Sunday, March 2, 2014

This Week in Off-Topic: Freedom of Religion Doesn't Mean Freedom to Discriminate

Read it, dorks
Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial SB 1062 bill that would have made discrimination against consumers of a given store on grounds of their sexuality legal. Whether the bill was stricken down because Brewer, who usually skews to the extreme fringe right on social issues, actually believes that the important word in the phrase "gay people" is the second one or whether she felt pressure from outside forces like the National Football League, who threatened to remove future Super Bowls from Arizona, the veto is a victory for human rights.

Supporters of the bill/critics of the veto have vocally said that the bill's rejection is a blow against religious freedom and a violation of the First Amendment, which says government shall not make any laws abridging the practice of a religion. God, I love when people misunderstand the Bill of Rights. Wait, did I write love? I meant to state that people who hide behind The Constitution without knowing what the fucking document says or means make my blood boil. Only a completely biased observer would make the argument that the bill would have defended religious freedom.

Sure, homosexuality is regarded as immoral in many of the major religions as they are situated today, despite the fact that the Bible only really mentions it twice. In one vein, the Book of Leviticus says "laying down with another man" is grounds for execution. That chapter also has provisions against eating shellfish and shaving, two statutes that are followed with all the strictness of a typical New Year's resolution-bound diet by the time Valentine's Day rolls around. The second time was when St. Paul wrote in one of his epistles about how men having lust for other men was pissing him off something fierce, not really anything concrete against gayness. I can't say with any veracity what the Qur'an says about homosexuality though. I can't imagine that it's anything complimentary.

However, even if those tenets were ironclad, believers of whatever fucking religion holds them don't need to have them codified in law in order to follow them. The law of the land allows bigots to hold their bigoted beliefs regarding gays and their lifestyle. That law also allows me to call those bigots out on their bigotry too, because hey, speech is free as long as it's the truth and isn't causing a false panic. Not having a law in place that tells these small-minded and hateful shop owners that they don't have to sell to gay people doesn't even stop them from not selling to gay people if they want to. No law is on the books saying that entrepreneurs have to sell their wares to anyone who inquires about them. Good business practices dictate, however, that all money is good money, and if you don't want to go out of business, you should probably sell your goods and services to anyone who can hand over dat scrilla, yo.

But putting in the laws that gays can be discriminated against without recourse? Now that action is the real violation of the First Amendment. Government shall not make any law abridging free practice of religion, and a metric butt-ton of religions, not to mention atheists who don't believe in God, gods, or religion in the first place, exist that don't care either way what set of genitals a given person is attracted to. Tell me, why should those people have to follow a fucking book that is a guideline for ONE religion, no matter how expansive, splintered, and populous that religion is, when it isn't part of their moral or spiritual guideline?

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written to protect the population at large from such lunacy taking place, no matter how popular or overbearing that lunacy becomes. If people who decided they were defenders of the documents in question had actually read them and understood them on a more scholarly and less biased level, this country would be a far better place.