Thursday, October 2, 2008


Certain words in the English language are picked from time to time to completely distort their original meaning and make a negative buzz word out of them. "Climate" is one example. A couple of years ago, talking about climate meant describing certain weather conditions. Today, climate is some kind of code word for heralding the impending doom. "Climate deniers" are those who'd prefer not to drink the kool-aid, to be cast away and scorned. "Climate policy" means laws regulating the weather. You know, laws regulating the economy and people's personal lives worked so well that you might just try to wisely guide "the climate" as well.

But I'm digressing. Another famous example of restructuring the meaning of a word is "discrimination". A discriminating tradesman would denote a hard to please market participant in earlier times, today you'd rather think of a hypocritical white evangelical racist bigot who refuses to sell to homosexuals.

Of course, "discrimination" may legitimately be used in that sense as well. What bugs me is the automatically negative reaction connected to this meaning of discrimination.

Shockingly enough, you discriminate all the time every day of your life. Reading this blog instead of others discriminates against them. Using the internet browsers you do discriminates against all the other browsers available. Buying at the grocery store with that cute little blonde working at the counter discriminates against all the other grocery stores that decided to hire less attractive personnel.

No big deal, you say? That's discrimination based on quality as opposed to discrimination based on hypocritical white evangelical racist bigot factors? But where's the difference? Some people eat with spoons made by their kids in crafting class even though these might obviously lack quality compared to spoons created by professionals. Here you have discrimination based solely on emotion, still nobody would consider banning such behavior.

Let's take another step forward: Isaac Goldbaum (don't we all love stereotypes?) just migrated from Israel to the US where he opens a little bakery. He needs an assistant to do minor tasks for him. The only applicant is a muslim. Unfortunately, Mr. Goldbaum's family has been killed by a muslim suicide bomber which makes Mr. Goldbaum decide to refuse the applicant and do it all by himself instead. Would anyone want to force poor Isaac to act otherwise?

And now we put the icing on the cake. Rick Redneck runs a shooting range. Due to his personal preferences concerning people, he's put a big sign on the perimeter that reads "Only white evangelical bigots allowed".

If you consider that to be obnoxious behavior of Mr. Redneck, you're probably right. Still, you lack philosophical ground arguing for a ban of such actions if you didn't mind browser discrimination, shop discrimination, emotional discrimination or discrimination due to personal history. You yourself might want to discriminate against Redneck's shooting range so he'll run out of funds in due time. But using government force against Rick to bar him from using his property according to his wishes would grant him the moral high ground. You don't want this to happen, do you?

No comments: