A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on words that have lost their definition throughout the years. Looking back, there was one that stuck in my mind, a word that is very commonly misused every day, and it’s beginning to become a real problem. The issue is with the word "bigot."

A bigot is one who blindly hates a person for being different or having different beliefs. However, this word is used almost every day to berate someone who simply disagrees with an opinion. This is incredibly prevalent in the news as of late due to the controversy surrounding the transgender bathroom debates. Many people feel uncomfortable with the prospect of sharing a public bathroom with someone who “identifies” with the opposite gender. These people who feel uncomfortable are often labeled bigots or haters because of their valid concerns. The problem with throwing a term like bigot around is that it refers to blind hatred, which is not as common as you might think. For example, you can’t call someone who disagrees with homosexuality a bigot unless they specifically hate gay people for simply being gay. This is extremely problematic because it hampers discussion. There are still millions who disagree with homosexuality who could have incredibly valid points to contribute to a discussion, but would be labeled "bigots" simply for disagreeing. The ultimate irony is that throwing a term like “bigot” around actually creates bigots. If you blindly go around calling everyone who disagrees with you a bigot without hearing their side first, well then, you’re no better than an actual bigot.

None of this is to say that bigots don’t exist. By no means is that true. Racists are the most common examples of bigots, along with hate groups like the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. This group also includes anyone who hates blindly: people who don’t bother listening to another side, who will never listen -- and nothing we can say can get them to stop their hatred. We should save harsh terms like "bigot" for harsh people like this.

So next time you’re in a heated discussion, think before you call someone a bigot or anything else that might be hurtful. Make sure you’re not the one blindly spewing hatred, or you’ll find that the bigotry was inside you all along.