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Bigotry is not all bad things


Henry Farrell’s reply to Conor Friedersdorf’s mess of a column this morning. But I want to highlight one particularly clueless passage:

I don’t regard homosexuality as sinful. Unlike my friends in the orthodox Catholic community, I don’t regard sex before marriage or masturbation or the use of contraceptives or failing to attend Sunday Mass as sinful either. Knowing those Catholic friends neither fear me nor treat me with intolerance nor bear hatred toward me, it’s easy for me to see how they could view gay sex or marriage as sinful without hating gays or lesbians.

The difference, of course, is his conservative Catholic friends are not petitioning the state to deny him equal legal status via the denial of basic legal rights and protections, such as the right to marry and found a family, or the protection from discrimination in public accommodations provided by being covered by anti-discrimination law, despite the fact that he openly endorses and/or engages in all manner of activity they find sinful. It turns out that straight white males such as Friedersdorf find themselves being treated as full and equal citizens with relative ease, whereas GLBT struggle a bit in that category for some reason.

Among the many problems with Friedersdorf is his emotional response to, and utter lack of precision regarding the word bigotry. It’s a word with real meaning, not an insult, and petitioning the state to deny the basic rights and protections synonymous with full and equal citizenship is an act of bigotry. Bigotry is not synonymous with animosity. Bigotry is not synonymous with hatred. Bigotry is not synonymous with rudeness. Bigotry doesn’t cease to be bigotry simply because it comes from a place of ‘sincere religious conviction’  (which I doubt Friedersdorf would deny in other contexts–I have no doubt there are a few hundred million Hindus who seek to uphold the sigmas and exclusions of untouchibility due to ‘sincere religious conviction’).

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