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Consider this statement:

"I will not watch two men kissing"

Surely this is an example of bigotry? But what about:

"I will not watch reality TV"

The sentence takes the exact same form and is identical in all but the subject. Both express intolerance towards something. Is it also an example of bigotry? If not, why not?


EDIT 1: I guess what I was after was the acceptable usage of the word biggoted - for example one meaning is intolerance of ideas. A genre of TV could be construed to be an idea, but this seems like a very odd usage of the word to me. Would my second usage of the word be acceptable?

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Because bigot and bigotry do not describe a grammatical structure, but a political opinion. This is not a question about English language and usage. Move to close. –  John Lawler Dec 9 '11 at 15:27
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This is not particular to English language. You may want to take this to an etiquette or philosophy site, like http://www.askphilosophers.org. –  Mitch Dec 9 '11 at 15:33
    
Thank you for your comments - I agree it's more properly a question of philosophy than meaning or grammar. –  Salim Fadhley Dec 9 '11 at 15:35
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closed as off topic by ShreevatsaR, Mitch, TimLymington, Brian Hooper, Grant Thomas Dec 9 '11 at 15:57

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1 Answer

I would argue that neither of your statements is an example of intolerance or bigotry.

Bigotry can be defined as "intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself" - in other words, it's not just disagreement, it's refusing to acknowledge that other people are entitled to hold different views.

"I don't like watching reality TV / men kissing / whatever" is an opinion; it's not intolerant or bigoted.

"I refuse to allow reality TV / men kissing / whatever in my house" - this is intolerant, but not necessarily bigoted.

"I refuse to allow anyone in my house if they think it's ok to watch reality TV / for men to kiss men / whatever" is bigoted.

Note that the subject matter is irrelevant. In fact, labelling someone a bigot when all they've done is express a difference of opinion or a distaste for something, is both incorrect (according to the definition above) and could itself be seen as an act of bigotry.

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Despite the arguable off-topicness of the question, +1 for a very compelling explanation of the difference between personal opinions, intolerance, and bigotry. –  David Z Dec 9 '11 at 15:41
    
+1 An excellent distinction between the three terms. Great job focusing on the language element and looking past the political or sociological elements of the question. –  Erick Robertson Dec 9 '11 at 15:45
    
Yes, thank you for an excellent answer to my mostly off-topic question. –  Salim Fadhley Dec 9 '11 at 15:57
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