Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sincerely held beliefs do not define dsicrimination, and freedom of religion does not excuse OR justify discriination

In a recent interview on MSNBC, actor and gay activist George Takei observed, very fairly, that gay men and women in our military are put in harms way defending real religious freedom.

There seems to be a range of fundamental problems in understanding on the part of the radical right, which has become the only real political right remaining, as extremists have overwhelmingly hi-jacked what used to be a two party system where both parties encompassed a range of conservatives and liberals, but tended to avoid extremists on either the left or right.

The radical right, especially the radical religious right, seems hell-bent on profoundly altering the definition of religious freedom, and then using that false definition for extremists to justify abuses of other people. In the desegregation of the south, the recognition of accommodation, of the premise that in the marketplace we must all be equal to be treated equally under the law in any society without discrimination, was profoundly important to civil rights. The denial of service to Jews, to black Americans, to Asian Americans, to Native Americans was common, and that discrimination in the marketplace, at hotels, gas stations, clothing retailers, lunch counters, in transportation -- every possible good or service sold to the public -- was foundational in being free and equal human beings, not only in governmental entities like the military, or post offices or the court house or schools.

We saw something very similar, that religion could not be used - or more precisely ABUSED -- as a justification or pretext for discrimination in Bob Jones University v. United States in 1983, after a string of other law suits over the sincerely held religious belief that interracial marriage and interracial dating was wrong according to the Bible. This is not a new tactic from the right. The Bob Jones University decision found that, in a short summation, religion could not be used to justify racial discrimination.

The radical religious right tries to portray themselves as the victims (Oh! Woe!) if they are prevented from engaging in discrimination against other people. We have assholes like Rush Limbaugh complaining that heterosexuals are under assault from the gay community, even as the heterosexual bigots try to push through laws like this, or laws that would ban gay athletes from employment.

The essence of the problem is this; if you have a religious belief that prevents you from engaging in some for of commerce, photographer, baker, doctor, pharmacist or cab driver that will treat everyone equally, then find another job. Your sincerely held beliefs are not what define discrimination; it is the person who is denied full and equal access to the same jobs, the same products, the same services who is on the receiving end of discrimination. YOU, Religious Right, don't get to define discrimination; it is not when you are prevented from being a bigot. Rather, it is the person who is deprived of full and equal access to participate in commerce as a consumer, and/or a person being treated as a lesser citizen than you are that defines what is and is not discrimination.

This is true if you are a Somali Muslim cab driver who doesn't want to transport a traveler from the airport who has a bottle of alcohol in their luggage, or who doesn't want to transport a blind person with a seeing-eye dog. This applies to the wedding photographer who doesn't want to take pictures or video of a gay wedding, or a baker who doesn't want to make a celebratory cake for the baptism of a child of a gay couple who are new parents. And this is true of doctor who wants legal cover to lie to a patient about their medical condition because he or she is anti-abortion, where lying removes a legal choice from the patient, or the case of a pharmacist who wishes to deny the legal purchase of a morning after pill.

The example was offered in defense of this legislation in Arizona that a Jewish restaurant owner would be protected from having to serve pork sandwiches to a customer. NO ONE is forcing a Jewish restaurant owner to serve pork, but instead that they do have to serve everyone equally who wishes to buy what they offer. If a bakery doesn't want to sell a gay couple a wedding cake or other celebratory cake, then they can quit making cakes. But if they sell birthday cakes and graduation cakes and wedding cakes to other people, they have to sell them to gay people, and people of all religions or atheists, and to old people and people who are disabled, and people of all races or mixed races equally. THAT is what discrimination is about, it is NOT about trying to legally FORCE others to indulge the bigotry of the radical right.

And make no mistake, THEY ARE BIGOTS, and they DO attempt to discriminate, and religion is a very poor excuse for it, 'sincerely held beliefs' be damned.  Discrimination is entirely about punishing people and attempting to cause them hurt or harm or shame, because you are a sanctimonious jerk channeling hate.

The perfect example of what discrimination IS and IS NOT is the action of an Arizona pizzeria towards state legislators.  Good on them for making the point, because conservatism has become defined by people with ugly feelings and intentions who SINCERELY believe horrible things that are not true.  It might take being on the receiving end of discrimination for that to become obvious to them.  What makes the Rocco position so great is they reserve the right to discriminate, but they don't actually engage in any real discrimination.  At least so far as has been reported, there are no legislators who have been turned away from buying pizza. I'm confident that none of the legislators who voted FOR discrimination have ever been on the receiving end of it. For them, discrimination is entirely and exclusively about what they want to do to be sanctimonious bastards towards other people - for Jesus.

Please like the Rocco's Little Chicago pizzeria facebook page here.

From Delish.com:

Arizona Pizza Shop Bans Legislators Because of Anti-Gay Law

Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria, a restaurant in Arizona, is taking a stand against the state's latest law, which essentially makes discrimination legal. According to Eater, the pizza shop put up a sign on its window that says, "We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona legislators." The message protests Arizona's House Bill 2153 and Senate Bill 1062, which would allow people and businesses to refuse service to potential customers based on religious beliefs. The law would protect discriminators from getting sued over refusing service — like for example the baker who was sued (and told to change his ways by a Colorado court) for his refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
The law will go into effect if Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signs it within the next five days or if she decides not to act at all. If she vetos the bill, the new law will not go into effect.
A post of a picture of the sign on Rocco's Facebook page currently has more than 24,000 likes. 

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