Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Bigot" and Other Words of the Lazy Mind

The word “bigot” is being tossed about frequently in posts by those celebrating the same sex marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges.

Seeing that use of the language, I am reminded why a wise parent doesn't allow a toddler to play with guns.  They don't know what they're doing and someone is likely to get hurt. In the case of the careless tossing about of a charge such as “bigotry,” the posts I’ve seen demonstrate bare familiarity with the English language, and definitely show the bully’s penchant to win by sucker punch rather than fair fight.

So then, what is a “bigot?”

Ambrose Bierce rendered the most telling definition of a bigot:
“One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.”
A more common, but perhaps not nearly so true, definition found in dictionaries for “bigot” is
"one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance"
Are there anti gay bigots?

Undoubtedly, there are. Just as there are racist blacks, the church undoubtedly has within its ranks those whose hearts are unconverted, who ignore the teachings of their faith, and that, thus, entertain hatred and intolerance in their hearts. The Westboro Baptist Church has gained notorious attention by attending the funerals of soldiers killed in foreign wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and claims that God is pleased with the death of those soldiers because of America’s approval of sexual sin.

But that isn't the case of many or most Christians, just as most blacks are not racists.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, provides a clear insight into the teaching of that Church on the status of homosexual attraction. The Catechism does not teach or condone hatred or intolerance of gay men and lesbian women. Rather, it offers hope to them, guidance for life, and instruction to the Church to respect the dignity of those who are oriented in attraction toward members of the same sex.

Is that “bigotry?” To teach welcoming of the person, to command respect for their dignity, while at the same time adhering to the truth as their lights permit them to see truth?

No, that isn’t bigotry.

To call that approach, “Bigotry,” is to invoke a Humpty Dumptidian power to make words mean what YOU say they mean, rather than what they are known to mean by common acceptance and usage.

Archie Bunker, of course, was a bigot, and, in a humorous twist, so was George Jefferson. We know that there are those who do not look across the divide and see persons whose value and worth is measured in the work of the Cross, where Christ gave His life, not just for heterosexual, but for all human beings. That is what makes a bigot.

But Ambrose Bierce did get this one right. 

Posts charge “bigotry” against those who, in an honest and humble examination of their faith, have concluded that they cannot celebrate Obergefell v. Hodges because it is a decision that proposes a constitutional right that they believe to be a moral wrong.

Their opinion being different than yours might feel like a sound basis for charging them with bigotry, but only in Bierce’s definition does that make sense. They hold their opinion but not yours, after such consideration, thought and examination as they have devoted to the subject at hand. Because their opinion differs from yours, you charge “bigotry.”

One need not share their views to understand the difference between such faith-filled folk and those who drop gay men off tall buildings in Iraq, or those who force gay men in Iran to undergo – involuntarily – sex reassignment surgery so that they have a physical body resembling a woman in pertinent aspects (breasts, no testicles, penis reduction to resemble the female clitoris, and a pouch where possible for sexual contact).

Shame on you, if you are in the business of recklessly charging others with bigotry as a consequence of their views on this question. Your resort to the “bigotry” charge is a shameless attempt to silence those with whom you disagree, rather than to engage them in an honest conversation about your views and theirs. Why do you blind yourself in your bullying rejection of the right of others to disagree with you? Why do you choose to bully others by calling them the most dread of names, "bigot?" You only have two eyes, can you really afford to poke one out in this way?