Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

July 1, 2005

Intolerant ‘Tolerance’
Or, Fired for Religious Beliefs (2)

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:05 pm

When I spend as much time writing a comment responding to comments as I do on a regular post, I think it’s time to “promote” the reponse to a regular post. There were some interesting comments to my post “Fired for Religious Beliefs,” and a comment by Clayton Cramer on his blog.

Let me clarify that I’m not exactly surprised that people are being fired for politically incorrect ideas. The “news” is the sheer brazenness of it. I mean, even if they were firing somebody for their religion, you’d think they’d at least be ashamed enough to come up with some other excuse for it, like claiming poor job performance, or falsely accusing him of sexual harrassment. The fact that some employers are now telling people, “You are being fired for your beliefs” means that they believe firing people for their beliefs is perfectly acceptable. And that is a step backwards.

When they want to fire someone for their beliefs and they make up some pretext (say, punctuation errors in a memo, or changing their hours every day and firing them for being one minute late), at least they are implicitly admitting that what they are doing is wrong. This doesn’t really help the person being fired, but at least it doesn’t indicate a general societal problem. If “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue,” when vice stops paying, it’s bad news.

By the way, this sort of thing has been long in coming. It started when the courts declared, implicitly, that there was a “right not to be offended” that applied to certain people, and took priority over everyone else’ right to freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. For example, in 1993, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska was ordered to remove a photo of his wife from his desk, because his (feminist) officemate claimed it created a “hostile work environment” for her. (It was a photo from a beach vacation; the wife was wearing a bikini.)

In 1998, despite graduating from law school and passing the bar exam, Matthew Hale was denied a license to practice law in Illinois because he’s a racist and an antisemite. Illinois, like most (all?) states, requires lawyers not only tohave a law degree (generally) and pass the bar exam, but also to pass a background check on their “character and fitness.” (This is why all lawyers are completely ethical, of course.) Generally, this used to exclude convicted murders and the like, but in this case, they decided that someone who held racist views did not have the appropriate character and fitness, so they denied him the license.

Now I’m against against racism and antisemitism as much as anybody (I’m Jewish!), but I saw then that this would lead to what we have now. As I said then (too bad I didn’t have a blog then, or I’d link to my prediction!), if they can deny Matthew Hale a law license for being racist and antisemitic, they could eventually deny licenses to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, and Evangelical Christians on the grounds of “homophobia” because the Bible says that the homosexual act is an abomination. (Or, they could ask them to sign a statement affirming that they reject that teaching of the Bible, which would be equally repugnant.)

Well, we are clearly headed in that direction. No one’s been denied a law license for their religious beliefs, but in Canada, a teacher had his license revoked for expressing similar views. And in the U.S., we have had several Democratic Senators imply that believing Catholics should not be judges, a woman fired for saying “Have a blessed day” at work, now these people fired for refusing to “value homosexuality” and the like.

And if that’s not enough, the Washington Blade — a gay-oriented newspaper in our nation’s capital — has an editorial titled, “Lock up the ‘ex-gays’” — in other words, if you’re gay once, they want to make it a crime to go straight.

They have now come full-circle, from advocating for the right to be gay, to advocating against the right to be straight.

One Response to “Intolerant ‘Tolerance’
Or, Fired for Religious Beliefs (2)”

  1. ollie Says:

    I was on the board of our local ACLU chapter (Peoria) when the Hale case came up. Yes, he
    is a local boy, I am sad to say.

    Some insisted that becoming an officer of the court was a NOT a right but rather an earned
    honor, but the ACLU filed a “friend of the court” brief that Hale’s beliefs should not be
    used against him, and I agreed with that.

    But remember that Hale had some arrests on his record at that time, and it was my understanding
    that these were not the “civil disobediance” type but rather of the assault variety.
    But I admit that I did not check on his criminal record myself.

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