Friday, April 24, 2009

Is Barack Obama a bigot?

Jill at Feministe has a post regarding the recent controversy over Perez Hilton's question to Miss California about same-sex marriage and the ensuing brouha-ha over her answer. Jill sums up what happened:
So by now you’ve probably heard about Miss California’s statements about same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant. In short, Miss California was asked whether she supported marriage rights, and she said, in many more words, “No.”
After the pageant, Perez Hilton (who was a judge at the pageant) went to call Ms. California Carrie Prejean some names, apologize, reverse his apology and then call her some more names.

Jill then attempts to argue that both Ms. California and Perez Hilton were being intolerant.
So Miss California said gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married because she was raised to believe in opposite marriage, and Perez Hilton called her a bitch. Sounds like they’re operating on about the same level.

What? In what crazy, whacked-out universe is that "operating on the same level?"

One person was asked their opinion on a political issue. She gave an opinion which is shared by more than half the country. The other person insults her personally for giving this opinion.

Being tolerant of someone doesn't mean you agree their opinion. It means that you respect their right to share it (especially when you ask them for it) and don't personally attack them for it if you happen to disagree with their opinion. It's about tolerating the person sharing the opinion and treating them with some basic respect. It's not about accepting their beliefs as true. Tolerance only comes into play when there are disagreeing opinions over certain issues and it's about how the individuals who disagree treat each other when they're disagreeing.

In trying to show that other people don't really understand the concept of tolerance, Jill shows she doesn't understand the definition of tolerance and even sounds like she thinks what Prejean did was worse than what Hilton did.
I think some people don’t really understand the concept of “intolerance.” Being intolerant of someone’s racist, sexist, heterosexist, etc etc opinions is not the same as being intolerant of someone because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, etc etc. There’s a difference between trying to take away someone’s civil rights (or never offering them at all), and voicing your disapproval of a person who is trying to take away a group’s civil rights.
Being intolerant of someone's opinion is quickly turned into good thing if that person says something (like "I think marriage should be between a man and a woman) which you disagree with and think is "heterosexist." But note that Hilton wasn't intolerant of Prejean's opinion about same-sex marriage, he was intolerant towards her. He treated a woman he didn't know at all with a complete lack of respect simply because he disagreed with her opinion on the issue of whether people of the same-sex should be married. That's classic intolerance.

I don't think anyone would have faulted Hilton for intolerance if after the pageant he had shared his beliefs on same-sex marriage and noted his disagreement with Ms. Prejean's beliefs and critiqued her answer. I certainly wouldn't have. But he went way beyond that by childishly insulting her.

Jill goes on to critique comments by a Focus on the Family spokesperson by saying,
It’s not “religious persecution” to say that someone is a bigot for having bigoted views.

As Roland Martin aptly points out, many of the leading voices on the left believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. So if thinking that marriage should be between a man and a woman makes one a bigot (which is what Jill seems to be asserting here) then Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are all bigots.

For some reason, I doubt Jill will be making that kind of claim. It's much easier for bloggers in favor of same-sex marriage to claim Christians and conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage are all bigots than actually make an argument showing why they're bigots and then holding the politicians they prefer to the same standard.

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