Big, Bigger, Bigot – by labelling someone a bigot are we ourselves bigoted?

**Please note that the intent of this post is to expand thinking. I’m not endorsing any one view point over another, just mulling over some aspects of where to draw the line on labelling someone a bigot (or any other label for that matter)**

I’m not sure how to express my feelings regarding the comments made by two candidates from the Australia party yesterday. I’m not angry, but I’m definitely not happy or supportive of their views. The closest way I can think to describe it is deeply saddened. I have no intent of repeating their views because in this case I feel it unnecessary to further promote them; however Mia Freedman covers it well in her open letter to the Australian Party (thank you Mia).

In trying to understand what a bigot is and how is someone labelled a bigot, I turned to my trusty online dictionary: dictionary.com (which often assists me with my online crossword: Cricklers – hey, it’s an American based crossword so some word interpretations or local knowledge is needed for things like ‘Chicago Airport’). I found that related words included ‘redneck’, ‘zealot’, ‘intolerant’, ‘fanatic’ and ‘dogmatic’… Then my mind started to wander having seen “The Fanatics” this week popping up at the Australian Open – these people are there for the fun and not to discriminate against others and so not all fanatics are negative which left me thinking – is being labelled a bigot a negative thing?

Fanatics 

The Fanatics at Wimbledon

 Image sourced from: http://www.thefanatics.com/

Back on my fave online dictionary, along with the definitions and related words are some quotes. The first one that pops up led me to think: Is a bigot also potentially a well informed person who has made a clear decision and is sticking to it?

 “We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.”

  Gilbert Keith Chesterton

 

This is where my thinking behind my title for this blog comes from. If we think big and expand our knowledge we are more informed than we were.

 

think big

Image sourced from: www.calgaryartsdevelopment.com/

 If we think bigger and research more, we can not only be well informed, but then use that information to become a subject matter expert (side note, I was once told that in breaking down the word expert, ex is used as a prefix for former and no longer required, spurt [sic] is likened to an out of control drip and as such, an expert is a useless drip).

If, however, that bigger knowledge leads us to form an opinion that we know in ourselves to be so true that everyone else who doesn’t agree is therefore wrong, is that bigotry or just a well informed stand point? If we are then proven wrong or the majority disagrees, should we then be forced to eat humble pie?

 pie_01

Image sourced from: http://surf.co.nz/forum/surfing-chat/990/

In thinking about this topic overnight, I remembered reading an article on Julian Assange that associated many labels to him including bigot (see ref below). A UK parliamentarian walked a similar path to the two Australia Party candidates calling other people a bigot and yet he was perhaps being one himself (again see ref below).

When it comes to sport – and this is something I’ll explore in another post – where did the bigotry line fall (if at all) when South Africa was prevented from international competition in the 80’s because of an international stand point on apartheid? Please note, I do not support segregation, however was the rest of the world being intolerant of an opposing view?

This blog post is definitely not about justifying the comments made yesterday or actions of the past, but my question is this: by labelling someone a bigot, are we ourselves expressing our own bigotry by being intolerant of someone else’s opinion (whether it is well researched or not)?

 

References:

We_call_a_man_a_bigot_or_a. (n.d.). Columbia World of Quotations. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://quotes.dictionary.com/We_call_a_man_a_bigot_or_a

Article on Assange: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/dgreenfield/assange-claims-america-deserved-consulate-attack/

Article from the UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2201746/Nick-Clegg-Fury-bigot-slur-gay-marriage-opponents-Church-leaders-attack-offensive-remark.html