While there are multiple forms of bigotry, there are also multiple ways of describing such bigotry.

If your bigotry is rooted in race, you may be described as a racist.

If your bigotry is rooted in sex or gender, you may be labeled a sexist or misogynist.

If your bigotry is rooted in a hatred of Jews, you may be viewed as an anti-Semite (unless you’re a Democratic member of Congress).

The “ism” or “ist” suffix denotes a person who practices in some form of ideology, while the “anti” prefix denotes being against or acting in opposition to something.

Then, there are other forms of bigotry described in a different manner. “Homophobia.” “Transphobia.” “Islamophobia.”

These are viewed as synonymous with the earlier examples of bigotry. However, they are etymologically different in an important way. The suffix “phobia” refers to an “extreme or irrational fear” of something. “Homophobia,” therefore, refers to an extreme or irrational “fear” of homosexuals or homosexuality. “Transphobia” refers to an extreme or irrational “fear” of transgender people or transgenderism. “Islamophobia” refers to an extreme or irrational “fear” of Muslims or Islam.

And why does this difference matter? It matters because those who make an accusation of bigotry are basing their reasoning on a varying spectrum of assumptions.

When it comes to the earlier examples of racism, sexism, or anti-Semitism, these don’t imply any underlying motive or context. You are simply “against” something; someone who “discriminates” based on one single factor.

However, when it comes to the later examples of homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia, the direct implication is that the alleged bigot is acting out of an extreme or irrational fear, and therefore that their positions are inarguably irrational, regardless of context.

The issue is then deepened when we consider that any form of criticism leveled against the LGBT “movement” or Islam as an ideology is instantly rejected by the Left as expressions of these phobias. The assumed premise that such criticism is actually bigotry fueled by fear then allows detractors to avoid having to determine whether or not the comments amount to a rational opinion. Content no longer matters, because of the premise of irrational fear.

And where does this leave us? In a situation where people find themselves unable to express valid opinions on topics such as same-sex marriage, transgenderism in schools, or the threat of radical Islam, with any and all arguments inherently labeled as “irrationally fearful.”

To combat this logical trick, we should no longer accept the premise that criticism alone represents a phobia. While instances of homophobia may be instances of anti-homosexuality — and similarly for transphobia with anti-transgenderism and Islamophobia with anti-Islam — we cannot surrender the label of irrationality without question, and push to return the debate surrounding accusations of bigotry to a rational foundation, filtering out the valid arguments from a supposed sea of actual hatred.

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