There is a fine line between discrimination and making a judgment. What defines this line is our cultural sense of morality and a collective social obligation to abide by our laws.
As a bartender, I could “cut off” a patron based on my subjective opinion, now as a owner of my own business, I can decide not to take on a client because I am swamped, the price isn’t right, I’m on vacation, it’s my birthday, or just a subjective “icky” feeling. In the United States, we have the right to own a business, we all do, but we , none of us, have the right to customers. We earn our customers loyalty and build trusting relationships with them. We also clearly advertise our services and who our target customer is and the customer does their own research and makes informed and subjective decisions on where to take their business. This is assuming there are other options. If there are no other option, and a customer can’t get served anywhere or a business owner can’t seem to get any business, this needs to be looked into.
Regarding the Religious Freedom bill that was signed yesterday by Indiana’s Governor Pence, a tidal waive of backlash has occurred, and I think we need to take a breathe and look at the bigger picture.
It seems to me that it is mostly the liberal LGBT and Ally community that is outraged by the passage of this bill. Let’s break this down a bit.
Gay Marriage Bakeries keep showing up in my social media feed as the burdened example. Here is my counter argument.
I don’t need a cake to get married. I want a cake to be present at my wedding. If there are multiple bakeries and they all clearly advertise their ideal customer, I will choose to spend my dollars and get my cake from a bakery that I want to support.
Sometimes laws push our culture’s sense of morality and sometimes the laws play catch up. Some religious communities do not support non-heterosexual relationships and, I believe they should have that ability so that I too can have a protected space to freely express myself. This is especially successful when there are lots of options. This is the biggest difference between these types of bills and segregation and Jim Crow Laws – there were zero options and the laws were changed to push our culture’s morality to be more inclusive
First, this is the 20th similar bill in the US and there are 22 more bills from 13 more states pending currently. The idea that no one should be sustainably burdened to express themselves I think is a GREAT one. An individual ought to have the space to express themselves be it religious beliefs, or gender expression, or something else that is wholly personal without significant burden. The hard part here is how to measure sustainable burden and locating the line between what is expression for one person and burden for another.
Next, it is mostly Protestant Christians that are also white and upper class that are
writing,passing, and implementing these kinds of bills. Can these bills be equally applied to all religious expression? Sure. But will they? Laws, like wizardry skills can be used for both good and bad.
It is important to mention that the privileged groups fighting for these bills are up against the most privileged groups fighting against these bills. Not to mention that some upper class highly educated Gay and Lesbian people and their Allies also identify as Protestant Christian. Other’s are still fighting for equitable access to employment, housing, health care, food, education, and the like.
Freedom of religion is an important piece of our cultural morality. Instead of focusing on the specifics of thought and conscience, our opinions of these concepts, and the access to gather and build community, I would challenge us all to support and protect our moral practice of freedom of choice and self-expression. If this gets limited – we are in real trouble.
With this stated, there is a difference between a cake or something you want and something or a service you need to live. These laws only apply to public/private business entities not governmental services. If there are other pharmacists that I can choose from then I can go to one that is in line with the services I need. However, if I am having an emergency and am receiving medical care in my time of need, life saving services need to be fulfilled. At this point, I think that is on the side of the employee in that they should have
clear expectations of what they will be asked to do – if they can’t do that –they need to find employment elsewhere. Yes, this can be taken advantage of and could result in harm, and it comes back to choice.
We pride ourselves on American Exceptional and expect some degree of assimilation. Fly your freak flag as long as it fits these dimensions. The role of government as a leader or as a representative leads to a pluralistic set of political views that should also be protected and not be substantially burdened to be expressed. This is what a Democracy is about.
There are times when our collective culture and sense of morality needs assistance and government and legislation can jump in front of the parade and lead us towards justice. Love vs. Virginia is a great example in that multi-racial marriage is legally protected even though socially this isn’t 100% accepted and multi-racial couples often experience bias, targeted negative attention, and discrimination. These couples do at least have the law to fall back upon to seek justice.
This is an example of how the community can shift culture while still “obeying” legislation. This clearly markets who is a target customer for this business. Ultimately, this is the market economy intersecting with our cultural morality.
Other times, our collective expectation is more inclusive and legislation pretends that it is in the lead. Federal legislation on Gay Marriage will probably pass when the legal requirement wont be widely necessary. Gay Marriages will widely be happening and already are before federal recognition has happened.
Bad ideas thrive in the dark. Perhaps an open discussion about freedom of expression and our collective right to choice would get to bigger questions about our collective responsibility and morality.
What do we owe each other?
What do we feel entitled to from others?
How is my outrage fueled by my own sense of entitlement?
Who am I leaving out of these conversations?
How can I personally expand choice?