Bigotry can be defensible?

From Andrew Sullivan, a comparison of bigotry:

As for Sharpton, surely Imus hs a minor, but valid point. Sharpton deploys the vilest form of racist assumptions against whites in general, and gets away with it. He got away with it while accusing specific people of rape – people who turned out to be innocent. Again, since whites still enjoy vastly more cultural power than blacks, Sharpton’s bigotry is more defensible than Imus’s. But it’s still bigotry. (And, to give Sharpton his due, he has spoken out against the rhetorical depravity of much hip-hop.)

Surely Mr. Sullivan left something out of that paragraph? Bigotry is not defensible. When we start laying out levels of defensibility, we start laying out levels of acceptable responses to the same type of statements. A standard with degrees based on victimization will never end well, as we should be able to see from the current Don Imus mess.