April 5, 2013

Who Really Is A Bigot?

The word "bigot" is being thrown around more and more these days, especially since September 11, 2001 when the world woke up to the realization that there are a lot of "haters" in the world. At this time Militant Islam brought out the Militant Atheists which revealed Militant Secularism which helped give rise to Militant Politics (both liberal and conservative). One reaction gives birth to another reaction, so that the world is now a roaring flame from having reached a boiling point of extreme anger. As for who is right and who is wrong is not the issue, but the issue is how people use these movements to push their agendas, albeit in a very angry way. These days, for example, we have another extreme reaction where a very small group of people began getting a lot of media attention a few years ago for screaming "God hates fags!", and out of anger the opposition began yelling back "Bigots!". Very few in the world would agree with the former slogan, but the latter for me is very ambiguous and is being thrown around more and more by the rising Militant Secularist type against anything that disagrees with their position, especially if they are members of a religion or a different political party. For this reason I wanted to examine it a bit more to see how the word should be properly used, if used at all.

The exact origin of the word bigot is unknown. It may have come from the German bei and gott, or the English by God. William Camden wrote that the Normans were first called bigots, when their Duke Rollo, who receiving Gisla, daughter of King Charles, in marriage refused to kiss the king's foot in token of subjection, unless the king would hold it out for that purpose. Being urged to it by those present, Rollo answered hastily, "No by God", whereupon the King turning about, called him bigot; which name passed from him to his people. This story is likely fictional, as Gisla is unknown in Frankish sources. However, it is true that the French used the term bigot as an abuse for the Normans.

A bigot is most often defined as a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own. In other words, a bigot may be any person who regards his own faith and views in matters of religion as unquestionably right, and any belief or opinion opposed to or differing from them as unreasonable or wicked. Or, a bigot is a person who is intolerant of opinions which conflict with his own, as in politics or morals; one obstinately and blindly devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion.

Outside of the word's common association with prejudice, the dictionary definition of a bigot includes one who holds rigidly to an idea. Again, holding to what you believe to be true is, by itself, not inherently bad. Even the simple act of one person believing another to be a bigot, and refusing to be convinced otherwise, is itself a prime example of bigotry. According to this definition EVERYONE is a bigot. Everyone has a group that they have no tolerance for. It doesn’t matter if you are liberal, conservative, or moderate. Consider this; a bigot is someone who says they aren't a bigot.

Bigot is also used as a term of derision to imply contempt or disapproval. One noteworthy example of this is how the word bigot is increasingly being used to defame those who do not believe marriage between homosexuals should be validated in church or public policy.

It’s much easier to call someone a bigot than to consider their arguments. Elbert Hubbard said: "If you can't answer a man's argument, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names." Name-calling is a form of an attack, based upon one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests, rather than one’s intellect or reason. It draws a vague equivalence between a concept and a person, group or idea. By linking the person or idea being attacked to a negative symbol, the propagandist hopes that the audience will reject the person or the idea on the basis of the symbol, instead of looking at the available evidence.

It's always amusing to watch those who bellow and brag about how superior they are, become strident and defensive, when their views are questioned or challenged! The only defense one has to deflect the truth is to resort to derogatory comments and personal attacks. Name-calling is the attempt to distract the uninformed observer from the message by attacking the messenger. Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Resort is had to ridicule when reason is against us."

The most powerful and persuasive contributions are made by those that don’t resort to cheap name calling and show that they can articulate their rebuttal rather than resort to the lazy way out of personal abuse.

Those who resort to brow-beating, name-calling, bullying, bashing, harassment, threats, mockery, and rudeness, instead of humbly and honestly facing the real issue, only stroke their own ego. They stroke their ego even further when they consider themselves more tolerant than those whom they call bigots. Eric Hoffer declared: "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength." Name-calling is verbal abuse; a crude substitute for argument. It is the strategy of cowards: If you don't agree with someone, shout him down and call him names, so you think you win. Those who resort to name calling IMMEDIATELY discredit themselves and any ideas they have regardless of the validity.

G. K. Chesterton wrote: "We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end." He also confirmed: "The people who are the most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all." 

Bigot is most simply defined as the favoring of one argument over another. Bigotry, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad, but simply an inclination towards one idea over another. Examples of bigotry could be a preference for ice cream over broccoli, believing that the earth is spherical instead of flat, or the inclination to think that the Bible causes more harm than good. The question is not "Who is a bigot", but rather "About what are you bigoted and why?"

Charles Spurgeon, England's best-known preacher during the second half of the nineteenth century, declared: "The glorious charity of the present day is such, that it believes lies to be as good as truth; and lies and truth have met together and kissed each other; and he that telleth truth is called a bigot, and truth has ceased to be honorable in the world!"

We are left with answering the question: who really is a bigot? We can safely assume that those who call others bigots are in reality yelling at their own reflection. In my opinion, we are left with only two choices - it is either that EVERYONE is a bigot or NOONE is a bigot. I leave it to the reader to decide which is the fairer choice.