Monday, 30 March 2015


Advisory:  Controversial subject ahead.  If this isn't your cup of tea, please feel free to sit this one out until something more up your street comes along.


Did you know that, in Scotland, a shop can refuse to sell you any of its goods for any or no reason at all?  Just because they're offering an item (or service) for sale, they're not legally obliged to accept your offer to purchase it.  I think it may be the same in the rest of Britain, but I'm not 100% sure.  However, unless the law has been changed recently and nobody told me, that's the way things are.

At times I've tried to buy an item on display in a shop, only to be told I can't have it because it's the last one and needed for display purposes.  "Why display something that you don't have to sell?  Why not sell me that one, then put another on dis-play when you get more in?  Otherwise, you're going to be pestered by folk trying to buy something that you don't have, and waste time explaining why they can't have it."

My words usually fell on deaf ears though, mainly because the staff were simply too lazy to disturb their display in order to make a sale.  Madness or what?  The point I'm making however is that shops are allowed to discriminate in this way and there's not lot that you or I can legally do about.  And that's the point of this particular post, people - discrimination.

Discrimination is a neutral word;  you can either discriminate in favour of someone or against them - whether it's positive or negative depends on its context.  And we all discriminate to some degree or other all the time, whether it's refusing to sell alcohol to a drunk in an Off-licence or pub, or simply because we don't like someone's attitude or the mere look of them.

There was a case in Britain somewhere (might even have been Scotland) not that long ago, where the proprietors of a Bed & Breakfast establishment refused to rent a double-room to a gay couple, as homosexuality is against the proprietors' religious beliefs.  The gay couple were offered rooms, but not a double-room.  Now, whatever you or I might think of this attitude, whether we regard it as bad business practice, small-minded, prudish, ridiculous, or whatever, if your place of work is also your home, shouldn't you be allowed to set the rules of behaviour for guests, however much others may object to them?

You have a choice, you see.  If you don't like the way someone conducts their business, you're free to go elsewhere.  Or you can bite the bullet and observe the 'rules of the house'.  You have the freedom to take your custom elsewhere, and they have the freedom to refuse your custom if they so wish.  In this particular instance, I think the courts found against the B&B when the couple sought redress for offended feelings, although, given the law as it applies to similar situations when a business declines to accept an offer to buy goods or services on sale, there seems to be a double-standard operating in the court's ruling.

(Just as an aside, if a prostitute declined to 'entertain' someone on the grounds of the would-be patron's ethnicity or gender, would they be liable to prosecution under the same principle as above?  I'll let the lawyers work that one out.)

Anyway, as some (if not most) of you will know, the State of Indiana recently passed 'religious freedom' leglisation that is intended to ensure that if, for example, you're a minister, priest, rabbi, or devout religious person, you cannot be compelled to conduct/facilitate/indulge a gay wedding ceremony (for example) that goes against your religious beliefs.  As with most legislation, there are probably ways in which this can be applied in instances where it wasn't intended or envisioned.  The law can always be misused by those determined to do so.

However, whatever you may think of someone's religious beliefs, is it unreasonable to allow them the freedom not to participate in something with which they disagree?  To ensure that they can't be compelled to participate, in fact.  (Okay, I know that we run the risk of new religions popping up, where their adherents claim it's against their beliefs to pay taxes, and part of their faith to take as many drugs as they can get their hands on, but let's keep things manageable at this stage.)

Here's what TONY ISABELLA (a comicbook writer, for those not in the know) had to say about the matter on his blog recently:

"I just made a very painful decision.  Because the governor of Indiana and its state legislature have come down on the side of bigotry and discrimination, I cancelled what would have been my first convention appearance in that state in a decade or three.  Sometimes a writer has to walk the walk.

I will have more to say on this in the near future."

Now, I freely admit that I'm taking the new legislation (which many states in the U.S. have adopted) at face value, based on cursory reading on the internet, but ignoring for the moment any ways in which it can be misused or abused, the basic core of this legislation (the principle on which it's based) is simply to ensure that you can't, by law, be compelled to participate or facilitate something which goes against the tenets of your religion or conscience.  (Within reason, I would hope.)

Here's the comment I made on Mr. Isabella's blog:

"Is it bigotry or discrimination though?  If people who don't support or endorse a certain kind of lifestyle don't want to cater to it (which is I suppose what you're referring to), surely they shouldn't be compelled to if it's against their beliefs, religious or otherwise.  Isn't that freedom?  Bigotry often appears to be too handy a word to describe anyone with a different opinion.  The world is full of people who don't see things the same as us - on a variety of topics.  Should we refuse to be served at our local supermarket by the guy who has a different view to us on something?"

And here's Mr. Isabella's response:

"I'm calling complete and utter bullshit on your comments, Kid.  What Indiana is doing is clearly bigotry and is clearly discrimination.  A business does not have the right to refuse service to a customer because of the customer's sexual orientation.  The one and only places where these faux-Christian bigots gets to discriminate are in their homes and their churches.  A customer can choose not to patronize a business for any damn reason they want.  A business cannot choose to deny service to someone because they are gay or black or even a ridiculous right-wing asshole.  That's how America works.  If your next response is to complain that I am intolerant of intolerance, don't bother.  I'm a grumpy old man who doesn't have patience for such nonsense."

I replied, pointing out the same things I mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this post, so to avoid repetition, I'll skip past them.  I opened my response thus:

"Well, I was actually asking a question more than making any kind of a statement, in an attempt to understand your point of view.  (Skips.)  However, I think you're perhaps missing the point slightly, if you don't mind me being so respectfully bold.  Obviously, if you see something one way and someone else sees it another way, there is always going to be disagreement.  If it's against your beliefs (again, religious or otherwise), and you just cannot se any sense to their point of view, then it will seem unreasonable to you.  (And vice-versa in the case of the person you oppose.)  It's a bit like Algebra, which is a total mystery to me.  However, just because I can't comprehend it, I wouldn't say it was bullsh*t.  That's because I'm smart enough to know that I'm not smart enough to understand everything.

To me, 'bigotry' is usually accompanied by hatred - total and unreasoning.  We now live (mainly) in a society where people of a different sexual orientation are no longer persecuted or prosecuted, villified, abused or shunned.  (We'll forget the Westboro Babtist Church for the moment.)  That's because we practice tolerance, even when a thing might be something with which we disagree.  That disagreement in itself does not constitute bigotry 'though (in my view).  However, in some cases, although people are prepared to tolerate certain views or behaviour, they may feel that, in all good conscience, they cannot themselves become involved in sanctioning it by doing something that furthers that with which they disagree.

Now, perhaps I misunderstand what's going on in the state of Indiana, but it appears to me that the legislation only protects people from being forced to participate in something they (politely, non-violently, perhaps even usually silently) oppose.  That's what freedom is, surely?  People not being forced to do something which is against their conscience.  Isn't that the American way?  So if you're gay you can get married (you'll always find someone who will oblige you in a diverse society), but if the notion sits uncomfortably with you if you're a priest, minister or rabbi (or whatever) you can't be forced to do some- thing that isn't in accord with your beliefs.  Whether or not those beliefs seem sensible or not to others is another discussion.

Incidentally, I'm also a grumpy old man, but I believe in trying to be polite, even in the face of seeming hostility for expressing a point of view with which others might not agree.

Pax Vobiscum."

Mr. Isabella responded thus:

"That was your last say on this, Kid.  All you've done is try and make excuses for bigotry and discrimination.  If you know anything about me or my work, you know I have little patience for such.  Your future comments on this matter will not be approved for publication."

Knowing that it wouldn't be published, I sought to address what I saw as Mr. Isabella's misperception.

"Nope, that's not what I've tried to do at all.  What I've tried to do is explain to you that what you see as bigotry and discrimination is what others may see as religious or personal freedom.  There's always at least two sides to every situation and just because you (or anyone) doesn't, can't, or won't see the other side's point of view on any given matter, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're bigots, homophobes, @ssholes or scum.  However, it's your blog and you can publish what you like, but I'd appreciate you not characterising my comments as something they're not.  Thank you.  I'll probably be addressing this topic and your attitude to it on my own blog, seeing as how you have no patience or respect for any view that isn't in accord with your own.  Unreasoning hatred of another's point of view, eh?  Sounds pretty much like bigotry to me."

(Or at least something just as ugly.)  Mr. Isabella saw fit to reply:

"I gave Kid - Why do guys like him never actually sign their comments? - one more minute of his fifteen minutes so that you can read his implied threat of - yawn - exposing me as a bigot.  I think I can stand on my record of supporting equal rights and inclusion.  Heck, my record is a public record on account of I actually sign my name to my comments and columns.

I make no apology for limiting Kid's further appearances in the comments.  He's had his unconvincing say.  I see no benefit in allowing him to say the same thing over and over again.  Let him post what he wants on his own blog.  If worried about that sort of thing, I wouldn't write what I write."

I objected to Mr. Isabella misrepresenting my comment, and said so in a reply that will doubtless never see print:

"Actually, Kid's my longtime nickname, and the name I worked under when I was a full-time comics contributor (IPC, Marvel) for 15 years.  As anyone can find out (along with my surname) by clicking on my avatar.  So once again you distort the reality of the situation in your unreasoning hatred of those with a different opinion to yours.  And there was no 'implied threat' to expose you as a bigot on my blog.  (Whatever you are is plain for all to see on your own site.)  I was merely advising your readers and yourself that I would cover the topic on my blog and correct your misrepresentations."

Now, I'm not interested in changing anyone's mind on the matter.  All that concerns me is that people should be allowed to hold and express a dissenting point of view without being called names over it, or characterised as a backward, unthinking, primitive savage whose opinion is motivated or inspired by unreasoning hatred  of another group of people.  Admittedly, I'm kind of fed up of society being battered & bullied into submission by vocal minorities who aren't satisfied with us tolerating them, and who seemingly won't be happy 'til the rest of society is re-modelled in their image to accommodate their  likes and dislikes over everyone else.  (For example, lesbian couples insisting that the words 'mother' and 'father' be removed from an NHS booklet on childbirth because it made them feel excluded.  And their demands were met.)

It's a shame that Mr. Isabella prefers to portray anyone with a different opinion to him in such a negative light all the time, but I suppose it's easier than accepting the possibility that the other side may just have a point after all, and addressing the actual topic.  Those who seek to dismiss dissent by demonising their opponents (on whichever side of the divide) clearly have no reasoned argument to offer, and are no better or wiser than the folk they look down on.

I believe I'm a reasonable man.  Read the above comments again, and tell me where you see hostility, rudeness, and a lack of respect or consideration for the other guy's point of view.

I don't think it's mine.


(UPDATE:)  Mr. Isabella has now added this comment on his blog:

"I had a bad feeling about "Kid" from his first post and I regret giving him any kind of a forum at all.  The more I learn about him...

However, I will not be approving any further comments by him or about him.  He's not worth further discussion." 

Given that a frequent detractor of mine has just joined Mr. Isabella's blog, I think it's fairly safe to assume the source of at least part of the one-sided misinformation obviously supplied to him regarding myself.  Why, any more of this sort of thing and I may start to believe I'm important in some way.  After all, why else would a few hecklers be so determined to do me down?  Carrying a grudge bordering on the obsessional, perhaps?

As for Mr. Isabella, for one who is usually so rudely outspoken in his attacks on those he disagrees with (which seems to be every second person in America if many of his previous posts are any indication), his sullen response appears to prove the truth of a commonly held perception - namely, bullies don't like being stood up to.

However, just to show there's no hard feelings, let's all wish him luck in his next 'vast accumulation of stuff' garage sale.  Excelsior!


Paul McScotty -Muir said...

On the overall issue here I think Mr Isabella was being exceptionally dismissive and very rude. And keep in view I base that on the fact I probably agree more with Mr Isabella's viewpoint more than (perhaps) your own, as my personal opinion is that sexual orientation is a core component of a person's identity which requires fulfilment through relationships with others of the same orientation ( straight or gay) as long as it is within the law of course . Whilst I don't understand same sex attraction( (and why should I) I have no problems at all with it and I am also happy to hear constructive reason as to why others (perhaps yourself) have other opinions as long as they are not bigoted and no your comments were to me not bigoted or aggressive etc.

I think the issues you were raising (as to other rights in these cases not just the rights of the "minority" groups ) is a very complex one, for example in the case re the gay couple not being given a room ( which were in was in England -Cornwall and Berkshire) - the reason given( in the Cornwall case) by the hotel owners was that as Christians they didn't believe in sex before marriage however they then added later ( which was probably the main reason) they disagreed with same sex couples ( both hotels lost the court case) - But taking their (so called) initial concerns as being an issue should they or anyone be allowed to reject straight couples (let alone gay couples) who are not married because of their beliefs? I would certainly say no way ( not being married myself but in a relationship to a lady - just in case anyone wondered) so it shows how complex this is and why (imho) you need one rule agreed by parliament of non discrimination if in the service industry against race, religion sexual orientation etc). Then again to muddle that idea up there is a Sharia law hotel in London that has decided not to sell alcohol or pork products due to their religious beliefs is that ok , well to me it is (I don't crave a pint & a bacon sandwich that often nowadays) and incidentally that hotel said it would allow gay couples (although I doubt any would gay couple would want to chance staying there) but where would it all stop!?

Kid said...

I can always rely on you for a thoughtful, well-considered answer, McScotty - regardless of whether you agree with me or not. The main point I was trying to make on Mr. Isabella's blog was that things are always bigger than we imagine, and merely to insultingly dismiss another person's point of view doesn't really help matters. Tolerance works both ways, and both sides need to exercise it, even 'though they may be diametrically opposed. Thanks for taking the time to answer, birthday boy.

Colin Jones said...

But if you're religious it seems you can pick and choose what to be offended by - the Bible says eating pork or bacon is an abomination and so is eating anything from the sea without fins or scales - so eating cockles and mussels at the seaside is an abomination unto the Lord. Also you're unclean if you're not circumcised and a divorced woman who marries again is an adulteress if her former husband is still living. The gospel of Matthew says "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" but I never see any of these pious religious types condemning the obscene wealth concentrated into the hands of a tiny minority. The anti gay marriage campaign was led by former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey who warned we'd all be committing bestiality before too long if the legislation succeeded (!!!) but he doesn't say a single word about the obscenity of food banks in 21st Century Britain or the growing wealth chasm. Those religious people who are "offended" by homosexuality are very selective about what offends them it seems.

Kid said...

I don't think picking and choosing what to be offended by is restricted to religious people, CJ - that's an over-simplification. You also have to distinguish between the Old and New Testaments, the Old being for Jews, and the New being for everyone. If you were a Gentile, it didn't really matter whether you were circumcised or not. Also, there was a good reason for considering some foods 'unclean' in those days. Without the more sophisticated cooking methods of modern days, some foods were dangerous. And I've heard modern day religious leaders denounce the obscenity of extreme wealth and poverty, etc., so it seems you're being selective in what you allow yourself to hear in regard to religion, CJ. And it's not just religious people who are offended by homosexuality, although society is so inured to it nowadays that they really don't give a rat's @rse about it. This has allowed some sections, in the absence of a more vocal opposition, to interpret it as approval and acceptance.

Now, you're not going to pull your comment just because you may not like my answer, are you, CJ? I put a lot of thought into it. Let's have a civilised chat about it instead. At least I allow people to express their point of view without calling them names, eh?

Colin Jones said...

Kid, I don't think the Old Testament is just "for the Jews" - and it's a verse in Exodus where the condemnation of homosexuality comes from. Foods being unclean had nothing to do with cooking methods rather a bizarre rule about whether it had hooves or chewed the cud - pigs didn't chew the cud so were unclean...??? And I didn't say only religious people were homophobic indeed there are plenty of religious people who are not homophobic. Also I know some religious people condemn wealth inequality but a lot don't. Organized religion keeps mostly silent on the issue. I know picking and choosing doesn't only apply to religious people but religion is the subject of this post and I repeat that a certain section of the religious are very selective about what they take from the Bible and what they choose to conveniently ignore.

DeadSpiderEye said...

As I understand it, the New Testament covenant gives licence to the gentiles (although 'gentile' is also defined as inclusive of Christians in at least one New Testament context, I'm aware of) to ignore most of the Leviticus, Deuteronomy stuff. Indeed Kid, you're also right about the context for bans on certain food, shellfish would be especially dangerous as would romping between the sheets and playing around with certain areas, that should be left to other purposes. Incidentally, male homosexuality isn't explicitly proscribed in the Old Testament, just practices associated with that condition, a number of other practices not specific to a particular sexuality are also deprecated or proscribed too.

Should people be pestering others to vindicate their own morality and lifestyle? No of course not, it shouldn't even be question that needs asking if you have any respect for personal liberty. Does that principle extend to the patron of a hostelry who refuses entry to unmarried or gay couples? Don't know to be honest, I'm old enough to recall having to sign in as Mr & Mrs, it wasn't such a big deal but neither of us had to drag up to get in. Incidentally, are they still allowed to turn away unmarrieds?

Kid said...

The Old Testament is a Jewish holy book, CJ. At that time, they considered themselves (and still do, I believe) God's chosen people. Christians believe that the New Testament is for Jew and Gentile alike.

On the matter of 'unclean' foods, there's a book called 'None of these Diseases', written by a doctor, who looks at why it was unsafe to eat certain foods back then because of unsophisticated (by modern standards) cooking methods. However they may have justified it at the time, the fact remains that most (if not all) of these 'unclean' foods fall into this category, which seems unlikely to be a coincidence.

If lots of people, religious or otherwise, are homophobic (which is a dismissive word for the purpose of ignoring a different point of view - not everyone who disapproves of homosexuality is 'homophobic'), then there seems little point in identifying them as religious or not.

And I'm afraid that religion isn't the subject of this post, CJ (although you're allowed to talk about it if you want), the subject is discrimination. Anyway, I repeat that everybody, religious or not, is selective about what they take from the Bible (if anything) or any other book (or source) you care to mention, so it's not really much of a point when applied to a book that is open to legitimate interpretation. One has to be selective, because some of it was intended to have a universal application, and some of it was only relevant for the time in (and culture for) which it was written. One needs to know the context.

Not taking a dig, CJ, but you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about religion. Careful, you don't want anyone thinking you're a bigoted religiophobe who discriminates against churches. (Hee hee, Kid made a funny.)


Turning away unmarrieds? I suppose it depends on whether the couple running the B&B or hotel are umarried themselves, DSE. Probably the smart approach is 'don't ask, don't tell'. I suppose some may, and some mayn't, depending on what they believe.

As for the OT, if I remember my Leviticus correctly, it says something like 'a man lying with a man is an abomination' - same thing applies to animals, I believe. If a man lies with a man (or an animal), they should both be stoned. As Frankie Boyle says, "It helps!"

Colin Jones said...

I'm not religious but I'm not anti-religion either - people can do what they like as far as I'm concerned but what does annoy me are fundamentalist hypocrites who cherry-pick whichever bits of the Bible suit their political agenda. And in the New Testament Jesus condemns the Pharisees and the Saducees as hypocrites - people who make a great show of their faith without believing any of it - he could have been talking about today's Christian fundamentalists.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Just noticed an error in my post Kid, (yeah I know that's not exactly novel) but I meant to say that -gentile- is defined as a citizen of Rome or Greece who is neither a Jew or Christian, in context I can't recall at the moment, probably Letters or Galatians, something like that. The -lay with a man he may a woman- thing is what I meant by not being explicit but if I recall correctly some manuscript has been interpreted in a more literal fashion, which I feel not a suitable subject to cite directly here. I admit, I'm delving into my distant recollection here, it's a long while since I was serious about the bible.

Anonymous said...

Too late at night to work out how the 'Choose Identity' validation thing works... Hi. I'm new here.
I disagree with you, Kid, but respect your right to express your opinion politely & reasonably.
I disagree specifically because homosexuality is not a choice, & discriminating against something they didn't choose doesn't sound reasonable to me (Also, I work in a shop in England, and AFAIK I can refuse to sell anything I like to anyone. I'd be daft to lose a sale & annoy people, but I'm assured I'm allowed to).

Kid said...

I'd agree with that to a large extent, CJ, but we have to avoid the mistake of thinking that people in a particular group are all the same. I'm sure that there are many Christian fundamentalists who, despite whatever we may think of their beliefs, are thoroughly decent people. On the other hand, many are not. Such is life. Look at Dolce & Gabbana for example. Despite their unwise reference to 'synthetic' children, they seem to believe that the traditional family model is best. This demonstrates that, even amongst the homosexual community, there is a wide difference of opinion on gay marriage and adoption. (And why wouldn't there be? There is in every other group.) It's when people start categorising everyone within a particular group as 'the same', that they're in danger of becoming the bigots they're accused of being.


Not to worry, DSE, it was an interesting comment anyway, and you conveyed the gist of what you meant to say. (You can tell me the naughty bits some other time.)


And you're perfectly entitled to disagree with me, Anon. I don't publish posts to seek validation for my views, merely to express myself. Best thing to do if you make a future contribution is just pick a name for yourself and type it at the end of your comment. That way, I don't get different Anons mixed up.

I have to say that I think there's still debate on whether homosexuality is a result of nature or nurture. It may be a bit of both in some cases, and either one or the other in others. Personally, I feel that sexual responses can be shaped and acquired, depending on one's circumstances, experience or environment. And besides, people's impulses don't define them - it's the choices they make in how they respond to those impulses.

However, it's probably too big a subject to do full justice to on a blog, so I'm sure you won't mind if we both respec the other's opinion, even if we disagree with it. Thanks for commenting.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I think to be fair to CJ he may be referring to Tony Isabella's blog where Mr Isabella mentions on his Blog that the Indiana State had just passed a law which he states allows discrimination in the name of religion by claiming it protects “religious liberty,” etc.

The King James Bible has two major sections the Old Testament and the New Testament that are both for Christians and is used in part to confirm that God in the OT said a messiah would come (Jesus) so it all needs to be read to be in context in the Bible for Christian although the New Testament is our (Christian) main book of course. Technically Kid is right as well as the " Old Testament" ("OT") in the Bible is the Christian (and sometimes mistranslated) version of the Hebrew religious book called the Tanakh (ie "Old Testament") and the Torah is the religious part of this book (which is the first five chapters of the"OT" ie the books of Moses).

Of course fundamentalism has changed a lot since its initial inception in the 19th century when protestants in UK & USA were against modern theologians misinterpretation or outright rejection of certain doctrine , fundamentalism is of course now deemed as violent intolerance and worse (ISA etc)

Kid said...

Y'know, I may do another post, McScotty, wherein I pose the question of whether it's fair that a religious person takes a job in which he or she is likely to encounter a situation which could compromise his or her religious convictions, and then put pressure on his employer to accommodate them. That's a topic I'd like to explore. Don't worry about, CJ - he knows I'm only funning with him.

Fundamentalism certainly poses risks - depending, of course, on exactly what a particular set of fundamentalists believe. Big subject, eh?

Graham said...

I try really hard to keep my political and religious views out of my posts on my blog and on Facebook. Usually, people are not going to change anyone's opinions about either and you just end up getting mad. That being said, I used to visit Mr. Isabella's site frequently, but was turned off by how unhinged he would become at someone who had a different opinion than his. I didn't think anything that you said should be taken as offensive or insulting and gave him no reason to fly off the handle. Used to be that people could have different opinions and agree to disagree but those days are fading fast in the rear view mirror.

Kid said...

Funnily enough, Graham, I became a member of his blog a couple of years ago, but very soon cancelled for the same reason you state. The abusive tone he took in castigating anyone who didn't agree with him sat ill-at-ease with me. Me, who's renowned for being abusive, aggressive, insulting, etc. (That is if you believe some of my detractors - not that there's many - and what few there are seem to be cast in Mr. Isabella's mould.) Having said that, he did seem to be more restrained than usual, so perhaps he realises he sometimes goes too far.

Too often nowadays, it seems that if you express a different opinion, you're called a 'troll' for it. Saves having to address the issue, I suppose.

Sam said...

Sorry Kid I think you are in the wrong when you say not everyone who dislikes homosexuality is homophobic. That's kind of like saying not everyone who dislikes a racial minority is racist. You can't defend bigotry without becoming a bigot. Bigotry is indefensible.

TC said...

Once again, the people who consider themselves "tolerant" and "liberal" (or "progressive") are uninterested in having any kind of rational debate or discussion. If you express an alternate viewpoint, they start hurling the usual epithets instead of addressing the actual point that you were trying to make.

Isabella says that a business has no right to deny service to a customer, but that a customer has the right to refuse to patronize a business. He offers no logical justification for that double standard. Political correctness is largely an attitude of, "My group is entitled to whatever we want, whenever we want it, and other groups are obligated to provide it, no matter what."

In some cases, I can condone requiring service providers to serve everyone without discrimination. Government agencies have a monopoly in their jurisdiction. For example, a city only has one fire department. If your house in New York City is on fire, and the FDNY refuses to respond to your 911 phone call, your house is going to burn down. You can't shop around for another fire department.

Similarly, a person having a heart attack needs immediate medical treatment. If he is refused admission to a hospital, he is not in a position to shop around for another one.

But, IMO, a private business, that is not a monopoly, and that provides non-essential services, has a right to discriminate for any reason it chooses. And the customers have a right to take their business elsewhere. Having to shop around for a different bakery or wedding photographer, or having to settle for a civil ceremony instead of a fancy church wedding, is just not the same thing as being refused admission to an emergency room.

It's also interesting that it's always Christian churches and Christian-owned businesses that are targeted. You never hear of a gay couple filing a lawsuit against a Muslim mosque for refusing to perform their wedding ceremony. I kind of wish they would. Then the tolerant liberals could take sides in the controversy, and accuse each other of "homophobia" and "Islamophobia."

BTW, while I support shop owners' right to run their business as they choose, I agree that it makes no sense to display an item that is not available for sale.

Kid said...

No need to apologise for politely expressing a view different to my own, Sam. But here's why I think you're mistaken. First of all, I don't think race and homosexuality are equivalent. Race is essentially the way you look, not how you behave. And while your point might have some validity if you were referring to people who hate homosexuals, that's not what we're talking about here. (At least, it's not what I'm talking about.) What we're discussing is a situation where a majority resent situations where a disproportionately vocal minority insist that their lifestyles are catered to (and I'm not talking food) at the expense of others - who essentially have to kow-tow to the wishes of said minority and are forced to deny or abandon their own beliefs and principles.

That's probably over-simplfying the case, but when children are taken from their grandparents and given to gay couples to adopt, or when the words 'mother' and 'father' are removed from NHS booklets because gay couples say it offends and excludes them - well, it's just becoming a little unbalanced in many people's opinion.

Not everyone who is uncomfortable with, or disapproves of, gay marriage or adoption and the growing influence of gay culture in society, hates homosexuals - they just dislike them insisting on everyone else having to kiss their ring, so to speak (no double-entendre intended). That doesn't necessarily make them homophobic.

And I'm certainly not defending bigotry, whatever Mr. Isabella may claim. What I'm defending is the right of someone to have a different point of view without being called a bigot for it, just because someone doesn't agree with that point of view.


Once again, TC, I'd say you've hit the nail right on the head - and done it so concisely and intelligently that I wish I'd said it. ("You will, Oscar, you will!")

What more can we say? Some people just seem to use their blogs for pushing their own point of view, without being willing to discuss the matter with those who respond to them. Could it be they realise that they don't have a reasonable answer and that's why they resort to shouting people down?

In most of the possible scenarios that people opposed to the new legislation are up in arms about, no one is going to know who is or isn't a homosexual, so it's never going to be an issue anyway. It's just another attempt to bully others into accepting their point of view, it seems to me in most cases.

The tail truly wags the dog, eh?

Phil said...

I'm not an expert. But from my reading, it's a civil rights thing. You know about Brown vs. Board of education which ruled that schools had to desegregate. The Civil Rights act also ruled equal treatment including for all businesses that do interstate commerce, including restaurants and hotels. This is covered in the commerce clause of the constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3).
Obviously your example is not a good one, as you are not a historically discriminated minority and the vendor is not refusing to sell to you based on your race.
I'm having a harder time finding out how it went from regulating interstate commerce to, say all businesses that deal with the public (meaning not a private club. For instance golf clubs and churches can discriminate because you are not a member). I know it is in the law and people have sued all the time and lost if they want to discriminate based on race, sex and religion. Sexual orientation is not a protected class but obviously it can be if it's a minority historically discriminated against. Some states have these protections some do not.

So anyway to summarize...because you're not having a right taken away from you (you're not losing money, you're making money) and it's a minority that has suffered greviously, you cannot discriminate if you serve the public.
Exceptions to this are always being adjudicated in court. A black baker cannot be forced to bake a cake for the KKK because it's not his usual course of business and the KKK is not a protected group. In fact depending on the state, gay couples may be denied service at a bakery if there are no protections for them in that state.

Remember Tony Isabella is Filipino and probably has suffered racial discrimination in the past. He probably has a short temper when it comes to arguing for your right to not serve people.

John Pitt said...

Apologies to all the commenters, haven't read them yet. So this response is just to Kid.
What it all boils down to is whose feelings do we sympathise with the most? A same sex couple or ( equally as important ) those of law-abiding people who, for whatever reasons, feel uncomfortable about same sex relationships being forced to do something against their will?
Personally, I am STRONGLY in favour of gay marriage. But, I am equally strongly against innocent people (not criminals) being forced to do something they feel strongly against, against their will. Both sides are of EQUAL importance and the only solution I can see is compromise.
But, in this instance, the more you have played devil's advocate, and the harder you have tried to get across the fact that there might just be an equally important other side to the arguement, the angrier this has made Tony and the trouble with losing your temperis that you then refuse to listen to reason. We all spout rubbish when we are angry and that is what has happened here with Tony accusing you of bigotry.
I think his response should have been more along the lines of, "I acknowledge that there is another side to this, but I've still got to give my support to the side I have chosen."

John Pitt said...

Oh, I now wish I HAD read the comments first!
( Hope he reads it! )

Joe S. Walker said...

As usual with Tony Isabella, the pompous moralising is mixed up with a heavy dose of self-promotion ("In a career that has lasted more than four decades, I have tried to bring greater diversity and tolerance into my work and my industry..." etc etc). The only people who might go to a comic con because he was there are his creditors.

Vince & Siv said...

"If you know anything about me and my work".....I'm not sure if referencing "It! The living Colossus" is going to add too much to the debate. Just trying to lighten the mood here a touch!

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I don't think Tony helped his case by not detailing what the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" in Indiana that he objects to is all about - maybe he didn't need to as it was well publicised recently in the news (as it has a lot of group objecting to it including the Disciples of Christ and some major employers etc ). Although he does seem to be a bit of a "hot head " he is still due his opinions as are you Kid (and its good you have noted that clearly here, for me that's the only thing Tony hasn't done and he should have)

Regarding TCs comments that it is " always Christian churches and Christian-owned businesses that are targeted" well that simply isn't true (and only 2 Hotels in UK have been "targeted" in the UK so lets get this into proportion) -it is the case of course that Christian are more vocal and fell more at "risk" e gay marriage as Christians make up the bulk of the religious community in the UK by a country mile but I noted the case of the Bermondsey Square Hotel in London ( a Muslim hotel) that was going to be taken to court for its supposed discrimination on not allowing gay couples to stay, but they clearly noted that they would accept non married straight couples and gay couples (they only went Halal) . In Luton a school girl lost her case to wear the religious clothing ( the ankle-length jilbab gown) and similarly in all of France women are not allowed this either - to date very few Muslim gay couple have applied to have a gay marriage ( or nikah as they call it) but to my surprise it has happened but I doubt it happens officially - Personally I have no issue with a hotel stating clearly it is Christian (etc) and having a big badge stating that they have their "rules" that apply to it if that's what they want (the one in Cornwall had to close as folk cancelled bookings based it seems on the fact most customers were not married straight couples and took the owners at their word )

What we don't want with all this nonsense is the situation that could happen re a case pending in Northern Ireland where a gay couple wanted a cake baked that had representations of the Sesame St characters Bert and Ernie on it with the slogan "Support Gay Rights" (now the bakery is a Christian bakery -ok its NI lets leave that one alone for now) but this could affect everyone and force Muslim bakers to print a picture of their prophet or non religious printers to print pro religious material (although I doubt that would be an issue ) etc So to me it is all about being tolerant seeing both sides and not picking one and thinking your particular viewpoint is in the right its all about common sense and compromise.

Cheers for the birthdays wishes John not until Saturday though but thanks

John Pitt said...

Hey guys, I recently tried that on a different blog and it didn't work! - It backfired on me and I became the new villain of the blog!
Never again!

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

LoL brilliant comment by "Vince and Amp" gave me a wee chuckle :)

Kid said...

I'd say that my example is perhaps better than it at first might appear to you, Phil, because the point I was making is that if a business can already refuse to accept your custom for any or no reason whatsoever, that sort of negates the act you speak of. You see the problem? And not serving people is not a right I'm looking for beyond not forcing a minister to marry a gay couple if he feels that doing so would compromise his beliefs. Not selling a newspaper to a gay person because you don't like them is a different matter 'though.

On the matter of discrimination, no one has a monopoly on that experience 'though, have they? Do you know that I've had English shops refuse to take my money because I'm Scottish? Well, sort of. You see, apparently Scottish money isn't regarded as legal tender in England (even 'though the Bank of England accepts it), so if you're a Scot trying to spend a pound in England, you're liable to get a knockback.

As for Mr. Isabella, I'm not sure that his impatience and temper deserve a free pass just because he MAY have experienced discrimination in the past. We all have, as I said, in some form or other. It seems to me to be a simple case of S.A.M. - small angry man syndrome. And I'm less than impressed with him now that he's allowing someone to falsely malign me on his blog.


Now if only Mr. Isabella had responded with such grace, charm and tact as you did, JP, we could all have been spared listening to me bleat on about it. At least it's resulted in an interesting discussion (covering both sides) on this blog, which is not something Mr. Isabella seems interested in doing on his own, sadly.


Joe, I see he's not long pulled his association with Stan Lee out of the hat, as if somehow to say "Hey, I'm Stan's pal so I can't be all that bad." He'd have to be twice the writer he is now to be half the writer Stan was then. Not even in the same league - but then, who is? And sticking the word 'Black' in front of a couple of minor characters' names hardly qualifies as any great feat in the 'diversity and tolerance' stakes, in my view.


And it's very much appreciated, V&S. By the way,I'll be putting up that art later today as a special treat.


Now, I don't want to appear patronising, but isn't it good to have this sort of intelligent discussion and try to understand things better? This could have occurred over on Mr. Isabella's blog if he wasn't so intolerant of other people's opinions that differ to his own.

McScotty, could that situation in Northern Ireland have had something to do with the gay couple wanting to use someone else's copyrighted characters to endorse gay rights? Perhaps the copyright owners wouldn't have minded, but they (the bakery) could have been hit with a lawsuit. From a business point of view, it's perhaps wiser to accept any work going (after all, if a printer only accepted work which agreed with his own view of things, he'd be knocking back a helluva lot of work), but if it gnaws at their (the baker's) conscience, maybe they just felt that they had to take a stand over the invasion of overt gay culture into mainstream society. Who's right, who's wrong? Dunno, to be honest - I sort of see both sides of the debate.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I never thought if the NI issue being copyright rleate - the issue I read was the NI bakers were Christians and had no issue doing a cake for the gay couple but rejected the idea of endorsing "Gay Rights" on the cake - the court case would mean that if they were to do it by law (the bakers) then what is to stop someone asking a Muslim to do a cake with their prophet on it of for you to do a page of art endorsing something you disagreed with etc if as a business by law you had to do this (within the law of course) - just one of the many grey to black areas under this subject - its been a realy good thread with lost of interesting / intelligent comments but I will sign off now from this one.

Kid said...

Yes, that's an important point, and it's potential difficulties like this that are worth exploring in an attempt to avoid them actually happening. Too bad that more people can't see that it's better to consider the issue, rather than just shout the other side down. Thanks for your interesting contribution, McS. And of course, that goes for CJ, JP, DSE, Phil, V&S, Joe, TC, Sam and Graham (and anybody else I've missed).

Kid said...

Take a look at this anonymous comment, folks. 'No guts, no glory' is my usual attitude to such clearly biased remarks, but I'll address it on this occasion.

"Mr. Isabella (a highly respected comics writer of many years) has the entitlement to explain on his blog why he has pulled out of a convention."

Yes, he certainly has. No disagreement there. And by having a comments section, he's obviously inviting feedback from his readers on that decision. Unless of course, it's only so that people can tell him how highly respected he thinks he is. To continue...

"You do not have the entitlement to go onto his blog to pick an argument with him."

Also agreed - IF that had been my intention. However, the tone and content of my comments disproves your erroneous assumption (or malicious assertion?). By the same token do you not see the irony of your remark, given that you seem to think you're entitled to come on my blog to malign me?

"I am commenting anonymously because I have no desire to become the latest named-and-shamed member of a list of people you believe have wronged you that apparently stretches back to your schooldays."

Well, it's probably true that you're trying to avoid being shamed - even 'though you deserve to be for misrepresenting the facts. However, the real reason is because you're a coward who obviously does't want people to know that you're simply exploiting an opportunity to pursue a grudge.

(And, of course, there's not even the slightest chance that anyone's ever 'wronged' me, is there? Like you, for example, by distorting events into your own fanciful misinterpretation of them.)

Silly, silly, silly. Some folk just don't think things through, do they?

See? I don't just publish the good ones.

John Pitt said...

As a recent recipient of Anonymous heckling, I believe if someone wishes to address you personally, they should have the guts to give themselves a name.The fact that they hide shows them up for what they are.
I may well have posted some shit myself, but I do so under my own name and people can judge me anyway they like. It's their right.

Kid said...

It's interesting to note that Lew Stringer has just joined Tony Isabella's blog. I think that's a bit of a clue as to who may have been stoking the fires behind the scenes.

Barry Pearl said...

Dear kid,

You are wrong about this law. And I am disappointed on many levels.

I have long disagreed with you are your views about gay people, we had a tough discussion a long time ago on this. But his is not as much about gays (we discussed that) but about LAW.

You are totally wrong on U.S. law and Indiana’s.. You state that about this law that “many states in the U.S. have adopted.” This is not true. Show me!!!! This is what the governor is promoting today, even saying Presidents signed on, but it is not true. States have laws with the same “title” but not the same rules. Period. Please show me a similar law. And please tell me that you read this one.

Discrimination is not a neutral word, that’s your take. The word is usually used in a negative context. Even the OED: “The making of distinctions prejudicial to people of a different race or colour from oneself; racial discrimination.”

You may live in a country where people are allowed to ‘discriminate” and that is one more reason I like living here. Frankly, we had “Jim Crow” laws that allowed this until about 1965. The government cured this, so to speak, by giving universal civil rights to everyone.

You are “agreeing” with the garbage the governor is trying to sell NOW!. This law prevents any punitive action against people who discriminate for ANY reason so long as they can tie it to “religion.” For example, a druggist may refuse to sell contraception to unmarred people, or even married people. And they may be the only drug store in town. And it isn’t that a baker has the right to refuse a gay couple request for a wedding cake, but they can refuse to serve gay people bread. The retailer would have the right to determine the “sexuality” of the couple. Gay marriages may be legal in that state, but a government employee can refuse to issue a license? You say people can always find someone. This is baloney. Certainly you can find another priest (where is anyone forcing a priest to do a gay marriage?) But town clerks, judges etc are public employees. They get paid to preform, legal government services. What is a clerk decides that he feels it’s against his religion to marry a catholic to a Jew? Of course, a religious Muslim would have the right not to serve woman in his store. Again, this law took away the right to sue.

“Admittedly, I'm kind of fed up of society being battered and bullied into submission by vocal minorities who aren't satisfied with us tolerating them” what the hell are you talking about? Minorities here are denied jobs, housing, schools and have been given lower pay. Accommodation of people with different needs is not submission, it is what our government is supposed to do.

In our Declaration of Independence against Great Britain we wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And guess what? We have a constitution, the basis for all our laws. And what does it say in its 14th Amendment? The government cannot “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Kid said...

Barry, we're buddies, so perhaps I should make this clear due to the limitations of conveying tone and mood in a typed comment before I reply. Everything I am about to write is meant and expressed in a friendly way, so don't be misled by what might seem lacking a light-hearted touch. I have nothing but a warm regard for you and I respect your views. Look, I'm even publishing them 'though they disagree with me - not something that all other blog owners allow.

Now, I'm going to leave your comment for others to read and perhaps respond to while I sit and have something to eat. However, you're just so wrong in many of your assertions and assumptions that I feel you're responding with your heart, rather than your head.

I'll address every one of your points when I return, promise.

Kid said...

Okay, Barry, fasten your seatbelt, here we go.

That discussion may have been tough for you, but not for me. To my mind, we were like two pals having a casual chat in a pub, and I enthusiastically warmed to the theme, but you seemed to regard it as a stern lecture, delivered in a po-faced, dogmatic manner by a frothing-at-the-mouth, fire-and-brimstone preacher.

As for my alleged misunderstanding of U.S. law, I can only go by what I read, and many Americans regard the legislation as the same as what Clinton and Obama introduced in other states. In fact, a friend of mine who has lived in America for close to 30 years and is back home for the moment, said the same thing to me today. If there's such a difference of opinion on its interpretation amongst you Yanks, how on earth are we Limeys supposed to understand it?

However, for the purpose of defending my point of view, I'm not convinced that it much matters, because I've been arguing my case from my own understanding of the legislation, not the diverse interpretations, fears, misunderstandings, imaginings, etc., of anyone else. Once you Americans can decide exactly what the legislation means, let the rest of us know, willya?

I've already stated that I was taking the legislation at face value, based on a cursory reading on the internet, and that I was ignoring any ways in which it could be misued or abused - as all laws can be. Anti-terrorism laws in Britain are being misused in all sorts of ways, but they weren't intended to be - nor was it anticipated that they would be when they were introduced.

So my point is (and I've already stated it), that although there are many ways in which your legislation may well be abused, I don't think that possibility (or even likelihood) was the reason for its introduction.

McScotty gave a brilliant example of what I think lay behind its reasoning, and it's this. Let's say you're a Muslim baker and a guy comes into your shop and asks you to bake a cake with an image of Mohammed on it. It's against one of the chief tenets of your religion, right, so you say "Sorry, I can't do that!" Should you be compelled by law to bake that cake because the customer thinks you're imposing your beliefs (or at least the result of them) on him? Regardless of how silly the customer may think your beliefs are, does he have the right of recourse to the law to insist that you bow to his demands? Of course not! However, Having said that, I don't think a Muslim baker has the right to insist that those who don't share his beliefs (non-Muslim) shouldn't be allowed to bake their own cake with an image of anyone, prophet or not.

Honestly, Barry, if you'd bothered to read the other comments, you'd have seen how unnecessaty your comment is. They've already been considered and dealt with.

Taking a break for some light libation, back soon.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

As you know like Barry, we do not agree on certain issues (gay rights, the Independence issue in Scotland and more importantly that UK Marvel was still great after 2 1 /12 years not just 1 year) but I am always happy to hear other viewpoints of course. I would add that whilst I agree with Barry I think a lot of th eissue on discrimination were addressed in the replies on this thread already.

However in relation to this US law ((I think it is called the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" the "RFRA") in Indiana I have to agree with Barry and although I haven't read about it in great detail what I have read it seems draconian to say the least. It was recently discussed on BBC 24 and the last I heard was that the Governor (I think his name is Mike Pence) who introduced this act is now scrambling around to try to fix the laws as it has been roundly condemned not only by LGBT groups (as you would expect) but also by major employers and even religious groups in Indiana and the wider USA -When these disparate groups say there is an issue I think you have to sit up and take note in these cases. Traditionally, these RFRA laws (as Barry says this is a name used for a similar law but it varies throughout the US in all the States and this particular Indiana "version" is broader than the federal law and differs from the other state laws in significant ways) were actually used to protect religious minorities but it seems this bill in effect hands over power almost completely r to employers , service providers ,, landlords, and business owners to deny employment, housing, and service to LGBT and it seems minority groups ( Jews etc), based on their religious views (directly or even indirectly) even where there are local laws (ie city, county type laws etc) that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation , race and gender identity with no or limited recourse to these groups. That is dangerous for anyone who agrees with democracy and no offence to US religious groups but some (not all) are " back-crack" crazy.

I think this US issue is very different from what he have in the UK where religious groups are saying they no longer have any protection if anything goes against them - but again this isn't 100% the case as this is covered in the UK (and is a UK law ie not just legal under Scots Law or English Law) under our Equality Act 2010 where the decision was made based on whether or not refusing the room to a gay couple was direct and indirect discrimination etc This law also protects religious groups (and others) by stating that " It can be lawful to have specific rules or arrangements in place, as long as they can be justified"

Kid said...

Okay, let's continue. You're wrong about the word 'discriminate', Barry - it can be used either way (and in other ways), which essentially means that it's 'neutral' (in a sense) and that context determines meaning. The Free Dictionary defines it as "To make a clear distinction; distinguish: discriminate among the options available."

Moving on, the stushie over this is a fuss about nothing in many ways. I'm led to believe from an earlier comment that, even in America (maybe not all states, dunno), a shopkeeper can refuse to serve anyone for any or no reason whatsoever. That essentially makes anti-discrimination laws redundant in most cases because, if you don't like homosexuals and even just suspect someone of being one, you could refuse to serve him with no comeback - just as long as you didn't declare it as the reason for not serving him. You could make up any reason you like, or give none at all.

Got to be honest, Barry, you're not doing too well so far in making your point. Most of the objections to the new legislation seem like a knee-jerk reaction to how people fear it may be applied, even 'though 'real' bigots can discriminate against anyone anyway as long as they conceal their motivation.

What the hell am I talking about as regards minorities? Clearly not what you're thinking, which is part of your difficulty. You seem to attach entirely different meanings to things I write that weren't intended. Whether that's your fault or mine, I'll leave for others to decide.

What I WASN'T talking about was ethnic minorities. What I WAS talking about was any small group in society (regardless of age, gender, race, etc.,) who insist on imposing their will on the majority. That's not how democracy is supposed to work, Barry. I reiterate: When lesbians (a very small minority in any society) insist that the words 'mother' and 'father' are deleted from official childbirth publications because they're offended or feel excluded by their use - well, that's utter bloody madness. They should just get over themselves. Now, you answer this question, Barry. Should that small group be allowed to impose such a ridiculous concession to their clearly overdeveloped sensitivities on the rest of us? Give us a break!

Over on Mark Evanier's blog, he mentions that 'religious freedom' is coming to denote some sort of right to force one's religion on others, but he's wrong. It's about allowing religious people to observe their beliefs. Or is it okay to Mr. Evanier that gay groups (or whatever) should be allowed to force their opinions on the rest of society? It cuts both ways you see.

Sorry, Barry, the way you've expressed your views just doesn't stand up to serious scrutiny. And if you'd actually bothered to read the previous comments (which I know you haven't), then you'd have spared everyone the bum-numbing tedium of having to sit through everything again. Most (if not all) of your points had been covered already, buddy.

One last thing. You quote the American constitution at me, Barry but these so-called "unalienable rghts" for all men that it mentions are said to be endowed by their "Creator". As a good number of those objecting to "religious freedom" probably don't believe in the God who's supposed to have granted these rights, don't you see the apparent absurdity of their position?

Phil said...

Kid, discrimination in the US has a long and sordid past. This is where comparisons between the U.S. and UK break down.
You are well aware of segregation. If you were black you couldn't find a hotel. Or food. Or even gasoline to drive out of town. Or even buy a car because no one would sell you one. Or a home to drive to because no broker would do business with you etc.
Such has not been the case in the UK. A Scotsman is not automatically denied service and basically ridden out of town on a rail by Englishmen solely base on his appearance ( unless he has a particularly horrible kilt on).
You know the stories, I'm sure you are familiar.
This is why in the U.S. you aren't allowred to discriminate base on race or religion, which are groups historically oppressed. When it comes to groups which have not been discriminated against, it's a much tougher line of reasoning and is constantly going to court.
If businesses suddenly stopped serving Scotsmen based on their looking at you and saying- you're Scottish I'm not serving you, then we have a problem.
Because while the spirit of the law says cannot discriminate, you can still refuse service- as long as it's not based on discrimination. And Scots are not a group which have been historically denied service.

There is of course a lot of slippery slope arguments and borderline cases. But I have to disagree with you. If a group has been denied service for literally hundreds of years due to prejudice, then you should have to provide equal service to them. If you have to provide a different service, then you have an argument.
For instance, if I run Rebels pork rib joint and Muslims come in, I can refuse service since all I serve is pork.

Remember that the experience in the US is different than the UK.

Kid said...

Phil, I moved your comment down here so that it's not too far removed from my response.

I've pretty much covered your points in my response to Barry (and earlier), but I'll reiterate. If a shopkeeper can refuse to serve you for any or no reason anyway, the anti-discrimination laws can't prevent him from not doing so, just so long as he doesn't openly declare his prejudice. All it takes is "He was acting in a suspicious manner", "He was giving me a dirty look", etc., and he's covered. I agree that people shouldn't be discriminated against - but that includes everyone. So, again using McScotty's example, you shouldn't be allowed to insist that a Muslim baker makes you a cake with a picture of the prophet Mohammed (different spellings, not sure which is the correct one) on it, because then you'd be forcing him to act against his conscience. To do that would be to discriminate against him because of his religion. What I'm saying is that it's a two edged-sword and that it's a more tricky issue than people like Mr. Isabella dognatically assert. In granting someone their freedom (religious or not), you may be denying someone else theirs. That's why I don't think it's helpful or enlightening for one side to simply dismiss the other side as being bigoted. That word can work in both directions. Read TC's comments again - he made some interesting points.


As you've already seen, McScotty, I publish both the 'for and against' comments as long as they're civil. Unlike on some other blogs, which we won't mention, 'cos they're simply looking for comments that agree with them. I think I've said just about everything I can say on this topic - more than once - so I'll let you chat amongst yourselves from this point on, I think.

Phil said...

One final point. The Indiana law would allow any legal person to discriminate based on sexuality. Which includes corporations. This could mean wholesale refusal of services by large companies if the owner were so inclined. In case you're wondering Mars corp (Mars bar!) is privately held. They could, in theory, stop sales to a gay business and force all their subcontractors to stop sales. And if you run a gas station or sweet shop that could be the kiss of death. That's why a lot of people are upset. The federal law doesn't offer that protection. Hotel chains, hospitals etc could just deny service. And we know eventually someone would do so.

That's about all I have left to say on this.

Kid said...

Well, there's still debate going on as to whether it would or not, Phil. And whether the intention of the bill was to enable anyone to discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexuality is still open to question. Depends which source you refer to, because there seems to be no clear consensus. However, intention or not, laws can always be twisted to someone's agenda. If the bill DID inadvertently (or otherwise) enable it to be used in the way you describe, it could cut both ways. Theoretically, a business run by homosexuals could just as easily discriminate against hetrosexuals if they so wished - so it cuts both ways. It would be folly for any business to operate in that way 'though.

Apparently (and again, I can only go by the sources available to me), original (perhaps earlier) versions of the bill arose from an effort to protect Native Americans (that's Red Indians in non PC-speak) at risk of losing their jobs as a result of religious ceremonies that involve an illegal drug, so it appears that it wasn't designed to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their sexuality. The fact that it could possibly be applied in that way (and, again, people are still debating on that) appears to be an unintentional side effect.

As for the case of the baker who declined to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, I'm torn over that. On the one hand I think it's unwise (even silly) for a small business to knock back money; on the other hand I feel he should be allowed to knock back anyone he wants to - for almost any reason - whether it be because he's too busy, doesn't like your face, etc. I'd draw the line at refusing to serve someone on racial grounds, because being black, white, yellow or red is not a matter of faith or religion. If he feels so strongly about it (and it really is a matter of conscience), perhaps he should just have told them he was too busy to accept their order - and thus avoided offending their feelings and facing an upcoming court case.

Presumably, he wouldn't refuse to sell them an ordinary cake or bakery items - just not a wedding cake, on the grounds that he considers gay marriage as being against his religious beliefs and he can't, with a clear conscience, acknowledge its legitimacy. Should he be compelled to participate in facilitating (even in a small way) something which he doesn't believe in? Big question. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

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