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Sep 06 2011

Yep, you’re a bigot!

Nowadays, one of the most common arguments made by opponents of gay marriage is that they would be considered bigots if gay marriage is legal. The National Organization for Marriage gets a lot of mileage out of the claim that children will be taught that their parents are bigoted, and people of faith will be seen as discriminatory. Recently, former senator Rick Santorum got into an argument with a high school student, where he complained:

I had Piers Morgan call me a bigot – because I believe what the Catholic Church teaches with respect to homosexuality, I’m a bigot. So now I’m a bigot, because I believe what the Bible teaches – now, 2000 years of teaching and moral theology is now bigoted.

Well, yeah! That’s because it is. This fatuous argument reveals two important things about Mr. Santorum and other anti-gay Christians. First, they’re much more concerned about being perceived as bigots than whether they might actually be bigoted. Second, they are unable to conceive of any kind of moral progress that could be inconvenient to their positions or contrary to a particular faith. The sheer self-absorption of this mindset is breathtaking. Imagine if any other prejudice were defended with such an argument. How seriously would we take the protests of white racists that they would be seen as bigots because of integration? How much would we care about the complaints of men that they would be considered bigoted if women are allowed to vote?

It’s plain to see that the discomfort that bigoted people may have with their bigotry being recognized does nothing to change the fact that it is still bigotry. And the idea that we should accommodate their preferred self-perception by continuing to deny equal rights to the targets of their bigotry is so brazenly narcissistic it defies all comprehension. You are not that important! If you have to put up with being seen as bigoted so that people can finally receive their equality under the law, then you’ll just have to deal with it. It’s too bad you got the short end of the stick on this one, but if every hint of moral realization and social change was immediately quashed because some people want to be assured that they’ll always be in the right, there would never be any kind of progress.

And no, your religion does not have the power to legitimize bigotry. Bigoted beliefs do not become excusable just because a church or a book endorses them. You don’t get a pass on bigotry by claiming that a god agrees with you. People came up with the very same justifications for all kinds of prejudice. It changes nothing. Like it or not, your religion will evolve. It might deny this, it might lag behind, but religions are dragged along with the moral climate of society at large. The Catholic Church doesn’t hold trials of alleged witches anymore. Mormon leaders decided that God changed his mind about allowing black people to be ordained. And some day, you will have to face the reality that your 2,000 years of moral theology are helpless next to a moment of moral reflection.

By focusing only on the legal aspects as the key factor in whether or not they’re considered bigots, they’ve failed to understand that this is just a symptom of ongoing social progress. We already see them as bigots, and that’s the very reason why the legal standing of gay people is now a point of contention. The moral validity of anti-gay prejudice has been cast into doubt, and homophobia is no longer regarded as an unquestionable constant of our society. Fighting this on a legal front is just trying to close the barn door after the horse is long gone. It’s not going to stop anyone from seeing you for exactly what you are. And no law, whether earthly or divine, will change that. The only one who can keep you from being a bigot is yourself.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Mark

    I totally agree, the idea that the US is a democracy pales to the evidence that it is a theocracy. Our laws, our society is based on the puritanical christian religion, the same religion that holds as most sacred a book that condones slavery, inequality, fanatical closed mindedness, genocide, and the idea that an all seeing and all knowing “god” approves of all of these condones and endorses them, and promotes them as morally right. In today’s modern society, the ONLY thing that holds back our progressing as a species IS religion and it’s time we put the “dark ages” behind us, and into the history books as a VERY BAD time for clear moral and ethical thought – and allow humankind to finally be free of this VERY BAD idea.

  2. 2
    Mark

    Gay marriage is not the same deal as other equal rights issues because there is a private legal contract involved with marriage. Changing the definition of marriage techically voids every existing marriage contract. Retro active legal
    maneuvering is the sort of thing the Nazis did in the 1930′s .

    1. 2.1
      JK

      Whoa! “Changing the definition of marriage technically voids every existing marriage contract.” … who thought THAT one up? By whose logic? That statement is not logical, nor does it make any sense. Definitions are changed and updated to be current with the times, which doesn’t nullify the previous state of being. Marriage used to be an ownership – the man being the owner and the woman being the slave. A woman couldn’t do anything if the man treated her horribly and beat her. Now women have rights in marriage and are not trapped in abuse. (I’m not surprised in the least that a man wrote that illogical comment…)

  3. 3
    Johnny Lee

    Very well said. I really appreciated this! Thanks for the very articulate and well thought out opinion.

  4. 4
    Bill Berkley

    Interesting. Substitute the word “gay” for “anti-gay” and “sinner” for “bigot” and it makes a point against the gay agenda. Sin is sin: get over it.

    1. 4.1
      Zinnia Jones

      Sin is an incoherent and meaningless concept. A meaningless concept is a meaningless concept.

      1. Kevin

        Please allow me to present my analysis of the above.

        Sin is incoherent and meaningless to you, Zinnia. Your statement seeks to establish a generalization that it is thus for all people. Sin is a substantive concept if one is a subscriber to the Christian religion. The highlight here is the fact that there are two opposing views which base their positions upon mutually exclusive moral codes. Morality is subjective and reliant upon perception. Therefore, it stands to reason that morality alone is not a sufficient basis upon which to determine which side of the argument above is more “correct”.

        The statement made by Mr. Berkley, however, does not stand up under scrutiny, because of the fallacious comparison of “sinner” with “bigot”. A “sinner” is defined as someone who behaves in a manner which is not deemed acceptable by God”, whereas a “bigot” is defined as someone who holds a set of beliefs without the possibility of having their mind changed and holds prejudiced views against those who do not believe as they do. In this examination, one can come to the conclusion that the statements put forth by both parties are either ill-formed or logically incorrect.

        It is more appropriate to state in response that the former cannot be assumed correct because of the fallacy contained within and therefore, it is unreasonable to suggest that the inverse of the argument posed by Zinnia in the article can be applied. In fact, it cannot, and Zinnia’s usage of “bigot” is correct and Mr. Berkley’s usage of “sinner” is not appropriate. The vast majority of Christian denominations believe that all humans are “sinners”. The idea of replacing “bigot” with “sinner” would then suggest that all humans are intrinsically bigots. This is obviously not the case, therefore; no comparison may be made and the value of the statement is nullified.

        HEADSHOT

    2. 4.2
      Julia

      @ Bill, Your faith does not get to write the law for the rest of American Citizens. Until all are equal under the law, no one is. Anyone can debate faith and religion until the cows come home, but the law is another matter entirely. How about the 14th amendment…

      “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    3. 4.3
      AMH

      You’re right, that IS interesting! I have one, too – substitute the phrase ‘closed-minded self-centered a$$hole’ for the word ‘bigot’ and – oh, wait, they’re the same… Never mind, sorry.

  5. 5
    Timothy (TRiG)

    Does this mean I’m agreeing with Piers Morgan? Yikes!

    TRiG.

  1. 6
  2. 7
    A personal best-of | Zinnia Jones

    [...] Why concerns about being seen as “bigoted” are completely selfish and a roadblock to progress (text): [...]

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