What is Destroyed When You Eliminate Discrimination?

Now that the definition of marriage has become more inclusive (with more new friends likely to join the party), the states can no longer discriminate between hetero and homosexual marriage cases. Now the question turns to the private sector, and the unruly amount of discrimination that plagues every single person living on this earth.

Yes, I’m looking at you; and yes, I am looking at myself. We all discriminate. That’s the way that it is. Whether the discriminators or discriminatees admit it or not, they discriminate or have been discriminated against.

I am about to make a radical claim. One that may just make a few heads explode. There is another word for discrimination out there, a word that we all love to hear. A word touted by both the right and the left as being ideals for our society. A word so simple in spelling and meaning, but with highly complex and important connotation. What is the word?

No, bird is not the word.

The word is, “choice.”

Wow, how about that? Who would have thought that discrimination and choice could be synonyms? They are, and they have more connotations than racism and abortion. How is that? Well I’m glad you asked.

Let’s take an every day example. You go to the store for a new dress shirt. In the section there are all sorts of varieties of shirts in different colors, styles, trims; basically, choices. You choose a shirt to buy based on your preferences: what you want to (can) pay, your typical dress style, type of event you’ll be wearing the shirt to, etc. Finally you find one that fits great, suits your personality, and is even on the clearance rack.

You go to the checkout counter, pay the bill, and have a new shirt. When you ultimately decided on that particular shirt, you discriminated against the others because you liked that particular one the most. That shirt aligned with your preferences and budget, and the other shirts did not end up getting their social justice.

Now let’s switch to discrimination between people.

A black man owns a bakery and makes cakes for all sorts of occasions.. Two white-hooded figures come walking in and demand a cake depicting a burning cross. The baker refuses.

Is this discrimination? Yes it is. But more importantly it is a choice to exercise one’s rights of conscience and of association. Can a rational person say with a straight face that such action on the part of the baker is reprehensible. Of course not, but is that merely because of his skin color or because he exercised an essential freedom that all should be able to exercise?

If the situation involved a Christian who owned a bakery, quite a different tale is often told. Those Christians cannot exercise any sort of discrimination (read: choice) in their own place of business, even when they find the customer’s demands to be repugnant to their beliefs. Christian bakeries cannot deny a gay couple a wedding cake due to their religious beliefs.

Does choice simply end now? Can we no longer choose to associate with certain people based on our belief system? Evidence answers in the affirmative.

We will no longer have freedom of choice and of association. The State is gradually setting a precedent of forcing people to associate people with whom they do not wish to be associated.

As for the notion that these establishments are simply selling products they already make, that is a reductionist viewpoint that does not take into account other factors of the transaction. When a producer sells a product to a consumer, there is a kind of tacit approval given. There is a connection between buyer and seller, even if only briefly face to face. The connection lies not merely in the transaction itself, but in the intended use of the product.

When a Christian baker chooses not to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, he/she chooses to exercise the freedom of association. The intended use of the product would be for a purpose that the producer finds sinful. There is no separating the two. Those who attempt to do so hold a view that does not fully take into account both sides of the equation.

Simply because the producer chooses not to associate with someone whom they believe in engaging in sinful behavior does not mean that we need to make a federal case out of it. But some beg to differ. How many stories have we seen recently of bakeries being fined or shut down for simply exercising the freedom to associate? They do not have a choice in the matter. Under the guise of eliminating discrimination, choice has been eliminated as well (because they are ultimately the same thing).

Don’t get me wrong, some kinds of discrimination are morally repugnant. Legitimately hating someone for their skin color, sexual orientation, family history, etc. are all bad things. However, using the power of the State to stop people from discriminating against others has the unintended effect of destroying one’s ability to freely associate. Is it wrong to not want to associate with a person due to the aforementioned factors? Yes, but that is the discriminator’s issue, and there are more preferable remedies to fixing such moral problems than introducing state coercion.

For the foreseeable future, we need not fear infringements on the right to assemble or associate in terms of voluntary interaction. Rather we have to fear forced association. Where one cannot choose with whom they choose to interact. Where businesses are shut down for not pandering to the LGBT crowd. Where those business cannot even talk about their opposition. And ultimately where churches are shut down for refusing to hold same sex wedding ceremonies. If you don’t think that’s coming, I am saddened to say that you are terribly mistaken.

How far will the anti-discrimination crowd go before they realize that choice will become merely a figment of the imagination?

Follow Seth on Twitter: @sconnell1776


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