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Bigotry 101

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In the autism world, there’s a word that is brandished about quite regularly, as a means of shutting down conversation.  You’ve probably seen it.

Bigot

Before I go any further, let’s be clear about the definition of that word (you know I love my definitions).

Definition of 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

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So a bigot, then, is someone obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his/her opinions and prejudices.  Let’s use this definition to exam some of the situations that have occurred of late in the “community.”
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A few months back, another blogger said something jokingly, that an advocate took offense to.  Fair enough, I concur that what was said could have been perceived as unkind.  But the offended advocate then devoted an entire post to damning the blogger as a “bad person” and a “bigot.”  A public shaming, if you will.
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I then wrote a post, defending the blogger, and letting the advocate know that he could have handled the situation better.  I should not have written that post.  Not because I don’t stand by what I wrote, but because it didn’t concern me.  But I hate to see someone slandered in such a callous way.
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But by virtue of MY post, I was then branded a “bigot”.  Let’s get something straight about this.  If I disagree with you, it doesn’t make me a bigot.  It makes me someone that doesn’t share your opinion.  If I disagreed with you and was unkind to you BECAUSE you’re autistic, then I would be a bigot.  See the difference?
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In fact, I am nothing close to being a bigot.  I don’t like that advocate simply because he is aggressive and vengeful.   I don’t happen to give a crap whether he is, OR ISN’T, autistic.
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Does he have a decent site that provides good information?  Yes, yes he does.  I would not argue that point.  Does he sometimes gets his knickers in a twist and write some slanderous piece that is unnecessary and uncalled for?  Yes, yes he does.  And in my personal opinion, it’s bad judgment.
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Now unfortunately he takes things even further by harassing my friends by telling them they should not be friends with me, and they should somehow make me apologize to him.  That’s the weird behind-the-scenes stuff he does, so that he can still play the poor martyr to his followers.  But let me be clear, I don’t like him because of these kinds of things, not because he’s autistic.  He may be autistic, but, in my opinion, he’s also a kind of a jerk.
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But enough of that.  The word bigot is used in many other places and by many other people, as well.  Any time someone disagrees with a point that someone has made, the word BIGOT is thrown down as a way to banish the party that doesn’t agree.  But here’s a newsflash: people can disagree with you because there’s a flaw in your logic, not because they’re a bigot.  Sometimes people disagree because YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.
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Autistics want equality, and rightfully so.  They want the same opportunities as anyone else.  But when someone disagrees with a point you’ve made, you can’t just keep resorting to the “B” word as your defense.  Sometimes you have to actually consider that maybe the point you’re making has some holes in it.  Or that maybe someone else’s viewpoint is just as valid.  Imagine that.  Could someone else actually have a valid point, other than an autistic advocate?
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Playing the bigot card is weak.  In fact, it’s so overused that it’s become a bit of a joke.  Someone says they don’t like cats?  Then they’re a dirty CAT BIGOT!  I’m pretty sure that’s not the intent that advocates wanted, but when you overuse the same tired argument, that’s where it ends up.
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Now watch.  This entire post will be held up as a stunning example of bigotry.  But it’s not.  I believe autistics need to have a voice, a seat at the table, and the opportunity to make decisions about their lives.  And I also believe that equality means being assessed on your merits.  And if you lack merits, someone will think you’re a jerk.  Doesn’t mean anyone is bigoted toward you, it probably just means you’re a jerk, at least sometimes.
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I’ll leave you with one last example.  An autistic blogger I know wrote a great post a couple of weeks ago.  I sent a private message to the moderator at a well-known advocacy site about linking it on their page.  She told me that it wasn’t up to their standard, and in the past she’d had to edit the blogger’s writing quite a bit.  So I asked him myself if he’d posted for them before, and whether they did a lot of editing.  He said they ran one piece of his and it was a complete copy and paste, not one single edit.  So she lied because she just didn’t want to run his post, because he has disagreed with them in the past about certain points-of-view.  Is she a bigot for doing that?  NO.  She is NOT a bigot.  She’s just a liar.  And kind of a jerk.  But not a bigot.
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I have a bit of a reputation around the interwebz as a straight-shooter.  So here it is.  Quit overusing damning words just to win arguments, or to play the victim card.  We need to advocate with our grown-up panties on.
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And to the advocate that called me a bigot – stop pestering people.  This post is the closest you’re going to get to an apology.  But whether I think you’re a jerk sometimes or not, I would still work WITH you anytime there was an advocacy project on the table.  You know why?  Because we’re ALL jerks sometimes.  Yep, me too.
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And now…3…2…1, commence shitstorm.
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About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

26 responses »

  1. Amen girl! Amen!

    Reply
  2. I completely agree with you. The word Bigot is thrown around too freely and is almost always applied out of context. I know that as the parent of a son with Autism, that when ever I write posts supporting the rights of parents to be heard along side, and not instead of, Autistic adults, I am always criticized or condemned by some one or another who has usually not taken the time to read my posts fully. As a matter of fact I have one such outburst in my pending comments section now. I’ve left it there, pending, because I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want to publish it but I would like to pull it apart and dissect it to try and figure out how and why the person who took offense to my post, did so. I am not a bigot, I’m a parent and an advocate for my son and will continue to be so until the day arrives when he can advocate for himself. The Autism community, it seems to me, is so filled with factions, that they are creating fractures that may never be fully healed. It’s such a pity considering that we all want the same things: equality, understanding and acceptance. Yet some seem so utterly unable to give to others the very things they are demanding for themselves, that it literally makes me cringe. Great post!

    Reply
  3. Reblogged this on seventhvoice and commented:
    Bigotry 101…… Anyone involved within the Autism community needs to read this post and understand that disagreeing with another’s point of view is not bigotry, it’ not even close to being bigotry, it’s simply a difference of opinion. Nothing more and nothing less. Honestly it makes me cringe sometimes to see those within the community attacking each other over such differences in perspectives. Especially when we are all trying to achieve the same things; equality, acceptance and understanding. So why is it that some within the Autism community seem so utterly unable to offer to others the very qualities they are demanding for themselves?

    Reply
  4. I love me a good shit storm.

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  5. Pingback: Bigotry 101 | seventhvoice

  6. Blogs are where we speak our truth, otherwise what’s the effin point? This is your truth and you have every right to express it. Power to you. x

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  7. “Playing the bigot card is weak. In fact, it’s so overused that it’s become a bit of a joke. Someone says they don’t like cats? Then they’re a dirty CAT BIGOT! I’m pretty sure that’s not the intent that advocates wanted, but when you overuse the same tired argument, that’s where it ends up.”

    This part made me smile. Because, in fact, you ARE a cat bigot. Darn dirty cat bigot! But, I love you…

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  8. You have a couple more hours, I think. Good post. Bigot is overused for sure. It’s the “Inconceivable” of the autism blogging community. I see a lot about myself that I need to change, and I hope that I open my mind enough even when i’m being stubborn and angry about an argument to recognize valid points that need my contemplation once I’ve cooled off.

    Broken toes, tall clover, and straw men aside…can’t we all just get along?

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  9. I am a filthy cat bigot. I admit this whole heartedly. 😉

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  10. A friend of mine who has a rather popular blog has been being harassed for a story that she told recently. She told what happened and why she did what she did. She has received an unbelievable amount of hatred. The word bigot was not thrown around, but I certainly think this guy was acting like one. I don’t understand why people have to be so hateful. I agree with blogginglily, why can’t we just get along?

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  11. URGH why is it if someone has a disagreeing opinion they are immediately put into a “category”. They are a hater, a bigot, a racist or (GASP) too sensitive. I think you are so correct in this post. For the love of all cats (which I am not) it is okay not to agree all the time. It is, in fact, great, to have an opinion and have a healthy debate. That is how we learn.

    But by attacking some one they are trying to shut down the conversation. So not cool. I’ve read a couple of posts lately from people who are thinking of shutting down their blogs because of the attacks. Rather than talking about the substance of what they wrote, they are getting attaked on a personal level.

    Again, so not cool. Keep up the dialogue, Flannery because you are cool!

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  12. This, this, this. People are so quick to jump to stifle a voice and argue as opposed to actually listening to what is being said. Now if only those flinging the big words around would listen.

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  13. I find it so unfortunate to read about all the shit-slinging that goes on “behind the scenes”. I read blogs for insight, perspective and the blogger’s opinions. Yes they may differ from mine but isn’t that the point?!? To open other people’s minds and thoughts to the bigger picture??

    I am sorry this has happened to you Flannery. You are one of my favourites! ((({})))

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  14. Nods. Agrees.

    On that note, I may qualify as a Cat Bigot, because there is something about cats that I just disagree with (a dog person from birth, I guess). I’m also a Celery Bigot, because I disagree with the idea of celery on principle. I can’t exist in the same space as celery. It triggers all kinds of sensory nastiness for me.

    That being said, words shouldn’t be thrown around casually to label or single someone out as a bad person for simply disagreeing with another. It’s too bad that has to happen within our community, because I think that we all ultimately have the same goal in mind, and that’s a happy, bright future and true acceptance for all autistic individuals regardless of what their challenges may be.

    As I told my little sister once when she was complaining about her high school history teacher, we all encounter people we disagree with from time-to-time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be civil to them. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t work with them. Working together is how we are stronger.

    So sorry that you’ve experienced this. For what it’s worth, I love reading your writing and find no ounce of bigotry within.

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  15. As someone on the receiving end of this word (I’m pretty sure I called Dawn a cat bigot, too) it seems pretty low to group someone who opposes you with people like Westboro Baptist Church. It seems like when they don’t have an argument they throw this word out to shut down the conversation.

    The best is when the people who did say it won’t own it later because they know how rediculous they were being.

    Reply
  16. I have some great power words to use describing him if you want to use them. How about “manipulative” “conniving” “vindictive” “assholery” (ok I made that word up).

    He’s just being a bully. Don’t feed the troll ya know?

    Love you girlie.

    Reply
  17. Hey!! No one’s emailed ME and told me not to be your friend!! I always miss all the fun. . . .

    Oh, and you rock.

    Reply
  18. That is so funny, because *I* was also branded a bigot by virtue of your post, when the only thing I actually did was talk about cake. What a world.

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  19. I found your post thru a fellow blogger and I read it, not because it had to do with autism, but because of the title. No matter what your passionate opinion on any subject happens to be (autism advocacy, gay rights, cats, etc), this post applies. It was extremely well written and very much needed to be put out there. I probably have been guilty of using the ‘b’ word out of frustration and this really made me think about the word and what it means much more. I hope it will do the same for others. Thanks!

    Reply
  20. Great post! I agree. We people working toward tolerance and understanding about autism don’t always practice those ideals ourselves.

    Reply
  21. Shit storms are lame. I hope there are no storms of shit.

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  22. You nailed it, Flan. Totally nailed it.

    Reply
  23. Ha. You are on point! I was just grinning by the end of this.

    Reply
  24. chris.holmes.witham

    Excellent article. Yes, we all have our jerk moments. Some of us have jerk days or months! There are people I thoroughly dislike that I still have to agree with, from time to time ( and oh , I hate that!) . There are people I love, with whom I disagree, on certain things. ( and sometimes that pains me too) . And sometimes I realize that that I have been wrong, Wrong, WRONG, about something. ( GRRRR, maddeningly, humiliatingly WRONG). Welcome to the human race. 🙂

    Reply
  25. OMG! I’m a DIRTY CAT BIGOT! But, I’m okay with that. I love how something, meant to be a joke, even if in bad taste, can make you the most horrible person in the world. I’m going through that myself right now. *sigh* Keep on keepin’ on Flan. We love you.

    Reply

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