Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The luxury of bigotry

Matt Walsh claims that businesses should be allowed to discriminate against gay people. In his blog, he sticks up for those poor, persecuted Christian business owners who refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings because that’s akin to being forced to partake in the honeymoon. Clearly, these businesses are so flush with cash that they can afford to micromanage the moral tracks of their edibles. As least as far as gay stuff.

I don’t own a business, but if I did, I imagine I’d be too focused on making quality products and a decent profit to fret over who was doing the consuming — or, more specifically, what they do in the bedroom when they’re not preoccupied with my product. Sure, I wouldn’t want to sell to people intending to do harm — or harm anyone myself in the interest of the bottom line — but worrying what activities my pancakes (that’s apparently what I serve in this scenario) fuel would be too much of a drain. In short, it’s bad business.

That’s not to say businesses can’t take a stand. Indeed, there are times when it’s acceptable to deny service. Some examples include people who endanger the safety of others and customers known to skip out on the check. Also, groups that actively trade in hate and discrimination and intend to do so in your confines.

Did you note who’s not on that list? Gays. Racial minorities. Religious minorities. Women. Just to name four. Discrimination of people based on what they are is bigotry. It’s not on par with any legit reason businesses exercise discretion. And — I can’t stress this point enough — bigotry is not just another view in the marketplace of ideas.

Bigotry is a luxury, both in a financial and a literal sense. Businesses that actively discriminate this way are in a position of privilege, either real or imagined. They are perfectly fine with losing not only the business of the discriminated, but also any other business due to boycott. At best, they’ll solidify a customer base of like-minded narrow minds. At worst, they’ll go down proudly in the name of the hate. Either way, privilege allows that. No one truly invested in the success of their venture (and who faces dire consequences if it fails) is going to take that risk.

Virtually every one of these privileged businesses is white-owned. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. White Americans won this country before it was founded, and continue to revel in the jackpot every day. We have so many privileges that we’ve lost track of how good we have it. Even our hardships are relatively benign, because we still get to be white while dealing with them.

Despite this (or because of it), white people (especially Christians) are constantly looking down at others, and on the sides for phantom predators. Many see any advancement by a minority as a threat to their hegemony. They see granting equal rights as “special rights,” because they think certain rights should be special. It’s all ridiculous, of course, because whites aren’t about to lose “their” country. But even if it did happen (and would it be so bad if it did?), I doubt anyone would treat the whites as badly as the whites treated everyone else. Because those other groups, unlike whites, know what that feels like.

Bigotry is a luxury of people with so little sense of genuine repression that they have to invent reasons to hate others and, from thin air, fabricate a sense of persecution. Their gripes come not from loss of freedom, but from the loss of freedom to deny others freedom. There’s a marked difference between the two. Don’t be so privileged that you don’t see it.

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