I grew up watching the television show All in the Family. Viewers learned firsthand about bigotry by listening to outrageous statements from Archie Bunker. Public figures are once again making similar statements. Sadly, these are not shock media pundits, but elected officials. Surprisingly, they are shocked when they are subsequently called bigots.
A bigot is a person who regards members of a group with hatred and intolerance based on unproven prejudices. So, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, I offer the following list as a possible guide to our politicians.
- If you believe that a person’s inherent capacity for intelligence, productivity, or violence is connected to their skin color, then you might be a bigot.
- If you suppose that the current gender gap in salaries simply reflects free market economics, then you might be a bigot.
- If you think that legalizing same-sex marriage has a logical connection to beastiality, then you might be a bigot.
- If you believe that any one specific religion has a monopoly on morality, then you might be a bigot.
- If you consider another group’s culture as subhuman and inherently inferior to your own, then you might be a bigot.
- If you believe that rape is acceptable, justified, or deserved in any imaginable situation, then you might be a bigot.
- If you automatically connect homosexuality with pedophilia, then you might be a bigot.
- If you believe that you have the right to make medical decisions for other people based on your personal religious beliefs, then you might be a bigot.
- If you imagine that anyone chooses to be homeless, or addicted, or poor, or a victim of abuse, then you might be a bigot.
There is nothing wrong with having convictions. What is wrong is to choose to remain ignorant to facts, scientific research, and reason and in using your convictions to judge other people, to support laws and practices that restrict others’ rights, and to presume that your unsubstantiated personal truth must be applied to others. Bigotry is not terminal. It is a treatable condition. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, Bigotry is the disease of Ignorance and education is the antidote.