By Stephen Richer
I don’t respond to public comments on my articles (they cray). But I do try to respond to comments by my friends because friends are awesome, and I appreciate when they take the time to read my nonsense. So here’s the first set of responses to comments. These are pulled from Facebook. Names have been shortened to initials to protect the innocent (I’m SR).
Original article: Keeping the GOP out of ENDA.
BS: Let’s take that grocery store owner example. Let’s pretend she incorporates her store, thereby utilizing the state-provided advantages that come with incorporation. I don’t think it’s non-trivially obvious that her religious beliefs trump all in that case — the state now has an interest. Thoughts?
SR: Do you really think that any benefit means the government can tell you what to do? So do you think that the government should be able to tell all non-profits how they can spend their money because the government is giving them a benefit? Besides, you know how I feel about needing to ask the state permission to do business with a group of people. And you know how I feel about the state giving certain businesses advantages. But, nonetheless, no, I don’t think that by doing something that is absolutely required to run a business (incorporation), and thereby deriving some benefit from the state, that you open Pandora’s Box of government regulation. Businesses have no opt out in this scenario. Can’t have a non-incorporated business.
NE: So if I understand, you’re more concerned about the fate of a private business firing a gay person for their sexuality than the gay person getting fired? And because of religious reasons? I’m pretty sure nobody will be able to find a biblical passage condemning employing a gay person – religion is nothing more than an excuse (and it was absurdly used to justify racism for many years as well, by the way). What if they fire you because you’re Jewish, because they think you will end up in hell for not having accepted Jesus? How on earth is it “more equal” to request protection for not getting fired based on your sexual orientation or gender identity? It’s really disheartening to hear that you think you support equality when you are not willing to support enforcement against discrimination.
SR: Your comment is way off on every point from what I tried to say. And it makes me feel like a failure as a clear writer. Sad. Oh well. Keep practicing I guess. One, I’m not religious. At all. Two, I don’t care to participate in Biblical exegesis. I’ve studied the Old Testament / Torah a good amount, but I find the readings/understandings of it to be so different that it is laughable and fruitless (e.g.: I don’t see how you can read the Bible out of (paraphrased): “lying with another man is a sin” or “wayward children should be stoned.”). Three, I think “they” should be able to fire me because I’m Jewish. That’s the whole point of this. That private business owners should have the right to free association and property, including the ability to choose their employees for whatever reason they want. And I wouldn’t want to work for somebody that dislikes me because I’m Jewish (racially) anyway. Four, equality under the law = just that. Laws should be applied equally to all persons regardless of how they’re born, regardless of their wealth, regardless of their thoughts.
KI: I find your argument persuasive because you are such an articulate person, but isn’t the lack of ENDA essentially an unwritten law protecting the option of using religion as a shield when disgust or hatred are the real motivating factors? Why does employing a gay person implicate your religious beliefs? How does a bag boy’s sexual orientation affect the grocery store owner? And you say that ENDA is different than civil rights laws because of the religious implication, but religion had been used as a shield for centuries as an argument for slavery and segregation.
SR: Thanks. Nice of you to say. And may, in turn, point out that your comment got more “likes” than my actual post. Good work. Is it a shield? Perhaps. I think a lot of religious fundamentalists don’t bear particular hatred toward gays, but are really just doing their darndest to follow the word of God (as they understand it; per the above, don’t want to get into religious text). Why implicate your beliefs? I guess a lot of people feel that religion speaks directly to gay behavior and that it doesn’t have the highest praise for it. Bag boy? I would argue that it has no bearing on his ability to perform the job. Unless there’s some statistics that show that gay bag boys bag faster or slower than straight bag boys. The final point is the one to discuss. I get the sense that religion is the number 1 factor for the rights opposition to gay equality. From my history reading, I didn’t get the sense that religion was the top reason for hatred of blacks in 1960s and before. As for how Civil Rights Act and ENDA are different. You could argue that America’s uniquely abysmal history with Black Americans made for certain exceptions to rights of private property and private association. We have these throughout the Constitution. But maybe it shouldn’t matter. It’s a debate within the libertarian community. See this: Discrimination and Liberty.
BS: I just think that there has to be limit to freedom of religious expression — it can’t be used to disguise bigotry.
SR: Yeah. I disagree. I’m not into line drawing on freedom of expression and association. But I have a lot of sympathy for you (and the ENDA movement) obvi. P.S. I think you should tell this to Burke Society.
NE: I agree BS – we certainly have turned a blind eye to the religious freedom implications of practices such as slavery and polygamy that are explicitly allowed in, say, the Torah, as they have become socially unacceptable.
SR: Right there with you this time. Fortunately, religious texts are not our governing document (this is news to some, however).
DMF: Notice how getting caught in any of the state’s tentacles–even incorporation laws in Mr. BS’s argument–can be used as a ground for forfeiture of liberty. I like your point that “the law is specially crafted to protect homosexuals from employment discrimination. Homosexuals are designated as a special class that merits particular laws.” There is no need for that. Congress would be wiser to amend Title VII.
SR: Agree, agree, agree. As for Title VII… Amend is one thing we could do to it. Or we could… Ahem. Anyhow. I think ENDA people wanted more religious protections than Title VII offered.
HD: Why would you want to work for an asshole, anyway?
SR: Agree. But sad to know I’ll never be able to employ you HD… (one reason among many… I suspect it is you who will employ me soon enough!)
PK: The bill won’t make it through the House.
SR: True. Links on my ENDA wrapup.
…. Will do more later.