Dictionaries ascribe an overly broad and vague meaning to the word “bigotry.”
Writing for The Bilerico Project, Patricia Nell Warren narrows the scope to strengthen the word while limiting any abuse of it.
A real bigot goes beyond expression that is protected by the First Amendment — beyond what is protected by the above-mentioned clause in the Matthew Shepard Act. He or she even goes beyond hate speech — which is knowingly and purposefully inflaming others to take violent action against those of whom he or she disapproves.
The real bigot openly works for the establishment of state religion — his or her religion, naturally. Whether as a voter or lobbyist or legislator or judge or media person, he or she aims to see draconian laws passed that would deprive the disapprovees of their civil rights. In the name of state religion, the bigot wants to harass them, silence them, beat up on them, jail them, even torture them and kill them, if possible. Their mission statements make it very clear that this is what they aim to do.
Nell Warren warns:
Individual bigots like Lou Engle and Rick Warren, and organizations like The Family, The Call and the New Apostolic Reformation, are now cozily accepted in the Republican Party, and are working to embed themselves in the Democratic party as well. According to political reporter Jeff Sharlet in his recent expos?© The Family, even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can be seen hobnobbing at the National Prayer Breakfast sponsored by these people. Sharlet’s book bristles with disturbing documentation on how the Democratic party is forgetting what it supposedly stands for.
How do we turn things around? More laws? More investigations? More court fights? There’s a saying, that you can’t legislate enlightenment. So I’m not sure that more laws and legal opinions will do the job.
But we can start by exposing these crimes in the media, so the American public gets educated about what the real bigots are up to. We must put that label on the politicians and the lobbyists and the celebrities and the corporate figureheads who deserve it. We have to hold them up to public censure — prevent them from hiding behind the user-friendly labels that they stick on themselves, like “patriot” and “good Christian.” The extreme right launched its Teabagger movement — we have to launch our Teabigot movement.
Little by little, more Americans have to get deeply shocked and embarrassed about bigotry. Being a bigot, as I define it, needs to become socially unacceptable.