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.