Is it wrong to discriminate? I hope not, because I do it all the time. I discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation and religion, among other grounds.
I hate cassava and plantains, so I refuse to patronize African restaurants. It’s not the African cooks I discriminate against. It’s their cooking. You know, love the cook, hate the cooking. I feel the same way about samosas and sushi and Indian and Japanese cooks.
But I love sweet and sour shrimp and lemon chicken soup, so I patronize Chinese and Greek restaurants and discriminate in their favour. Happily, I love both the cooks and the cooking. I realize that cooking is integral to the identity of cooks and that many may consider my preferences invidious. However, I have a discriminating pallet and I refuse to treat all cooking equally
My athletic preferences aren’t racist or ethnic. They’re sexist. When it comes to major league sports — hockey, baseball, and basketball — I prefer to watch men play. Although I’m no authority on athletic competition, I think that men perform at a higher level than women.
I used to feel guilty about my prejudices, but only until I noticed that the owners, managers and coaches in the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association are also sexist. They don’t include women on their teams.
I suspect it’s because they think the best women players aren’t as fast, strong and aggressive as the best men. Oh, I know that police forces, fire departments and the armed services include women. Maybe our civil and military commanders think chasing criminals, rescuing fire victims and fighting to the death are less demanding than playing hockey, baseball and basketball.
When I started discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation, I didn’t know I was doing it. On the few dates I had in high school and university, I went out with girls, exclusively. Neither I nor anyone else I knew had heard of identity politics. So it didn’t occur to me that I might have offended some boys.
If I did, I compounded the offence when I found someone I wanted to spend my life with. My special someone was a woman. I guess both of us discriminated, as neither even considered spending our lives with a member of the same sex.
What’s more, we’re both Caucasian and neither of us considered marrying outside our race. I can’t help noticing, though, that most men and women, Caucasian or otherwise, marry within their race. Of course, that’s no excuse if our attitude and conduct are at fault. If it’s wrong to discriminate, the fact that most everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right. A massacre doesn’t justify a murder.
Religious discrimination, which I steadfastly practice, is also rampant. As atheists favour non-belief, they discriminate against all religions; as believers like me favour our own religion, we discriminate against the others. I realize that the ecumenical movement is about clarifying and acclaiming what unites us. But as long as doctrine divides us, I prefer mine. Of course I do. I have a discriminating conscience. That’s more important than a discriminating pallet. Truth transcends taste, I always say.
If discrimination is wrong, so is freedom. Freedom is about choosing. But every time we choose, we discriminate. I thought the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had settled this, as it guarantees the right to discriminate in the Constitution. That’s what the fundamental freedoms of religion, expression, peaceful assembly and association are about. They’re supposed to protect us from state activity that prevents our discriminating in these matters.
But no sooner did the politicians enact the Charter than they and the judges they appointed began to undermine it. Among others, they’ve exposed bakers, home-based bed and breakfast owners, caterers, photographers, printers, and civic officials to prosecution for refusing to violate their consciences. That is, for withholding goods and services which support or celebrate activity that compromises their Christian morality. Oh, they’re still free to hold their beliefs. They’re just not free to act on them.
Freedom of association is also languishing. Thanks to identity politics and its judicial enablers, the state requires us to associate with others in ways we’d prefer not to. State mandated affirmative action, for example, pressures educational institutions and businesses to accept applicants whose qualifications recruiters might deem inadequate. Of course, compulsory union and professional memberships have violated freedom from association since long before the Charter.
Freedom of peaceful assembly seems largely intact. But not prayerful assembly near abortion clinics. Never mind, swearful assembly by protesters of various stripes is widely tolerated elsewhere.
As we can vote them out of office, we’re still allowed to discriminate against politicians who make laws. But not against judges who re-make them. Judges are immune to election fever. That’s too bad. They occupy grounds for discrimination that I would dearly love to till.