Sunday, 15 May 2016




Pronunciation: /ˈbiɡət/ 


A person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions:don’t let a few small-minded bigots destroy the good image of the cityhe was a fanatical bigot
Why do they call right wingers bigots and not left wingers? Right-wingers who defy the current political consensus tend to think outside the box - play with dangerous ideas -  are the opposite of narrow minded bigots. 

Whereas liberals, progressives and feminists are often bigoted in their beliefs. If you doubt this, ask them about their opinions on - to take examples at random - smacking children or on capital punishment or smoking in public or women being members of male clubs. Their opinions may very well be right, but you will, more often than not, find completely closed minds. 

Perhaps the truth is that we all have closed minds on most things, because having an open mind on everything would make life impossible. Life might be literally impossible if we did not share a bigoted belief that murder is wrong, even though, as A.J. Balfour pointed out, none of the philosophical arguments for murder being wrong has anything in common with the others except its conclusion. It is almost, he said, as if the authors started with the conclusion and worked backwards. 

But there is much more to it than this. Attacking the political consensus from the right requires imagination and courage, free-thinking. Attacking it from the left or even far left does not require any courage and going along with the consensus unquestioningly is my definition of bigotry.


  1. Tolerance is actually gravely misused today I think. There are at least three dimensions of what they call tolerance: tolerance, indifference(apathy), or cowardice.
    1. We are accept and live with the flaws of the people we love = tolerance
    2. We ignore or accept the flaws of the people we do not particularly love or are indifferent to = apathy, indifference
    3. We accept or try to ignore the flaws of people we actually dislike = cowardice.

    Based on this definition, and since the protected groups that require 'tolerance' today in the west, are still a minority, it is safe to conclude that what is required of us is either indifference, apathy or cowardice.

  2. I think I prefer the Webster/ Cambridge university press definition .
    bigot. : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

    It clearly demonstrates your point as to why it is more often directed at the right wing, in whom by the way I find little original thought or dangerous ideas. What could be more old hat than belief in tradition, natural hierarchy and fixed social order. The very far left and anarchists offer far more. There is more free thinking and dangerous ideas in ten pages of Godwin than every time dedicated to conservatism and neoliberalism published since.

    1. The definition you found reflects current (mis)usage. Belief in tradition, natural hierarchy and fixed social order are old hat, though hierarchy is a fact of life, of course and tradition too. It was not people who believe in social hierarchy who need to be courageous to express their views though belief in hierarchy nowadays does require thinking outside the box. People who do not agree with the fashionable consensus on, for example, sexual roles often have both courage and immigration. Or on the merits of the EU even.

    2. "A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices" describes people who like homosexual marriage or feminism at least as much and usually more than those who do not.

    3. Heirachy is not a fact of life, neither come to that is tradition. They are both simply convienient social constructs that favour the status quo and those who believe themselves ,for what ever reason to be superior or more entitled than their fellow human beings. They are learned attitudes and responses, a roomfull of small children is subject usually only to the basest of hierarchies, that of the strongest, the bully physically or mentally, never on race or creed, and that position remains the basis of the Aristocracy.

      I like your Freudian spellcheck slip though, people who do not agree with the concensus do often have immigration.

    4. Yes I meant to write imagination not immigration. When I was ten, I wanted to be conservative philosopher but it is not love of hierarchy that makes me a Tory. I want social mobility and porous class systems that release people's God-given talents. Still, perhaps the most important function of any society is to justify inequality.

      Children are intensely hierarchical. Any school class can be divided into 3 groups: the A group - the 10% who are popular, the B Group - who want to be friends with the As and shun the Cs, and the poor 5% who form the C group, bullied by some among the Bs, shunned and mocked.

  3. Here’s the OED (summarized and paraphrased):

    bigot: a person who adheres unreasonably or obstinately to a particular religious belief; a fanatical believer; a person characterized by obstinate, intolerant, or strongly partisan beliefs (obsolete definitions include: a religious hypocrite).

    As to be expected, Merriam-Webster and American Heritage concur. (American Heritage has the best etymology on this one, an entertaining walk through speculative origins.) Critical parts of the definition are fanatical, obstinate, and intolerant. A bigot is not simply biased or prejudiced (in the strict sense of the word). A bigot does not recognize middle ground. You are with him, or you are against him.

  4. noun
    a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

  5. big·ot (bĭgət)
    One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
    [French, excessively religious person, religiously intolerant person, from Old French, Norman person, excessively religious person, of unknown origin.]
    Word History: The ultimate origin of the word bigot is unknown. When bigot first appears in Old French, it is as an insulting term for a Norman. A colorful story is often told about the origin of the term with Rollo, the pagan Viking conqueror who received Normandy as a fief from Charles III of France in 911. Rollo converted to Christianity for the occasion, but it is said that he refused to complete his oath of fealty to the king by kissing the king's feet and said Ne se bi got, "Never, by God!" in a mishmash of Old French and a Germanic language. This bi got then became a term of abuse for the Normans. This story is certainly false, but some scholars have proposed that Old French bigot did indeed originate as a reference to be Gode!—the Old and early Middle English equivalent of Modern English by God!, perhaps as a phrase that some Normans picked up in their English possessions in England and then used back in France. Later, in the 1400s, the French word bigot appears as a term of abuse for a person who is excessively religious. It is not clear, however, that this word bigot, "excessively religious person," is in fact the direct descendant of the Old French slur that was applied to the Normans. Rather, this bigot may come directly from Middle English bi God, "by God," or an equivalent phrase in one of the Germanic relatives of English such as German bei Gott or Dutch bij God. But even this is uncertain. In any case, English borrowed bigot from French with the sense "religious hypocrite" in the early 17th century. In English, the term also came to be applied to persons who hold stubbornly to any system of beliefs, and by extension, persons who are intolerant of those that differ from them in any way.

  6. I am however intrigued by the tortological premise of is someone who's only intolerence is those who fulfill the narrow definition of bigot ,bigoted or not?

    1. The NARROW definition of bigot is closed-mindedness. But can one bigotedly dislike racial bigots? I think hating the sinner rather than the sin does sound rather bigoted. In fact someone who hates racists is in danger of committing the offence for which he condemns them.

  7. Dr. Johnson defined it in his dictionary thus. Bigot, blg'-gut. s. a zealot, one devoted to a Bigotry, bfg'-got-lre. s. blind zeal, superstition. The truth is the word is changing its meaning, as words do, but conservatives should fight for what I always though the definition of bigotry was, i.e. closed mindedness

  8. I will stick with Johnson here in that my belief is that its usage has always been more biased to zealotry ,whether religious, nationalist or racial ,and that it's application to closed mindedness is really rather modern. Blinkered always seemed to me to describe that rather better and it has been in use since at least middle english.

  9. Zeal is a dreadful thing, of course. I see in our world lots of feminist zealots and equality zealots of every sort. I see far more zealots on the left and in the centre than on the right. In fact I see few on the right. Conservatives are usually suspicious of enthusiasm.

  10. "It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth." A.J. Balfour