Saturday, October 28, 2006

Freedom and discrimination

Wayne Besen in an article called The Caliphate Cab and the Biblical Bus discusses the problems with allowing religious viewpoints to dictate what someone will do in the public sphere. It reminds me of an example I saw in several books on the dangers of homosexuality where a little old lady wants to rent out a room, but wants to prevent her unmarried tenants from having sex in the room.

There’s really no problem. If you don’t want to deal with passengers who have alcohol in their luggage then don’t drive a cab. Licenses for cabs are granted as part of the public interest in having reliable transportation, but there are many other occupations available where one will not have to drive someone with liquor.

There’s really no problem. If you don’t want to drive a bus that has particular advertisements you can choose to work for another company that doesn’t put advertisements on the bus.

There’s no problem if you don’t want unmarried couples having sex in your rooms then don’t have anyone over, let alone rent to them.

If you open a business one of the ground rules across the U.S.A. is that you can discriminate only on grounds that affect your business. Renting a room in your house or a house is fine. You can examine the financial history of your prospective tenants, you can check up on their history of arrests, you can do many things if they directly impact how your property will be cared for by the tenants and whether you’re likely to have any legal problems. But you can’t decide that two people whether friends or more than friends shouldn’t live in your place because they might be having sex.

You can choose not to participate in a business if it will interfere with your faith, but you can’t pick and choose what parts of the public may use or not use your business on any but business related grounds.

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