Bigots aren’t entitled to be bigots.

I was listening to NPR yesterday, and was witness to yet another of the endless attempts by homophobic, power hungry, politicizing bigots to take civil rights away from people. This time it was a discussion of the upcoming political tempest in a teapot – since gay marriage worked so great for Republicans in 2004, they’re going to take aim at gay adoption in 2006. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of children currently adopted by gay singles and couples, there are 16 or so states working towards legislation to ban gay adoption; legislation that will no doubt be ready to bring out the “religious whackjob” (as they are called by Tom DeLay’s staff) voting contingent in November.

What I really hate most is that any time I hear one of these “debates” no one ever confronts the anti-gay/lesbian speaker for exercising a moral prejudice against people they’ve never met. They never start with questioning their base assumptions – why are you assuming a negative environment for children cared for by gay/lesbian parents? Why do you implicitly suggest that homosexual is equivalent to over-sexed? And I’m always pissed off when they discuss “gay lifestyle” and “sexual choice” as if sexual preference were something you could just suddenly decide on the spot and change.

How many gay/lesbian people do you actually know? If gays and lesbians aren’t entitled to the same rights as everyone else, what is it about them that makes them so different? What’s the difference between discriminating against someone based on skin color, religion, or sexual preference? At what point in your life did you “choose” to be straight? Can you choose not to be straight?

These are the questions that bigots need to be confronted with. I really don’t think it’s that hard to show someone they’re being a bigot – it’s just that people are rarely confronted with the truth of their bigotry, under the guise of “everyone’s entitled to an opinion.” I couldn’t agree less! The long and short of it is: bigots aren’t entitled to be bigots, and misinformed people are not entitled to being misinformed.

8 Comments

  1. etherial

    re: bigotry

    Sometimes I think the Democrats are trying to lose to the Republicans by playing by the enemy’s rules.

    The thing that really sticks in my craw is how they always accuse bisexuals of being bigamists.

  2. nhcooncat

    Hi Mike — it’s Elise, from NH (waving southeastward)

    Sure, they’re entitled to *be* bigots. But they shouldn’t be entitled to go unchallenged if they’re given a media platform — which is what’s been happening in the media far too often lately.

    One of the least-used but most effective arguments against the fundies that I’ve seen is the following: Homosexuality has been documented in 400 animal species. *Particularly* if you’re dealing with a creationist, the implication is that God intended a good deal of homosexuality, since the entire animal kingdom is supposedly still just as he made it.

    Usually takes a bit of air out of their sails. Of course, the really hard-cores will make retorts like “God intended man to be better than animals” or “Science is inherently flawed and full of liberal bias”, etc., etc. At which point I guess one just has to say “Well, you’re entitled to even *that* opinion”.

    Elise
    (making her debut on LiveJournal)

    • mik3cap

      There’s a difference between opinion and willful ignorance of fact. If people start saying “That apple is blue,” and claim “That’s my opinion” someone needs to step up to the plate and say “No, that’s obviously red, and it’s provably red, it’s not even possible to have that opinion because that opinion can never be correct because a blue apple has never existed and cannot occur naturally.”

      In order for a person to have an opinion about something, the truth about that thing needs to be somewhat disputable – if someone says “The apple is red” and another says “The apple is magenta” that’s a difference of opinion and a discussion can be had and steps can be taken to convince one person or another about the validity of the opinion.

      What I’m talking about are people who are intentionally blurring the line between fact and opinion, even inventing “facts” and “studies” to suit their beliefs. When they say “Homosexuality is a choice, and that’s my opinion, and here’s a study saying I’m right” someone has to say “No, because no one has ever chosen their sexuality, not even you, and genetic research shows indicators of homosexuality, and 400 species of animal are homosexual, so there is NO WAY you can be right and you cannot have that opinion. Figure out why you’re a bigot instead.”

  3. nhcooncat

    But your idea that “the truth…needs to be about something disputable” simply doesn’t work with fundamentalists of any kind, nor has it ever. As soon as the religion card is played, the argument becomes something about *faith*, which by definition is a belief in something unproveable. For them, faith = truth, end of story, no debate welcome (and none really possible, since we’re dealing with things which can’t be proven in the first place). It all shuts down true debate, but some people seem to feel that it means the religious person has won the argument instead. Conservatives complain about the problem of liberal political correctness, but nothing could be more PC than Tom DeLay’s staff referring to DeLay’s base as “religious whackjobs” behind their backs while simultaneously cowtowing to them right and left on the political stage.

    The problem is that fundamentalists (of several stripes, but in the USA, mostly Christian) have been given a free pass for a long time — and increasingly as of late. The Bushies talk about freedom of religion being one of the paramount American virtues, one which should be upheld at all costs. But what they forget is that the founding fathers, while generally observant Christians, tended to be Deists (i.e., in a nutshell: yes, they believed in God and that God created the universe, but they also believed that God has been off playing golf, sightseeing, fishing, etc. at some other corner of the universe since then and isn’t particularly watching over us whatsoever. In other words, it’s time for us to get over ourselves as being important, in His point of view of anyone else’s. Doing things in His name or to please Him isn’t really the point). Further, freedom of religion must also mean freedom *from* religion — that’s the part that the Right always seems to forget.

    What is an ethical heathen to do?

    • mik3cap

      I would be very glad to reveal the roots of these “opinions” as the fundamentalist tenets of indisputable faith that they truly are. Because then at least (at last) it would be a honest discussion. But the thing is, they (the fundamentalists) know that they would totally lose the argument the instant they say “because God said so” as everyone else realizes that isn’t a valid argument for anything… so they couch their words and twist everything around in a bid to make their insanity seem rational. The problem is that they start with a conclusion, and try to shape the world around their viewpoint, instead of looking at the world and coming to a conclusion that makes sense based on evidence.

      So there’s a couple things necessary for a valid opinion – it has to regard a disputable truth, and it has to have a basis in reality.

      The thing is, I’m fairly convinced that religion is on its way out. More and more people in the world are waking up and realizing they don’t need it… when fundamentalists say that they are persecuted, and that their values are being attacked – they’re right! Because fundamentalism is losing ground all over the world. Why else would fundamentalists from all religions be working so hard to preserve their ways and impose their will on everyone they can? Societies letting go of religion is a natural consequence of increasing wealth and education; for the first time in history, we have enough resources available to actually eliminate extreme poverty all over the world… and that is the biggest threat to religion ever.

      • nhcooncat

        I hope you’re right that fundamentalism is on the wane. I can’t help but think it’s not, though. The world might have the resources to deal with poverty and lack of education, but are we actually doing it? Overpopulation has continued at such a rate (it took us from the beginning of time until about 1900 to get to 1 billion; at 6.5 billion now, why aren’t more of us worried?) that now many poor nations have a huge percentage of their population which is under the age of 18. Overpopulation, lack of education, lack of good jobs, lack of good prospects (particularly for young males) — all tend to lead towards desperation, which is a breeding ground for fundamentalism.

        So either the perceived uptick in religious fundamentalism represents (as you suggest) the last gasp of a burned-out idea (people tend to scream the loudest when they’re on the verge of losing entrenched power) — or it’s just an uptick. I hope you’re right, Mike, but I have to say I’m not too hopeful that the trends towards religious fundamentalism is going to abate soon. Rather than conflating manic elections (some of which seem to be resulting in theocracies, it seems, but I guess that’s OK with this administration) with democracy, we should be promoting the idea that real democracy takes a truly informed electorate. But all that takes education and trying to stay informed at something beyond the Fox News/USA Today level. Instead, we continue as a nation along our current anti-intellectual path (not just anti-intellectual, but proudly so). With Dubya as philosopher king, we haven’t much of a chance of mending our ways in the next couple of years.

        I never thought we’d have a president who’d make me feel actually nostalgic for Bush the 1st or Reagan, but Dubya’s done it for me.

        • mik3cap

          Just look at India and China for evidence of increasing wealth and education. Millions of people in Asia are buying cars and things they never could even ten years ago. Those economies are getting richer and richer.

          I’m pretty convinced that the problem here in America is that people are sheep – the fundamentalists are a minority who play the margins to win elections, and people just repeat Fox News because it’s all they’re hearing. The problem is that the Democrats don’t know how to herd sheep as well as the Christian Fundies, who’ve had lots of practice with it.

          • nhcooncat

            Your point about emerging nations is well taken. I would probably be a lot happier about China and India if the fact that their newfound ability to buy cars didn’t also mean that, in moving up towards our standard of living, they’re also moving up towards our standard of polluting.

            The environmental implications are deeply troubling to me. If you ask about global overpopulation and its effects on the environment, most people will answer “Yeah — those Africans and Asians have too many children”. But at least until recently, it’s been Westerners who’ve been the biggest problem, in terms of environmental impact. When it comes to use of resources and level of pollution, a Western couple calling it a day after having had two children is similar to an Indian couple throwing in the towel after 10, or an Ethiopian couple saying “enough” after a few dozen or so. But as you said, clearly, those formulae are changing: positively in terms of living standards, but negatively in terms of environmental impact (at least short-term. Better, cleaner technologies may save our bacon, hopefully!!!).

            But if it all comes with the added effect that in additional to (and because of?) higher living standards, religious fundamentalism will hold less power in those parts of the world, that sweetens the pot significantly! I love a silver lining!