Thursday, November 8, 2007
The House bill would make it illegal for an employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.”
I think it is fundamentally wrong to fire someone because they are discovered to be homosexual and I think it is foolish for an employer not to hire someone strictly based on their sexual preferences (provided those preferences are practiced with consenting adults). That said, to do either should not be illegal. An employer's money is just that - their money. They should be able to do with that money what they see fit.
But, as Andrew Sullivan points out, not giving these protections to homosexuals isn't really fair:
But every other minority is federally protected from discrimination in employment; it is increasingly a form of prejudice to say that gay people can be fired at will from their jobs just for being who they are.But prejudice in and of itself is not against the law-- nor should it be in the private sector. He does concede that his "libertarian heart is not thrilled by it" -- and rightly so. Just because something isn't "right" is no excuse to make it "illegal."
Let's go back to the law -- "perceived" orientation?
There is a gay couple I know back in my home state of Indiana. One, whom I will refer to as Jim, is a hard-working, responsible, respectful guy -- and a personal friend. The other, I'll call Barry, is a self-absorbed über-diva who has trouble finishing a sentence without calling someone else a "bitch" or a "cunt."
If I owned a business, I would hire Jim in a heartbeat. I wouldn't hire Barry if you paid me.
Now, Barry's work history aside, I have made this decision based on his personality, which is overtly "gay." It is not reflective of gay people at large -- for in my many interactions with gay and straight men I have not met another man like Barry (thankfully) -- but one could not mistake the fact that Barry is gay. If for no other reason, he wouldn't let you forget it.
But Jim makes no secret of his lifestyle either. He openly discusses gay issues, wears modest gay pride jewelry, and yuks it up with the girls at his place of business. His attitude is certainly not "butch" by any stretch of the imagination and a lot of people are not particularly surprised when they find out he's gay.
I could, theoretically, be taken to court for not hiring Barry under this law because I perceived a "gay" personality that affected my decision -- even though I would hire another openly gay man if given the opportunity. While my decision has nothing to do with his sexual preference, I could be forced to prove my fairness in court.
This issue all boils down to the fact that we cannot legislate fair minds. For minorities -- be they black, Asian, gay or whatever -- success comes harder. That is undeniably "unfair" -- but that is the way it is and has been for generations. Only through personal diligence, academic success, and increasing numbers of upstanding citizens from these groups can we lessen the stereotypes and bigotry which still exist all around us.
Furthermore, putting Barry in a job because an otherwise hostile employer fears a lawsuit will only hamper the efforts of gay acceptance because the employer will be forced to "tolerate" him. Toleration and acceptance are NOT the same thing.
President Bush should veto this not because homosexuals don't deserve fair treatment; he should veto this because they DO.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Less than 13% of the arrests made this weekend were for violent crimes, whereas more than a third were arrested for completely voluntary recreational activity (drugs and prostitution).
Violence in the District continued to rise last weekend despite an increase in arrests and police presence during the department's latest "All Hands on Deck" crime-fighting initiative, police data show.
Most available officers were working the streets Friday to Sunday, making 481 arrests, many for minor offenses. Yet the city recorded two homicides, three sexual abuse cases, 31 robberies and 26 assaults over the three days -- a total of 62 violent crimes, compared with 34 for the same three-day stretch last year.
"The numbers aren't looking good," said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), head of the public safety committee. "This says that 'All Hands on Deck' is more about catching law breakers than deterring crime."
Of the 481 arrests, made between 12:01 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Sunday -- the time period for the "All Hands on Deck" effort -- 119 arrests involved drug offenses, 101 were for traffic violations, 58 for disorderly conduct and 43 for prostitution. There was one arrest after a homicide, four in connection with robberies or carjackings, and 15 involving assaults.
Crime is on the rise in the District, with 165 homicides so far this year -- just four fewer than the homicide total for all of 2006.
In a city as violent as this one, you would think that arresting people for the sake of "being tough on crime" should take a back seat to actually concentrating on bringing the violators of others' rights to justice. Instead, however, the police concentrate on "moral" violations which reflect the upstanding nature of this pious capital of ours.
A student group is vowing to sue the Kanawha County Board of Education if the removal of ''Beach Music'' and ''The Prince of Tides'' from two Nitro High School classes is made permanent and expanded countywide.Apparently, the offended parents would rather retard their child's education than let him read about the less pleasant aspects of life:
Parents Ken and Leona Tyree found certain scenes in ''The Prince of Tides'' ''obscene and offensive.'' Leona Tyree said she was unable to finish the book. Their son has since left Shamblin's Advanced Placement literature class.
[Insert cheap West Virginia literacy joke here.]
Neither [of the complaining parents cited] have listed phone numbers.[Insert cheaper West Virginia indoor plumbing joke here.]
The main complaints of the parents revolve around violence, sexual assault and suicide. Which makes one wonder, why would author Pat Conroy write about such horrible things?:
What are they going to ban next? The newspaper?
Conroy referred to the books as ''two of my darlings, which I would place before the altar of God and say, 'Lord, this is how I found the world you made.'''
He said his late father fought in three wars and turned violent on his wife and seven children; his youngest brother committed suicide; a female relative was raped; eight classmates at the Citadel were killed in Vietnam, and his best friend died last summer in a car accident.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Should we reject Judge Mukasey, President Bush has said he would install an acting, caretaker attorney general who could serve for the rest of his term without the advice and consent of the Senate.We all thought it couldn't get worse than Ashcroft, and we were WRONG. Seriously, how bad do you have to be to make John Ashcroft appear to be a brave defender of the Constitution? Gonzales proved the adage that the devil you know is better than the one you don't.
The Dems were in a bad spot here. Either confirm someone imperfect but qualified or get force-fed another Bush lackey. I'll (reluctantly) take Mukasey.
Over at the Kos, of course, they want their cake and eat it too.
Day-after Update: Kos, STILL whining.
Update: Howard Dean in 2004 attracted 318,000 individual donors who donated 454,000 times for a total of almost $40 million. That's approximately ten times Paul's haul in every dimension. True, Dean did not do it in one day. But almost all that money arrived in a single quarter. My conclusion from this is that Ron Paul is actually underperforming his potential. He could probably raise a lot more - and gain many, many more votes - if he dropped the gold standard and New World Order stuff, and ran as a straightforward anti-war leftist. (emphasis mine)Any friend of mine knows I'm no Ron Paul fan, despite his libertarian credentials. But "straightforward anti-war leftist"? Who the hell does Frum think he's kidding? Just because someone isn't a socialist war hawk (a.k.a. NEO-CON) does not make them a leftist.
Frum quickly changed his tune:
I'd guess that he would do much better if he dropped the gold standard stuff, and ran a pure anti-war campaign, spicily seasoned with 9/11 paranoia.Of course Frum would prefer that! If Paul ran as strictly anti-war, it would help continue the charade that the GOP has not completely lost its mind and moorings betraying the mantles of Goldwater and Reagan for a bastardized combination of TR's foreign policy and FDR's domestic policy.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Wearing white T-shirts with red stop signs and chanting “BET does not reflect me, MTV does not reflect me,” protesters have been gathering every Saturday outside the homes of Viacom executives in Washington and New York City. The orderly, mostly black crowds are protesting music videos that they say degrade women, and black and Latino men.Unfortunately, the remedies they propose are probably a bit much:
Among other things the protesters want media companies like Viacom to develop “universal creative standards” for video and music, including prohibitions on some language and images.I, for one, am all for toning-down the 'gangsta' and other ignorant images prevalent in today's pop culture, but I cannot think of any "universal creative standard" which would serve any real purpose. Using the power of protest to show angry disapproval of the status quo on BET is a good thing -- assigning some arbitrary standard of how to portray black people is quite another.
That said, the protests, as some in the article incorrectly conclude, are not censorship. They are perfectly acceptable exercises of 1st Amendment rights to Free Speech and Free Association, just as the rappers have their right to say what they want. The conflict revolves around the over-abundance of airtime businesses have given the latter's messages. Bringing bad publicity and perhaps financial penalties-- through lost revenue, not fines -- can bring changes without involving government standards, which would be censorship.
Just because these protesters and people like me find a lot of the black caricatures on BET and MTV offensive and debasing, does not give anyone other than the owners of the companies the right to remove that material, no matter how much I believe a lot of that material deserves to be scrapped forever. Censorship, in the true sense, is an affront to the principles of America's founding, regardless of the nature of the material in question.
No one's standards of taste should be enforced by law.