One trend of which I’m seeing more and more lately is the desperate attempt by some fundamentalists out there to redefine the word “bigotry”. Quite a few times lately I’ve seen fundamentalists try to claim that because one is intolerant of bigotry, that means one is a bigot oneself … which is preposterous for many reasons.
First, what is the alternative? To be tolerant of bigotry? To say it’s OK that one is a bigot, and that it will be tolerated just fine? I’m sorry, but bigotry must not be tolerated, under any circumstances. If we are to fight against bigotry, one must be intolerant of it. I’ll get into that more in a little bit.
Second, it appears as though the fundamentalists have no idea what “bigotry” really means. Granted, the dictionary defines it as “intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own”. If one were so inclined to play word games, bigotry in itself could be considered a belief (e.g. that homosexuality is evil and immoral); therefore being intolerant of said belief could be considered a form of bigotry.
But let’s be honest here. Being intolerant of a narrow-minded belief based on nothing but fear and superstition and the “ick factor” is not the same as being intolerant of LGBT people for the mere fact alone that they’re LGBT. One is based on irrational fear, hatred, and disgust, while the other is based on trying to fight that very same hatred and fear, and the actions that would most likely result from these attitudes.
A bigot is more than just a person who is intolerant of any creed, belief or opinion different from his or her own. It’s a person who is prejudiced against certain people for traits that cannot be helped. It’s a person who not only is intolerant, but is hateful and/or fearful of those who are too different from them. It’s a person who would seek to infringe upon the rights of those who are so different from them that they refuse to even try to see things from a different perspective. It’s a person who thinks they are special and deserving of certain rights and freedoms that others different from them do not.
It is not a person who is fighting for equal rights and, in doing so, must be intolerant of those who would seek to infringe upon equality. If I physically fight off a violent criminal who had broken and entered into my home, does that also make me a violent criminal? Only a person trying to play word games, trying to justify their own hatred and prejudice, would do such a thing. By attempting to redefine “bigotry”, the fundamentalists are putting up a flimsy, careless screen over their own hateful, ignorant actions.