Articles, Musings, Rambliings

Are you a Hater or a Bigot? Or are you just intolerant?


I was having a discussion tonight on Facebook about Chick Fil A and the anti gay stance they have taken and a thoughtful soul posted the following article from the National Catholic Register and I thought it was good enough that I should post it. Just for the record, I wont be eating at Chick Fil A anytime soon. I don’t eat there usually so for me its a non issue. I can take a stand without sacrificing anything in the process. But I do believe that gay people have rights to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness but that there need not be legislation to grant them those rights. They HAD those rights from the moment they were born and that legislation to grant them rights is wrongheaded.

Are You a Hater or a Bigot? Or Are You Just Intolerant?

by  Jimmy Akin Wednesday, July 25,  2012 8:42 PM

A reader writes:

I had a question that I needed to ask you. I just  found out that the owner of Chick-Fil-A stated that he was against Gay Marriage.  Personally, I agree with him, yet when I told someone on the Chick-Fil-A  Facebook page that being against Gay Marriage isn’t the same as being  “Anti-Gay”, they ended up calling me a “Hateful bigot”.

Does being against Gay Marriage automatically  make me a hateful person or oppressive person?

I don’t try to hate anyone and I don’t want to be  seen as hateful by others. I just feel conflicted. If you can help me understand  how to resolve this conflicted feeling that I’m currently having, I would be  very thankful!

It is difficult to know what to say the first time one encounters this type  of claim, which is regrettably common.

Hatred and bigotry are real phenomena. They really exist. And they are  evil.

It is natural to want to avoid them and to want to avoid being perceived as  committing them. That is true in everywhere, but it is particularly true in our  own culture, which highly prizes tolerance, understanding, and letting people  “do their own thing.”

Precisely because there is such a strong aversion to these things in our  culture, there is a perverse phenomenon that also occurs in which charges of  hatred, bigotry, and intolerance are used to perversely express and create  intolerance.

This occurs when accusing someone of these faults is done as a way of  shutting down rational discussion, of stifling disagreement, and of wounding  (emotionally or socially) the one against whom the charges are made.

People who make blanket charges of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance are  themselves being intolerant, displaying bigotry, and may even be hateful.

Why do I say this?

Hatred

In the first place, there is a difference between disagreement and hatred. I  may disagree with someone about a particular matter without hating him. I may  think that chocolate tastes better than vanilla, that Candidate X should be  supported rather than Candidate Y, that a particular narcotic ought to be  illegal, that a particular legal policy is a bad one, or any number of other  subjects, yet I may not have the slightest hatred on any of these matters.

Hatred is rooted in a particular emotion–anger–that is carried to an  extreme. I may not feel any anger at all on any of these issues, much less the  kind of extreme anger that would qualify as hatred.

That’s why I say a person making the kind of charges only may  be hateful. Whether they are depends on whether they have the particular kind of  anger that qualifies as hatred. They may or they may not. I’m not going to make  a blanket charge on this point.

And neither should they.

The take-home point for the reader is that just because you disagree with  someone, whether it is on the subject of homosexual “marriage” or any other,  doesn’t automatically make you a hater.

You may be one–if you harbor actual hatred. But if you don’t,  you aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

The charge that you are may be a convenient weapon–for purposes of shutting  down discussion, scaring you away from a subject, or wounding your emotionally  or socially (or even professionally and economically). And an unscrupulous  person may even use the charge as a weapon to achieve one or more of those ends.  But that doesn’t make the charge true.

One can disagree without being hateful, and when it comes to questioning  something that has been the received wisdom of mankind since its inception (that  there is a difference between the union of a man and a woman and the union of  two people of the same sex), once can certainly disagree without hatred.

What about the charge of bigotry?

Bigotry

The term “bigotry” refers to a form of discrimination. By itself, the term  “discrimination” simply means making distinctions between things, which is  neither good nor bad. Indeed, sometimes making distinctions is vitally important  (is that thing I’m about to shoot in the woods a human or a deer?). Other times,  it is simply a good thing, as when we speak of a “discriminating buyer”–one who  distinguishes between high quality food/clothing/whatever and junk–or a  “discriminating viewer”–one who distinguishes between good programming and bad  programming.

When we talk about “discrimination” in the sense of bigotry, though, we  mean unjust discrimination–a discrimination that occurs  without taking proper account of the facts, one that is not grounded in the  truth.

That’s why I say someone who makes blanket charges of the type we are  discussing is, in fact, exhibiting a form of bigotry, because blanket charges  are precisely the ones that don’t take proper account of the  facts–such as the difference between having a difference of opinion and  actually hating. To charge all people who disagree on a particular issue with  hatred, in a blanket fashion, is to fail to take account of the fact that they  may not have any hatred at all. It may just be using a convenient weapon against  them without regard for the truth.

That makes it unjust discrimination, or its own, hidden form of  bigotry.

What about the charge of intolerance?

Intolerance

Tolerance, like discrimination, is not a good or bad thing. It depends on  what is being tolerated.

Tolerating someone who has a different opinion than you do about whether  vanilla tastes better than chocolate? Good thing.

Tolerating people who walk into movie theaters, set off gas bombs, and then  start shooting innocent people? Bad thing.

Some things just should not be tolerated–and other things should.

But when we speak of “intolerance” and charge a person with being  intolerant, what we mean is that they are being unjustly or unreasonably intolerant.

That’s why I say that a person who makes blanket charges of intolerance is,  himself, being intolerant.

Again, it’s because of the blanket nature of the charges  he’s making. If you’re making blanket charges then you’re not exercising proper  reason.You’re being unreasonable–and thus unjust–to the people you’re making  the charges against.

That doesn’t mean that making unjust charges of intolerance isn’t a useful  weapon. It can be, and in the hands of the unscrupulous, it often is–especially  today, when tarring someone with the brush of intolerance can be very useful  given our culture’s tendencies toward political correctness.

But that doesn’t make it right.

Actually, it’s simply a form of intolerance trying to pass itself off as  openmindedness. The truth is that it is closed-minded and trying to shut down  rational discussion.

What do you think?

Discuss! 🙂

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/are-you-a-hater-or-a-bigot-or-are-you-just-intolerant/#ixzz21hS0IaEd

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2 thoughts on “Are you a Hater or a Bigot? Or are you just intolerant?”

  1. It’s a good article, but I disagree with it. I accept that people can be anti-gay without being hateful, at least in theory. When I was a Christian, I would have said that I did that, but looking back, I didn’t. My opposition to homosexuality was based on fear and ignorance as much as theology, and hate springs from those places very easily.

    Still, in Philip Yancey’s writing, for example, I’ve seen a loving attitude towards gay people while still believing that homosexuality is a sin. So I think it’s possible.

    As for the charge of bigotry… well, that’s a loaded word, and an emotionally-charged one. But here the writer has defined it as “unjustified discrimination.” In that case, I think the charge of bigotry is a fair one in terms of people who disagree with homosexuality, because the person making the charge believes discrimination against homosexuals to be unjustified. I’ll come back to this.

    “Intolerance.” Here the writer loses me. The argument makes no sense. Clearly, the charge is being levelled at someone who does not tolerate gay people. Thus, they are intolerant. And obviously, the person making the charge believes this is wrong. There’s nothing inaccurate in the charge. If the accusation was that this person is intolerant about everything, then it might be unfair. That doesn’t appear to be the case though.

    So we’re down to whether bigotry or intolerance of gay people is ever justified. I don’t think it is, even if you believe being gay is immoral (which, to be clear, I don’t). We live in a free society. Mutually consenting gay people should be free to get on with their “sinning”.

    [PS: For some reason, and this only happens on your blog, I can’t comment from my LeavingFundamentalism account. This is Jonny from http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com, but this blog refuses to recognise that!]

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    1. How strange that you can’t reply. It might be synchronicity for me actually. I have positive associations with music and sometimes, critiques of fundamentalism leave me angry both pro and con. I have a Baptist family who is not nearly as fundamentalist as they used to be but my father is still a believer in Christian identity and this still feels burdensome. I try to view it as a cultural predisposition on his part, a literary anachronism at best, as he and I are close and connect well when we aren’t discussing theology. But let theology enter the conversation and sometimes its all I can do to remain detached and let him have his process of faith, distinct from mine and from the image of him I would like to have. I spent time as a pagan and still lean that way because so many pagan narratives begin in the enlightenment once you know the cultural spin. Posting from your musical account is soothing to me and shows a softer side of you that I appreciate. Its a cliche to say everything happens for a reason, but I think its apt. It is nice to be reminded that there is a secular side to Britain that has a postive history beyond identity movements and since my grandmotehr was British, I cling to that rational side.

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