Nick Clegg, or (if he is to believed) someone in his office who hasn’t yet been forced to fall on his/her sword to save the Deputy Prime Minister’s blushes, decided that it was a good idea to label those opposed to “gay marriage” as bigots.
The Oxford Dictionary uses this definition of “bigoted”:
Having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others.
Let’s break that into two parts, and Mr Clegg and I can have a little conversation.
1. Having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions….
Jon: I am absolutely convinced by the Word of God that homosexual behaviour is immoral, and that the Government should not be affirming it.
Mr Clegg: I am absolutely convinced on some basis that homosexual behaviour is not only acceptable, but that the Government should be encouraging and affirming it.
Jon: I am absolutely convinced by the Word of God that government affirmations (as with previous ones with civil partnerships) will never take away the guilt which God places in the hearts of those who reject His standards.
Mr Clegg: I am absolutely convinced on some basis that more affirmations are needed and that somehow, these will actually accomplish something where the others haven’t.
Jon: I am absolutely convinced by my observation and by how their lives match up to the Scriptures, that politicians are not well-qualified to offer moral guidance (shall we take a poll to see how many people agree with me :)?). I am further convinced that a politician who would even answer the question of how many women he has slept with is not likely to be a fit spokesman on morality, unless the answer includes only his wife. I am further convinced that when he can only answer in rounded numbers that he has no moral authority at all.
Mr Clegg: I am absolutely convinced on some basis that I should speak out on this topic.
Jon: I’m sorry, Nick, but I believe my views are superior to yours.
Mr Clegg: Rev Gleason, you are a bigot, and my views are superior to yours.
2. …and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others.
Intolerance of opinions can take many forms. It can involve passing laws to prohibit expressing (or even holding) certain views. It can involve using other pressures to try to silence those who hold certain opinions. It can even involve public name-calling and expressions of dislike and distaste for those who hold those views. This last can be particularly effective when a person is in a position of power, especially in a position to influence legislation.
It is not intolerance or bigotry to disagree with a view and give reasons for that disagreement. It is, however, intolerance and bigotry to try to keep an opposing view from being aired by attempting to either intimidate or discredit those who hold it.
Our kids would, as kids do, at times resort to insults, name-calling, changing the subject, or trying to silence their opponent. We found an effective response — “you lost the battle of wits.” For some reason, I remembered that while reading a news report today.