Bigotry and the deadly consequences thereof

2016-06-17 09:32

bigot

'b?g?t/

noun

a person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions.

If you’re a bigot, I would bet a substantial amount of money on the possibility that you believe Islam is an evil religion that must be purged from this earth. If you’re a bigot, I would also gamble my accumulated pension on the very real chance that you think homosexuals are the direct descendants of Satan, sent to earth to tempt the innocent wayward men and women who try to resist our fabulous charms. If you’re a bigot, I would gamble my life on the slightest inkling that you believe in white supremacy, and that black people don’t posses the intellect or acumen to compete in a Western world. If you’re a bigot, you most likely believe that your god (whichever divine incarnation that may be) is the one supreme commander-in-chief of all life on earth, and that every archaic, oppressive and violent supernatural decree pronounced by your god must be obeyed at all costs, regardless of the devastation it may bring to innocent human beings. If you believe that men are better at anything women may attempt to achieve, you’re a bigot. If you believe that some, or all cultures are inferior and barbaric in comparison to yours, you’re a bigot. But most of all - and this is the shatteringly terrifying truth - I would bet my lottery winnings (my lucky numbers are next) that if you are a bigot, you are probably sincerely adamant that you are not. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Thousands of years ago, in the bronze age, bigots probably thrived. Civilisations developed far away from one another and communication technologies were almost non-existent. The bronze age provided a wondrous existence so isolated and exclusive that bigots rarely had to be confronted with any beliefs or ideas that differed from their own. And if these avant-garde beliefs or thoughts emerged, society would simply erase the perpetrator by means of execution. Socrates, one of the most significant thinkers in our human history was sentenced to death and executed for questioning existing beliefs. When confronted with distant neighbouring civilisations and cultures, one would simply wage war and conquer them in an attempt to subjugate and transform that society into your own. There were exceptions, of course. Cyrus the Great, the Persian king who founded the Achaemenid Empire, was an uncharacteristically magnanimous ruler who allowed secularism and religious freedom throughout his conquered Empire. He also ensured that the diverse cultures and customs he had absorbed into his empire were preserved and protected. Quite a special chap, in a time where intolerance was rife.

The world has long ago departed from those isolated kingdoms. As global conquests became the norm during the Middle Ages, the world gradually became more closely connected than ever before. It was the start of the global village. Of course this progression would be met with many further conflicts. All the nations of the world, having until this moment existed as hinterlands, were now confronted with an even wider variety of cultures and beliefs that were previously unknown. Many centuries of wars - religious, political and cultural conflicts - later, we find ourselves in the 21st century preaching tolerance and acceptance. Some humans have taken well to this idea, while others (seemingly an overwhelming amount) have not. The global village has become a breeding ground for hatred and the systematic targeting of anything that deviates from what is known and accepted in various nations. That brings those of us who strive to be tolerant into contact with a painful dichotomy. The definition of tolerance surely can’t be selectively applied, as that would defeat the purpose. So, in essence, if you are the antithesis of tolerant, we should probably tolerate your intolerance, right?

This is where my existential mind begins to buckle under the pressure of trying to grasp a concept that is profoundly absurd. I observe, and sometimes partake, in debates that are fuelled by hatred and intolerance, and often have to witness bigots fighting for their right to freedom of speech. It’s one of the most abused defences of those who are vocal about their intolerance. But what these intellectually challenged individuals never seem to grasp, is that the right to freedom of speech does not make provisions for hate speech. They are separate entities. Hate speech is one of the most dangerous scourges of our modern civilisation. Hate speech has consequences. Hate speech is the source of unhealthy indoctrination. Unhealthy indoctrination is the catalyst for the perpetual cycle of bigotry.

Let’s take Islamophobia as one example. When an Islamic fundamentalist suicide bomber walks into an airport and detonates himself, killing scores of people, the bigots will blame Islam. There won’t be a moment’s consideration for the possibility that the killer was merely an extremely troubled individual who grossly mangled his own interpretation of the Qur’an in order to suit, and validate, his own bigoted views. Those calling for the vanquishing of all Islam have probably not spent even a moment to engage with any one of the other 1.6 billion Muslims to see if they endorse extremism - they merely assume that the endorsement is inherent. Do they know that those who are worst affected by Islamic terrorism are Muslims? Do they know, or care, that Islamic extremists make up a negligible percentage of the global Muslim population? Do they realise that the vastly overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide are fundamentally peaceful, kind and generous people? No, they don’t. They don’t care to know this information. They prefer the ludicrously inaccurate propaganda of the far right. And do you know why? Because it suits the bigot’s small-minded perceptions and justifies their own inherent hate. So at the end of the day, it is pertinently clear that the bigot, who hates Islam because of the actions of a few mentally unstable criminals, is not very different from the man who exploded himself in the airport. They are both bigots.

The same is true of the homophobe who killed 49 gay people in Orlando. Or the racist who gunned down a congregation of black people in their house of worship in Charleston. Or the man who stabbed and shot Jo Cox in Birstall because he opposes Britain’s EU membership. Or the religious extremists who murdered 130 people in Paris in November 2015. In 2015 king Goodwill Zwelithini called for foreigners living in South Africa to go home, a move which many believe signalled a few weeks of bloodcurdling and deadly xenophobic attacks. And folks, these are merely some of the most recent spates of horrors inflicted on society because of bigotry - the list of associated incidents all over the world is stupendously long, and rapidly growing. It’s like a monstrous tsunami crawling slowly across the globe, devouring lives in the name of intolerance.

A video recently circulating on social media shows an evangelistic Christian pastor preaching that he approved of the Orlando massacre, and felt that the only mistake on the part of the gunman was that he didn’t finish the job. He obviously motivated his vile, homophobic vitriol with verses from the Bible. But the Qur’an is the enemy, right?

The views and words of bigots are one of the most dangerous pandemics in modern society. Bigots make babies, and then they infuse those babies with their hatred. Those babies grow up and spread the hate, eventually also having babies that absorb the hatred of their parents like sponges. This hate-baby cycle is endless. When the babies grow up the weight of the pressures of life bear down on them and their baby-hate-sponges are squeezed and twisted until the black tar of bigotry oozes out and poisons society. These people have no idea what the consequences of their words are. They don’t realise that people die because of those words. On the other hand, perhaps they are well aware of these consequences but simply don’t care - the people they hate deserve to die, I guess.

The problem is not Islam, or “the faggots”, or women, or black people, or migrants, or whatever else it is that bigots fear. The problem is dogmatic, sectarian bigotry. There is a line where my tolerance ends and morphs into contempt. Each time a hate speech rant is spewed forth like putrid bile, or a catastrophic crime is committed by parochial minds, that line is crossed. I am prepared to be intolerant of intolerance, and I believe society should follow suit. As oxymoronic as that sounds, I see no other way of overcoming the cause of so much death and destruction. We must revoke the freedom of hate speech and relegate the bigots to the unknown wilderness beyond civilisation.

If you are a bigot reading these words, know this: you and that suicide bomber you hate, or that homophobic, racist gunman you admire - you are one and the same. Cut from the same cloth. You have become everything you hate and more. You are the real danger. Until you decide to expand your mind and join enlightened civilisation, you will be trapped in your self-constructed prison, necrotising from within. Remember that the next time you’re galloping on your high-horse through the intellectual void of your vacuous mind.

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