Discrimination: How you can and can’t do it
Recently an ex-den leader got a petition together and submitted it to the Boy Scouts of America in hopes of getting her job back, from which she was fired after it was found out that she was a lesbian. This provides a great opportunity to talk about discrimination, and in what ways it is legal and illegal.
This is a fun issue because we get to talk about public funding. The way our system of government is setup, it requires that government cannot discriminate against people, that everyone must be treated equally by the law, and that tax payer money must be used in a way that complies with the first two requirements.
If an organization receives zero public funding, they can discriminate all day against anyone for any reason. This is freedom of association, meaning that we have the right to decide who we associate with in life, and by extension when we found clubs and businesses, we still have the right to do this. Some discrimination is justified, for example, if you’re not wearing any shoes or shirt, or have ragged clothes, or smell really bad, you may be deemed too unsightly to be allowed into an establishment. Other discrimination is just downright bigotry, for example, excluding someone on the basis of their skin color, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc and while I oppose that in many cases, they are well within their rights to discriminate.
Other examples of where discrimination may be a good thing is if an establishment only allows girls of a certain age in, or boys of a certain age. There are just certain activities where people who share a common trait want to be left to themselves, and that’s fine. We aren’t crying fowl because men aren’t in women’s sports.
However, if an organization does receive public funding, then they can’t discriminate. This means if a business or organization takes a subsidy or accepts tax payer money in any way, which would include food-stamps or anything like that, then they would not be able to discriminate just as the government is not allowed to discriminate. I’d also like to add that receiving a tax break is not the same thing as accepting government money. It is simply paying less money to the government, very different and very fundamental that we understand this. By the way, BSA does receive public funding.
The great thing about this is if we actually enforced the laws on this issue, we’d start seeing a lot fewer groups and businesses taking public funding and we’d see less groups out there discriminating, which is all good for me. Besides, being more inclusive always wins out over arbitrary exclusion so long as people, businesses, and organizations are held accountable for their actions, whether it be by law, or social action by the people.
It’s a win-win situation.
By: Stephen Carter
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