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Is Discrimination Wrong?

DiscriminationBuzzword of the day: discrimination. It’s a word so emotionally and politically charged, that we can’t seem to take a breath and insert logic on the subject. And everyone knows that discriminating against people is wrong. Discrimination is terrible! Discrimination is evil! We must eradicate discrimination!

But is discrimination really all that? Or are we hyperventilating too much of the politically correct air surrounding us to think clearly? In answer to the first question, I say, “No way!” (I might have said, “No way, Jose!” But I’m pretty sure someone would have called me a racist.)

Let’s start with the definition of discrimination:

Discrimination: differentiate, distinguish, draw a distinction, tell the difference, tell apart; separate, separate the sheep from the goats, separate the wheat from the chaff

Discrimination isn’t inherently bad or good. It depends on the application.

I love artichokes but I really hate fruitcake. That’s discrimination. When specified, most people realize they tolerate discrimination of this kind all day long. But when pressed, the argument will often become, “Well, it’s OK to discriminate about things, but not about people.”

Is that a reasonable position?

We’d probably agree that you shouldn’t discriminate friends based on skin color. But would it be wrong to be discriminating (about anything!) when choosing a spouse?

It simply stands to reason that there are appropriate times to discriminate with regards to people. For example, is it acceptable to base discrimination on the actual behavior of people?

While the level of tolerance will vary widely, everyone will have limits with regard to what kind of behavior they will allow in their own home. In other words, we’d all discriminate against particular people based on their behavior.

What about religious or values differences? Should you hate someone who is of a difference religious/values persuasion? I’d say of course not. Should you consider it when marrying? I’d say of course.

When I was dating with marriage in mind, I had a number of gay friends, but I didn’t consider them as prospective marriage partners. Discrimination? Sure. Wrong? I don’t think so.

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Pardonthedust August 29, 2011, 11:17 pm

    Americans are so concerned with being politically correct that we’ve stopped using your heads. Even more, we are concerned with looking “cool” or “with it” and won’t ever say anything against establishment propaganda.

    Thanks for having the guts to speak up to foolishness.

  • Progressiveish August 30, 2011, 8:49 am

    I think the problem is that most people don’t really know what discrimination is. They think it is just about not liking blacks or not liking women or something.

    When I want to go grab a drink after work I discriminate (in the true meaning of the word) against women. I only go with men. Maybe that makes some people mad, but it makes my wife happy.<:-)

  • jimmy September 1, 2011, 12:57 pm

    for someone who wrote an entire post on “does gender matter” and “serving on the sidelines”, your sense of irony seems to be working well.

  • Caroline September 1, 2011, 3:15 pm

    That is SUCH a good point. I’ve been so bombarded with statements against discrimination that I never took time to THINK about it. BAD on me! Thanks for making me THINK.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 1, 2011, 3:29 pm

    Pardonthedust, I agree. IMO the single most common tactic of the progressive movement is finger-pointing and name-calling. I keep wondering why we have turned into elementary school kids on the playground, trying not to be singled out by the bully. All they have to do is yell, “Racist!” or “Homophobe!” or “Idiot!” or “Tea Bagger!” and instead of laughing at the stupidity, conservatives tend to get tangled up in knots trying to disprove the ad hominem.

    Progressives need to grow up and create a logical argument to defend their position. For once.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 1, 2011, 3:29 pm

    Progressiveish, for the sake of your wife, I’m glad you’ve turned into a raving sexist. ;D

  • Alison Moore Smith September 1, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Jimmy, ironic only if you haven’t actually read the posts. :) But feel free to elaborate, if you are able.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 1, 2011, 3:31 pm

    Caroline, I think that’s common to many people. A similar issues is the unconditional cry for diversity. I plan to post on that in a few days.

    Thanks for stopping by again!

  • Anna September 6, 2011, 1:45 pm

    I think we should just take it easy as the word “descrimination” now has the political meaning and we use it too often to relax and be tolerant to the people around us.

  • SuzyQ September 12, 2011, 12:22 pm

    I had a conversation about “prejudice” the other day that reminds me a lot of your blog post. I think that there are appropriate outlets for discrimination… such as when I ask for help about reaching the flour on the top shelf, I appropriately choose the tallest in the room. Note that some discrimination is based on merit, and some are completely based on untrue, irrational stereotypes of a group of people.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 12, 2011, 1:09 pm

    SuzyQ, thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right. Given that discrimination is sometimes warranted, our real job isn’t to stamp out discrimination, but to determine when it is acceptable. We need to figure out when the discrimination is, as you say, based on those untrue stereotypes.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • Leah September 15, 2011, 1:01 pm

    When you put it this way, it makes a lot of sense that not ALL discrimination is a bad thing. Of course there are certain instances when it is necessary, like the example you gave about dating and marriage… I think the problem lies in the connotation that comes with the word, not its actual definition!

  • Matt February 16, 2012, 2:39 pm

    I think the whole discrimination issue is flawed. People will discriminate that is part of human nature. When we feel that we are better than someone because of color or more specifically we are racist, there en lies a problem.

  • Jon Victor April 27, 2012, 8:28 am

    Well yes, I agree on the point that it is okay to discriminate things but not people. People is the sensitive part. However, the last paragraph of yours did made me to think a bit that not every discrimination is wrong. That was a good point and an example. :)
    Jon Victor recently posted…What Is The Secret Law Of Attraction?My Profile

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