On Bigots and Bigotry
By the several dictionary definitions of bigot and bigotry (appended below), just about anyone holding a strong opinion might be considered to be a bigot.
It seems to me that the essence of bigotry is in the unreasonableness of the opinion and the degree of intolerance engendered by that opinion.
A Californian friend of mine observes that no single religion or group has a monopoly on bigotry and I wholeheartedly agree with that view. To suppose that bigotry is necessarily a part of the human condition I am less sure of but its apparent universality certainly lends credence to the supposition.
Another American friend, this one a Texan, has expressed a view that: “libs like me only go after Christians” This view is open to dispute on several counts.
1. Liberals like me are atheist or at least agnostic whereas many liberals are themselves religious and see no conflict between being a devout Christian while simultaneously holding politically or sociologically liberal views. I know several Muslims in both Australia and Morocco who are liberal politically but disagree strongly with my secular cosmology. They are liberals but not liberals like me.
2. Atheist liberals like me do in fact “go after” the extremist views expressed by faiths other than those expressed in Christian doctrine. Witness the public spat between Sam Harris and Ben Affleck in an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher over Harris’s statement that “Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas”. I happen to be in broad agreement with Harris’s statement but Ben Afflek, also a liberal and an atheist, clearly does not.
How could I possibly disagree with my American friend from Hawaii when she notes that there are plenty of Gay Christians and Muslims? Any group you care to mention has a proportion of Gays, be it the US Congress, the British Parliament or our own neighborhoods. I count a number of gay couples among my friends and one such is actually a Christian but but I try not to hold that against him.
Of course there are atheist bigots, I even know a few, and as hard as it is to believe, there are those who are so misguided as to think that I am a bigot and a fascist bigot at that.
I leave the final word on reasonableness and difference of opinion to my second favorite founding father as brilliantly portrayed by Tom Wilkinson. Click here for Ben Franklin’s opinion.
Definitions of Bigotry
Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.
The state of feeling, or the act of expressing, strong, unreasonable beliefs or opinions
Definitions of Bigot
A person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)
A person who is 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
A person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
A person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, especially on religion, politics, or race