I don’t know whether it’s because of talking to Dutch people in The Netherlands, recently reading Richard Dawkins, or the preposterous accusations of institutional racism against my previous employer, but I’ve been thinking a lot about “Equality and Diversity” recently.
It could be because when got a taxi to the airport, my taxi driver told me that he felt so sick and sleepy because of the Ramadan fast that he was worried that he would crash.
That got me thinking. Would it be “religious discrimination” if I refused to travel with a fasting driver? There’s no way that I’d get into a vehicle with a drunk driver, or one who was driving dangerously because he was talking on his mobile all the time. A legal difference is that it’s possible to verify blood/alcohol levels, where as it’s not possible to do a test for “weak and hungry”. But I see no moral difference: all are choosing to do something that potentially endangers me.
Discriminating against someone because of their religion, like disability, race or sexual discrimination, is a no-no in today’s Equality and Diversity industry. But why? It’s obviously unfair to discriminate against things that people can’t control, like the colour of their skin, disabilities or sexuality. But religion is a lifestyle choice. No-one is born into a religion and (in the free West) a particular religion is forced on no-one. And if someone chooses a certain lifestyle, why should that be legally protected? Certainly, one’s right to choose is a legal right that I absolutely uphold—but why should the results of that choice have any legal or moral privilege?
Being gay, or female, or of a certain ethnicity has no bearing on your ability to do a job. Being disabled may, but employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments because people don’t choose to be disabled. However, some people’s ability to do their jobs can be compromised by their religious choices. My wife was refused a morning-after pill by a doctor whose religion forbade family planning. Why should that doctor be allowed to foist her religious views onto a patient—a patient whose taxes pay her salary?
In fact, why should anyone’s religious beliefs be respected? If you are a jew who
will not shake hands with a woman because she might be menstruating and therefore “unclean” believes that a menstruating woman is “unclean”, why should it be discriminatory if I decided not to employ you if you display such misogyny to female colleagues or customers?
If you are a hindu who believes christians and muslims should be killed, or a christian who thinks it’s legitimate to murder abortion workers, why shouldn’t I openly treat your views with contempt?
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