Now I’ve got your attention I should state for the record that I think discrimination itself is bad, at least when it’s “people” who are being discriminated against. What I believe is good is having the right to discriminate.
At a basic level we all discriminate. We discriminate in where we choose to live. This might be for positive reasons, for example to be in the catchment area of a particularly good school, or negative ones. Most of us don’t want to live in a street where every front garden is full of weeds and has a discarded fridge in it. Of course, a financial element is strongly in play in decisions like that but if money wasn’t a major factor things like this would inform our choice.
We discriminate in what we eat. I, for example, dislike all green vegetables. On principle. I was forced to eat soggy over-boiled cabbage at school, and that experience has given me an aversion to any vegetable that is green, even zucchinis which I’d never even heard of until I started writing this paragraph, let alone tasted. So I discriminate in my vegetable choice, excluding anything green. Except leaks … although they’re not really green, are they? Or at least, they’re not by the time I’ve finished trimming them. Oh, and I do like brocolli, but that’s because I’ve taken the time to get to know it. Admittedly though, this isn’t really what people mean when they talk about discrimination.
In the ‘bad’ sense, it’s the unfair or unjust treatment of people because they possess certain characteristics, such as age, race or religion.
I strongly believe that the rights of the indivdiual should be paramount, so long as they don’t harm others, even if the vast majority of people disagree. Whilst I personally feel discrimination for any reason is abhorrent, an individual that does hold such a view should have the right to do so, no matter how idiotic their ‘justification’. The key criterion here is “don’t harm others”. If someone fails to get a job simply because of the colour of their skin, does it harm them? It probably does. But equally, forcing someone to hire a person they don’t want to probably harms that person too. Why should the former’s rights trump the latter’s?
Private organisations and institutions should also have the right to discriminate. Indeed, one could argue the right here is even stronger than an individual’s. Organisations often comprise like-minded people where the reasons for desiring discrimination are likely to be commonly held.
Public bodies, though, should not be allowed to discriminate in any way, shape or form. Why should anyone, as a [insert discriminated against category here] person, be expected to contribute to a society that doesn’t treat them the same way as it does everyone else?[To be continued]