Does speaking strongly against bigotry make one a bigot as well?

I am in a rather interesting argument on another message board. The original argument revolved around gay marriage and isn’t important, but one self-admitted Christian who has moral problems with gays and our new tolerance for deviancy (for lack of a better word) hijacked with an odd message about tolerance.

I responded that tolerance of bigotry and speaking strongly against it are two different things that don’t necessarily contradict each other. She’s making the common mistake of using the wrong definition of tolerance. She also has the wrong definition of hypocrite, but I chose not to make an issue of that.
Furthermore, even if one chooses not to tolerate bigotry, is that so wrong? She’s presenting it in absolutes, either one tolerates everything or tolerates nothing. That’s simply not the case. We make choices about what we will and will not tolerate all the time. We tolerate killing in self-defense, but not killing indiscriminately, and so on. She ignored both my arguments and moved on to this.

The implication being, that I am a bigot as well. My choice to speak out strongly against bigotry puts me in the same category as her. She has chosen to roll in mud and to feel better about it, is attempting to drag others in the mud as well. It also troubles me that she is actually trying to characterize fighting bigotry as a bad thing.

Then I got to thinking about it. I just ended two friendships for myself and my husband because those people showed themselves to be unashamed bigots. I guess that could be construed as “complete and stubborn intolerance” of a creed that is not my own. So are there acceptable forms of bigotry? Does the idea that there is “bigotry against bigotry” make any sense? Is this person correct technically but incorrect in any really meaningful sense of the word? How does one speak out against bigotry and not be a ‘hypocrite’ in a way?

ETA: Crap, my title is badly worded and misspelled at that. Could a mod change it if they happen to pop by? A better way is “Does speaking strongly against bigotry make one a bigot as well?” Or just correct the spelling, whatever you think is best.

It seems to me that this is like accusing an atheist of having a religion, because “an atheist has faith that there is no god”.

It is semantic bullshit.

Lack of prejudice is not a creed. It is the abscence of a creed.

Don’t be sucked under by a vortex of words. Her conflation has no real meaning.

I mean, why should you tolerate intolerance? Why?

No. Judging someone on their behavior and actions is the opposite of prejudice.

Excellent! Succinct and completely correct.

You get a gold star AND a cookie! :smiley:

See, I would go for this, but the definition also mentions stubborn intolerance of a creed or belief. Which is something someone chooses, that does shape their behaviour. So you can then be bigoted against something someone chooses. So if one is bigoted against the choice of bigotry, is that ok, since it’s a bad choice? I don’t know, now I feel like I am just talking myself in circles.

It shapes their behavior, but it is not their behavior.

I can believe with all my heart that homosexuals are an unnatural perversion against God’s will. But it’s not until I start treating gays as inferior and speaking out against equal rights that I become a bigot.

Torie, your whole description reminds me of a time when a female relative accused me of trying to control her with my criticism and complaints against her. I paused with that, and after some thought it seemed like a valid claim. I felt confused. And a deep remorse.

Then I read a psychology book that said some people will try to control you by telling you you’re the one who is trying to control them. [paraphrasing] Turns out it’s a commonly used tactic to point an accusing finger at those who take a firm stand against the most terrible people in the world. Every good person who ever took a bold stand has met with some unfair attack of the same sort. So you’re in very good company.

Now I think it’s one of the most dangerous things to begin to doubt yourself because someone effectively described you in words that best describe them. Torie, I do not believe for one minute that you’re a bigot for being intolerant of bigots, just like a person who is intolerant of racists is not automatically a racist… I am indeed stubbornly intolerant of some behaviors and beliefs, and I hope I will always remain so.

Hope this helps.

This is the nub of it - the issue is not with people thinking or believing things, it’s when they put those beliefs into words/action. I can’t claim to be 100% universally accepting of all beliefs in the privacy of my own head but I do my best to be as live and let live as I can in day to day life. Surely that’s the difference?

I’ve run into this a few times. Some people apparently believe that if you don’t believe what they believe is wrong, you don’t believe anything is wrong. I know I’ve been accused of willing to tolerate anything often enough, sometimes in this very forum. It can be hard for some people to accept that other people have different opinions on what’s right and what is wrong.

My response to being accused of willing to tolerate anything is to tell people there are things I think are morally wrong and which I will not tolerance, and prejudice is among them. If I’m dealing with a Christian, I may even cite the Bible verses I think support my beliefs.

To me, bigotry and prejudice come from judging a person because of one aspect of his character, not the person he is as a whole. If I have a lower opinion of you simply because you tell me you’re a Christian, I’m being a bigot. If I have a lower opinion of you because of the harsh and cruel things you’ve said about gay people or people who aren’t Christian, I don’t think I am being a bigot because I’m judging you based on the actions you’ve taken.

Does that make sense?

I think it’s very easy to be. Just as bigoted people ascribe certain motives or abilities associatied with the group they’re bigoted against, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming things about them, too. They’re bigoted against gay people - ergo, they’re religious nutjobs, possibly even in the closet themselves. It’s highly possible to show bigotry in defending against the very same thing, as long as you’re tarring all of “those people” with the same brush.

That said, simply disagreeing with someone is not bigotry. The key to it is making sure you judge someone purely on their own actions and not on their membership of a group. Someone who thinks all religious people are immoral nutjobs is a bigot - someone who thinks a particular religious person is an immoral nutjob based on their actions and beliefs may not be.

As for tolerance; spewed venom is certainly not all that tolerant, though better than other things. I would say it is hypocritical on one side to proclaim tolerance as a virtue and then proceed to curse and demean those they deem intolerant. But simply disagreeing isn’t intolerance.

This is the old ‘If you’re tolerant, and want to promote tolerance, you have to tolerate my intolerance!’ thing, isn’t it?

In which case, no. The argument is a hasty (or coerced) generalisation.

Dictionary definitions are seldom as detailed, nor as formal as is required for philosophical debate.
If they met both these conditions they’d be harder to read and lengthy.
And some words we’d struggle to define at all…

You can’t make up your own definitions of words, of course, but it’s quite valid (indeed, necessary) to attempt to interpret verbal definitions.

Just as an aside, have people actually been venomous toward the person quoted in the OP? I’ve quite often seen complaints of this nature where they complain that everyone is being mean to them, when all that is really happening is that their crumblingly poor arguments are being shown for what they are.

The persecution complex is an art form in conservative/fundamentalist Christianity.

That’s a very intolerant thing to say.


Nobody in the thread has been venomous. The worst was me mentioning that the basis for anti-gay sentiment was crackpot at best. I wouldn’t count that as venomous. I don’t know about her personal life.

Bigotry is hating a group of people. Hating an idea is just called having an opinion.

I disagree with pro-lifers, but my disagreement doesn’t mean that I think the proponents of the idea are subhuman and evil. Bigots look at a person of a separate religion or idea or skin color and think that the person is evil or lesser than themselves in all ways.

That being the case, just asking ‘what venom? [sub][del]You frigging whiny moron[/del][/sub]’ might be interesting.

My favorite way of describing this is the “open mind” approach.

It is best to have an open mind with respect to opinions other than your own.

However, it isn’t necessary to have a mind so wide open that your brain falls out.

Woo hoo! Cookie!

Could you maybe make it a… brownie? :smiley:

Heh… it’s why that argument is used by egregious bigots (let the reader determine the definition of egregious) to tar others with the same brush and thus justify their own views.

I think it’s important to draw a distinction between judgment of others based on purely ascribed statuses as opposed to achieved statuses. It may be bigoted, strictly speaking, to choose not to associate with someone who holds views that one finds repugnant. But this is judgment based on one’s own views, and you certainly would be more morally correct, IMHO, than someone who chooses not to associate with someone based on their impressions of what someone of a different … group… is like based on only said someone’s impression of what all/most of what that group is.

Great, now I’m in the circle. Thanks heaps!