Bigotry? I Don’t Think So

Phil Robertson Gays Blacks Duck Dynasty BigotExcept for one post about the Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty uproar, I haven’t really said much about it. Oh, I’ve liked a couple of posts on Facebook, retweeted a few things on Twitter and even made a comment or two. But, I haven’t staked my claim to the story like some bloggers have; mostly because I didn’t want to add to the noise it’s making on account of it being a rather shitty noise that I wish would go away.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for speaking up for people who are oppressed and letting the oppressors know that what they’re doing is wrong and that we see them doing it. But, after a while, you reach a point of diminishing returns and all you’re doing is giving someone with some fucked-up beliefs a bigger platform than they deserve. I’m not sure if that’s what’s happening here, but I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon, just in case.

So, why am I talking about it now? Because I keep seeing a word come up in connection with Robertson that I don’t think applies and that word is bigot. You see, when you call someone a bigot, you imply a certain level of hate and I don’t think Robertson hates anyone, even the people he said such awful things about. In fact, he said in the interview he loved everyone and I think that’s true, even if he has a strange way of showing it. Maybe, you say, but at the very least, his comments were bigoted. I’m not so sure about that, either. As hateful and ugly as they sound, I think they came from a place of love. A weird and misguided place, to be sure, but one of love.

Yes, I know there are plenty of people out there who meet the definition of bigot very nicely, but I don’t believe Robertson is one of them. Granted,I don’t know the man personally, but I’ve known people like him all my life. People of deep faith who truly love all of humanity. Yes, some of them have said some fantastically ugly things. But, if you were to call them a bigot and tell them they hated anyone, they would be mortified. Because, like Robertson, they’re not bigoted, they’re ignorant.

It’s ignorance of LGBT relationships that allows someone compare them to bestiality, pedophilia and other disgusting acts. Usually the first thing that comes to mind when I hear such things is that the speaker doesn’t actually know any LGBT people; if they did, they’d know such ideas are bullshit. And, it’s ignorance of their privilege that allows white people of a certain economic station to say that things weren’t that bad for black folks during Jim Crow. They don’t understand that you can be privileged without being rich.

The distinction between bigotry and ignorance is important because if there’s any hope of bringing an end to remarks like the ones Robertson made, it lies in dialogue and education. And, calling someone a bigot pretty much shuts down any possibility of either one.