Bias is a term that refers to having a preference towards something or someone, as opposed to another. It is a mild feeling that influences ones judgment, be it positively or negatively. Therefore, it impairs ones ability to be neutral. Prejudice, though similar to the term bias, is a strong feeling that arguably gives rise to an attitude. This is because; it is an early thought that makes one pass judgment prior to having facts. The difference between bias and prejudice is that the latter is always negative and directed to a group of people, and not an individual. Stereotype is a generalized opinion or conception, whether positive or negative, associated with a group of people. It is similar to prejudice as it is directed to a group of people but different since it also accounts for positive traits. Bigotry is the absolute intolerance to people of different opinions. A bigot hates (Koppelman, 2011). Bigotry is the full manifestation of prejudice when its intensity leads to hatred. Therefore, bigotry is an extreme action as it leads to complete intolerance of other people by having a different or opposing view.
Discrimination is the distinction of traits or characteristics, thereby leading to unfair consideration and treatment. For example, in order to attract a female for mating, male birds usually resort to display magnificence by flaunting their feathers. It is through this ritual of song and dance that they can attract a female, and there is no prejudice. Her selection is purely based on her needs. This proves the discrimination theory. By definition, it is “a function to protect one’s interests” (Koppelman, 2011). It is clear that there is no stereotyping as the selection is of an individual male and not a group. Based on the theory of discrimination, the female bird makes a non-bias independent choice that it is not influenced by any other factors. Discrimination is different from bigotry as it does not need to be too intense to cause hatred.
In ancient days, disability had several perceptions and, as a result, those with disabilities were segregated and even viewed as cursed. For starters, disabled people were viewed as a menace to the society (Koppelman, 2011). This meant that they were deemed as annoying people because they needed help in one way or another, due to their disability. This minority group of disabled people was perceived to be subhuman. This was attributed to their disability. Their defective nature meant that they were not part of the ‘normal’ human race; otherwise they would not be deformed.
Disabled people were viewed as objects of ridicule. From folk stories documented in literature books, those with mental disability were viewed as village laughing stocks. They were made victims of circumstances and humorous jokes were made concerning them. These jokes caused humiliation. Finally, there were non-disabled people who perceived disability as a punishment for sin. This meant that the disabled were cursed, and it was through their disabilities that their families were being punished. The thought that sinning could lead to the cursing of one’s family served as a valuable lesson to other members of the society.
Ableism refers to determining the capabilities of disabled people through negative and unfair determination. This implies that non-disabled people are superior to disabled ones. For instance, retarded people were regarded as “defective” in the U.S. Public Health Service. This is an example of cultural ableism. The society has a derogative attitude towards disabled people. Individual ableism in modern societies is seen in the way people express themselves when referring to disabled people. Society is seen as being “victims of”, and in other ways “afflicted with” (Koppelman, 2011). It is pitiful when people say that one is a “victim of” and almost goes to show disrespect to them. Recent studies suggest that, disabled people pay more attention to being effective in their environment, as opposed to being victims.
Koppelman, L. K. (2011). The Great Diversity Debate: Embracing Pluralism in School and Society. United States: Teachers College press.