Tag Archives: discrimination

Government Should Give Us All a Break. A Bathroom Break, That Is.

English: A bathroom.
English: A bathroom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently government solved all of society’s real problems while I wasn’t looking. Woo hoo! Violent crime has been eradicated. The Islamist terror threat is no more. Poverty? Everyone’s a millionaire with a Rolls in the driveway. Heck, the Cubs may even win the pennant this year. At least I have to assume all that’s been taken care of. Otherwise the politicians wouldn’t have time to argue over who gets to use which bathroom. And that’s what they’re doing, soooo …

Charlotte, North Carolina’s city council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance requiring both public venues (e.g. government schools) and private businesses to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms matching their gender identities.

Then the North Carolina state legislature passed a bill overruling Charlotte’s and FORBIDDING both public venues and private businesses to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms matching their gender identities.

Even though the North Carolina bill seems to be economically suicidal — it’s already cost the state money and jobs, including 400 new jobs at a PayPal operations center that was going to be built in Charlotte and now won’t be — lawmakers in South Carolina and Tennessee are taking up similar legislation.

Because, you know, this has been such a burning social problem in the past.

Except that it hasn’t.

For all the hobgoblin talk about men in dresses sexually molesting our daughters at rest stops, I’ve been unable to find any public mention of that happening. If it has, it’s either been very rare or kept under wraps. And the latter seems unlikely given the paranoia even talking about it seems to bring out in people.

If you don’t think you’ve ever shared a bathroom with a transgender person before, consider this: Depending on which study you believe, somewhere between 1 in 100 and in in 300 Americans are trans people. Now, think back over your life. All the school restrooms, highway rest stops, store bathrooms, concerts, ball games, and so on. Do you honestly think that over your life you’ve shared bathrooms with fewer than 300 people in all?

You’ve been sharing bathrooms with trans people your whole life, and you never noticed until some idiot fearmongering political hack brought it up because he thought he could scare you with it. Did it work?

This isn’t that complicated.

In  venues like government schools, politicians and their lackeys shouldn’t be allowed to peer up skirts and inside zippers like a bunch of pervs. Does your gender identity match the “M” or “F” on your birth certificate ? None of their business.

Businesses should be free to set whatever policies they like. If they want to keep their customers, they probably won’t get too nosy.

And as cultural changes do, this will all work itself out.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Dog-Whistle Bites Man: Mike Pence and “Religious Freedom”

RGBStock Pack of Hounds

Wikipedia defines dog-whistle politics as “political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.” It’s a time-honored tactic used by politicians of all persuasions. But, as Indiana governor Mike Pence learned on March 29 under intense questioning by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, sometimes it calls out unintended dogs.

Pence stammered and prevaricated, refusing to answer Stephanopoulos’s simple, pointed, yes-or-no question: Does Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” protect business owners who claim religious motivations for refusing service to LGBT customers?

Pence’s difficulties stem from the law’s dog-whistle purpose. That purpose isn’t to protect religious freedom, either in general or with respect to a purported obligation of businesses to not discriminate. It’s to signal “Christian” (dog-whistle for “anti-gay evangelical”) voters, donors and interest groups that Republicans are on their side.

Prior to last week, Pence generated continuous, if minor, buzz as a dark horse prospect for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination. If he did indeed aspire to that crown, his klutzy defense of the new law almost certainly put it beyond his reach.

Even the ugly truth — that conservatives think the anti-gay vote is still a major electoral factor which might put Republicans over the top in 2016 — would have served Pence better than his live-on-national-TV meltdown.

Better yet, at least in terms of supporting American values of individual freedom, he might have laid down the libertarian line that business owners should be free to serve, or to not serve, anyone they please for any reason. That might have cost him votes, but it would at least have possessed the virtue of being right.

Personally I find it refreshing when a politician blows the dog-whistle and finds himself (or herself) surrounded by snarling pit bulls instead of the cuddly, eager-to-please puppies he expected.

I’d love to hear the baying of bloodhounds any time a progressive appeals for “access to” (dog-whistle for “I’ll make someone else buy it for you”) contraception, abortion, health care or housing.

When a bought and paid for politician calls for increases in “defense spending” (dog-whistle for “more corporate welfare for Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon”), I long for the appearance of a veritable pack of rabid wolves.

I’ve heard it said that the truth will set us free. I have my doubts. But it’s preferable to dog-whistle politics.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

 

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

It’s Not About Religious Freedom. It’s About Freedom.

RGBStock Holding Hands

There is no right to enslave others. In this day and age, that claim should be non-controversial. But apparently some people just haven’t got the memo. It’s called the 13th Amendment and it was ratified 150 years ago this coming December:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Freedom of association has been on a roll lately. Same-sex marriage is now de facto legal in 36 states and looks set to win national recognition once the US Supreme Court rules on the matter. Oklahoma’s state legislature is even considering a bill to get government out of the marriage licensing business entirely, limiting it to the function of registrar.

Libertarians have supported marriage freedom and legal equality for same-sex couples for decades — since long before Democrats (and some Republicans) came around. We’re happy to see these freedoms blossom.

Unfortunately some LGBTQ activists aren’t satisfied. They want more.

Specifically, they want cake and wedding photos. And they think that they have the right to cake and wedding photos from bakers and photographers who don’t want to bake or shoot photos for them.

The backlash: Some state legislatures are rolling out “religious freedom” laws specifying that bakers don’t have to bake and photographers don’t have to photograph if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.

But wait a minute: Why should freedom to associate or not associate with, or to work for or not work for anyone, be conditioned on religious beliefs?

If I don’t want to mow a neo-Nazi’s lawn, should I have to point out a Bible verse that justifies my decision not to do so?

If I don’t want to build a Kingdom Hall for my local Jehovah’s Witnesses, am I be required to attest that I’m turning down their offer because I’m a Baptist?

If I run a bar that caters to the LGBTQ crowd, must I demonstrate religious conviction as my reason for refusing to host a heterosexual “speed dating” event?

No. I’m not a slave. Neither are you. Any law which treats us as slaves is unconstitutional. Not to mention morally repugnant.

Freedom of association should never be conditioned on anything other than one’s personal desire to associate or not associate.

I’m with Martin Luther King, Jr. on this: I dream of a society in which we all judge each other by the content of our characters, not by skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other non-essential.

We’ll get to that society through persuasion, not force. We’ll get there by breaking old shackles, not by putting new ones on.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY