The Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects religious people from legal repercussions if they verbally condemn the lifestyle or actions of LGBT persons. Additionally, the bill expands the definition of an individual to include businesses, and so if a business owner thinks their religious beliefs would be violated by delivering service to an LGBT person, the Act allows them to deny them service, a move that some commentators have called "anti-gay segregation". - Wikipedia
I strongly oppose discrimination of all types because of various experiences throughout life. I firmly believe it is immoral to act in a harmful way against another person because of their sex, race, age, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
So I am naturally troubled by the religious freedom laws such as the ones in Missippippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and elsewhere. But I also am troubled by two aspects of the opposition to them.
1) If I live in a country with a Constitution that protects freedom of speech, should I have to face legal action if I "verbally condemn the lifestyle or actions of LGBT persons"?
2) If I live in home with the right to bar someone from entering it, why should I not have the same right to bar someone from entering my business? Especially if I own the property on which the business stands?
Here is my take on this,
1. You have the right to express yourself verbally, as as you say the Constitution protects freedom of speech.
2. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 require that access to public accomodation be not infringed due to race, color, religion, etc. If your business serves the public as a public accomodations, all customers are to be given access and treated equally. Your home is not a public accomodation.
Also, about 50 years ago you could take the phrase 'so if a business owner thinks that thier religious beliefs would be violated by delivering service to someone other than a white peson, the Act allows them to deny them service........
We certainly do not want to go down THAT road again, do we?
Credence, let's try it this way. I understand that someone cannot be denied access to a public accommodation. But am I still required to serve them?
To take an extreme example, if the person who murdered my son came into my restaurant after getting out of prison, should I be required to serve him / her if his sex, race, etc., is different than mine?
Great hypothetical, Promisem.
Yes, you are required to serve them. Back in the days of the sitins at the Woolworth counters in the early 1960's in the south, the black patrons had a right not just to be there but to be served, under identical conditions that anyone else would be served.
I will put it this way, when restrictions are placed upon service for a customer it must be based on what they do, not who they are. As for the extreme example, I probably wouldn't serve him. But if he took the issue to court, you will have to explain why and that explanation will have nothing to do with the race of the patron but what this particular patron had done to your family. You might well get a sympathetic judge to concur.
In that situation, I will refuse to serve him despite the law and take my chances in court.
Hate to say it, Credence, but this is a freedom of choice issue for me. The law should not dictate my moral beliefs and actions when they don't cause direct harm to other people, even when those beliefs are held in contempt.
Again, I personally am opposed to discrimination. But I should be allowed to act according to my conscience.
I'm back at right of center again.
One more thought: This strikes me as an example of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Our laws may be stopping morally objectionable behavior, but at the same time they undermine freedom of choice.
True, but your freedom of choice must end where mine begins. In reality that happens the moment you step outside your humble abode.
Yes, it is ok to say it.
The law cannot dictate your moral beliefs and actions. But if I, as a Black man, have to go all over town to find a restaurant that will serve me, I consider that direct harm. An in our national past, the same moral beliefs and actions were used to "jim crow' an entire group of people to their detriment in this society.
When you decide to open an establishment of public accomodation, you don't get to pick and choose who you serve. These businesses are already structurally subsidized by the taxpayer in so many ways, this is what is required of them.
Being against discrimination means taking the high road, the course of civility by accepting the fact that everyone must treated equally.
That, I guess, puts me squarely just left of center?
This discussion puts me into an uncomfortable place that makes it appear I am defending racial discrimination, which I am not.
I'm sure we can agree that everyone should be defended from physical or financial harm, but it sounds like you are saying they also should be defended from psychological harm. That strikes me as very subjective.
I can honestly say that I have been discriminated against at various times by a business (and individuals) because of my age, race and religion, although not as much as many other people. I responded by taking my money elsewhere, and plenty of businesses were happy to accept it.
Is defending freedom of choice also taking the high road?
I appreciate the discourse, Promisem, you know me, I just love to talk.
What do you mean by psychological harm?
You had the option of taking your business elsewhere when one establishment failed to provide you proper treatment as a customer. What if most establishments in a community denied you service which was the case with minorities in the past and could well be the case with LBGT people today? Going elsewhere is not the solution. Discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, and soon sexual orientation is illegal and should be. Your being treated that way is wrong, but at least you had an alternative choice, at one time we did not.
Your freedom of choice is fine as long as that does not deny me my freedom of choice
The problem, Promisem, is that people saying that they use their freedom of choice were hiding discriminatory motives and that is unacceptable. So, how do we sort the gnat #### from the pepper?
I understand the dilemma. If I may let's look at this example. Do I have the right to refuse service to a person who is cussing in my store and offending my customers. Isn't that freedom of speech? What if a customer walks an isle and openly and verbally aloud criticizes all the products examined. I feel that disrupts my place of business and ask s/he to leave. Do I have that right since it is a public business?
I can remember years ago when a customer only wanted to argue pricing with me for an auto service. I simply told them I am not going to do business with them even if they decided to do the service. End of discussion. Why? I could see a customer satisfaction issue ahead and the risk of doing business was not worth it versus the value of the collected invoice. Especially since they could make a Bureau of Automotive Repair complaint. Service rendered would become a subjective assessment by that agency telling me satisfaction is a refund. Is that discrimination?
Now the person is a minority . . . what then with legal repercussion? Next, that customer was openly LGBT. Is there a risk with a law suit? Which has the greatest impact with the risk of doing business regard laws and social conduct?
I realize and offer apology is off-topic, but those come to mind with the direction of legislation somewhat dictating business conduct as the real issue. Besides with bureaucracy having power of penalty without legislation of law it is becoming very complex for some business.
Tsmog, I think you offer a great point. Credence makes the case for allowing someone onto the property of a business as long as they behave themselves. But whether we have to serve them is the troubling question.
Thank you promisem. I will read the dialogue next. For now a perspective with my knowledge are three principles. Agency, moral relativism, and social conditioning. Admittedly I have troubles at times with moral relativism and wrapping my arms around that. Moral relativism to my understanding is regard culture and historical context. That is philosophical in context, yet laws are founded on philosophy while at times substantiated by present day science. So, I dun'no while will ponder the OP later today.
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