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How you read scripture has everything to do with who you are. God does not make you a bigot; you're just a bigot.
—Reza Aslan[1]

Bigotry is colloquially held to mean the unjustified prejudice or bias against something — commonly against races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, or politics. Technically, however, this differs from the dictionary definition of the term.

Bigotry in its various shades is often exploited by politicians, as in Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy", and Karl Rove's strategic approach to forming a "permanent Republican majority".

In the past, bigot meant a religious hypocrite, especially a woman.[2]

Prior to the Allied assault on the beaches of Normandy in WWII, "bigot" was a "classification higher than Top Secret that was used for all Overlord material." The individuals who had been briefed on the details of the operation were said to have been "bigoted".[3]

Bigotry vs. prejudice[edit]

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
—Anne Lamott

The connotations of bigotry tends to be stronger (and uglier) than mere prejudice, since it usually involves behaviour resulting from such prejudices.

Simply disliking some group or belief in and of itself is a free, private point of view, and even though it may be crippling to clear thought, is an inalienable right. When a prejudice crosses over into actions, it denies the rights of others to participate in a free society.

The paradox of tolerance[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Paradox of tolerance

Bigotry is commonly meant as an unjustified prejudice against a group of people, commonly races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, or politics.

However, its dictionary definition is not about intolerance of identity, but intolerance of views and beliefs. Bigotry is defined as "intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself."[4] Arguably, this definition technically (and ironically) makes it bigoted to say "stop being a bigot."[5] The Cambridge Dictionary avoids this irony by stating a bigot has unreasonable beliefs.[6] Although, it may then be bigoted to call someone else's beliefs "unreasonable", since a bigot would think their position is the only reasonable one.

Additionally, what is considered a reasonable belief is subjective (e.g. opposition to drug use, infant circumcision, eating meat, animal testing, polygamy, prostitution, and gun control). This creates a paradox of tolerance, where in order to be truly tolerant, one must also tolerate the intolerant.[7][8]

Philosopher Karl Popper defined the paradox in his 1945 work The Open Society and Its EnemiesWikipedia, writing:[9]

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

Popper concluded that we are warranted in refusing to tolerate intolerance:[9]

We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]