Is It Right to Call a Bigot a Bigot?

I hate name calling. It's disrespectful, offensive and just plain stupid. If you're not like me and love name calling, then (no surprise) the Internet is the perfect place for you, especially social media sites like YouTube and Twitter. Or maybe you should just have your own blog.

There are lots of really offensive name callers out there, but in my experience the worst ones are the gun advocates. I'm talking about minuteman militia-type guys who laugh at the idea that the Second Amendment is about self-defense. They say you're a moron if you think that. You see, it's really about the need to arm yourself against the federal government. The militia guys are afraid that at any second the government is going to land in Black Hawk helicopters on their front lawns, storm their compounds and take away their guns. They know that the U.S. government is pretty well-armed. After all, they have thousands of nuclear weapons, and the militia guys don't want to be caught flatfooted. So they are looking to stockpile as much high-powered weaponry as they possibly can. You see, that's what the founding fathers intended.

If you're thinking about sending out a really radical gun control tweet, like saying that having more than 300 million guns floating around the country might actually make us all less safe, be sure to cancel your schedule for the rest of the day. You'll have your hands full fighting off a name-calling barrage of apocalyptic proportions from a host of Second Amendment "experts" who want you to know in no uncertain terms that you are absolutely one of the dumbest mofos ever to crawl across the face of the Earth.

So I do indeed hate name calling. It's typically a self-indicting waste of time and an embarrassing admission of intellectual bankruptcy. But is name calling always wrong? No, actually it's not. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Emerson's wisdom applies in the case of name calling. Specifically, if somebody is a bigot, you have a right -- in fact, you have a responsibility -- to call them out and say, "Hey, you're a bigot."

Most bigots don't think they're bigots. They think they're right. When I was growing up in an all-white working-class suburb just outside Philadelphia, almost all the adults in my neighborhood were racists. Some of them were rabidly racist. They called black people "niggers" and "coons." Others were less obvious. But all these people had the same view: They all thought that black people were inferior to white people, intrinsically inferior, that is. They thought that black people were by nature stupid, immoral and dangerous. Yes, dangerous. Ironically, the white racists in my neighborhood were afraid of the people they looked down upon. They also all thought that they themselves were good, god-fearing Christians. They didn't think they were racists. They didn't think they were bigots. They thought they were right.

It's the same today with most people who are anti-gay and anti-transgender. I'm sure the entire congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church thinks of themselves as good, god-fearing Christians. They think they're not bigots. They think they're just right. I mean, their website is called

Clearly, if somebody is a bigot, we need to call that person a bigot. But in calling out bigots, let's start with the biggest bigot of all. To paraphrase the Westboro Baptists, God, or at least the god of the Old Testament, is anti-gay and anti-transgender. But obviously the Old Testament god's bigotry doesn't make bigotry right. It just makes the Old Testament god a bad god. Shame on him, and shame on anybody who uses the Bible to justify their own bigotry against gay and transgender people.

Of course, "the Bible tells me so" is the single most popular way that people justify anti-gay and anti-transgender bigotry. It's the number-one justification that Republicans use for continuing to oppose marriage equality. John Boehner made exactly that justification earlier this month when he said, "I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. ... It's what I grew up with. It's what I believe. It's what my church teaches me. And I can't imagine that position would ever change." John, I'm here to tell you and all your anti-marriage-equality Republican colleagues in the House that that's bigotry.

Of course, all fundamentalist Christian ministers and their followers are anti-gay and anti-transgender as well, and they all base their opposition to gay and transgender people on the Bible. There's little need to call out the Westboro Baptist types. They pretty much call themselves out. It's the nicer ones who seem kind of moderate and reasonable whom we need to confront. They're much more dangerous, because they make anti-gay and anti-transgender bigotry seem so righteous and holy. I'm talking about nice, reasonable, moderate ministers like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. Rick does donate millions of dollars to fight HIV/AIDS, and Joel is always so very, very nice, but Rick and Joel are both anti-gay, and they both oppose marriage equality.

It really comes down to this: If, based on your religious beliefs, you demonize people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and you deny people the right to have sex and marry, then you are against freedom and equality for those people. You are practicing bigotry. You are a bigot, and you deserve to be called a bigot.

Yes, it is right to call a bigot a bigot. In fact, it is a responsibility. I will embrace that responsibility whenever necessary, and I call upon everyone who values freedom and equality for all people to do the same.