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“Discriminating” Democrats

“Discriminating” Democrats

by Curt Wikstrom

     The San Juan County Democrats have a clause in their proposed platform that says,  “We oppose discrimination of any kind and support laws that prohibit discrimination and programs that provide victims with access to courts to overcome such injustices.”  Yet the platform goes on to “discriminate against” a number of people.     It “discriminates against” religious charities and schools, against religious symbols or prayers in government buildings and institutions, and against non-religious private schools. It “discriminates against” those who want the right to private health insurance, against unborn babies, against faith based organizations, corporations, and private power generating companies.  And of course Democrats will “discriminate against” Republicans when they go to vote in the fall elections.  What is going on here?  Are the San Juan Democratic leaders just a bunch of hypocrites?  Or is there a more fundamental problem?

     The phrase, “we oppose discrimination of any kind” is a statement that contradicts itself.  To oppose something is to “discriminate against” it.  In essence the platform “discriminates against” discrimination, which is discrimination of some kind.  This is all an escape from reason.

     The phrase “discriminated against” is a corruption of the English language.  And the word “discriminate” is often misused. In many cases, these words or phrases are used in contexts where other words are appropriate.  It is much easier to see the unfairness or absurdity of a statement when the appropriate words are used.

     We all have a right to “make distinctions” between what is right and wrong (discriminate), to “distinguish” between what is true and what is false (discriminate), to “make choices” (discriminate), to “observe differences” (discriminate), to “make moral distinctions” (discriminate). And we are not terrible people if we do so.  In fact we cannot be decent people without doing so.

     There are appropriate words to use in every context.  For example: we should not “exclude” people from participation in the political process because of race or sex.  But there is nothing wrong with “including” only Irish people in the Irish club, or “including” only black people in the “Black Students Club”.  We may want to join a group with certain entertainment, artistic, religious, political, or other goals. We may want to stay out of groups that use profane language, or that promote practices or ideas to which we disagree.    In each case people are making choices.  In some cases the choices are appropriate.  In other cases, the choices are inappropriate.  To say that making choices is in-and-of-itself wrong, is deceptive (and tyrannical). 

     A man and a woman can reproduce the next generation, and their union is legally recognized as a marriage.  To recognize that two people of the same sex cannot reproduce is to “make the distinction” that two people of the same sex cannot reproduce, it is not to “discriminate against” them. 

     To recognize that a man cannot bear a child is to “determine that” a man cannot bear a child, it is not to “discriminate against”(choose against) a man. It is not a choice, it is coming to a logical conclusion.  To make laws that address the bearing of children necessarily means dealing with the fact that a woman can and does bear children, and that a man cannot, and does not bear children.  To try and treat men equally with women in the bearing and care of children is to refuse to accept reality.  Those who do not accept this reality are also unwilling to accept the reality that the bond between women and their children is usually greater and more important to the children than the bond between men and their children.  (That is not to say that the bond between men and their children is unimportant.)  Intelligent law must logically make distinctions between men and women. To say that law cannot make these logical distinctions because that is “discriminating” is absurd (inconsistent with reason or the plain dictates of common sense).

     Freedom to associate with those whom you want to associate requires that you exclude those with whom you do not want to associate.  To “choose whom” you want to associate should not be denigrated by using the words “discriminating against” those whom you do not want to associate.  The San Juan Democratic platform clause could be restated as follows:  “We oppose freedom of choice of any kind and support laws that prohibit the freedom of choice and laws that permit individuals to force themselves and their lifestyles on others who do not want to associate with them.”  This substitute language is not facetious.  It is not far from the reality of the various goals behind the clause.  Some of the goals are worthy, like including all people in the political process, or promoting “equal protection” of the laws. Other goals are unworthy (even tyrannical), like denying the Boy Scouts the freedom to choose their troop leaders.  Democrats have a right to “make choices and take positions” (“discriminate”) as they do in their platform, and they have a right to “choose” their own candidates (“discriminate”).  But so does everyone else.

     Making moral distinctions is important in our lives.  We need to choose between good and evil, right and wrong, better or worst, virtue and vice.  It is wrong for people to kill children in order to intimidate an entire country.  It is not wrong to kill or imprison those people who have killed children and plan to kill children to intimidate a nation.   If one person attacks another to steal her money, the offended person has a right to defend herself.  It is not proper to claim that both the offender and the defender are wrong.  We should not turn justice on its head by saying that we are  “discriminating against” the thief by calling him the wrongdoer and putting him in jail   Making the moral distinction as to who is right and who is in the wrong is appropriate.  Changing the term “bringing justice to the thief” to “discriminating against the thief” is inappropriate and deceptive.

    To make “no discriminating against” into a moral premise is unreasonable.  To say that “discriminating” is immoral is to say that “making choices” is immoral, and that “making distinctions” is immoral. It turns morality on its head, because one must make choices and distinctions to have a moral structure of any kind.  But if no moral structure is permitted, then “no discriminating against” cannot be a moral premise either.

     To be logical we need to use the appropriate words to define and debate issues.   And we must stand up to threats and intimidation from the immoralists among us if we are to maintain a logical approach and a moral perspective.  The way to get out of this logical and moral quagmire is to use the proper words in the appropriate context, and to continually make it clear that those who use terms like “discriminated against” are trying to deceive us.

     It is not immoral to strive to attain a life of dignity, virtue, peace, love, and tranquility.  It is not wrong for us to avoid those who would prevent us from finding happiness in our lives. To claim that we can’t “discriminate against” those who would destroy all that is good in life is tyrannical.

     To be sure, the San Juan Democratic platform writers are not the only group to misuse the terms “discriminate” and “discriminated against”.   Many people have been mis-taught to use this terminology, often in the public schools that they attend.  But we cannot be presented with logical and moral policy choices until words are used that are appropriate to the context of the issues that we face.  And the appropriate words are not going to be “politically correct” words (words that are allowed).  They will be “grammatically” correct words that are meant to enlighten, not deceive).



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