In my earlier post about the recent California Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8 I wrote:
The overarching social trend in the United States is clear: the bigotry that drives people to deny gays the right to marry the people they love resides mostly in the older generation. Both are slowly but surely dying, and good riddance.
For this I was accused of bigotry. I freely confess to and apologize for a very poorly constructed sentence that left the impression that I was happy to see all old people die because some old people are bigots, or because statistically bigots tend to be old. I rejoice only at the prospect of the death of bigotry, not individual bigots. But that wasn't enough to satisfy my accuser, who responded:
You are tarring the "older generation" with the brush of bigotry. I hope you can see the irony.
So just to be clear: it was absolutely not my intent to "tar the 'older generation' with the brush of bigotry". It is simply a fact that prejudice against gays is more prevalent among older people than younger ones, and that the margin is substantial enough that it is a virtual certainty on simple actuarial grounds that shameful laws like Proposition 8 will eventually get repealed. That is all I intended to say.
There is, however, one form of bigotry to which I do subscribe: I am bigoted against bigots. I am intolerant of intolerance. I am prejudiced against prejudice. And in this I am an extremist. You may be entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to have those opinions respected merely because you hold them. Moreover, if you tacitly endorse bigotry through inaction or feigned injury (like, say, pretending that *you* are somehow hurt by the alleged damage done to the "institution" of marriage if gay people are allowed to marry each other, or by someone "insulting" your religion, or whatever) then you are in my book part of the problem. If you don't stand up for other people's rights then your forfeit your own. It makes mighty good rhetoric, but the sad fact of the matter is that we are not in fact endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. We have rights because we as a society agree -- sometimes only at the end of painful and violent struggle -- to grant each other those rights for our net mutual benefit. Part of the cost of freedom is letting others be free.
If you want to be free to worship your god, if you want to be free to marry who you want, if you want to be free to speak your mind, but you are unwilling to grant those same freedoms to others, then yes, I am stubbornly and completely intolerant of you. If that makes me a bigot then I will proudly don the scarlet B.