I was called a “bigot” about a month ago. I called out someone’s problematic post on about transgender people on Facebook, said it was a bigoted view and was told that I was also being a bigot. I had never actually looked up the word before that point and just assumed that it meant someone who was intolerant towards others who were different from them. I assumed it referred to people who were intolerant of marginalized groups or to the least popular views of important social issues. I had often heard the word when someone was referring to intolerant religious people.
This is what pops up when I do a Google search for “bigot”. After I read that, I felt that I couldn’t argue anymore because I was also being a bigot. After all, I wasn’t being tolerant of someone else’s opinion, albeit hateful and offensive.
After much thought, I have decided that I am not a bigot. I don’t believe that those who are intolerant of intolerant opinions are bigots. Mostly because I think it would be ridiculous for anyone to hope that someone who holds onto acceptance and compassion as important values and reflects those values in their opinions would be tolerant of hateful or offensive opinions about groups of people or would allow those opinions to change their own.
I’ve also noticed that people often quote dictionary definitions of words like “bigot” and “racism” during debates as ways to derail conversations about important human rights issues. Typically, it then turns into an argument about semantics, rather than the larger issue.
The word “bigot” is associated negatively and I don’t think it’s fair to equate those with hateful and offensive views to those who are intolerant of hateful and offensive views.