I’ve been a part of a long-running discussion on discrimination this week and I’m surprised how many people either don’t understand what the term means, or are all too willing to simply make exceptions for their favored groups.
I’ll go ahead and spell this out as easily as I can. If you take race, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, indeed anything about the individual’s look, background or preferences, into account in hiring, firing, promotion, membership, grading, scholarships, etc., then you are being discriminatory. It doesn’t matter how you rationalize it, it’s still true. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s illegal to do, or even necessarily wrong to do, it’s still discrimination. I doubt many people would disagree with the policy that only allows girls to join the Girl Scouts. It’s still discriminatory. The same with the Boy Scouts, although they’re traditionally more discriminatory on a lot more factors. I have no problem with the Boy Scouts being restricted to boys and the Girl Scouts being restricted to girls, or the YMCA being restricted to men and the YWCA restricted to women, so long as these are private organizations that do not receive government money or preferential treatment.
The problem is, a lot of people seem to think that the only people who can discriminate are white males and everyone else can do whatever they want, but you can never call them racists or sexists or whatever. The idea that “these people were victimized in the past so now, they get to victimize other people” is idiotic. If discrimination was wrong when group A did it, it’s still wrong when group B does it, whether they were the victims of group A’s discrimination or not. You cannot solve a wrong by committing another wrong and it doesn’t matter what that wrong is. Affirmative action programs are wrong. They artificially require that people from a once-discriminated-against class get extra rights and privileges so that they can achieve equity. It sets up quotas and confuses the equality of opportunity with the equality of outcome. Here’s a newsflash for people, 100% equal outcome is a logical impossibility unless you’re going to have someone standing there with a clipboard rejecting people for not fitting the necessary mix of social factors. Black? Check! Female? Check! Not handicapped… ahem… handicapable? Bzzzt, go somewhere else, you don’t fit the profile. Next!
While it should be really obvious that this kind of thing doesn’t work, there are a lot of people who cling to the absurd idea that it’s the only thing they ought to support. They don’t allow for people to self-select what they want to do. More men than women are drawn to work in some of the hard sciences. This is a fact. It may be genetic, it may be cultural, but it is undeniably true. Why would we want to force women into a field of study that they have no interest in studying, just to make the numbers artificially equal? By the same token, more women then men take to hobbies like needlework and scrapbooking. Do we have to round up men and force them to engage in these hobbies so everything is equal?
Where does it end? Do we task the TSA, while they’re groping your genitals, with making sure that every flight has the correct mix of race, religion, gender and preference? “We have room for 2 more people on this flight, they must be gay, half-black, half-eskimo, left-handed and one has to limp. We’re not leaving until we find those people!”
Is this really the kind of world we want to live in? Just when are people going to recognize the absurdity of discrimination on any scale? We can do better and we should.