Saturday, February 14, 2015

What is Discrimination? It is Agency

What is discrimination? Jog through several dictionaries — Webster’s 1828, 1942, 1962 and 2009 editions, for a start — and you find that, for at least two hundred years, discrimination has been a basic human right: “to distinguish, to discern, to observe.” It’s your job to discriminate. If you don’t, you can’t make decisions. Under political correctness, however, discrimination has been redesigned: “You can’t think or act for yourself. You’ll offend someone.”

Discrimination is another name for using your head and making a choice, and it’s basic to life. You discriminate every day, every time you choose one thing over another. You decide to lunch with Jane, not Jill — you discriminate against Jill, and might hurt her feelings. You buy a Mini-Cooper rather than a Ford, you discriminate against Ford and the American auto industry by sending your money overseas. You go skating instead of going to the movies and you discriminate against the movie industry, cutting into its profits. You can’t escape it; by definition, discrimination is choice and every decision discriminates against the thing not chosen.
So, the prefix “anti:” “hostile toward, preventive, opposing,” when attached to discrimination means you don’t get a choice; you lose your agency. You are told right and wrong and will comply. Good-bye, freedom.

We are on a national romp to pass anti-discrimination legislation for special interest groups. Such legislation thinks for you and tells you how to behave. We’re told this is necessary because some of our choices might limit others. This infers that you can’t act unless “others” approve. If that’s what society believes, expand your garage and pay for both the Ford and the Mini, take both Jane and Jill, and all your other friends, as well, every time you go to lunch, and learn to skate while going to the movies. “The law” is going to make sure no one is left out.

Freedom, defended by patriot blood, has defined America for centuries. Inherent in freedom is the right of choice. Yet, without a shot fired, freedom is dying from the “doctrine” of non-offense; the belief that you can’t make a choice someone else doesn’t like.

There’s a core issue here. If anti-discrimination is applied universally, to everyone in every situation, you get no agency and you are oppressed. If anti-discrimination is applied selectively, it discriminates. The law created to prevent discrimination becomes the agent of discrimination.

The current anti-discrimination “buzz” surrounds the LGBT community. Utah statistics say we have handled this issue well, despite noise to the contrary. According to Stuart Reid, former senator of Senate District 18, (2010-2014) as of two years ago there had been only three reported incidents of employment or housing discrimination against LGBTs since the state began keeping stats. All three, when investigated, were invalid. While other incidents since then are possible, it’s unlikely in a growing climate of LGBT acceptance. We are fair in our employment and rental practices. Why do we need legislation on the topic?

There are unfortunate social slights toward LGBTs, however, as Utah’s culture is based on biblical principles which speak to the issue. We should firmly discourage those slights. Unkindness toward anyone is inappropriate. This is not, however, a matter for legislation. A government that legislates beliefs and social interaction is repressive, indeed! We have the right to make decisions based on our moral beliefs and religious values, even if others disapprove. (Remember Jill, Ford and the movie industry.) LGBTs make moral choices concerning their actions. How, then, can they condemn others, including Christians, for doing the same? Utah is moving at a steady pace toward compatibility in this issue. Imposing laws and ordinances to right what is righting itself isn’t smart or necessary.

The inevitable effect of legislating actions based on moral beliefs isn’t good. Val Arbon, author of the “Which Way, America?” DVD series, identifies the process by which anti-discrimination legislation diminishes liberty. 1) A perceived problem is “remedied” through well-intentioned but bad laws. 2) Negative results overwhelm the intended positive results. 3) The courts get involved to fix the mess but rarely provide solutions that increase liberty.

In fairness, the Western world has sometimes persecuted those who are different. The Spanish Inquisition, aimed at Jews, and the Christian Crusades to destroy non-Christians were ugly. Americans have persecuted, as well, though less harshly. In the early 1800s, Baptists were discriminated against. Later it was the Mormons, the Jews and then the Catholics. We’ve “done a number” on the Irish, Italians, Greeks, Chinese, Japanese, American Indians and blacks. By the 1960s, the nation began the discrimination of anti-discrimination, which has not fixed the problem but, rather, redirected it. All discrimination, including anti-discrimination, is inappropriate to a society seeking moral strength, sound character and strong ethics. Fortunately, unfair treatment is dying of its own accord as people realize that treating others is a mark of maturity and good character. Our differences create strength.

Anti-discrimination legislation enacted across the country and now proposed in Utah would legally dictate favoritism for special interest groups by making their needs more important than others. If we dictate behavior toward one sub-group, we must fairly dictate toward all and terminate individual choice.

Legislation can be drafted that benefits special interest groups without taking away the rights of the rest. Utah is capable of that. We have exceptional individuals in our Congress who can give us such legislation. Ladies and gentlemen of Utah’s Congress, its time. Step up to the plate and give us something that works for all.
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