Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
What constitutes discrimination?

By regeya in Op-Ed
Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:25:00 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

In my years of schooling, I was required, as are most U.S. citizens, to study U.S. and world history. Recurring themes in history classes is oppression and discrimination. The questions of oppression, discrimination and minorities become more interesting, however, when one discusses a democracy.


What is a minority? What is oppression? What is discrimination?

Rather than defining these terms myself, I will consult Webster's New School and Office Dictionary.

Minority - the smallest number: opposed to majority; the state of being a minor.

Oppress - to burden; crush by hardship or severity; lie heavily upon.

Oppression - the act of oppressing; state of being oppressed; hardship; calamity; injustice; lassitude; dullness.

Oppressive - unreasonably burdensome; unjustly severe; tyrannical; overpowering; heavy.

Discriminate - to observe or mark the differences between; select: to make a difference or distinction.

There are several examples throughout history of oppression in many parts of the world. Jews working as slaves for the Egyptians for 4000 years. Africans held working as slaves in North America. Even more recent, the mass herding and genocides of Jews and homosexuals by the Nazis, the most recent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Several other unfortunate examples of the dark side of human nature abound.

While those examples are easily defined as oppressive behavior to a minority, where does one draw the line between actual oppression and the rights of the majority? It's a question that's been wrestled with, and will continue to be wrestled with, in the United States and in countries around the world.

A somewhat personal example comes from my wife's high school graduation. The school administration was going to have the traditional prayer at the beginning and end of the graduation ceremony, provided no one objected. The senior class had approximately 300 students in it. In the class were Christians of several different denominations, Muslims, Buddhists, among others. Of the over 300 members of the class, one self-proclaimed atheist objected. The administration decided, to honor her beliefs, to not allow prayer during the ceremony.

Another student took issue with this decision. Having decided he wished his beliefs to be honored, he hired a lawyer and went to court. The case went on for months. The judge made the decision that the school board had made a proper decision considering the fact that a minority of the class had voiced disapproval. Further, since this was a public school, the school was not allowed to condone prayer (the liberal interpretation of "separation of church and state.")

Was the school district, and the judge, correct in this case? Perhaps. Because the issue was already on legally shaky ground, this was probably the best course of action. But what of the rights of the students that wished there to be prayer? Were they, or were they not, being discriminated against to prevent discriminatory behavior towards one person?

Where do you draw the line between majority rights and minority rights? Once that line has been drawn, how do you draw the line between what is oppression of a minority, and what is simply a group of people dissatisfied with majority behavior?

There are some cases that are perfectly clear, at least in my opinion. For instance, if an employer unfairly chooses white male employees over minority candidates, clearly indicates discriminatory hiring practices. Certainly lynchings constitute discriminatory behavior. What of a courthouse with the words "In God We Trust" chiseled above entryways? Does that discriminate against minorities? Whom does it discriminate against? Does it discriminate against Buddhists? Perhaps. Does it discriminate against atheists? Perhaps. Would removing it be an act of discrimination against people of Judeo-Christian belief? Perhaps.

What of non-governmental outlets? As a fictitious example, let's say you occasionally pick up Rolling Stone magazine at your local newsstand. You flip through this month's issue and note that some musician is in the magazine whose views you disagree with. Further, you find some poorly-written articles that you feel the editor should have cut from the issue. You write a letter of complaint to the editor. You don't pick up another issue for, let's say, six months, and find that, again, there are musicians being featured that you don't like and articles you feel aren't worthy of publication in Rolling Stone. Have you been unfairly discriminated against?

The main point of I'm trying to make is about the difficulty of determining what constitutes discrimination against a minority, and when the viewpoint of that minority should be taken over the viewpoint of the majority. What makes this difficult is determining what is a legitimate complaint, and what is simply complaining. Once that distinction is made, the difficulty is in learning what action should be taken, if any. In my opinion, in the United States at least, quick fixes to large problems are taken. It's my hope that, in the future, that more intelligent fixes will be chosen over quick fixes in democracies, including Internet-based democracies.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o Also by regeya


Display: Sort:
What constitutes discrimination? | 27 comments (26 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
an idea being popular doesnt make it right (4.71 / 7) (#1)
by rebelcool on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 07:56:56 PM EST

To non-americans, you can skip this americentric post.

in germany, the majority believed jews were the root of their problems after WWI. And we see where that went. The minority must have their rights respected as equally as the majority. In this case, the freedom FROM religion must be respected with as much ferocity as the freedom of religion. The judge was indeed correct, by law and principle. The mix of public school and religion has no place in a society made of dozens of religions. America *is* a melting pot. No favoritism should be given to any group, even if they are the majority. This is what Just Democracy is about, as opposed to pure democracy which takes only the majority into account.

You have ignored another definition of discrimination (taken from dictionary.com)

To make distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit

Thus you can see, discrimination isnt about when people disagree with your opinion. To suggest that is purely for troll effect. Discrimination is denying someone a promotion, job and so on, simply because they are who they are. Because they're jewish, black or gay or any combination among other things.

America was founded with the belief that the minority need a BIG voice that compares to the majority (this is why the electoral system is a *good* thing..america is so large that if we did away with it, only massively populated states such as california, florida and texas would decide elections with little regard to the opinions of smaller states).

All in all, it comes down to one idea that pervades everything in life: Balance. We must balance the rights of the minority with the rights of the majority, and doing our best to keep from swaying too much to any side. Moderation is the key, as it is with everything else.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

sorry (none / 0) (#2)
by regeya on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:12:10 PM EST

Didn't mean to exclude that one--it just wasn't in the dictionary I had, so no, it wasn't for troll effect. I wouldn't care about the subject if it were for troll effect. I actually agree with you, even if you think I don't. I just happen to think that, in more cases, there needs to be a line drawn between what is discrimination and what is not.

I happen to think that it's morally wrong to pass someone over for a promotion simply because of their ethnic background. I happen to think that harassing kids just because they're on a skateboard is also discrimination. But is an editor ignoring a lone reader's opinion discrimination? Harder call. Someone a few days ago posted a story that made a tenuous connection between the rumored demise of kuro5hin and Germany during the 1930's. This is my rebuttal.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

the cases/examples given aren't of discrimination. (none / 0) (#11)
by daniel koo on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:36:16 PM EST

Hi,

I agree with the first poster that just because something is not done with regards to the expectations of the religious people does not mean they are being discriminated against - the prayers had no role in that context so that atheist should not have to sit through it. This is not done through the taking away of their religious rights at all, which you seem to think.

also, the Rolling Stones example you gave was not one of discrimination either: it is simply a matter of opinions which differ, if I understand correctly - the editor does not have to cater to the whims and desires of all those who have plonked down a few bucks for the mag.

a narrow example would be the fact that the Rolling Stones would never review underground Norwegian extreme metal albums :), but that is because the mag specifically caters only to the Rock/Pop crowd.

dan

[ Parent ]
Believe it or not... (none / 0) (#17)
by regeya on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:07:11 AM EST

yes, I've actually seen the extreme Norwegian shit in Rolling Stone. Some of that stuff is pretty fucked up. :-)

Well, actually I'm torn on the graduation prayer issue. Yeah, I can see that someone who's actually offended by the mention of some religion at their graduation ceremony...I don't know, though. My take on life is that to gain respect, one has to give respect. If you go throughout life saying, "I'm atheist, and you Christians/Jews/Buddhists/Shinto/Muslims/whatever are just going to have to get used to the fact that I don't want to hear your crap" you're not going to get respected for that. I should have mentioned that this dear, sweet atheist held protests during the trial. No, nevermind that people of different religions had no problem with a Christian prayer at a non-religious event at a public school; goddamnit, we're not about to have that superstitious shit at MY graduation! Perhaps if she had been a bit more rational about it, she would have had more support. Irregardless, she won, and I'd have to say deservedly so. I just thought it was an interesting question to bring before kuro5hin'ers.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

What rights do minorities deserve? (4.50 / 4) (#3)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:45:41 PM EST

If you hire a black person over a white person, that's discrimination. If you hire an experienced sys-admin over a MCSE just out of boot camp that's discrimination too. However one discrimination may be justified in certain situation while another is not.

If you were hiring an actor to play Martin Luther King then it would be acceptable to discriminate based on the colour of their skin. If you are hiring a sys-admin it would be acceptable to discriminate based on their skills and experience.

In the case of Rolling Stone the discrimination is in my opinion justified. The editor will look at what the Rolling Stone buying market wants. If that conflicts with the wishes of a single reader then too bad.

The greater issue is what rights do minorities have? Well in a society without discrimination everyone would have the same rights regardless of colour, gender, sexual preference etc. It can be argued for example that gays have the same rights as hetrosexuals when it comes to marriage. Both groups are allowed to marry members of the opposite sex. However this does not help those who want to marry members of their own sex.

The point of my article that you mention in the comment below is not that George W. Bush is Hitler or that K5 voters are Nazis or any of the other ridiculous claims that others have suggested I made. It is this.

Gays don't have the right to marry. However if 51% of the population was gay they certainly would have that right.

Pot smokers don't have the right to smoke pot. If 51% of the country smoked pot they would certainly have that right.

If cows could vote we would see the end of factory farming (yes, I do realise that cows will never get the right to vote).

So just because the majority think that gays are evil or drugs are bad or that it's ok to kill for food does that make it right. It depends on if you ask the majority or a gay or a drug user or a cow.

At present, minorities are only given the rights that the majority thinks they deserve. They have to live by whatever standards the majority set. Is this right? And whatv recourse do they have if it isn't?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.

Courts. (none / 0) (#4)
by regeya on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 08:50:40 PM EST

Unfortunately, though, going to court costs money. It's been done in the past, and, while we love to hate the judicial system at times in the U.S., it's served the public good more than not. The judicial system can serve as an overriding factor in these cases.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

hmm (none / 0) (#5)
by Delirium on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:33:12 PM EST

Gays don't have the right to marry. However if 51% of the population was gay they certainly would have that right.

This isn't a black-and-white "if 51% of the population was gay it'd be allowed, and if less than that is it won't be." Not all gay people support homosexual marriages (I know two gay people who oppose them), and not all heterosexual people oppose them (I know quite a lot of straight people who support them).

Pot smokers don't have the right to smoke pot. If 51% of the country smoked pot they would certainly have that right.

Yes. And if 51% of the country were mass murderers that wouldn't be illegal either. (I'm not attempting to compare pot-smoking to mass murdering, just wondering where you are going with this argument, since it could be applied to anything that's illegal.) If cows could vote we would see the end of factory farming (yes, I do realise that cows will never get the right to vote).

The same here. So? If mosquitos could vote we would see the end of citronella candles. If cockroaches could vote we'd see the end of Raid. What exactly is the point here?

[ Parent ]

exactly (none / 0) (#6)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:43:23 PM EST

So how do we decide who gets what rights? Obviously "majority rules" isn't the best way to decide this.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
erm (none / 0) (#8)
by regeya on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:06:11 PM EST

for quite a while, I've seen you grousing about how majority rule doesn't work--yet you offer no solution. Or rather, you seem to be of the opinion that you alone know best how to rule anything and everything. Dictatorships don't work either.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Yes, that is the solution (none / 0) (#12)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 11:36:54 PM EST

Idealy, the solution would be a world where I'm in charge. Obviously that's only the ideal solution for me, for others the worth of that solution varies depending on their agreement with my point of view.

In my original article I mention another solution, anarchy. That way everyone can do what they like and everyone has the obligation to defend their own rights (actually I went into very little detail in that part of the article, probaly one of the parts I could improve).

For any form of government where I'm not in charge, there will always be potential for someone to take away my rights. Unless you are part of the majority, a majority government is no better than a dictatorship.


--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
feh (none / 0) (#14)
by regeya on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:31:26 AM EST

How would an anarchy-based society combat, say, organized crime? I have the same doubts about anarchy that I have about communism...both rely on certain traits that just aren't there. I fear that anarchy would become "survival of the fittest" while true communism relies on honesty.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Combatting crime (none / 0) (#15)
by enterfornone on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:44:42 AM EST

It would probably be left to local communities to combat crime, using lych mobs and vigelante groups. When you think about it anarchy wouldn't be that much different from democracy, just more localised (ie if you were gay you would probably have trouble in a redneck area, but if you were a redneck you wouldn't dare go in a gay bar).

I don't think it would really work. I don't think there is any system that can please everyone absolutely. The closest to the ideal would be something where you can do anything as long as you don't hurt anyone else.



--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
combatting crime (none / 0) (#26)
by mstevens on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 08:52:37 AM EST

I assume in an anarchist society crime would
be combatted by commercial groups one would pay
for the services of, if you had the money and they chose to make such services available.

Whether such services would come into existence is open
to debate, but the possibility exists.

Michael

[ Parent ]
Which Majority? (none / 0) (#25)
by Mad Hughagi on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:29:31 PM EST

I think that the problem with democracy is one of fragmentation. The system itself isn't broken, the people of which it is comprised are. Everyone is out for their own best interests, it's the cumulative personal interests that really decide what is going to be agreed on, not a collective reasoning.

If you look at it from a personal gains point of view, the majority isn't fighting for "the majority proper" - they are fighting for their own influence. The fact that they are of the majority only allows them an avenue for persuing their climb to personal enrichment.

The 51% example is a clear indication of this. If 51% of the population belongs to a special interest group, then they will definately promote the issues which apply directly to them. On the other hand, why is it so difficult for the majority to make a rational decision which doesn't affect them directly in a positive manner? I like to think of it as an automatic "negative vote for an exclusive topic". I think that is where most of society stands. If someone has nothing to gain from a certain movement, then they will surely strike it down as it will allow someone else more freedom or a greater chance to attain power.

The problem with democracy in our current age is that it is a system designed to operate within a society where people hold the furtherment of the society as a whole paramount. Most people nowadays are only looking out for themselves - sure, they pay lip service to their nationalistic tendancies or whatever, but in the end it is just a matter of how well they benefit personally from the current system. Until people can truly appreciate equality and believe in a unified society then I don't think much is going to change with our current system.


HUGHAGI INDUSTRIES

We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

You muck up the issue too much. (4.40 / 5) (#7)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:50:45 PM EST

What is a minority? What is oppression? What is discrimination? Rather than defining these terms myself, I will consult Webster's New School and Office Dictionary.

Wrong move.

Dictionaries are far from politically sophisticated volumes that give answer to questions about society. They're essentially books that have short characterizations of the general usage that is given to a word. By necessity, a dictionary can't be extremely precise about what precisely different words are used to convey in different ocassions.

To approach these issues you need to do real social science, not dictionary definitions-- thus, you need to look at social science books.

"Oppression", "discrimination", "minority", and so on, are in practice used in many different ways, but one can identify fairly simply the relevant senses which you are considering. A fundamental concept one needs to understand in order to get at this is the standard social science concept of insititution-- very roughly put, ways in which people are organized in society, which define roles for them. There are all sorts of institutions-- political, legal, economic, religious, educational, etc.

Discrimination in the relevant sense, roughly, is when an institution is stacked against some person for purely arbitrary reasons. For example, if there were laws that said that hispanics may not own land in California, that would be discrimination-- the political institution unjustifiedly restricts a certain class of people from participating in a certain economic institution, for reasons that have no necessary bearing on those institutions themselves. Also, if a company doesn't hire the most qualified candidate for some position because that person is a woman, this is also discrimination.

Not that the previous sketch has tremendously clarified anything, but at least it points out a basic concept of social sciences which is very relevant.

As a fictitious example, let's say you occasionally pick up Rolling Stone magazine at your local newsstand. You flip through this month's issue and note that some musician is in the magazine whose views you disagree with. Further, you find some poorly-written articles that you feel the editor should have cut from the issue. You write a letter of complaint to the editor. You don't pick up another issue for, let's say, six months, and find that, again, there are musicians being featured that you don't like and articles you feel aren't worthy of publication in Rolling Stone. Have you been unfairly discriminated against?

What would be the institutional role you are being denied in this case? If any, what would be the motive? Is the motive adequate?

What of a courthouse with the words "In God We Trust" chiseled above entryways? Does that discriminate against minorities? Whom does it discriminate against? Does it discriminate against Buddhists? Perhaps. Does it discriminate against atheists? Perhaps. Would removing it be an act of discrimination against people of Judeo-Christian belief? Perhaps.

Again, I think you need to identify which are the particular institutional roles that are being denied, what the motive for the denial thing, and, for something new, the means of the denial.

Separation of church and state essentially means that religious and political institutions should have as little power over each other as possible-- critically, nobody should be denied full access to any role in the political institutions because of religious affiliations, and religious institutions should not be able to use the political institutions to compel other to assume roles within themselves.

I haven't said a word about "minority" or "oppresion", because these concepts are probably less central. For "minority" there is, of course, the numerical sense, but there is also a "group discriminated against" sense. It is obviously this second sense which is invoked when people talk about women as being a minority. There is a third sense one can see, which is that of "non-mainstream ethnic group".

As for "oppression", I'd say its meaning is derivative from that of "discrimination", but with a few qualifications: discrimination tends to refer more to individual occurences, while oppression tends to refer to systematic discrimination of more serious consequence.

--em

Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts! (2.85 / 7) (#9)
by fink on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 10:21:10 PM EST

Bah. Gee, that lasted long. :)

Seems that only the "bad" things in history make it into the books, eh? Same here in .au as everywhere by the sounds of it. Oh well, us humans is a depressing lot.


----

Fine Lines (4.87 / 8) (#13)
by AmberEyes on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:19:04 AM EST

Disclaimer: Lots of questions are raised here. I don't know the answers. Maybe you do. Please don't mod me down because you don't agree with my implied tone - everyone's got a different mindset of how this issue is handled. Besides, then you'd be discriminating against me. ;)


Discrimination is an interesting issue. Most of the comments on this board are pretty interesting, in so much as how the topic is handled. Some of the examples that were given in the posting though, I thought, were not as "real world applicable" as they could have been.

The important thing to realize about discrimination is that it's not all bad. As some people who said it better than I could, if you hire a system adminstrator who knows Unix over one who knows Windows, you have discriminated against the Windows user. But you'd logically do that if your company was running Unix systems.

The fine lines that the issue of discrimination hinges on is where do we define discrimination in regards to human rights? How "far" can we discriminate against a person while still remaining just? You do it all the time in your own lives - maybe you realize it, maybe you don't. It brings up some touchy questions.

For example. Would you hire a blind dentist to give you a root canal, over a dentist with perfect vision? You're discriminating if you choose the one with perfect vision. But you're justified, you say. This is your health you are talking about - you could have serious injury..maybe even die. Sounds fair.

Now, what if you were the dentist. You moved into a town as a startup, and you have to hire a secretary. Since you have pretty heavy competition, you need to make sure your customers get a good first impression when they walk into the door. You have a choice - there are two equally qualified workers, except one has badly shapen, brown teeth, and the other has a perfect smile and white teeth. Which do you choose? You might choose the one with the pretty teeth. Uh oh, you just discriminated against the other, and now you have a lawsuit on your hands. But your reasoning is that since you are a small startup, customer service and first impressions ARE everything, as the case often is. A secretary with perfect teeth and a perfect smile would make the customer think "this is a good place, look at the secretary!", which would be good for your company. Still sounding fair?

Now, what if that dentist office was located in a predominatly white, racist neighborhood that had other dentists that staffed their offices with white workers to bend to that community's "standard"? What would you do if that pretty receptionist you were thinking about hiring just happened to be black, and you had an equally qualified white secretary just fax you her resume? Well, you have to think of the community you're in...right? Uh oh. We're getting into fine lines here....

The question is not so much "How do we stop discrimination?" or "Is discrimination bad?"....it shifts into a new realm of "How justifiable is discrimination if not using it would hurt your image?".

Everything is in some way or another discriminated against. It's a shame this happens, but it's a side effect of the whole "free will" thing. We choose what we want, and how we want it. Sometimes we choose things in regards to how we feel about an issue - sometimes we choose things in regards to how others (such as customers) feel about an issue. And should we really be so lawsuit happy against people who discriminate based on what they feel is best for that company? Should that Windows tech sue "Unix R' Us" because they hired a tech who knew more about Unix than he did? What about the dentist's black secretary?

How do we stop discrimination? Simple. You can't.

Is discrimination bad? Well, that would depend on the situation, right?

How justifiable is discrimination if not using it would hurt your image? Ask the dentist who is packing up his office and leaving because in trying to play friend to all and avoid a lawsuit, he lost his customer's preferrence over someone who has looser morals.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
Just my 2 cents Canadian...(about 1.36 cents US) (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by cadfael on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:55:05 AM EST

I'm somewhere between "Bah" and "Interesting" on this point. The process of supporting the will of the majority is an issue for society to struggle with constantly. Right now, the will of the majority is modified (not RULED) by minorities. Is it modified too much? Usually depends on which side of the issue you are on...

So, one person doesn't like that we are doing X (praying, not praying, running in circles, running around the pool, whatever). The person has a right to be heard in a democracy. The person has a right to be different. The person has a right to be respected, regardless of the will of the rest of the world. The problem is that the person has to respect the wishes of others as well, and this is not currently very popular. Its more acceptable to do things to cater to the vocal minority in society than it is to open dialogue and decide on what is best for the majority.

I have never understood why People X get so worried about Action Y in Situation Z. It even more interesting that they appeal to a court to get their way. Litigation is expensive and time consuming. If you are so offended by the actions of others, open a dialogue, talk to people, but its as important that the other side of any issue be heard. Catering to the whims of the minority is not healthy for society in the long run (in this case, one person complained and trod upon the rights of the others...not that it will matter to many people). Remember, democracy works best when we discuss the course we are taking.



Security
People who get between me and my morning coffee should feel insecure.
IETF RFC on HTCPCP

Minorities? (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by fvw on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 07:39:18 AM EST

Discrimination has nothing to do with minorities. Discrimination is the assuming of a certain characteristic based on a non-related characteristic. IE: I am not allowed to not hire somebody because they are black, unless there is a good reason for needing a white person for the job (you need them to reflect a lot of light or something...). But you can not hire somebody for a job because they are incompetent, which is directly related to the skills needed for the job... I really don't get this whole thing about minorities, why should minorities have special rights?

Social engineering (4.00 / 4) (#19)
by Paul Johnson on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:32:08 AM EST

The key point about minorities is that they are social constructs rather than just statistical categories. Many people still treat "minorities" (in the social sense) as members of out-groups: refuse jobs or promotion, give worse or no service, lower pay etc. Worse yet, many of these behaviours become "social norms" amongst the majorities. Social norms can be very powerful motivators: going against them requires a considerable effort of will even in the lack of any other enforcement mechanism. Once you add enforcement mechanisms (e.g. being called "nigger lover", having the dog poisoned, burning crosses etc) it takes an incrediably strong and committed individual to stand up to it.

Assume that for ethical or pragmatic reasons you want to do something about this. Changing people's beliefs by argument is very hard. Getting them to stand up for unusual beliefs in the face of public hostility is generally impossible. However experience has show that if you can modify people's behaviour then their beliefs tend to realign over time. (Yes, I know you and I don't think like that, but take it from me, everybody else does :-/ ) So the only real way to get people to change is to use a mixture of carrots and sticks to get them to change behaviour and let their beliefs follow in a decade or three.

So here we are: most of the way through this process. Overt racism and sexism is increasingly seen as unacceptable behaviour, and with a bit of luck the social pressures I mentioned above will now start working in our favour. So it now makes sense to ask about the need for certain of the carrots and sticks I mentioned above. We still need to look for explicit discrimination, but Affirmitive Action (aka Positive Discrimination over here) is probably no longer necessary, if it ever was.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

Atheists got beliefs? (2.40 / 5) (#20)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:26:31 AM EST

I thought atheism was a lack of belief. How can an atheist have religious beliefs that need catering to?

Next you'll be saying atheism is really a religion.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
hehe! (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by regeya on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:38:59 AM EST

No joke. I had it explained to me once this way: atheism is the belief that there may or may not be some divine influence on the universe, but since there was no difinitive proof, the atheist would prefer to not believe in a divine influence until proof was given. By that definition, one could loosely term Atheism as a belief system like Christianity or Buddhism. I happen to agree with you, though.

Really, because they had a complaint, they couldn't go forward with it. Because technically (thanks to the U.S. judicial branch; it's not forbidden by the Constitution) the school wasn't allowed to conduct the prayer, they had to have the permission of the students (or at least, that's how it was explained to me.) The party involved was apparently disgusted by the thought of a superstitious ritual at her graduation ceremony.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Not as I see it. (none / 0) (#24)
by pwhysall on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 06:32:46 PM EST

My atheism is a belief in a universe that doesn't have gods, no sir.


--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

That's AGNOSTICISM (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by dto on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:49:11 AM EST

A belief that God does not exist is Atheism. An uncertainty or lack of choice about whether to believe in God (what you two are talking about) is called Agnosticism. That Atheism is a belief system is not news, it does not mean by itself that Atheism somehow contains a contradiction. It is possible to be a belief system without being a religion and it is possible to have a religion without there being a God.
--- @@@ dto@gnu.org @@@ GNU OCTAL @@@ http://www.gnu.org/software/octal
[ Parent ]
What the atheists say atheism is. (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 06:25:51 PM EST

Atheism defined, sort of, right here.

So mod me to oblivion for being so stupid as to take atheists at their word.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]

Back to your point (none / 0) (#27)
by Mr.Mustard on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:01:42 PM EST

Explain how someone that doesn't believe in God can't have a religious belief that would "need catering to."

Atheists can be members of a religion.

Mr.Mustard [ fnord ]
[ Parent ]

What constitutes discrimination? | 27 comments (26 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!