James wrote:The 'emotional' component you've discounted is important. Whatever law is drafted to combat discrimination must necessarily combat discrimination. And when you outwardly express that you turned a customer away specifically for discriminatory reasons and then double-back to a technical explanation after speaking to a lawyer, how can you still expect people to take you seriously when discussing your decision?
Whatever form the law takes it should be one which does not make it easy for the shop owner to openly discriminate while at the same time hiding behind a technicality.
These 'technicalities' matter, as I'm sure Shikanosuke would tell you, precisely because we live in a society based on the rule of law, and not the rule of charismatic personalities or the mob. If you can't come up with a law that does what you want it to do, that abides by the spirit of the society and conforms to the preservation of the common good, that law will be useless (at best) no matter how good the intentions of those writing, promoting or enforcing it. I've already shown you how the legal definition of discrimination you are using has the potential to be abused, to the possible detriment of people who are substantively innocent of discrimination (the Jewish deli owner). You can call this a 'technicality' if you want, but it was on such 'technicalities' that a number of the worst civil rights abuses were justified in this country. Think of the WWII Japanese internment camps, for example - however well-intentioned the law (who wants to be the victim of sedition during wartime?), and however strong the emotions of Americans during WWII to defend their country, the ultimate targets of the law were not actually guilty of the crime of which they were suspected.
James wrote:Bringing us to your Jewish deli example. Honestly, it feels a bit like a straw man to me. Kosher delis have been operating for quite some time now alongside discrimination laws and problems such as this have not come up. I doubt any court will view it as 'discrimination' when a deli refuses to combine meat and cheese for any customer, nor is that anything remotely approaching comparable to denying products to an entire group of people based on sexual orientation.
This largely elides the way American case law actually works. If a precedent is set for suing a bakery based on what services they cannot or will not provide, based either on their technical inability or on their religious beliefs, and defining that non-service as 'discrimination', that precedent can become fairly dangerous when used later. There's technically, under this interpretation of 'discrimination' that you're using, nothing that can stop a judge from handing down a ruling against our hypothetical Jewish deli-owner.
James wrote:Secularist violence. I cannot fathom how you could support your opening argument here, outside perhaps turning to specific regional or individual examples. Both sides of the discussion are responsible for a fair amount of animosity, but I wouldn't read too much into that as it is a discussion dominated by the outspoken minority.
The war in Iraq, from which so many Iraqi Christians have suffered and continued to suffer, was the work of a neoconservative government supported largely by secular, non-religious intellectuals. Kristol. Krauthammer. Hitchens. Savage. Chait. Friedman. Kristof. Goldberg. Saletan. The unquestioning editorial staffs of The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic, The Washington Post - none of them well-known for their support of any religion whatever. That's secularist violence, right there, committed by American liberals who still go around pretending their hands are clean.
James wrote:And none of this suggests to me, to any meaningful extent, that Christians would react violently to their church's gradual acceptance of gay marriage. Although they may certainly branch the church. And if it were actually true that they would react violently I'm not sure how I could view them with anything but disgust.
All groups are capable of violence, and I don't hold Christians exempt from that scrutiny. Personally, I try not to judge anyone unfairly, but a bloodsoaked history is a rather sobering tutor. But then, I didn't embrace Christianity just because I thought Christians were better than anybody else.
James wrote:This is nothing but speculation.
Speculation is the one thing it's not. I was simply repeating some (what should be) well-known historical facts about the movements to end slavery and Jim Crow. Honestly, James - if you can't tell the difference between facts and opinions, there's no point in continuing this discussion.
James wrote:If you want to believe that these people wouldn't have organized and fought back through their communities (keep in mind that a common feature of their communities was segregated church—and served as an excellent means through which they could collaborate) if not for religion itself, fine, but it's an unsubstantiated position.
This is speculation.
You're engaging in 'what-if' history. Whether or not black people 'wouldn't have organised and fought back... if not for religion itself' is a question which I can't answer, which you can't answer, which nobody could possibly answer due to lack of available data, and which it's useless for people to try to answer because we just don't know what would have happened if Christianity had not been a factor. But we do know what motivated Harriet Tubman - it's there in all the accounts we have of her. We do know what motivated Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. We do know what motivated the SCLC and Dr. King. It's all there in their speeches and writings. Discounting their intellectual roots and motivations, as you are doing here, does them all an immense disservice.
James wrote:And I'll reiterate that civil rights, the concept, does not require religion. I do not require religion in order to be concerned with civil rights concerns...
Or maybe you've misunderstood my position? Maybe there are some areas where civil rights becomes a religious concept, but in the United States, and typically in many countries exploring these issues, a civil rights concern is one which religion is just as welcome to participate, for or against, as groups or individuals of other interests. And the ultimate product—African American equality, women's rights, gay rights—is not one tied to religion.
That's fine. I don't believe I ever suggested that you need to be religious in order to be concerned with civil rights. Only that the concept itself has a religious provenance, which is an observation based on available empirical records and evidence.
Which I thought you were concerned with?
James wrote:And please don't confuse it with the gay marriage discussion. It pertains directly to your vaccination argument. One which doesn't relate meaningfully to gay marriage in the first place and shouldn't be further correlated.
That's not the way these arguments work, James. As you know.
If you're defending a general legal principle like non-discrimination, then you need to be able to defend it in all possible instances of its application, not just the ones you like. It can't selectively apply to homosexuals just because you agree with them, and not also to religious people just because you disagree with them.
James wrote:And many things have no right solution.
If that were true, you wouldn't argue the way you subsequently do. Obviously there is a right solution to the problem of abortion, we just disagree about what it is and how to achieve it. We also disagree about some of the assumptions going in. I don't believe in a Panglossian world where the current setup is the best possible one for all people involved - I think there are things we can do as a society to, for example, make rape less common. I think there are things as a society that we can do better to support mothers so that they don't have to give up or kill their children. I think we absolutely should crack down hard on illegal abortion providers and even legal providers who abuse their licences to operate outside the proper boundaries of the law (e.g. Kermit Gosnell), and we should do it well before they get as far out of hand as Gosnell's clinic did.
James wrote:And a 'freedom' to choose a life predominantly dedicated to work or starve? It's a really awful choice to make, and one many people get to make. It's a little disingenuous for someone to label that choice positively as doing so ignores the problems which created that reality (such as income inequality), but it's another example of a concern which government must address. Certainly the lack of government in terms of addressing it leads to this very extreme.
I agree. But I see many libertarians making exactly this argument on a regular basis.
And above, it's relatively easy to see how the argument you made about abortions can slip into something very similar - 'label[ling] that choice [to abort one's child] positively' and 'ignor[ing] the problems which created that reality (such as income inequality)'.
James wrote:I'd also take issue with a position that unions are a matter in which people should have a black or white position. Here in Utah they are remarkably weak entities under weak workers' rights laws, and unions absolutely should be strengthened. In, for example, the Bay Area of California Unions are heavily protected and are extremely powerful. For example, it can be extremely difficult to fire even terrible employees, and that does significant damage to a businesses. And there are other concerns, aside from retaining employees who treat customers poorly. Your union, for example, might fight to keep intact the retirement package they negotiated under pressure even as it becomes apparent that it is unsustainable.
This hasn't been my experience with unions, though I grant I've never owned a business. But I'd probably have far more sympathy with this general line of argument if the recent legal and social history in the United States (since Reagan) hasn't been going all one way - in favour of big corporations and against unions, with very few exceptions. Even if it isn't a black-and-white issue, even a nuanced approach to the realities of collective bargaining ought to acknowledge the realities on the ground that unions are losing what little they have.