Monday, October 13, 2014

A License to Discriminate

As much as I hate to admit it, little kennie ham made a point I didn't originally consdider . . . it was in his response to his many critics about using state funds/tax incentives for his ark encounter ministry.  I did address it in my post "Kentucky Common Sense Part III", but there was one angle I didn't give much thought, so here goes . . .

In his post he tried to compare his discriminatory hiring practices to two other organizations, the  Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) and American Atheists.  Little kennie claimed how foolish it would be to force them to hire people who disagree with their basic philosophy.  And he tried to use that as justification for his continued discriminatory practices.  As I said in Part III, since those organizations weren't asking for state funds/tax incentives, kennie's comparison was meaningless.

Now, I want to address this from another angle, can a vegetarian be a butcher?

I know, it seems like a really tangential thing to consider, but look at the question.  Can someone who butchers, cuts, packages, and sells meat be a vegetarian?  The answer should be an obvious 'Yes' and an equally obvious follow-on 'but why would they want to'.  The 'yes' is because there is nothing that says a butcher has to eat meat to be able to do their job.  The follow-on is really because it's challenging to see a vegetarian even wanting such a job.  I know a number of vegetarians and I cannot imagine any of them wanting to handle raw meat.  One of them gets nauseous watching the scene in Rocky where he's punching slabs of beef and any myths in Mythbusters that use a pig carcass really grosses her out.  In fact the one where they put the pig carcass in a deep-sea diver suit and . . . never mind . . . if you haven't seen the episode it's really cool . . . apparently unless you are a vegetarian.

There is the thing that I think little kennie fails to realize, his discriminatory practices let him avoid hiring anyone for any position who doesn't already believe his particular brand of kool-aid.  But the real question is why would anyone who didn't already believe as he does want to work there?  His belief set would probably discourage people who didn't share it from wanting to work there, as I am sure not being an atheist might discourage people from wanting to work for the Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU)  or the American Atheists.  While the law doesn't allow the atheist groups to discriminate, it does allow kennie to discriminate because he's a non-profit religious organization.  Actually I take part of that back.  I am pretty sure not being an atheist might discourage people from applying to the American Atheist organization, but it might not discourage folks from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  I mean responsible theists might have an equal interest in the separation of Church and State, right?  That's more conceivable than a non-atheist wanting to work for an atheist organization or a non-Evangelical Christian pseudo-biblical literalist wanting to work for kennie.  OK, back to the topic at hand.

I would think that kennie should be more worried about getting qualified people to work for his organizations, but that's not kennie's way.  He wants to first make sure of their 'religious reliability' and any other skills they bring to the table seems to be a distant second.  Is such legal discrimination really necessary?  If he needed someone of my skills -- should my disagreement with his religious beliefs be an issue for either of us?  Makes me wonder if kennie follows the old Soviet Union policy of appointing political commissars to oversee military officers to insure their political reliability?  Interesting comparison, don't you think?  Anyone know if one of the additional duties in kennie's places of business is that of 'religious commissar'?  Probably not, but I wouldn't be surprised if anyone voiced opposition to kennie what the result would be.  You might think it far-fetched, but I still remember the warning signs and omnipresent security on my visit to the Creation 'Museum'!

To me this is an example of little kennie using the law to his own end.  I wouldn't want to depend on kennie for my livelihood, but the law makes it legal for kennie not to hire someone like me, regardless of my skills and expertise.

Let's look at another example, can a pacifist work for the Department of Defense (DoD)?  Since the DoD has a great many employees, I am sure some of them would consider themselves pacifists.  So can they apply for a job and be hired?  Certainly!  Would their pacifistic beliefs get them fired?  No, however if they practiced their beliefs in interfering with the mission of the DoD, those actions would probably get them fired.  Right up until the point they started acting in opposition to the mission of the organization, their beliefs were a moot point.

Can a butcher be a vegetarian?  Certainly, and their job would be secure as long as they continued doing their job.  But the second they refuse some aspect of their job because of their vegetarianism, their job would be in jeopardy . . . as it should be.  But it would be in jeopardy NOT because of their vegetarianism, but because they were refusing to do the job for which they were hired.

Remember Nathanial Abraham, the Creationist hired by Woods-Hole Oceanographic as an evolutionary biologist, who after being hired refused to perform something like 90% of his job because he didn't believe in evolution?  Yes, he got fired and sued, claiming religious discrimination, and his many complaints and suits failed to change anything.  He was fired for failing to do his job, not for his religious beliefs.

How about David Coppedge?  A Creationist who was let go during a staff reduction who also sued for religious discrimination and whose suit ended in his being embarrassed.  He could have been fired because he tried to use his job to influence the people around him with his belief set.  But the bottom line is he was let go due to downsizing.

And my favorite -- John Freshwater!  He was fired for his actions, not his beliefs.  His actions included using a electrostatic device to burn student arms with a cross, displaying a Bible and other religious materials in his classroom even after being ordered to remove them, and failing to teach the subject for which he was hired to teach.  Even the US Supreme Court decided his appeal wasn't very appealing.

So the question really becomes SHOULD little kennie be allowed to hire based on people's religious reliability?  I know it's the law, but I think it's a ridiculous law.  When it comes to certain jobs, maybe, but not carte blanche.  A minister certainly should have the belief set of the people he will be ministering, for the most part -- although you could argue against that using military chaplains as a good example.  A fighter pilot should be willing to pull the trigger . . . these are examples of specific jobs where beliefs can impact the performance of the job!  But an accountant or a CAD designer?  What difference does their belief set have in the ability to perform their duties?  That's where I think kennie is stretching his discriminatory hiring practices past the breaking point and maybe it's time to change the law.  I'm sure kennie would say something like he's just protecting people from themselves, after all who would want to join an organization that might make them feel less than welcome or in any way uncomfortable.  I think it should be the individual's choice, not an institutional mandate.  If I am able and willing to do the job, my personal beliefs shouldn't matter -- unless they are central to performing the job!

No one should have the ability to discriminate in job requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to perform the job!  Little kennie should allow the very fact of working for organizations like his ministries discourage would-be job applicants, but he should not be given a license to discriminate!

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