It's a tough one, isn't it? I mean, I can see how throwing the term around can serve simply to polarize folks and thus shut down any hope of constructive dialogue. Yet sometimes one longs to be able to simply "say it like it is," especially when faced with an individual or group that has no intention of engaging in dialogue and no desire to seek to broaden their perspective.
PinkNews.co.uk Nicolas Chinardet (left) assesses "the ‘bigot’ row" that hit UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg earlier this week. Apparently, Clegg used the word "bigots" in a draft speech to describe opponents of marriage equality. The word was later replaced by "some people."
Interestingly, in a comment left in response to Chinardet's piece, "Dermot" notes that "from what I understand, 'bigot' is a compounding of 'by God,' and implies a sanctimonious invocation of theology or other dogma to justify the prejudice towards and mistreatment of others."
Following is an excerpt from Chinardet's Pink News op-ed, "What Exactly is a "'Bigot'?"
According to Merriam-Webster, [a bigot] is “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 with hatred and intolerance.”
Since the government [of the United Kingdom] announced its intention to open civil marriage to same-sex couples, the usual phalanx of religious leaders, mostly, have been highly vocal in airing their opposition to the move. They cite their deeply held beliefs on the subject as reason enough.
The Catholic [hierarchy] has been at the forefront of the attacks, sometimes using some rather questionable rhetoric in the process.
For example, Cardinal O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has described marriage equality as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.” The Pope has said that it is a threat to “the future of humanity itself”.
There are many more examples of such outbursts and never are the slightest rational arguments ever produced to support those farcical claims.
If this is not hateful prejudice stemming from obstinate devotion to an opinion, then I don’t know what is. Carey and Co may not like the word and could probably find others they prefer but the cap clearly fits.
The only reason why parts of the hierarchy of some religious groups are so vociferous, can, I think, be found in the consistent erosion of religious influence in the social and political life of the country.
A survey of young people published only today shows that only 4% of 16 to 24-year-olds said that having religious faith or beliefs is the most important moral issue for them.
Could therefore attacks on LGBT people be a last-ditch attempt at regrouping and unifying a dwindling and disparate flock by targeting an easily recognisable, perceived threat?
LGBT people are, sadly, one of the last identifiable groups that it is still remotely socially acceptable to attack. Thankfully mentalities are evolving fast and [such attacks on LGBT people] will hopefully not be the case for much longer. . . .
To read Chinardet's op-ed in its entirety, click here.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Naming and Confronting Bigotry
The Giant Pink Elephant of Religion-Based Bigotry
Quote of the Day – October 20, 2011
More on the “Soft Bigotry” of Fr. James Livingston’s Recent Op-Ed
Quote of the Day – June 4, 2011
Marriage Equality: Simple Answers to NOM's Complicated Lies
Quote of the Day – April 20, 2011