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← Does Religious Liberty Equal Freedom to Discriminate?

Cartomancer's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by Cartomancer

RJ Moore

Really? The Holocaust Memorial Centre in Hungary must offer its facilities to a group of neo-Nazis? The NAACP must facilitate White Power advocates? Seriously, come on...

Yes. If it offers its services to the public it must offer them to all the public. When you're in the business of venue hire, you're not allowed to discriminate.

I think anyone is entitled to refuse to do business with those who dont share the ethos of the business in question.

Privately, yes. But where the provision of goods and services to the public is involved, no. Equality is far more important than personal foibles.

If the person looking to use the services of a particular organisation has a problem with the raison d'etre of the organisation, he/she should simply go elsewhere.

And he usually will. But he should not be compelled to go elsewhere. Particularly if there isn't an elsewhere to go to.

Otherwise, what next? Binge drinkers demanding that AA allows them use its hall to promote the delights of Happy Hour drinking? Weight Watchers putting aside a section of its room for those who wish to extol the benefits of eating McDonalds twice a day?

Neither the AA nor McDonalds are in the business of venue hire for meetings. The AA hires venues, McDonalds sells food. If the AA refused membership to a gay person or McDonalds refused to sell food to a black person, that's the equivalency we're talking about.

The law shouldn't even come into it. The state shouldn't have the right to dictate how and why people come together voluntarily to form groups or businesses, whether the groups are religious or not.

Rubbish. There are copious laws governing the formation and conduct of businesses and societies. Business law is very complex, and it has to be to mitigate the kinds of injustices and advantage-taking that might otherwise occur. Businesses have to abide by anti-discrimination law, there's no reason why religious businesses should be exempt.

Rubbish. Do you think the Association of Intuitive Palm Readers must do business with those who make it clear that they think the service on offer is silly make-believe? Because the state says so?

Yes, I do. If they're a commercial business then they must abide by the same rules as everyone else.

Thats absolutely not why we have states in the first place...but the relationship between state and citizen is rapidly moving in that direction, Ill grant you that.

And a jolly good thing it is too. That's the main reason we STILL have states, and the most important reason to keep them strong and fair and well-governed.

Self-interest....is there any other kind of interest?

Communal interest? Interest in the welfare of others? Of humanity at large?

No such right exits in the 'private' world. No person has the right to be 'treated equally'.

But it very much does exist in the PUBLIC world, which is the world in which the state and commercial enterprises operate. The right to equal treatment before the law is pretty much the fundamental building block of the modern nation state, and the essential cornerstone of any just and moral society. And there is plenty of legislation backing up that right. And there should be more.

You can certainly make the argument that the state shouldn't discriminate, although that is fraught with problems too.

What problems would those be then? Seems an absolutely straightforward truism to me.

Of course they charge money; how else would they pay for all the wafers and incense?

And thus they are a commercial enterprise like any other, and should obey the same anti-discrimination laws. A candle shop or a biscuit manufacturer isn't allowed to refuse gays his services, why should a church that provides the same things?

If people dont like the service on offer, they should organise their own group and run it how they see fit.

If Rosa Parks doesn't like the bus service on offer then she should organise her own bus service and run it how she sees fit. If the black people of South Africa don't like the racist schools on offer they should organise their own schools and run them how they see fit. We could do it that way, where the state takes no action to ameliorate injustice or harm, and leaves it entirely up to private individuals, but then what a patchy, inconsistent and ultimately unjust picture we would get. The state has a positive duty to step in and regulate the harmful behaviour of its citizens, including discriminatory harm.

Humans are not equal and never will be, thank Jesu.

In terms of fundamental rights and dignities, yes they are. Thank the generations of enlightenment thinkers who demonstrated to us how important this insight is as a basis for good governance and social progress.

Individual freedom should trump everything, providing others' rights aren't being violated.

I think prevention of harm is a much more laudable prime directive, but even conceding that your premise is true for the sake of debate, the rights of others ARE violated by discriminatory trading practises and bigoted religious privilege. Specifically the right to be treated fairly, equally and in a just manner before the law.

Absolutely, in the same way as Nazi morons should be able to deny the Holocaust til the cows come home. It doesnt mean I dont find them and their views repugnant; but liberty is about consenting adults' having the right to do what they please whether I approve of their actions or not, whether it be porn, cosmetic surgery, gambling, bare-knuckle boxing, tattoos, praying to an imaginary god, or taking drugs.

This is not about what people do and believe privately. It's about the actions they take that affect society at large. And it's not about approval, it's about harm caused to themselves and most especially to others. No man is an island, our societies are so much more than just the conflicting whims of individuals. Communal living, society, civilization itself, are all products of the need to regulate and order the conflicting actions and desires of individuals. Were we all solitary hermits your point would work, as it is we need structure to regulate how we interact with each other, and make the whole project work.

Tue, 29 May 2012 20:40:40 UTC | #944314