "divinely inspired texts" no matter what logic, science, or reason contradicts it. If they do not accept their inspired texts and instead do accept reason, they will forfeit the certainty that their fundamental ideology gives them. This leads them into uncertainty, doubt, and eventually fear.

In the end, the person who is rightfully labeled a "bigot", is one who ascribes to an idea and will vehemently defend said idea even when logic, science, and reason contradict him. This is his obstinacy and intolerance; he is not open for any new ideas because his mind is made up, there is no changing it.

How does this, play in the debate over gay marriage? Most "bigots" - those who are against marriage equality - take a fundamental, traditional, and divinely inspired view of human sexuality. They are not open to new ideas about any of these issues, for "God has spoken.". They speak in catch phrases like "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" or "God says so, so I know so!!". They do not objectively look at the evidence on human sexuality, but instead have a intolerance for modern scientific findings. To them, anything that goes against their divine dogma is a threat that must not only be not evaluated but also attacked.

We then, on the side of marriage equality, can rightfully label those who are against us as bigots. Yet when we call them this we are labeled "intolerant". It is argued that we don't allow for any other "voice" to be heard in the political discussion on marriage equality. This is a correct assertion that the anti-marriage equality defenders make. I say to them, yes we are intolerant of your view, because in a pluralistic society, those who are against reason, logic, and science and instead evoke an unproven divine text for their bigotry, should not be allowed to shape the debate. As I have stated, tolerance only goes so far as allowing fundamentalists to practice in private. It does not allow the fundamentalist to push their agenda, based upon a "divine word", on a democratic government. Once we become "tolerant" of the fundamentalists, we will end up being subjected to tyranny, and that my friends cannot and must not happen if we want to continue to live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

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