Sunday, May 09, 2010

Discrimination

This has become one of the dirtiest words in the English language. That is unfortunate, because by demonizing the word we have gone a long way towards destroying any semblance of critical thinking and common sense.

There is of course good discrimination and bad discrimination. What differentiates them is the standards by which the discrimination is done. Obviously there are reasonable standards to discriminate and unreasonable. The reasonable ones should be either functionally based or philosophically based. For example, if I am going to hire someone to do a job, the standards of discrimination should be competence and experience--nothing else. If I am going to choose a version of the Bible to read, the standards for discrimination should be how the translation is done, the text, and accuracy. Not all discrimination is based on functionality or pragmatism, and not all is based on ideology or philosophy.

I say this because I was listening to a British journalist, Melanie Phipps, being interviewed on Wall Street Journal on Fox News. She was trying to explain how a free society can effectively deal with religious extremists without drawing the line at persecuting a religious minority. Of course, she was speaking of Muslims; although there are occasional instances of terrorism by other groups, even those calling themselves Christian, 99.9% of it is done by Muslim. What was clear is that she was having difficulty making that distinction because secularists have lost a vocabulary for discrimination. We are supposed to be tolerant even when it makes no sense.

This is why we had Nidal Hassan in the military, for example.

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