What Does it Mean to Be a Bigot?

I keep noticing posts where the author has used bigoted languages. When someone points out the bigotry the author often cries “you’re being to PC.” I hate to break it to those authors, but crying PC doesn’t make you less of a bigot.

So what does it mean to be a bigot? It means being discriminatory towards a given group. It means using bigoted language. Calling someone a “tranny” is bigoted, because “tranny” is a derogative slur. You can defend that language all you want, but if you call someone a “tranny,” you’re a bigot. Other slurs are the same. Whether they’re sexist, racist, or discriminatory towards LGBTQ people, or any other group. Using these slurs makes you a bigot.

What does it mean to be too PC? Political correctness is not in and of itself a bad thing. We live in societies with many different people with different backgrounds. We are all equal, we all have the same rights, and we all have to interact with one another. No, we can’t say whatever we want whenever we want. Is this a bad thing? Of course not. Over time we are becoming more tolerant and accepting of differences. We get along with others a lot better. There will always be bigots, but there are less today than there were. Being a bigot is becoming less acceptable. And the number of hate crimes are shrinking. There are still too many bigots for my taste, but that number is shrinking.

So is there such a thing as being too PC? Of course. Schools that try to hide their students from religion are being too PC. But calling someone out for bigotry is not being too PC. If you think it is, then you need to step back and take a look at your own beliefs. If you’re being called a bigot, it’s probably because you’re being a bigot. If you’re being called a bigot repeatedly, guess what, it’s not them, it’s you. So lets try to act like adults here and treat everybody with respect.

9 responses to “What Does it Mean to Be a Bigot?

  • fairlycirrus

    In this post you’ve touched on a use of language that intrigues me.

    I live in Australia. While I don’t often come across sites or vids where black Americans (notice I avoided the use of the word ‘negroes’?) call themselves ‘niggas’. I had to admit that I don’t get it.

    Is it OK for a black American to call themselves a ‘nigga’ (which if spoken rather than in the printed word I can’t distinguish from the non-PIC word ‘nigger’) but not OK if, as a white Australian, I use it?

    How does one know when the demarcation line of PC/not-PC has been crossed by a word?

    ‘Queer’ is now crossing that line and it’s almost acceptable for a heterosexual person of either of the mainstream genders (oooh … I’m crossing verbal quicksand here!) to use the word ‘queer’ to mean someone who is ‘gay’.

    So where are we now with the word ‘bitch’? I loathe it. Perhaps that’s because I’m a 67-year-old woman and that word has been a pejorative term for the whole of my life.

    What does that word mean now? Can someone tell me whether I should be offended if someone uses it with reference to me?

    Australian’s often use “old bastard” as a term of endearment for someone they know. What if I call an American ‘old bastard’?

    Does context rule?
    Is it all in the intention of the user?
    If I’m writing – so there’s no tone of voice or style of ‘delivery’ to give a clue to whether I’m being sarcastic, critical, cruel, yadda yadda – how does someone understand my intention?

    How do I avoid being labelled a ‘bigot’ and, more to the point, avoid actually BEING one?
    And should I give a toss?


    • hessianwithteeth

      If you want to know what words are okay to use for each individual, you’ll have to ask them. That’s the best way to avoid being bigoted. It’s about demeaning a particular group. You can’t call a black person a “nigga,” or “nigger,” because, in the US, there is still a lot of racism towards the black community. Before the word(s) can be reclaimed, as queer is being reclaimed, the racism will need to be better dealt with. The black community uses the term “nigga” as a way to reclaim the word, but it is not acceptable for us white people to use it until we have been given permission. This is because, as it stands, we have the privilege.
      As for queer, many in the LGBTQ community are not okay with being called queer. It is suggested that, if you want to know how someone identifies, you should ask them and use whichever terms they prefer. This is, again, because straight cis (non-trans) people have the privilege. To make things more equal, we allow the person to lead when it comes to which terms are applied to them.
      Take the word “bitch” for example. You said you don’t like it. How would you feel if somebody said “Hey, you old bitch, how are you?” and you replied “please don’t call me that, I don’t like it,” and they replied with “oh, come on. It’s a term of endearment”? Don’t you think that, since the person is applying the term to you, you should be able to determine whether or not it is used? Frankly, I’d be pissed if I said “don’t say that” and got told “it’s okay.” No, it’s not. You’re talking about me. You don’t get to call me whatever you want, you should take my lead.
      As for the word “bastard,” I’m not American, but, where I live, the word is pretty well meaningless. There’s not really much in the way of negative connotation to it anymore. I think the US is the same.
      What does all this mean? Basically, if you don’t want to be a bigot, then let the people you’re talking to determine what language you use to refer to them. Don’t call them something after they have asked you not to. And stick with culturally acceptable terms.


      • fairlycirrus

        I disagree.

        The requirement that we check with someone before we use a word is stultifying.

        And whether someone can be considered privileged or not depends entirely on an individual’s circumstances. It can’t necessarily be dependent on nationality, skin colour, gender, bank balance, etc.
        Needing to be constantly aware of not using a word that might — just might — have a negative meaning that the speaker doesn’t or can’t know about or haven’t even considered puts a straight jacket on communication.

        How about “Don’t use a term to describe or refer to yourself if you’d be offended if someone else used it in referring to you?” Or does that not work because there’s intention behind words?

        Here the word bastard can be used as a pejorative or an affectionate term. The only way you can tell which way it’s meant is in tone of voice, body language and context. Does culture or usage dictate whether the use of a word is bigotry? Or is it the user’s intention and/or the background of the listener that makes it so?

        In Queensland there’s a football stand named after a player in the 1921 Kangaroos rugby league side. He was known, at the time, as ‘Nigger Brown’ – one of those weird, ironic, Australian uses of a name applied to someone when it’s actually not applicable.Nigger Brown was given the name because as a child because he had fair skin and blonde hair. Same as someone here with red hair being given the nickname “Blue”.
        When a local Aboriginal man got upset about the football stand’s name and tried to get it changed, the local Aboriginal community said “No way”. A member of that community said “I mean, you look at it, I suppose, in a couple of contexts. We use “nigger” a lot. You know, we’ve got black people that we call “nigger”. You know, you can look at it … I mean, I’ve had fights over being called “nigger” in the early 70s here in Toowoomba. I mean, I’m 65 and I’ll fight if somebody calls me “nigger.” It all depends how it’s said and, you know, as I said, they can say it, I suppose, in a couple of contexts. But this man’s been given this name long before we were born and it’s stuck with him, and it’s on the stand, and I hope it stops there. It was here before I came, 30 years ago. I hope it can be there long after I’m gone.”


        • hessianwithteeth

          You can only take “do onto others as you’d have done onto you” so far. Would you continue calling someone something that they don’t like because it doesn’t bother you? That’s insensitive and rude. You don’t have to shut down communication, you just have to add one small question. We live in a society (all of us coming from past English colonies) where asking questions is seen as rude or a sign of stupidity. But that’s not the case at all. How can you learn anything if you aren’t willing to ask questions? Don’t try to skirt around the issue, or fear asking, just consider it as being like asking someone what their interests are before you try to start a conversation about sports or art. Why would you talk about sports with someone who has no interest in it? Likewise, why would you ask a gay man if he has a girlfriend? Why not just skip that awkwardness altogether? Is asking a simple question before hand really all that debilitating?
          And if you don’t think that your gender, sexuality, and ethnicity give you privilege, then you really haven’t thought much about it. Being white gives me a lot of protection. If I get attacked by anyone that isn’t white, then I can be damn sure that I’ll be believed over them. But I’m also female, so if it’s a white man who attacks me, then I’ll likely be told that I’m being overly emotional, or that I provoked them. That is clear privilege right there. I’m also not cis or straight, though I can easily pass as straight, so I lose privilege points there too. If I’m with my fiance, then I need not worry about being harassed. But I’ve been harassed many times while on my own. I’ve been asked if I’m a boy or a girl, if I’m a dyke, if I’m single. I’ve been told how I could look prettier too. All of that is by complete strangers more often than not. My partner, however, has never experienced any of that. He’s a straight cis man, and he’s white. He has as much privilege as he can get. And, while people don’t harass me when he’s around, he has noticed that significant amount of respect that he gets and I don’t. Things like being addressed by waiters and being given the check. He’s always expected to be the one with money, though I’ve been harassed for not having my own money because I asked him to hang on to mine, and he’s expected to be the one in control. This is all a result of privilege.


  • samcroarkin

    You present two definitions, but I don’t think that it quite hits at the heart of the matter.

    First, to be a bigot simply does not mean to discriminate. You attach a negative connotation to discrimination that does not exist in the definition of it. Everyone discriminates: it how one goes about the discrimination. Your including using slurs illuminates what the truer definition is: unfair or uncalled for or otherwise unearned disrespect.

    However, the trick is unfair and uncalled for is something that is in the eye of the beholder. There is no objective “bigot”. There are those who may have better or worse reasons to negatively discriminate, but it is important to keep in mind that one’s own beliefs informs one of the level of bigotry committed, so just calling someone a bigot is useless in attempting to remedy the problem. At that point, it is an issue in beliefs and not conduct.


    • hessianwithteeth

      Of course calling someone a bigot won’t solve anything. A conversation is necessary. But I find it insane how many people turn immediately insulting when they’re told “what you said isn’t okay.”


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