03 August 2017

Word-games à la wingnut

If you are in confrontation with a right-winger on the internet and the subject of racism or homophobia comes up, your interlocutor may cite a "definition" of the word "bigot" attributed to Google, which reads as follows: "a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions".

This odd definition has been a wingnut talking point for some time, because it conveniently excludes most forms of real bigotry. The KKK's hatred of blacks has nothing to do with what opinions blacks hold, any more than the fundie hatred of gays does. So if bigotry is re-defined as intolerance toward opinions, the KKK and the homophobes are not bigots, but people who object to the hateful views (opinions) of those groups are bigots. Very convenient.

I don't know where that "definition" originates. Yes, it does come up in Google when you search on the word "bigot", but real dictionaries, including online ones, show definitions which fit the word's actual meaning.  My trusty Webster's, for example, defines it as "1. a person who holds blindly and intolerantly to a particular creed, opinion, etc." and "2. a narrow-minded, intolerant person".

This isn't the only case where ideology has given a common word some Orwellian re-definition.  We all know how "freedom" has been twisted by the enemy to mean low taxes and the "freedom" of the wealthy to use their property rights to run roughshod over everyone else (and, in the case of some libertarian types, the freedom to use drugs), but almost never sexual or reproductive freedom or any other kind of core personal freedom.  In fact, the central error of libertarian ideology is that it can only conceive of freedom being infringed by government -- use of economic power by, say, landlords or employers to restrict the freedom of non-wealthy individuals, no matter how egregious, does not count.  Similarly, whenever a prude or censorious type says "it's not a matter of freedom of expression", you can be pretty certain that whatever they're talking about is a matter of freedom of expression.  The word "freedom" has been twisted in so many ways by various people with agendas that I tend to use a more explicit phrase, such as "individual self-determination", in its place when I feel it's necessary for clarity.

But we shouldn't have to surrender the word "freedom", and I'm not going to surrender "bigot" either.  If someone hates black people or thinks homosexuality is immoral, that person is a bigot.  And I am not a bigot for denouncing his views.


Blogger Donna said...

If the people touting that Google definition weren't cherry picking, they would see that synonyms are listed such as:
chauvinist, partisan, sectarian; racist, sexist, homophobe, dogmatist, jingoist
"he comes off as a naïve, close-minded bigot"

still, I prefer Merriam-Webster's

: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

04 August, 2017 06:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Exactly -- even more than intolerance generally, bigotry means intolerance of people for who they are, not what they think.

04 August, 2017 07:20  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I think we all have our own identities, favourites, hang- ups, idea of freedom or whatever ... but we (most) identify with some group I guess. The definitions of some words I actually question as you do ... I gave up years ago on trying to fit things properly I guess. Yes ... I admit I'm a bigot, I have as much hatred in me as love, I definitely believe in violence as a tool, and even war and defense ... at least in these times. Whatever anyone tells me about what it is to be free, I guess it doesnt mean too much, if I dont actually feel free. In other words ... if my mind does not feel that freedom, and I feel too restricted by whoever or whatever ... I mean ... I dont feel free. I know libertarians and also folks that say they're liberal, that have some of the same sexual hang- ups, although the reasons may vary. But it all can get confusing trying to mold ourselves to definitions I think.

Even though I vote democrat, doesnt mean that I love the democratic party, in fact, several even disgust me as much as republicans ... and some libertarians I known, seem to think because I vote a certain way ... it means that I just like everything that party is about. Then when I give my view, and it dont fit the stereotype view of a liberal to them ... they question if I'm really a liberal? So ... to cut it short ... I simply tell them I'm independent. I was a member of satanic groups over the years, including the Church of Satan (more well known group) ... yet there were many satanists that I plain just didnt like associating with and found them to be plastic, boring and irritating snobs, some saying they are like Anton LaVey ... but nothing like him in my view. Thanx for the posting Infidel ... I see your point too.

04 August, 2017 08:01  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

The rabids on the political spectrum will always try to twist meanings and words to fit their agendas. We fight back. Thanks for this post.

04 August, 2017 09:21  
Blogger NickM said...

I am with you on "bigot". "Freedom" is always going to be a tricky one though. The old freedom from/freedom to thing.

06 August, 2017 03:00  
Blogger I fought the lawn. And the lawn won. said...

"a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions".

How convenient!

Using this definition, opponents of racism are the 'real bigots' and racists are the 'victims'.

08 August, 2017 19:09  

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