Socially Contracted Resistance

I was having a bit of lunch with Dave and I brought up a conundrum I was working on.  The couple in Oregon that possessed a bakery that refused to bake a cake for a gay couple.  I found the ruling against them reprehensible as I firmly believe that, with a few exceptions, the state should not compel the services of a private individual.  Despite it being a significant cultural and semi-religious event, the marriage of any two people is hardly a necessary action requiring legal or medical intervention.  And yet, I find almost all forms of racism or sexism to be incredibly stupid- I simply cannot attach a personal or emotional response to the idea of prejudice being attached to a race or sex purely on the grounds that they are that particular race or sex.  If you’re a hoodlum, whether your black, white, or any other color is irrelevant next to the actions that you, or your group, are taking right now.  Your color or sex did not, in and of itself, make you take actions that would have you designated as a deviant, criminal, or person of low or criminal character.

Yes, I understand that religious training, personal upbringing, sociological conditioning can cause people to associate certain aspects of race or gender with attributes that are considered negative.  However, if you step back from that, the reasoning and evidence do not hold up.  Women can, within physiological norms, be just as capable as men in any traditional role.  Jews are not part of a cabal controlling the world, at least no more so than any other political or religious group.  Blacks are not inherently inferior to whites.  So, to me, the idea of refusing to service an individual or group purely on the basis of their skin color, sexual orientation, etc, makes no sense to me.  From a self-interest perspective, racism and sexism don’t make a lot of economic sense unless you’re attempting to perpetuate a form of control over a population for the purposes of actual gain.  In today’s day and age, I don’t believe that is especially viable in the United States.

And therein lies the conundrum – if I support the right of people to choose, to not be coerced into service, does that weaken my firmly held position on all people being inherently equal.  I fear that if we were able to suddenly repeal all legislation requiring non-discrimination, to remove the yoke of the State, that we would begin to separate ourselves along racial and religious lines again.  I do not believe I would have thought that two to four years ago, but after the election of Presidents Obama and Trump, I have seen a much deeper sexism and racism than I thought existed here.  This conflicts with my deeply held belief that we have an implicit obligation to work to better ourselves and our fellow human beings as much as possible.  As Dave reminded me, there is a difference between legal and moral, and I’m not unaware of the difference.  Right now the State has gathered together increasing power over its citizens to the degree that even the thought of compelling service in support of racial and sexual equality is not enough for me to want to allow them to do it.  Perhaps it is time that we take an apparent step back in order to move ourselves very painfully forward.  And yet, beware that yo do not get what you have asked for…

By Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

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