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Another religious accommodation controversy in Minneapolis:

Over the objections of the transit union, Minneapolis transit authorities have exempted a bus driver from operating a bus that carried a large external ad for a gay magazine. The full story is here. Excerpts:

A city bus driver who complained about a gay-themed ad got official permission not to drive any bus that carries that ad, according to an internal memo confirmed Tuesday by Metro Transit.

Transit authorities call it a reasonable accommodation to the driver's religious beliefs.

Amalgamated Transit Unit Local 1005 officials at the bus company say it condones intolerance; besides, drivers never have been excused from other buses carrying ads they found objectionable - from political candidates to pink bras.

Requests for religion-based considerations are increasingly in the news, as workplace observers say more Americans bring their faiths to their jobs. A bank in Otsego, Minn., declares itself to be a Christian bank, for example. Some pharmacists want the right to refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions.

Also, many Muslim taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport refuse to accept passengers who are carrying alcohol.

The ad at the center of the Metro Transit flap is for Lavender, a local magazine for a GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) audience. It runs periodically on 50 city buses and carries a photo of a young man with the slogan, ''Unleash Your Inner Gay.'' . . .

''Our diversity office determined that we could make a simple, reasonable accommodation on religious ground by not assigning her (the driver) to one of the 25 buses - out of 150 - at the Nicollet garage,'' Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons said.

''The decision has nothing to do with the content of the advertisement,'' he said. ''It has everything to do with the employee's religious beliefs.''...

Gibbons has no slippery-slope worries. Future requests will follow the same civil-rights law applied in this case, which says employers must accommodate an employee's religious beliefs unless it brings ''undue business hardship,'' he said.

Michelle Sommers, Local 1005 president, isn't so sure.

''Our union tries to represent all diversity - whether it be religion, cultural, race, sexual orientation, any of that,'' she said. ''And if you start saying this or that ad is inappropriate, you're offending other people, and that can create a difficult environment for people to work in....

Driving a bus doesn't mean you endorse the ads that cover it, Sommers said.

''The company sells ads to make money, and we need that,'' said Sommers. ''But the union does not agree with the decision to allow drivers to pick which bus they drive based on an advertisement.''

As I've written here before, I generally support accommodations for sincere religious objectors, at least where the accommodation can be made at no more than trivial cost to other legitimate public interests. These other public interests include administrative burdens and hardship to the class of people protected by the law (e.g., an antidiscrimination law). I could support an exemption for Catholic Charities of Boston from Massachusetts' antidiscrimination law because nobody could demonstrate that the burden of the exemption on gay couples seeking adoption would be anything more than trivial. I don't count as a more-than-trivial cost the symbolic damage done to the public interest in having everyone comply with the state's command, regardless of their sincere religious objections. As the cost of accommodation rises, my willingness to grant them decreases.

In this case, the public interest would be largely administrative in nature and appears to be no more than trivial in magnitude. If half the force of bus drivers refused to drive these buses, it would be a different case. We have no reason to believe, on the facts we have, that the driver's religious objections are not sincere, or that they are part of an orchestrated campaign to drive gay-themed ads off the city's buses.

But for a generous policy of accommodations to work in a diverse society, we must have some reasonable self-restraint on the part of potential objectors. I have seen the ads in question on buses around Minneapolis. The picture of the young man is not lewd, or even suggestive. It's far less sexual in nature than other ads I've seen on the sides of buses. The gay magazine it advertises is not pornographic; it covers news, arts, and entertainment. Nobody believes that bus drivers endorse the messages or products in the ads on the buses they drive. I doubt that even most religions that condemn homosexual acts would really require that an adherent not drive the bus under these circumstances.

Of course, a driver's particular religious faith may call her not to facilitate or promote in any way behavior regarded as sinful by her religion. Something like that may have been the case here. But again, I think that would be an exceptional position. Potential religious objectors must search their consciences in good faith to ask whether compliance (in this case, driving the bus to which you're assigned) really would violate a religious command to the contrary or whether doing so would simply make them uncomfortable. A policy of accommodation cannot work if objectors insist on a right to be made comfortable. Our society is much too diverse, religiously and otherwise, for that.

Keeping the culture war at a manageable level of conflict requires both sides to make some sacrifices. The state should accommodate religious objectors where the cost of doing so is small. But religious objectors should accommodate state interests where doing so is permissible, and does little more than make them uncomfortable. I am not sure either side is capable of this sort of self-restraint. So many people seem to want to turn up the volume and temperature by using every confrontation as a chance to accuse the other side of prejudice and bad faith. It doesn't have to be that way.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on that Minneapolis bus driver:
  2. Another religious accommodation controversy in Minneapolis:
Houston Lawyer:
It raises interesting first amendment issues when a governmental entity adopts a policy that not all of its employees agree with and then attempts to make the employees endorse (or appear to endorse) the policy. An employee shouldn't be required to wear a button endorsing a policy he doesn't endorse, nor should he be required to wear a uniform with that policy embossed upon it. I believe the issue is one of forced speech, rather than a free exercise question. The bus driver should have the same right if the ad had said "Every abortion stops a beating heart".
10.18.2006 12:06pm
Steve:
Isn't it clear that an ad on the side of a bus is much different from a button or a uniform you have to wear? Literally nobody thinks that the ads on the side of a bus represent the positions of the bus driver.
10.18.2006 12:13pm
NOLA lawyer:

But religious objectors should accommodate state interests where doing so is permissible, and does little more than make them uncomfortable


I think most people think that acting inconsistent with one's religious belief is "sin." The reason for accomodation is that the state doesn't want to force people to sin, when the cost of not doing so is trivial. Feeling like you are committing a sin and acting against your God is a lot different from just feeling "uncomfortable." This is the whole reason the Constitution treats religious beliefs different from secular philisophical ones.
10.18.2006 12:22pm
Davidson Man (mail):
Interesting post, and as a Christian, I struggle with striking the balance you describe. But shouldn't an employer try to accommodate any storngly held beliefs of an employee, irrespective of whether they rest on religious bases? If an employer has even a few employees who do not want to balance their interests with the employer's in good faith, the consequent risk of allegations of discrimination makes most accommodation too costly. Consequently, I usually suggest to friends and clients they decline to make those reasonable accommodations because too often they end up causing more problems than they sovle. Thanks for the nearly always provicative and intersting discussions on the VC.
10.18.2006 12:23pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
There's no distinction to be made here between a religious belief and any other personal principle or philosophy. I am completely with the union on this one.

Suppose a driver requests an exemption from driving a bus with ads depicting black people on them, because the driver is a member of the Aryan Nation? Or a Muslim driver refuses to drive a bus which depicts Jews on it? I once knew a man so bigoted that he wouldn't buy Pampers for his baby boy, because Pampers depicted drawings of white and black babies around the top edge of the diaper. If he were a bus driver, could he refuse to drive busses with ads for Pampers on them?

As another poster pointed out, an ad on the side of the bus is not, by a long shot, the same thing as a button on the lapel. This is not forced speech.

You gloss over the "what if everybody does it" issue by saying that the impact of one driver doing so is not that large. But if it's a right he has, then how is that right lessened simply because everybody else chooses to exercise the right at the same time? This isn't about compelling the driver to miss prayer times or change his vestments; it's simply that he finds the message on the ad offensive. That's not the kind of accomodation to religion we need to make.

What if a gay passenger gets on the bus, carrying a sign proclaiming his homosexuality? Can the driver decline to carry the man and his sign on religious grounds?
10.18.2006 12:35pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
There's no distinction to be made here between a religious belief and any other personal principle or philosophy.


The law says otherwise.
10.18.2006 12:39pm
A Northwestern Law Student:
To me, the most interesting thing about this case is the bizarre stance of the union. Here, management and the employee reached a mutually acceptable solution to the employee's problem -- and the union's unhappy?? Talk about selling out your members. I wonder what the union's position would have been if the city had voluntarily reassigned objecting Muslim drivers from buses carrying advertisements for alcohol. Isn't it pleasant to have employee concerns resolved without resort to the formal grievance process or litigation?
10.18.2006 12:40pm
Rich B. (mail):

Isn't it clear that an ad on the side of a bus is much different from a button or a uniform you have to wear? Literally nobody thinks that the ads on the side of a bus represent the positions of the bus driver.


And as an opponent of these kinds of "reasonable accomodations", I want to keep it that way.

Today, "literally nobody thinks" that the bus driver is pro-gay or anti-gay based on the ads. But what happens when a dozen Christians all ask to not drive the "gay bus" and the Muslim bus-drivers don't want to drive the "Vodka bus" and everyone else is requesting a "reasonable accomodation"?

Suddenly, it becomes known that, if I opposed the "gay lifestyle", I could have asked to be re-assigned. Why didn't I? Now, the conventional wisdom shifts. We all know I could have requested another bus, but I didn't. Does that mean I'm pro-gay? Pro-choice? Pro-life?

Each person who opts out based on a bus billboard burdens every other driver to pay more attention to their bus ads, as the chances increase that they will be perceived to be supporting those viewpoints.
10.18.2006 12:41pm
Grant Gould (mail):
An interesting margin to think about here would be the question of what fraction of its revenue the transit system gets from passengers, advertisers, and the government respectively.

If the bus company got nearly all of its revenue from ads and little or none from passengers or government subsidies, it would be easier to make the case that the bus is really just a mobile billboard, hardly related to passenger travel in more than a token way. In that case, the question of the driver's objections might become more complicated.
10.18.2006 12:44pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
To me, the most interesting thing about this case is the bizarre stance of the union. Here, management and the employee reached a mutually acceptable solution to the employee's problem -- and the union's unhappy?? Talk about selling out your members.


Agreed that struck me as particularly odd as well. If I were a member of her union and read her comments attacking one of the members that she is supposed to be representing, I'm not sure how confident I would be in having her represent my interests.
10.18.2006 12:56pm
RainerK:
I think most people think that acting inconsistent with one's religious belief is "sin."

The driver, about whom I know nothing, other than what I read here, deserves to be believed that he's sincere.
His demand does leave me, however, with the question of how narrowly he tailors the rest of his life according to his religion and where he draws the line. Everybody without exception does that somewhere at least occasionally.
While we can live with a few people placing various demands on the rest of us, I predict if it becomes the rule we will have to institute tests and probe into matters that I'd rather we could leave private. People demanding accomodations of private beliefs should think about whether the price is not higher than the gain.
10.18.2006 1:06pm
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
We had a similar one here in South Africa. A Muslim member of the national cricket team - know as the Proteas - one Hashim Amla duct taped over the small ad on the breast for Castle (a South African beer - part of South African breweries who as it happens now own the US brewer Miller), who have been and are one of the main sponsors for the team.

He was allowed to do this, indeed he now has a specially produced shirt without the ad.
10.18.2006 1:13pm
Helen (mail):
Advertisers purchase ads to run on specific bus routes, and are likely to specify that an ad for a gay-oriented magazine run on the bus route that serves neighborhoods where customers interested in such a publication live. Requesting this exemption could be a way to avoid a "gay neighborhood" and to carry fewer gay passengers.
10.18.2006 1:15pm
Dick King:
I live in California.

Under current law, unions can spend member money on political causes, but individual members can opt out. They can fill out some paperword which is I assume a pain-in-the-butt chore but not truly onerous, and when they do their dues will be reduced by their portion of the political action amount. Six months ago we had a ballot proposition that would have required unions to get opt-in approval for that portion of the union dues that went towards political action. After a campaign where unions spent a hideous amount of their members' funds opposing the measure, it was narrowly rejected -- by something like 49-51, in a very liberal state.

The union in this case opposing the accommodation reached by the individuals involved in the dispute reminds me how big a mistake that rejection was. Yes, the fact pattern doesn't match exactly and the funds the union is spending may even have been pushed out of general union dues, but in my opinion the political steering subgroup of union management will be more in tune with their membership if they needed to get opt-in.

-dk
10.18.2006 1:21pm
AppSocRes (mail):
I agree with those who pointed out the apparent oddity of a union leader attacking a mutually agreeable accomodation between an employer and an employee/union member. But the oddity is only apparent. Union management and leaders very seldom come from the rank and file. Union management are almost invariably upper-middle class (I have been a state employee and was forced to join a union whose president made $250,000 -- 6-7 times the average wage of the rank-and-file -- and owned a racing stable on the side.) and share all the standard shibboleths of this country's intelligentsia, including a fawning love of PC and the dimocrat party. Big Bill Heyward would be organizing AGAINST the unions if he were alive today!!
10.18.2006 1:36pm
whit:
Recently, a muslim who is a Metro Bobbie in London has been exempted from his assignment, which was to guard the Israeli embassy. He siad he could not guard the embassy (he is ON the embassy guard detail with their police dept) because he disagrees with israeli policies.

These cases are getting absurd.

And the Metro Police were CRITICIZED for not recognizing beforehand that it would be an imposition to assign a muslim to this position.

As a cop, I ROUTINELY have to protect people's rights, speech, etc. that I may personally find abhorrent. so what?

Could cops in Skokie Illinois "opt out" of protecting the nazis when they marched there?

of course not.

I realize this "reasonable accomodation" is not much of a problem to implement, but I think it is bad precedent.

Howard Stern swears. So, if my religion objects to profanity, I can refuse to drive the bus with the howard stern advertisement?

This is a bad precedent imo.
10.18.2006 1:53pm
eric (mail):
I live in California.

Under current law, unions can spend member money on political causes, but individual members can opt out. They can fill out some paperword which is I assume a pain-in-the-butt chore but not truly onerous, and when they do their dues will be reduced by their portion of the political action amount. Six months ago we had a ballot proposition that would have required unions to get opt-in approval for that portion of the union dues that went towards political action. After a campaign where unions spent a hideous amount of their members' funds opposing the measure, it was narrowly rejected -- by something like 49-51, in a very liberal state.

The union in this case opposing the accommodation reached by the individuals involved in the dispute reminds me how big a mistake that rejection was. Yes, the fact pattern doesn't match exactly and the funds the union is spending may even have been pushed out of general union dues, but in my opinion the political steering subgroup of union management will be more in tune with their membership if they needed to get opt-in.

See State v. Washington Education Association , 156 Wn.2d 543 (2006) cert granted 2006 U.S. LEXIS 5418 (U.S., Sept. 26, 2006), which held such a law unconstitutional as an undue administrative burden. (Purely political IMHO). Your law might not have held up, but perhaps if there is any media coverage at all of SCOTUS reversing this case, the California initiative might pass and would have to be upheld.
10.18.2006 1:55pm
plad0005:
I think the commenters are overlooking a couple key background issues that have arisen in the Twin Cities metro recently. One, and I believe this was blogged about here, is the protest by airport cab drivers of the muslim faith who refuse to carry passengers that have liquor with them. Due to the fairly large number of muslim cab drivers in the airport taxi pool, this has at times made finding cabs for weary travelers difficult.

Additionally, what is the average run time for an ad on the side of a bus? I don't see how this precedent within this particular employment context would prevent another bus driver who doesn't want to drive a bus with the campaign ad of a candidate or issue position on it? For example, a bus may have a pro-choice ad on it, or a Democratic candidates campaign ad (which in Minneapolis, virtually all of them are). What this could establish if it is continually granted is a greater challenge administratively to staff bus routes effectively to meet demand.
10.18.2006 2:09pm
plunge (mail):
I think this falls under the "what can it hurt" part of the law. If shuffling one bus driver's schedule so that he drives a different bus out of a fleet of otherwise identical buses is all we are talking about, I don't even see how this rises to the level of anyone's interest. It's a minor administrative "make sure things run smoothly" decision not unlike accomodating a bus driver who doesn't want to drive the bus that has an accident insurance ad because he thinks it will jinx him.
10.18.2006 2:13pm
whit:
I think a key difference with the taxi issue is that taxi companies are PRIVATE, and I am assuming this bus is public

I realize taxis are licensed (and obligated to an extent) to carry passengers, but i draw a bright line between PRIVATE business decisions - a taxi might refuse to carry passengers that are poorly dressed, for example, and public accomodations. A bus driver is employed by the public.
10.18.2006 2:15pm
buddingeconomist:
what happened to just allowing employers and employees to work these things out for themselves - i.e. freedom?
10.18.2006 2:29pm
eddiehaskel (mail):
Three points:

If I am a concscientious objector (and do not espouse any particular religious belief), should the government similarly accomodate me if I simply cannot drive a bus that has a recruitment poster located inside?

What about the refusal of a pharmacist to dispense perfectly legal drugs from a public hospital (or a Veteran's Administration hospital) on "religious" grounds?

While I may agree that the bus driver example is trivial in many respects, I do not see where a "principled" line can be drawn. This is the ultimate slippery slope. Shall we devise a test to determine how essential to a person's religious practice any such "accomodation" must be. This is ridiculous. And the flip side of the coin is ballyhooed by the forever embattled religious zealots, viz. the protests of an atheist to the reference of God in a mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. Why shouldn't the atheist be accomodated when I can see no cost in removing the "unsettling" reference.

And finally (though somewhat off topic), how can the signing into law one of the most historic attacks on a bedrock of western jurisprudence go completely unheeded or uncommented upon at this blog. I am talking about the trashing of the "great writ" and the empowerment of the executive branch with the ability to detain any person defined as an enemy combatant. Are there any real libertarians left in this world? If so, how can this abrogation of such time-honored rights inspire such a deafening silence.

Not even a discussion as to the constitutionality of such a law.

Shame on all of us for letting this happen.

The terrorists have already won.
10.18.2006 2:30pm
buddingeconomist:
"Howard Stern swears. So, if my religion objects to profanity, I can refuse to drive the bus with the howard stern advertisement?"

IMO, you can and you can get fired -- thats the way it should be. If the company wants to exempt you from having to drive profane buses, they can do so. If they think its unreasonable, they can fire you.

Shock! Awe!

What if we become a bigoted nation again without the government telling us what is and what isn't discrimination?

I think we are at a place where we can let the market sort things out -- there is a huge market for specialty items for minorities and so forth; any business that discriminates will have a difficult time staying in business against competition that caters to thoise groups. Lets give freedom a shot now and again, k?
10.18.2006 2:33pm
Houston Lawyer:
I think the analogy with the taxi drivers doesn't go far in this case. The taxi drivers want to decide who they will carry and who they will not. In the bus driver case, no one is being denied a ride based upon the objections of the driver.

With regard to the union, union leaders are notoriously corrupt. The leaders zealously protect their own perks, often at the expense of the rank and file. I would like to see unions make Sarbanes-Oxley levels of disclosure, especially the executive compensation disclosure rules recently adopted by the SEC.
10.18.2006 2:34pm
whit:
buddingeconomist - you refer to the "company".

i am assuming the buses are PUBLIC

again, i think the pharmacist issue is not a good analogy - pharmacists are PRIVATE and work for PRIVATE employees. i have no problem with a pharmacist refusing to dispense birth control (or any medicine) as long as it is not immediately necessary (ie would put th eperson in physical danger - like blood pressure med). that's a private decision by a private person/company imo

the bus driver is a public conveyance, and a public agency. totally different imo.
10.18.2006 2:41pm
jvarisco (www):
Is the goal of the union to a) support its workers or b) support gay rights? Why exactly is the union working AGAINST one of its members for some external political cause that has nothing to do with bus drivers at all?
10.18.2006 2:52pm
Steve:
The union isn't supporting "some external political cause." They're taking into account the reality that, if they support this decision, it's going to tick off some of their gay union members.
10.18.2006 3:09pm
Guest 1960:
A couple of random thoughts inspired from these comments.

If a driver refused service to someone on religious grounds, then the driver needs to be terminated.
An ad on the side of the bus is not the same thing.

Refusing a particular bus / route should then put the drivers hours at risk - they may have a less desirable schedule; get to choose as least senior for an available route.

Now how about prayer schedule.
Some religions require specific times of prayer. Would it be reasonable to accommodate a driver who had to get a break for prayer time?


Why is Christmas a holiday? I think it is reasonable to close if most of your work force would request the day off on religious grounds, however, most Americans are secular, or belong to a religion for which there is no significance for Dec 25th. Shouldn't all government offices/services be open? Accomodate by allowing employees to use one of their personal days. If Christmas is now christmas, a secular holiday, why do we allow the Government to shut down for it anyway?

Then there is valentines day and halloween. Check out some of the Teacher/Education blogs for discussion on this 'tar-baby'
10.18.2006 3:20pm
KeithK (mail):

If I am a concscientious objector (and do not espouse any particular religious belief), should the government similarly accomodate me if I simply cannot drive a bus that has a recruitment poster located inside?

What about the refusal of a pharmacist to dispense perfectly legal drugs from a public hospital (or a Veteran's Administration hospital) on "religious" grounds?
Yes, in both cases as long as it doesn't cause an undue burden to the employer. If you don't want to drive a bus with an Army ad on/in it but every other driver is fine with doing so then why shouldn't there be an accomodation? Now if 60% of the drivers want to opt out and the bus company can't find sufficient drivers then it's a burden and it shouldn't be allowed. Aside from laws, employers should give reasonable accomodations to their employees out of common courtesy.

There's no slippery slope with this argument. At the bottom of the slope (when there are countless objections) no one gets an exemption/accomodation because it is a burden.

Naturally there's a question about where to draw the line between no burden and an undue one. In many cases it's easily settled though (and it seems like this one falls into that category).
10.18.2006 3:24pm
BobNSF (mail):

Is the goal of the union to a) support its workers or b) support gay rights? Why exactly is the union working AGAINST one of its members for some external political cause that has nothing to do with bus drivers at all?


Because the union, unlike quite a few posters here, can see that the principles of non-discrimination are more important than absurd "religious requirements" of one bus driver.

I'm really amazed at the positions here. Do any of you want to live in a nation where other people's "religious beliefs" make dealing with you "unacceptable"? If you can't fathom what that might be like, look to anti-semitic covenant laws in the 50s and 60s, racist hotel rules in the 40s, anti-gay laws.
10.18.2006 3:54pm
pcrh (mail):
I see this as a case where the employer isn't discriminating against the employee for his religious beliefs. He is just responding to the actions of the employee.

I think if your religious beliefs are consistent with performing your job duties, they can be accommodated. But if your beliefs require you not to be able to perform an essential duty of your job (like driving a bus for a bus driver) then you should find a new job, and the employer shouldn't be required by law to find you a new job within his company (even if its driving a bus with a different ad on it--what if all the busses had the same objectionable ad? Must the employer get rid of his advertisers?). There is religious freedom involved, but there is also the freedom of the employer to consider. Someone mentioned the pharmacist who didn't want to administer birth control, for religious reasons. I believe he should not be a pharmacist if that is his belief. Likewise, if I am a taxi driver and my job is to ferry people carrying things, I can hardly object to what they carry (as long as its legal)--alcohol being the most recent example. This is not freedom to practice my religion. It is freedom to impose aspects of my religion on others, using force of law. (The law says I may refuse to carry you if my religion disapproves of your purchase choices....) This I do not support.

In this case, I personally don't think we can have bus drivers dictating what cannot be advertised on the busses they drive. That would, for me, fall into the category of, "If you don't want to do it, you don't have to do it. Go find another job that doesn't require this." This is not discrimination against him for his religion or belief. This is a response to his actions--namely, refusal to drive the bus. He is still free to disapprove of gays. But if he wants to keep his job, he has to do his job. And he's a bus driver.

An a different point, I don't buy the idea that, hey, this is only one guy, not much of a burden. Instead, we have to consider that this right (if recognized) must be available to everyone.
10.18.2006 4:05pm
plad0005:
Houston Attorney:
With regard to this statement -

With regard to the union, union leaders are notoriously corrupt. The leaders zealously protect their own perks, often at the expense of the rank and file. I would like to see unions make Sarbanes-Oxley levels of disclosure, especially the executive compensation disclosure rules recently adopted by the SEC.


Can you define how Union leaders are 1) more notoriously corrupt than any other organization; and 2) define how they do not meet sufficient levels of disclosure?

Any person can access the salaries and every nickel of compensation given to every union official and union organization in the country via the DOL
or the National Right to Work group.

Can you tell me how I can find information on the compensation for every incorporated for-profit entity in this country?
Explain to me how every
10.18.2006 4:19pm
whit:
"then you should find a new job, and the employer shouldn't be required by law to find you a new job within his company"

i totally agree. contrast this with England where not only did the muslim bobbie get reassigned since he didn't want to guard the israeli embassy, but the metro Police were criticized for assigning him there in the first place. that would not be the case in the US... I hope
10.18.2006 4:40pm
buddingeconomist:
whit:

buddingeconomist - you refer to the "company".

i am assuming the buses are PUBLIC


Interesting, but note how none of the comments here seem to refer to it in these terms. For example:


Now if 60% of the drivers want to opt out and the bus company can't find sufficient drivers then it's a burden and it shouldn't be allowed. Aside from laws, employers should give reasonable accomodations to their employees out of common courtesy.



And:

I think if your religious beliefs are consistent with performing your job duties, they can be accommodated. But if your beliefs require you not to be able to perform an essential duty of your job (like driving a bus for a bus driver) then you should find a new job, and the employer shouldn't be required by law to find you a new job within his company



And from the other side:

Do any of you want to live in a nation where other people's "religious beliefs" make dealing with you "unacceptable"? If you can't fathom what that might be like, look to anti-semitic covenant laws in the 50s and 60s, racist hotel rules in the 40s, anti-gay laws.



"Is the goal of the union to a) support its workers or b) support gay rights?"

The latter. For a long time unions have put political agenda (which may include things like minimum wage which also benefit them by reducing low-wage competition, but also include general environmental, feminist, anti-war and other agendas) ahead of actually helping their members.
10.18.2006 4:47pm
JosephSlater (mail):
As a labor law prof. and former labor lawyer, put me down on the side of folks saying the union did the right thing. Unions have to balance the needs and interests of all their members: gay and straight, people that would like to be reassigned for various reasons and people that don't want to have to do the work of folks who are reassigned. Here I specifically echo the folks that have noted that if this driver can claim the right not to do his job because of a sign on the side of a bus promoting tolerance towards gays and lesbians, others can too.

Also, the idea that unions have a history of pushing the "anti-war" agenda or the "evironmental" agenda would come as a surprise to the anti-war movements of this and recent generations, and to the enviromental organizations.

As to individual dissenting members of union bargaining units that don't want to pay for "political" activities, the "opt out" procedure is already easy for objectors and burdensome for unions, and the "opt in" proposal was made purely to make life more difficult for unions.

The hatred of unions by some conservatives is either purely irrational or is ironic support for traditionally leftist stress on the importance of class in politics.
10.18.2006 5:02pm
Ken Arromdee:
I think we are at a place where we can let the market sort things out -- there is a huge market for specialty items for minorities and so forth

Specialty bus routes are unlikely; specialty taxicab companies are even less, because they're both state-controlled monopolies.
10.18.2006 5:26pm
AppSocRes (mail):
JosephSlater is allied with the labor bosses, makes his living serving them, and like them is a member of this country's upper-middle-class intelligentsia. It's clear he has never seriously belonged to a union (by this I mean forced long-term membership as a condition of long-term, life-style-supporting employment -- college summer internships don't count). Otherwise he'd be a little less dismissive of how difficult it can be to get political contributions withheld from union dues and how little impact this has on bringing union leaders politics in line with that of the rank-and-file. The subtle corruption that exists in most unions now -- a solidly enterenched set of ruling bureaucrats with little if any true concern for the rank-and-file or the public -- will be almost impossible to get rid of until closed-shop laws are elimimnated, all union-related elections are secret ballot, and all union management positions must be held by persons who are first and foremost full-time rank-and-file. I expect that classic liberals and today's conservatives would favor all these things. I'm sure that he, like his labor boss buddies, is terrified by them.
10.18.2006 6:25pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
I keep trying to educate the tolerance advocates on something that they don't quite appear to comprehend.

Tolerance is really not a whole hell of a lot.

Essentially, tolerance is when I don't actively resist your presence. If I'm not trying to shove you off the bus, that's tolerance. In the case of an ad on a bus, tolerance is not trying to *remove* the ad from the bus. If I allow that ad to remain on the bus, I am tolerating it. But I do not have to like it, and I do not have to remain silent about it: I can tell people exactly what I think about it.

What the tolerance movement is really about isn't tolerance, it's acceptance. They want me to not only tolerate the ad on the bus, but to keep my objections to myself, on the grounds that the objections themselves are somehow bad or wrong.

And many of the more vocal members of that movement aren't about acceptance either, but approval. They want me to tolerate the ad, keep my opinions to myself, *and* actively rebuke anyone else who dares to express an opinion other than the party line. If you say "I'd rather not ride a bus with that ad on it," I should immediately denounce you publicly for your unacceptable social commentary.

The problem with this is that you don't get to tell me what I have to accept or approve. You have no *right* to my acceptance or approval. These things are earned, and you get them at my sole discretion.
10.18.2006 6:31pm
JosephSlater (mail):
AppSocRes writes: "JosephSlater is allied with the labor bosses, makes his living serving them, and like them is a member of this country's upper-middle-class intelligentsia."

Wow, all that from being a labor law prof. and former labor lawyer! Cool!

More seriously, you have no idea what my personal experience with unions and their members is. If I was interested in responding to ad hominem attacks, I would guess it's much greater than yours based on the statements you make (among other basic facts you get wrong, note that closed shops have been illegal since 1947 and union elections are done by secret ballot).

Beyond that, try to be mindful of the comment policy about civility.
10.18.2006 6:34pm
CLS (mail) (www):
An accommodation for one must become policy for all. Should the bus company make a database of all employees and what prejudices, beliefs, dogmas and doctrines they hold and then try to assign buses to all on the same principle? We have pharmacists who wont fill certain prescription based on their own religion. Why give religious beliefs, and not other beliefs, this special privilege?

A dozen states have, or are considering, laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to serve clients based on the pharmacists religious beliefs. So if a pharmacist becomes a Christian Scientist, a recognized religion, is he exempt from filling any prescriptions?

Can a fundamentalist working working the counter at KMart refuse to serve gay clients because of his religious beliefs? Exactly where do these lines get drawn? Personally I think it ought to be between a private employer and the employee. The bus driver is hard to discuss because he actually is a city employee. If the govt. wants to give this special privilege out then it should do so to all groups with any strongly held belief. But when applied equally to all it becomes unworkable and that I think is a strong argument as to why it is invalid.

I with the Union on this one and I've never said that in my life! Rather shocking actually. When Caesar Chavez and Co were picketing a local store with their "don't buy grapes" signs I went in and bought all the grapes I could carry. I spent the rest of the day offering them to anyone I meet I had so many. I'm anti-union to the core. But they got it right. And I'm surprised.
10.18.2006 7:54pm
CLS (mail) (www):
An accommodation for one must become policy for all. Should the bus company make a database of all employees and what prejudices, beliefs, dogmas and doctrines they hold and then try to assign buses to all on the same principle? We have pharmacists who wont fill certain prescription based on their own religion. Why give religious beliefs, and not other beliefs, this special privilege?

A dozen states have, or are considering, laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to serve clients based on the pharmacists religious beliefs. So if a pharmacist becomes a Christian Scientist, a recognized religion, is he exempt from filling any prescriptions?

Can a fundamentalist working working the counter at KMart refuse to serve gay clients because of his religious beliefs? Exactly where do these lines get drawn? Personally I think it ought to be between a private employer and the employee. The bus driver is hard to discuss because he actually is a city employee. If the govt. wants to give this special privilege out then it should do so to all groups with any strongly held belief. But when applied equally to all it becomes unworkable and that I think is a strong argument as to why it is invalid.

I with the Union on this one and I've never said that in my life! Rather shocking actually. When Caesar Chavez and Co were picketing a local store with their "don't buy grapes" signs I went in and bought all the grapes I could carry. I spent the rest of the day offering them to anyone I meet I had so many. I'm anti-union to the core. But they got it right. And I'm surprised.
10.18.2006 7:54pm
Toby:
Well said, Caliban Darklock.

An accommodation for one must become policy for all.

I can think of few more horrifying principles. I am reminded about the old saw that we should all fear perfect justice.
10.18.2006 8:12pm
Kovarsky (mail):
the union's position is a no brainer, i'm not sure what the debate is about. although some upthread argues that the government treats religion and "personal philosophy" differently (which is true), the union doesn't want to set a precedent of having to reassign drivers everytime one idiosyncratically objects to something like this.

don't confuse the "undue hardship" standard for the metro transit authority with that of the union. the union represents the interests of its members, who don't want to have to be shifted around every time somebody has an objection to the content of advertising on the side of the bus.

the union's point is simple - we don't want to create an environment where everyone resents everyone else because they are forced to alter their work schedule to accommodate what manny will perceive as an irrational position. it's economics, not morals.

categorically anti-union people generally don't understand basic economics, and it's generally not worth teching it in the course of a blog thread.
10.18.2006 8:22pm
ReaderY:
I appreciate the City's willingness to accommodate religious beliefs. I would also say that there is a difference between a private taxi on the one hand and a public bus on the other, and also a difference between religious clothing, time for prayers, and similar accommodations and the basic doing of ones core job.

The Sixth Circuit not long ago turned down an appeal by a police officer who requested a job transfer from casino work because gambling was against his religious beliefs, noting that assuming accommodation is required under applicable law, a government has never been thought required under the accommodation cases to extend accommodation this far. I would tend to agree that even under a vigorous interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause or an analogous state constitutions, there are limits to what is constitutionally required, and this is one of them.

Nonetheless, I applaud the City's voluntary efforts to accommodate religious practice.
10.18.2006 8:32pm
KeithK (mail):

In this case, I personally don't think we can have bus drivers dictating what cannot be advertised on the busses they drive. That would, for me, fall into the category of, "If you don't want to do it, you don't have to do it. Go find another job that doesn't require this."

I agree with you (to a point). if there were "offensive" ads on every bus and he refused to drive because of them then he needs to get another job. The driver can't have a right to dictate to his employer what can and cannot be advertised on the side of a bus. But, if only 10% of buses have this ad and he can be assigned to one that doesn't have it with minimal trouble then why not accomodate the driver?

I've already addressed the "accomodation for all" arguments. If all of the drivers take this as a sign to make demands then it becomes a burden on the employer and the exemptions/accomodations should be suspended for all. Unless and until, why not accomodate the employee?

NTW - I don't think there should be a difference here whether the bus company is punlic or private (there are private municipal bus companies, although they are probably governed by a lot of governmental rules as a result of their contract and government endorsement). Sure, there may be a difference legally.
10.18.2006 8:41pm
Kovarsky (mail):
how many people on this thread arguing that this is permissive accommodation of "religion" would feel the same way about accommodating a peaceful muslim that nonetheless did not want to drive his bus along a route that stopped in a heavily jewish brooklyn neighborhood?
10.18.2006 8:43pm
KeithK (mail):

A dozen states have, or are considering, laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to serve clients based on the pharmacists religious beliefs. So if a pharmacist becomes a Christian Scientist, a recognized religion, is he exempt from filling any prescriptions?

Oh please. If a CS pharmacist were to refuse to fill any prescriptions then he would not be able to do his job at all. and clearly should leave the job. That's a far cry from having a problem with filling certain prescriptions.
10.18.2006 8:44pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Those laws involving the pharmacists are not earnest expressions of tolerance. In fact, they're precisely the opposite. They're designed as an end-around states that otherwise allow contraception and the morning after pill.
10.18.2006 8:50pm
whit:
"how many people on this thread arguing that this is permissive accommodation of "religion" would feel the same way about accommodating a peaceful muslim that nonetheless did not want to drive his bus along a route that stopped in a heavily jewish brooklyn neighborhood?"

as I said, this kind of rubbish is already happening in Londonistan, for example - the Muslim bobby, assigned to the embassy protection detail, who refused to guard the israeli embassy.

Second of all, these laws regarding pharmacists are not "end-runs" around states that ALLOW contraception and the morning after pill.

Note the distinction:

1) Saying morning after pill and contraception are legal
2) REQUIRING an individual pharmacist to dispense them

Fwiw, I think morning after pills and contraception should be legal. Heck, I think marijuana should be legal. I don't think pharmacists should be REQUIRED to dispense any particular drug, unless that drug is necessary for life or health threatening conditions.

With rare exceptions, ethinyl estradiol (the common form of estrogen used in birth control) is prescribed for prevention of pregnancy, not for health purposes.

Kovarsky, I see a common thread. Tolerance is never extended to those that have ideas that differ from yours - e.g. these pharmacists. That apparently is not a form of tolerance that you are willing to tolerate.


I also find it ironic that the same people that claim that abortion (and I am pro-choice btw) should SOLELY be between a woman and her doctor (when there is no other medical procedure or controlled substance script that is not HEAVILY regulated by the feds and stats), do not think that a pharmacist should have any autonomy at all.

A prescription is not an order to a pharmacist, saying - fill this out, you stupid PharmD pill dispenser guy.

The same people who elevate dr's to near godhead status (in the case of abortion) also want to de-elevate pharmacists to the role of lackeys for MD's who must fill any prescription handed to them.

How's THAT for tolerance.
10.18.2006 10:40pm
jimbob (mail):
CLS asks:

<blockquote>
Why give religious beliefs, and not other beliefs, this special privilege?
</blockquote>

Well, you're welcome to ask "why," but this is most certainly the case. The law treats religious beliefs differently from philisophical ones, even though secularists seem to despise that.

BobNSF asks:
<blockquote>

Do any of you want to live in a nation where other people's "religious beliefs" make dealing with you "unacceptable"?
</blockquote>


I enjoying in a nation that requires employers to accomodate religion even when it might "offend" people.
10.18.2006 10:54pm
Randy R. (mail):
Previous thread: "Is the goal of the union to a) support its workers or b) support gay rights?"

Did it every occur to any one here that a union might actually have gay workers? In other words, instead of either/or, it's both?

Gay workers are a part of the workforce, whether you like it or not. I was a union steward for many years in the federal government, and I'm a gay man as well. I represented a lot of people over the years, and I can certainly tell you that our Local president did NOT like gays. (Perhaps the fact that he was black and his son was gay had something to do with it -- I don't really know). And he was certainly not gay-supportive.

So those who bash unions for being gay supportive don't know what they are talking about. EVery union is different.

But the bigger point is that it's a question of dignity. All unions strive constantly to force management to treat all workers with equal dignity (at least, they are supposed to have that as a goal). That includes gay people, as well as Christian people. And all union members are supposed to treat each other with dignity and respect -- that's why we call each other 'Brother' or 'Sister.'

Everyone here is assuming that the bus driver acted out of sincerity. We have no proof of that. I suspect he was not, even though I must admit I have no proof. Why do I say that? Because I have seen this sort of thing before. These religious people say that ANY statement about gays that is not demeaning to gays is somehow promoting 'the gay lifestyle.' There have been plenty of cases where school programs simply say that some people are gay, and these people have objected to this as a 'promotion' of gays. Why? Because they require teachers to say that gays are immoral, disgusting, die early, are diseased and basically are spawn of Satan.

So my belief -- and it's unsupported by the evidence in this case, but supported only by my experience -- is that this bus driver probably had no problem with the ads for safe sex, for condom use, for the violent tv programs, for the sick and twisted horror movies, for Jew fore Jesus, and any other offensive ads. But put an ad up for gays, and suddenly he can't drive a bus.

This isn't sincere religious belief -- its fanaticism. And there is no reason any organization or union should support that.
10.19.2006 1:29am
Randy R. (mail):
Caliban makes an eloquent point about acceptance and tolerance.

"The problem with this is that you don't get to tell me what I have to accept or approve. You have no *right* to my acceptance or approval. These things are earned, and you get them at my sole discretion."

This is so very true. And very sad, as well. You see, many gay people that I know are rejected by their parents, siblings and friends when they come out. A huge percentage of homeless teenagers in LA are actually gay teens that were thrown out of their homes, even though they might be as young as 12 or 13. These kids are not even tolerated at home, much less accepted.

With most other children, they are loved just for being. My sister had a baby boy, and I see the love in her eyes. The child didn't have to *do* anything to earn her love and acceptance -- he just had to be. And sadly, many people will tolerate, even accept, any person, until they find out the person is gay. then they get fired, thrown out of the church they grew up in, evicted from their apartment, rejected by parents. Now, suddenly, the gay person is told -- we don't love you anymore, and from now on, you have to earn our respect.

Heck, it doesn't even have to be from people we know. As Caliban points out, it can be complete strangers. Caliban doesn't have to tolerate gays, or accept them -- he can hate them as much as he likes. What are we going to do about it?

Perhaps that why so many people find comfort in the One Commandment. Does anyone remember what that one is? If you consider yourself a Christian, you would. Everyone talks about the Big Ten, even though most can't recall them. But ask about the One, and everyone comes up blank. It is in Mathew, Jesus was asked what his commandments are. He said he had none, but if he DID have one, it would be simply that we should love another as we love ourselves.

So people like Caliban certainly have a right to not follow the teachings of Christ -- that's a religious matter. But for this bus driver? I wonder what his religion is, because it certainly isn't Christian, and that's yet another reason to suspect that his beliefs are 'sincere.'

No, Caliban -- you are so, so sadly right. No one is should be forced to accept their gay brother, or lesbian aunt. But the person who loses out more is not them, but you.
10.19.2006 1:45am
David M. Nieporent (www):
CLS writes:
An accommodation for one must become policy for all.
Numerous other people above have made the same argument. I'm reminded of what Chief Justice Roberts recently wrote in response to the DoJ's attempt to keep a small Brazilian church from using a hallucinogen...
Here the Government's argument for uniformity is different; it rests not so much on the particular statutory program at issue as on slippery-slope concerns that could be invoked in response to any RFRA claim for an exception to a generally applicable law. The Government's argument echoes the classic rejoinder of bureaucrats throughout history: If I make an exception for you, I'll have to make one for everybody, so no exceptions.
Since most people above are not bureaucrats, I've got to imagine that most of the people above who oppose this accommodation do so because they disagree with this driver's views on gays.

A dozen states have, or are considering, laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to serve clients based on the pharmacists religious beliefs. So if a pharmacist becomes a Christian Scientist, a recognized religion, is he exempt from filling any prescriptions?
As far as I know, Christian Scientists only object to taking medication, not selling it to others. But in any case, what you're missing with your analogy, just as all the people above are missing when they say, "What if other drivers want to do this?" is that all accommodation law requires reasonable accommodation. If someone won't sell any drugs, then he can't be a pharmacist. If someone won't drive any buses, then he can't be a bus driver. If nobody wants to drive this bus, then they can't be accommodated because someone has to. But none of those are the situation we face here.

Why do people think "an accommodation for one must become policy for all"? It's not in the least bit true.

(Note for people who want to misinterpret: I am not saying that RFRA applies to the bus situation. All I am saying is that the attitude expressed is similar.)
10.19.2006 2:00am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Do any of you want to live in a nation where other people's "religious beliefs" make dealing with you "unacceptable"?
I would counter by asking whether any people want to live in a nation where the government forces at gunpoint someone who hates you to deal with you -- but evidently the answer is that a large number of people do.


how many people on this thread arguing that this is permissive accommodation of "religion" would feel the same way about accommodating a peaceful muslim that nonetheless did not want to drive his bus along a route that stopped in a heavily jewish brooklyn neighborhood?
Leaving aside that there is no religious tenet in Islam that contradicts driving a bus filled with Jews, I would feel the same way.
10.19.2006 2:05am
Randy R. (mail):
One thing that has always bothered me about conservatives, and George Will has talked about this a lot, is their insistence that people should be treated as individuals. People, individuals, have rights, not groups. They say groups should not be treated differently, so a group of people who are dark-skinned shouldn't have affirmative action, a group of people who engage in same sex love should ask for special rights, and so on. Rather, people should be treated as individuals. Just as some people are good, others are bad, some are criminal, some saintly. But to ascribe any of these traits to a group or two or more people invites trouble

I, of course, agree.

But when it comes to gays, however, suddenly all this sophistry goes out the window. With these exact same conservatives, they treat gays as a group. they lump the characteristics of some and apply them to all in the group. Caliban's comments are illuminating: We -- a group of people called homosexuals -- are not entitled to respect. We, as a group, must earn it. But how? There are and always will be obnoxious gay people. And no matter how many saints are gay, these few will always be enough for Will or Caliban to say, see how badly you act, and you want my support!?

But I, at least, am not asking for that. I ask that you treat ME, Randy R., with respect and dignity. Just as I hope that I treat you with the same. I expect that you judge my job performance on my work product, not who I date, just as I would do for you. Is this so hard?

It's easy to hate a group of people; Just ignore their humanity, eliminate the varities contained within, mock their beliefs. It's not only easy, but it feels GOOD.

I've never met a person who held a prejudice against a group and felt remorse or any bad feelings over it. On the contrary, they often feel superior, sometimes jealous, they were angry about them, believed they are a detriment to our country, have no interest in actually meeting any of them in person. Inevitably, they feel like they are the better person than any other in that group.

If that's what it takes to feel better, that's a sad state of affairs. And again, these people are not in any way a follower of any of the mainstream religions I know of, since all teach to love another, and if you have to judge a person, you judge the person, not the group. Actually, most non-mainstream religions, like wiccans, new agers, and so on, go further, and preach love --and acceptance -- of all forms of life.

Sorry to go so far into religion, but I didn't bring it up. The bus driver did.
10.19.2006 2:07am
Caliban Darklock (www):
@ Randy:

I think there's an interesting assumption revealed there.

A union generally supports its workers IN THEIR WORK.

Gay workers, even though they are gay, do not have different work than straight workers. If they receive the same treatment as straight workers, this is natural and normal. Yet your expectation seems to be not only that the union will support gay members in their work, which would be the same support anyone else gets, but also in the gay rights struggle. Because some of the workers are gay, the gay rights struggle becomes the union's struggle, too.

Why?

The fundamental resistance of straight people to openly gay people is not the gay part, but the open part. Once we know you're gay, we can't really be your friends or your coworkers or even your neighbors without also signing on to be part of the gay rights movement - or at least resolving not to disagree with it too visibly. If we don't, we face your accusatory stares and muttered speculations behind our back about why we hate gay people so much... not because we say or do hateful things, but because we don't actively support your political agenda.

And that's fanaticism, too. It's the worst kind of fanaticism: the kind that forces its beliefs on others under the guise of tolerance and equality. The bus driver is not making anyone else do anything. He's not asking anyone else to refuse to drive that bus, but you're right there asking everyone to make him keep driving the bus... because your experience suggests maybe he isn't sincerely objecting on religious grounds. Maybe he's not. But ultimately, IT DOES NOT MATTER. He is allowed to disapprove of gays, even if we don't like it, and to make his decisions in light of that disapproval.

And he is allowed to do this for precisely the same reasons YOU are allowed to be openly gay. It cuts both ways. He is undoubtedly just as annoyed about you as you are about him, but he can't do anything about it. You are within your rights. So is he.
10.19.2006 2:11am
Randy R. (mail):
Caliban: Once we know you're gay, we can't really be your friends or your coworkers or even your neighbors without also signing on to be part of the gay rights movement - or at least resolving not to disagree with it too visibly."

Really? I have lots of friends who are not gay, and plenty of relatives. I haven't asked a single one of them to sign on the 'gays rights movement.' Some of them actually disagree with me on gay marriage, for instance. Just as we disagree about Iraq, or tax cuts, or global warming.

Additionally, as has been argued here, there are some gay people who are not in favor gay marriage, but only civil unions. And some don't want that either.

Sorry to say this, but you've got a serious problem if you can't separate a person from a civil rights movement.

"The fundamental resistance of straight people to openly gay people is not the gay part, but the open part."

No it is not. There is no 'fundamental resistence" to gay people. Most polls show a majority of Americans know gay people and accept them. (The most recent shows that 80% of American know someone openly gay, and 70% are okay with gay people -- there is no resistence to gay people.)

But if the statement is true for you, then what you are saying is that you and I can be friends so long as I lie to you and make you think I am a straight man. Lying is a *condition* of friendship with you? Sheesh. What if I never tell you I am gay, but you figure it out (Hey, I'm 45, love musicals, never dated a woman -- you do the math!). THEN would it be okay to be friends with you? So long as I have to listen to you talk on and on about your wife, your kids, the girls you dated, and I have to remain quiet about my boyfriend, what we did over the weekend and so on. Basically, a friendship with you means a huge wall of silence. Boy, you must be a barrel of fun to be around! (okay, it's really late, and I'm sorry for the sarcasm. But I can't resist!)

"Because some of the workers are gay, the gay rights struggle becomes the union's struggle, too. Why? "

For starters, because some workers are black, the civil rights struggle becomes the union's struggle too. No one doubts that one now.

The union has to represent everyone, gays, Christians, Muslims, all. If the bus driver said he can't drive a bus because there is an ad for Islam, and the union backed the driver, what would the Islamic union workers think? They will refuse to drive busses that have ads for Christian churches! This doesn't have to rise to the level of 'supporting the gay rights struggle'. Rather, it's a simple policy that everyone should be treated with respect -- emphasis on PEOPLE. And whether that person is gay, muslim, Christian or rotarian, your job is to drive a bus and not make an issue about your fellow workers. And what this bus driver is saying is that he can't countenance gay people. At all.

Basically,, what you are saying is that you have no problem with gay people, so long as they remain in the closet. We've all tried that, and it doesn't work. it's damaging to us, and to you and to society (we'll save that for another debate). But if you think that you can't be friends with an openly gay person, man or woman, that really reveals a lot more about you than you probably realize.
10.19.2006 2:39am
Randy R. (mail):
Nieporant: I would counter by asking whether any people want to live in a nation where the government forces at gunpoint someone who hates you to deal with you -- but evidently the answer is that a large number of people do."

Who said anything about guns? You have twisted the argument. The bus driver HAS to deal with gay people on a daily basis. Many gay people actually ride the bus, you know. What's wrong with this? He was hired to drive a bus, and he must know that some people on the bus will be gay. If he really has a problem with this, just remember this: NO one requires him to keep his job.

Or, in your parlance: No one is holding a gun to his head saying he must keep this job. This is a free country. He can find another job that doesn't require him to carry around gay people. He always has options.

But the issue here isn't *dealing* with gays. It was even less -- just ad on the bus.

You know what? He could just not look at it. Problem solved.
10.19.2006 2:46am
Randy R. (mail):
Cailban: It's the worst kind of fanaticism: the kind that forces its beliefs on others under the guise of tolerance and equality.

Now I get it. All gay people think alike. All gay people want to force their beliefs upon straight people. This is why you can't be friends with any gay people, at least not the open ones.

So much for seeing us as people, as individuals. Again, it's always easy to hate a group, and you are perfect proof of that.
10.19.2006 2:57am
Caliban Darklock (www):
> many gay people that I know are rejected by
> their parents, siblings and friends when they
> come out

Do you propose that your parents, siblings, and friends HAVE NO RIGHT to reject you? Because I would take issue with that idea. I believe they are wrong to reject you. I believe they should not do it. I think it is a pretty damn selfish and wicked thing to do, when someone supposedly near and dear to you is clearly undergoing a personal crisis of identity. The more so when it's family.

But I believe they have the right to do that. The right to make your own decisions frequently includes the right to make stupid decisions, and even the right to make decisions that other people find hurtful or offensive.

Now, I do believe you can demand tolerance. I believe you can demand from the world that they accept your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So nobody should kill you for being gay, or lock you up for being gay, or tell you that you're not allowed to be gay.

But you can't demand that I let you live in my house. Or that I employ you at my place of business. Or that I be your friend. You can't make that demand. It is offensive to me that you would try. I can't change the fact that my son is my son, but I am not *required* to give him any special treatment.

Gay people never seem to understand what it's like when they come out. You've been wrestling with this for years and finally had the big "aha" moment where you know who you are, but we're often completely shocked. Yesterday, you were just a little weird. Today, you're gay. I mean, WTF? Can we have a little time to adjust here, before you go shoving it down our throats?

No pun intended.

Face it, gays around the world spend years figuring themselves out, and eventually come out to their families with the full support of a massive grassroots network anyone should envy. It's a safety net virtually no other community shares. The closest thing I've ever seen to it is AA and its ilk.

But look at your family. They don't know this is coming. You're going to walk in there and emotionally sock your father in the gut. Can you blame him for being mad at you? Can you blame him for thinking you've been a right bastard to do this to him? Why is it that you get to have all the sympathy, while your dad gets nothing at all? Who can he turn to about this? PFLAG? Pflease.

There is something very, very wrong with a community that universally castigates their shocked and traumatised families as people who hate them. You did it to them. You're the proverbial teen who shoots his parents and then asks for leniency because he's an orphan. Take some responsibility.

> Perhaps that why so many people find comfort
> in the One Commandment. Does anyone remember
> what that one is?

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."

> If you consider yourself a Christian, you would.

Hmm... yeah, Jesus sort of changed that. But I'm not aware of any formal appeal or amendment process, so I always had something of a problem with the altered version. Not that it matters, since I have something of a problem with Jesus just on principle.

> I wonder what his religion is, because it
> certainly isn't Christian

Not YOUR kind of christian, anyway. And that's the only kind that matters, isn't it? The rest of them are just pretenders.

As, from my perspective, are you. Your religion is simply blasphemous when viewed in light of my own faith; the very idea offends me. But I deny neither that your faith exists, nor that you have the right to follow it. I deny only that it is a faith *I* should follow.

And I see a great deal more to comment about in your later post.
10.19.2006 2:58am
Caliban Darklock (www):
> One thing that has always bothered me
> about conservatives, and George Will has
> talked about this a lot, is their insistence
> that people should be treated as individuals.

I have a theory related to this.

When you meet someone for the first time, you don't know enough about him to treat him as an individual. You don't even know enough about him to treat him as a member of a group. He is, at best, an object. You treat him as what he appears to be.

Over time, and a reasonably short period of it, you can learn enough about someone to treat him as a member of some group. It is reasonably simple to identify someone as a member of two or three groups. And as more group memberships become clear, a pattern emerges. Within an hour or two, you can begin to treat this person as a member of certain groups, and have some clear idea what sort of person he is.

But it takes days - weeks, even - to study the pattern closely enough that you can identify the tiny variations that make it different from others like it. Only after extensive contact and deliberate effort can you actually treat someone as an individual.

Nobody likes to be an object. We all advertise our groups as openly as possible, so you can get some idea of our pattern rapidly. We prioritise - am I more a Jew, or a Republican? - and represent the higher priority groups more overtly.

But none of this makes us into individuals any more rapidly. It simply places us into the groups quickly, so we can be treated as cookie-cutter people. And some of us chafe under that: we want to be individuals NOW, dammit!

But that is a childish desire. We need to understand that we must first be objects, and only later can we be members of well-known groups; from that, we evolve into individuals.

And these things take time. We must be patient.

> Caliban's comments are illuminating: We --
> a group of people called homosexuals -- are
> not entitled to respect. We, as a group, must
> earn it.

No.

NOBODY is ENTITLED to respect.

EVERYONE must INDIVIDUALLY earn it.

My statements about tolerance, acceptance, and approval are equally relevant to all groups of any nature. They are not solely relevant to homosexuals.

Your misinterpretation is instructive.

> I ask that you treat ME, Randy R., with
> respect and dignity.

You have not treated me with respect and dignity. You accuse me of hating gays. You accuse me of hating *you*.

I find it somewhat hard to believe that you didn't remember my name.

You have not even extended me the courtesy of remembering our history. You treated me, in fact, as an object. You have chosen to ignore the parts of my pattern you have already seen, because you prefer to match my pattern to others - others who hate you, who want your rights revoked, your lifestyle criminalised, your people brutalised.

You do me a grave disservice, and I will not forget it. And it is a sad commentary on the gay community that your behavior is very much part of their pattern.
10.19.2006 3:29am
BobNSF (mail):
Caliban:

I believe it is illegal for parents to reject their under-age children. Negligence, no?


Your religion is simply blasphemous when viewed in light of my own faith; the very idea offends me. But I deny neither that your faith exists, nor that you have the right to follow it. I deny only that it is a faith *I* should follow.


Isn't this how you feel about a LOT of your fellow Americans? There are far more important theological differences between your religion and that of others (or the lack thereof) than the isssue of homosexuality, no? Why is it that this and only this issue raises such anger?
10.19.2006 3:49am
Caliban Darklock (www):
> Sorry to say this, but you've got a
> serious problem if you can't separate
> a person from a civil rights movement.

I want you to notice something.

When I said that tolerance and acceptance and approval are different things, and that you have no natural right to acceptance or approval, I never said anything about gays.

But YOU couldn't separate YOURSELF from that. You simply could not imagine that I really did mean anyone and everyone had no natural right to acceptance and approval. You decided that I absolutely MUST mean "you gay people".

I do not believe I am the one with the problem.

> There is no 'fundamental resistence" to
> gay people.

So openly gay people *don't* experience unwarranted prejudice on a daily basis? Because it certainly looks to me like they do. And if they don't, why are you so frequently objecting to it?

There is a fundamental reason why people who do not *hate* gay people, or even *object* to gay people, still behave differently toward gays and employ a double standard.

And it's NOT THE GAY PART, which is why you have all those statistics *showing* that people don't have a problem with the gay part.

> What if I never tell you I am gay, but you
> figure it out (Hey, I'm 45, love musicals,
> never dated a woman -- you do the math!).
> THEN would it be okay to be friends with you?

That depends. Are you an Andrew Lloyd Weber fan, or a Stephen Sondheim fan? Because if I have to watch "Cats" one more time, I'm going to strangle someone.

Although if you're properly ripped, I *might* be able to stomach it ONE more time... but I digress.

You don't seem to understand that there's a lot of room between "open" and "closeted", just like there's a lot of room between "straight" and "gay". (No, I don't mean the Kinsey scale, which is just flat-out inadequate.) Most people at my office know I have a wife and son and another little boy on the way. Some people at my office know that I go to certain clubs. And a tiny few people at my office have seen me at those clubs.

We just don't talk about it at work. Sometimes we find ourselves in a little group of three or four folks who are all on the right side of the fence, and we have discreet conversations that might be overheard... but probably not understood. I had an interesting conversation the other day about boots. I noticed that a co-worker had the same boots I did. We had a short discussion about boots. Nothing overt, but a lot of subtext. I think I managed to communicate where he could find me tomorrow night; we'll see.

Are we closeted in any sense of the word? No, of course not. We're not ashamed of where we go and what we do. We're not hiding. We simply don't want to hang out a big banner that says "PERVERTS UNITE". That's not lying. It's waiting to be asked. Anyone who wants to know will, eventually, ask. Anyone who doesn't ask... PROBABLY doesn't want to know! So when we don't tell them, they're not at all scandalised or offended. Isn't that amazing?

> Now I get it. All gay people think alike.

Well, there are basically three kinds of gay people, in my experience.

There are the gay people who just generically STFU and leave me alone. That's most of them. Which is why the American public really doesn't have much of a problem with gays. They do their thing, we do ours, that's that.

There are the gay people who will debate long and loud about subjects like, oh, whether TVs are part of the TG community and wouldn't that mean metrosexuals are just plain gay?... stuff like that. These are the FUN gays; the ones who get their own television shows or go on solo comedy tours. They don't take themselves too seriously. People like Alan Cumming and Graham Norton and Ant. People who aren't circumcised. (Maybe that's just a coincidence.)

And then there are the gay people who jump up my butt as soon as I say anything that might potentially be construed as homophobic, and incidentally are also the most vocal and insistent about how I must really be gay and just not know it yet.

Now, I *like* to hang out with the second group; those are the gays I generally count as friends, although there are also some group-one folk in my circle.

The third group, I can do without. I think they should all get a clue and join group two. It's a lot more fun. But if you'd rather sit over there... fine, whatever. But that's your choice that you made yourself, and if I don't like you because of it, you can't claim it's because you're gay. You have to admit it's because you made a *choice* I don't support.
10.19.2006 4:42am
Caliban Darklock (www):
> I believe it is illegal for parents to
> reject their under-age children.

I believe I also said that it was wrong and nobody should do it, which applies to all children, underage or otherwise.

I also believe you can reject your children without failing to provide what the law demands.

> There are far more important theological differences
> [...] than the isssue of homosexuality

Excuse me, what? My theological problem with you is about Jesus. It has nothing to do with homosexuality.

How exactly do you keep dragging homosexuality into every argument, whether it's relevant or not? Do you honestly not see that this looks like some kind of compulsive disorder? I literally cannot say anything without you attaching homosexuality to it. That is not normal.

> Why is it that this and only this issue
> raises such anger?

Because your entire speech about the "one commandment" presumed as a matter of course that anyone and everyone reading it was a christian, or at the very least should aspire to christian ideals.

For someone who represents a single-digit percentage minority, that displays a shocking disregard for every Hindu, Muslim, atheist, and Jew in the audience. It's just plain hypocrisy. You wave your little crusader flag about how over 90% of the country needs to pander to your special interests, then casually ignore some thirty percent of the nation.

Plus you're giving respect and credit to Jesus that rightfully belongs to God, which is a pretty damned important theological difference. But mostly? You're demanding equal rights for a group less than a *third* the size of a group you clearly consider beneath your notice.
10.19.2006 5:25am
eric (mail):
Joseph Slater said "<i> As to individual dissenting members of union bargaining units that don't want to pay for "political" activities, the "opt out" procedure is already easy for objectors and burdensome for unions, and the "opt in" proposal was made purely to make life more difficult for unions.</i>"

</i> Woe to the poor unions who have, in their misfortune, had this "opt-in" procedure foisted upon them by those dastardly voters through that silly democratic process. The nerve of those voters, expecting unions to ask to spend money extracted from the unwilling by the force of the state on political causes that have nothing to do with helping employees. Why, it is just scandalous.

If the burden is already so high on those unions, they have to account for expenditures, preform calculations, and send out a packet of information to those who are compelled to pay but who are not members.

If the burden is so high, why preform the "opt-out" procedure at all? Oh, that meddling Supreme Court stuck their gavels in that union utopia. Besides, the unions are too nobel to be motivated by such a base emotion as greed.

But hey, a compelled customer is the best customer, that is what I always say!
10.19.2006 6:07am
Caliban Darklock (www):
It occurs to me that I forgot to account for a rather important bit here.

@ Randy:

> because some workers are black, the civil
> rights struggle becomes the union's struggle
> too. No one doubts that one now.

That's not the same thing. The union had to enter the civil rights struggle in order to secure the rights of blacks to work the same jobs and to be paid the same wages as whites. The unions involved themselves exclusively in those areas of the struggle that directly related to the work.

There are no laws restricting or repressing the rights of gays to work the same jobs for the same pay. There is simply nothing for the unions to do. What exactly should the unions be supporting in the gay rights movement?
10.19.2006 6:38am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Interesting problem. The article mentioned the taxi drivers, and I suspect that there is a bit in common between the two situations. One big difference is that this is a single driver, being restricted to 5/6 of the available buses at his location (only 25 of 150 carry the ad), wheres the Muslim taxi drivers constitute a significant portion of the taxi force, and it would be significantly inconvenient to accomodate them, given the apparent setup for taxis at the airport. This would be more akin to having, say, 250 of 500 drivers refuse to drive buses carrying the ads, and having the ads on maybe 1/3 of the buses. It is the reasonableness of the whole accomodations that distinguishes the two situations.

This is really little different from business catering to, for example, Jewish (and Seventh Day Adventist) employees who would prefer working Sun. to Sat. for religious reasons. In most cases, this is not a bit issue with employers since there aren't enough requesting this accomodation that it impacts the employer. Here we have one out of probably 300-500 drivers at this location requesting to not have to drive 1/6 of the buses.

One other place where this is somewhat interesting is that this is also arguably forced speech by the government (because the bus company is invariably a quasi-government organization). Yes, no one is likely to attribute it to the bus driver, but, nevertheless, he would be required to facilitate it. Of course, as he is dealing with the government as an employee, instead of as a citizen, the Free Speech portion of the 1st Amdt. applies with signifantly less force. But I think that you could argue that it has some force.
10.19.2006 12:01pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Caliban D. asks what unions could be doing to represent their gay and lesbian members at work. While unions are democratic institutions and thus should generally do what a majority of their members want them to do, here are a few things unions have done:

Put clauses in contracts barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;

Fought for domestic partner benefits in medical insurance plans;

Generally, tried to make the workplace one in which all of its members are treated respectfully.

To push the analogy with the civil rights movement, what if a bus driver in the mid-1960s had refused (for religious reasons, say) to drive a bus that had a sign that called for equal rights under the law for blacks? Is that something a union -- with gay and lesbian members, and with members that don't necessarily want to pick up the slack created by the employee refusing his normal work assignment -- should support?
10.19.2006 12:28pm
pcrh (mail):

But, if only 10% of buses have this ad and he can be assigned to one that doesn't have it with minimal trouble then why not accomodate the driver?


Because the existence of the right not to drive a bus with an ad I object to shouldn't depend on whether others share my belief, or how many buses have that ad.

If most of the bus drivers refused to drive that bus, the employer is forced to choose different advertisers.

If most of the busses have the ad, and even a few drivers refuse to drive them, the employer is forced to choose different advertisers.

Personally, I think the market can solve this. If the workers don't want to drive those busses, they can (and will) get another job. If their religious beliefs make most jobs offensive to them (which is where this could head), maybe they should examine their beliefs. I don't think the government should compel those offering the jobs to modify them so they aren't offensive to people of specific beliefs.

I realize the law says "undue burden" and you argue that, hey, as long as only a few guys want this accommodation, why not force the employer to give it?

My answer: we should compel only when necessary, and only under limited circumstances. This compulsion sets precedent that people can use their religion to invoke law to force employers to accommodate their religious opinion. If I run a company, I don't want my drivers refusing to carry homosexuals. That is basically using law to enforce discrimination against homosexuals. Are we supposed to use these laws to enforce such hate? To make employers accommodate it? I don't think so. And that is where this will head.

These issues are different from, "My religious holiday is not Christmas, I need a different day off." Or, "My religion makes me eat fish on Friday, can I get a substitute lunch?" These accommodations don't affect anyone else. They are not about approval or disapproval of lifestyles or other issues. It is a personal matter. But when someone tells me I can't get the prescription my doctor wrote, he is being a gatekeeper. When he tells me he won't carry me in his cab, he is being a gatekeeper. When he tells me he won't drive a bus with this advertisement on it, he is being a gatekeeper. His religious belief is affecting others, and he is trying to force others to change their behavior. His religious belief is now causing me (or whoever he's refusing to serve) a problem. That is where the line should be drawn.
10.19.2006 12:55pm
Randy R. (mail):
Looks like I struck a nerve with Caliban! Chill man.

Parents may have the right to reject their kids, but that notion that gay people are responsible for being gay is just wrong and silly. I didn't choose to be gay. The problem isn't the gay kid that came home 'socked the father in the gut'. The problem is that the father would think that having a gay son is bad. This is a societal problem, and hopefully, and thankfully, this is changing. How much more responsibility is a gay kid supposed to take? He can't take responsibility for a bigoted father. The father has to take responsibility for the fact that he might have gay kids and that it's his job to love and support his children even if gay. Repeat: Being gay isn't a choice -- it's just who we are.

"You're the proverbial teen who shoots his parents and then asks for leniency because he's an orphan."

If you actually equate coming out as gay as 'shooting his parents and then asking for leniency" that pretty much tells me what you think of gay people.

There really isn't much more to respond to than that.
10.19.2006 12:59pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
One question is why the driver thinks his discomfort entitles him to consideration. Where did that come from?

Well, one place it came from is the left's use of feigned offense as requiring others to change their speech and behavior. See college speech codes.

Always a surprise when such a tactic turns around and bites, isn't it?
10.19.2006 1:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
About a year ago, we had an incident with ads on busses here in Washington, DC. The ads were for an gay people to join an ex-gay organization, and "come out of homosexuality."

My opinion of these groups is that they are immoral, charlatans, destructive to many types of people and out to be outlawed and condemned from everyplace by everyone.

But....I also acknowledge that they have a right to exist and a can place ads on busses. If I don't like the ads, (and I do not), I just rolled my eyes and went about my business.

Unfortunately, some gay groups were upset about the idea, and protested to the mayor. His response was to ban all types of advertising along those lines. I think that was the wrong response. I believe the correct response is to allow those ads, and if you are such an idiot as to believe that you can change your sexual orientation, by all means, screw up your life. But that's your business, not mine. Mine is just to get from one part of the city to another peacefully.

Of course, this raises an interesting issue. Here, I am bucking the trend of other gay rights groups. So, do I get to be judged as in individual, worthy of the same rights, or am I still tarred because I am a member of the gay community in general? Am I now worthy of respect or not, based on my position in this case?
10.19.2006 3:59pm
markm (mail):
"For starters, because some workers are black, the civil rights struggle becomes the union's struggle too. No one doubts that one now." Am I the only one here old enough to remember when the unions were on the other side of that struggle?
10.19.2006 5:13pm
JosephSlater (mail):
MarkM:

The labor movement has a mixed history regarding the fight for racial equality. It had some wonderful, inspiring moments quite early on (e.g., the AFT insisting on including blacks pretty much from the beginning, the CIO's efforts to organize minorities in the 1930s) and later (Title VII wouldn't have passed without the AFL-CIO's support). There have also been racist unions, especially in certain trades and professions. While I'm not sure the racist unions were often any more racist than employers or the public in the area/time, you are right that this history should also be remembered.

Fortunately, the good guys have generally prevailed on this issue. Notably, unions today have black membership rates that are larger than black rate in the relevant workforce.
10.19.2006 5:25pm
whit:
"About a year ago, we had an incident with ads on busses here in Washington, DC. The ads were for an gay people to join an ex-gay organization, and "come out of homosexuality."

My opinion of these groups is that they are immoral, charlatans, destructive to many types of people and out to be outlawed and condemned from everyplace by everyone.

But....I also acknowledge that they have a right to exist and a can place ads on busses."

Let me get this straight

1) they ought (sic) to be outlawed
2) they have a right to exist

um... how is that consistent? Do you REALLY believe they should be OUTLAWED? Talk about a TRULY anti-choice position

It really is stalinist. Your view of the Truth (tm) is such that you won't allow the existence of organizations that promote a different idea than yours (that some or all people can change their sexual orientation).

Frankly, I fall with the science on this one. The bulk of the evidence is that gay orientation is a combination of biological factors and environmental factors, pretty much like EVERY aspect of human behavior. To what extent the gay (or bisexual) orientation in any INDIVIDUAL is genetic/environmental VARIES. Iow, all gays are not the same, any more than all straights are the same.

I have little doubt that SOME gays can change their orientation, but that most would find it difficult to impossible. Others would argue that those that could truly "change" their orientation were never really gay, which is a nice hedge

Regardless, that's tangential. These organziations have the same right to exist as any other advocacy group does, whether that is the NRA, GLAAD, Anti-defamation league, ACLU, etc.

But you apparently don't believe they have a place in the public debate, nor should individual gays have the CHOICE to listen or ignore their advice and counseling. That is really a scary mindset imo.
10.19.2006 5:26pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
@ Randy:

> Looks like I struck a nerve with Caliban!

Yep. You tricked me into thinking of you as an individual, when you're actually just another gay stereotype. That offends me. But fool me once, and all that.

> that notion that gay people are
> responsible for being gay is just
> wrong and silly

Yes, which is why it's not what I said. You are not responsible for being gay. You are responsible for when and how you tell people about it. You CHOSE to come out. And while I agree that you *should* come out, I also think you should make some effort to consider the people who have to alter their lives to deal with your new self.

> If you actually equate coming out
> as gay as 'shooting his parents and
> then asking for leniency" that pretty
> much tells me what you think of gay
> people.

I think gay people are entirely in charge of the coming out process, and therefore that whatever goes wrong in that process is generally their own fault.

Nobody MAKES you come out. You get to decide when and where and how it happens. And you know these people, so you ought to know when would be a good time, and where would be a good place, and what would be a good way to explain it.

But an awful lot of gays display shockingly bad judgment on this matter. They say "I will come out to this person on THIS day", and they do it however they can.

I have a friend who came out to his dad by announcing it to a crowded Tennessee bar. That story doesn't end well.

Nobody can blame you for being gay; that's like blaming you for your gender, or your skin color, or your nationality. But you are not and can never be blameless for WHAT YOU DO simply because it is something that only gay people do. You can't put something in the gay camp and say "it's gay, so you're not allowed to question it because it's not a choice". Gays do make certain choices, and they are responsible for the results of those choices. You don't get to avoid all responsibility simply because you're gay.

So when you come out to your family in an outrageous and unacceptable way that you KNOW will embarrass and upset them, you don't get to complain when they are embarrassed and upset, and you CERTAINLY don't get to blame it on their ignorance and homophobia.

> There really isn't much more to
> respond to than that.

Yeah, because I was just saying the same thing over and over again anyway: "gays are teh suck".

Believe it or not, I am an intelligent and open-minded person who explains these problems because I believe the gay community can benefit from an understanding of them.

I find it terribly interesting that only a few gays are willing to listen closely enough to apprehend my point. I find it even more interesting that once they do get what I'm saying, they tend to agree.

In short, no gay person has ever disagreed with WHAT I SAID - only with some flawed restatement or misinterpretation of it.
10.19.2006 7:21pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
@ whit:

I have a theory related to that.

I believe some gays are not actually gay, but penis fetishists. It's very difficult to objectively tell the difference between a man who is sexually attracted to other men as human beings, and a man who is sexually attracted to penises as objects.

It has been established in a great many cases that a fetish is NOT biological, and that it results almost exclusively from environmental factors. So those gays who are penis fetishists would in the vast majority of cases be "curable", provided we are willing to consider fetishism a disease.

I think this same theory holds true for most sexual preferences; heterosexual men frequently have some form of breast fetish. When your fetish is something that is frequently a focus of sexual attention, how do you distinguish it from "normal" sexuality? It's an interesting question.
10.19.2006 7:28pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Caliban D.

I would guess that for every "came out to his dad in a crowded bar" story, there are dozens and dozens of gays and lesbians who are rightly scared that whenever and however they come out to their friends -- privately, non-threateningly, etc. -- they will be shunned, abandoned, or at least that it will cause a negative change/rift in their situation. Yet still, why should they try to pretend they are something other than they are, pretend to be attracted to opposite sex "hotties" in various social contexts, pretend they don't have lovers and significant others to their family and friends, all just because some people are so homophobic they can't even handle the fact that some of their relatives friends have a different sexual orientation then they thought?
10.19.2006 7:29pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Oh, and whit:

> Let me get this straight
> 1) they ought (sic) to be outlawed
> 2) they have a right to exist

There's no contradiction there. Right now, they are not outlawed, and have a right to exist. Once they are outlawed, they will no longer have such a right.
10.19.2006 7:32pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
@ JosephSlater:

> I would guess that for every "came
> out to his dad in a crowded bar" story,

...there are a whole lot of stories that would have been a really bad example for what I was trying to illustrate.

> there are dozens and dozens of gays and
> lesbians who are rightly scared

What about all the ones who are NEEDLESSLY scared? The ones who could say "I'm gay" and their friends would say "well, DUH"? The ones who would come out to their families and suddenly find themselves the center of a massive party?

Because in my experience, they FAR outnumber the ones who stay closeted because their friends would never understand. If they don't understand, guess what? THEY'RE NOT YOUR FRIENDS. Dump the jerks and get new ones. The gay community is *full* of people who could be your new friends, and the incidence of homophobia in the straight community is falling every day.

Oh, but that doesn't illustrate your point, does it? I'm sorry. How rude of me.

> why should they try to pretend they are
> something other than they are

Who are you to tell them what to decide? It's not YOUR decision; it's theirs. Let them make it.

> all just because some people are so
> homophobic

No, because THEY THINK some people are so homophobic. That's a subtly different thing, because they might be wrong. I mean, look at the statistics Randy pulled out of his ass: 70% of Americans are okay with gays! What do you think, they're okay with gays only so long as they don't know YOU'RE gay? What the hell kind of martyr complex is that? Or are you such a horrible judge of character that you chose your friends from the 30% of Americans who *aren't* okay with gays? Oh, no, THAT'S not evidence of a mental dysfunction; not at all.

You need to get your facts straight. You can't have a world where 70% of the population is okay with gays AND homophobia is so rampant you can't be yourselves.

Unless, of course, *I'm* right... and it's not the gay part they dislike, but the act-like-a-freak part.
10.19.2006 8:10pm
Stephen Clark (mail) (www):
I generally agree with Joe Slater's take on the union's position in this, and I am a former management-side labor lawyer.

One often finds unions opposing accommodation requests in the case law for a simple reason: accommodations disrupt the seniority system that is almost always the mechanism by which jobs are assigned in a collective bargaining unit. He and I have disagreed about the extent to which antidiscrimination law ought to override a collective bargaining agreement that adopts the seniority rule. But the motive of the union here is undoubtedly not a result of corruption or favoritism, but defense of the seniority system. The suggestion of some posters that this issue should be decided individually between management and only the objecting employee demonstrate a shocking ignorance of the collective bargaining process and the fundamentals of labor law.

On an unrelated issue, I agree with Dale Carpenter's general take on accommodations, although I question its application in the case religious objections to same-sex adoption in Boston or San Francisco. I write only to add, however, that the Minnesota Supreme Court seems to have construed the state free exercise clause to require exemptions unless the countervailing public policies amount to compelling state interests. That is the highest standard of review in constitutional law and, if honestly applied, would make it extremely difficult for the government to resist accommodations in many cases where Dale would probably think government should be allowed to favor competing interests. The compelling-interest test biases the analysis much too far in favor of the religious objector.

The taxi cab accommodation is, in my view, just absurd overreaching and is unworkable. Cabs are public utilities and have a legal duty to serve all comers. We do not allow cab drivers to decide who they will and won't transport because it is an essential service. No traveler should be forced to choose between throwing personal items in a trash can or waiting for a cab driver that is willing to carry him with alcohol. To characterize transporting a passenger with alcohol as a violation of one's religious obligations to refrain from the consumption of alcohol is exactly the kind of extravagant overreaching that has led to the repudiation of the very idea of religious exemptions in federal constitutional law. If the passenger is not Muslim, the law should not grant an exemption that effectively allows a cab driver to blackmail the passnger into conforming to the driver's religious beliefs. That's also a matter of freedom of religion.
10.19.2006 9:10pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
> Cabs are public utilities

Really?

I have always viewed cab drivers as a private enterprise, and thus entitled to reserve the proverbial right to refuse service to anyone. Painting them as a public utility puts a whole different face on the question. Is this really the way they're viewed in all cases, or does it vary by location?
10.19.2006 9:26pm
Stephen Clark (mail) (www):
I assume cabs qualify as common carriers in most jurisdictions, but it isn't a matter of national law, so I can't swear to it everywhere.

I'm not sure about rules governing pharmacists' ability to refuse to serve people. But that also strikes me as an essential service, as compared to, say, your local video rental store's refusal to serve people.

Of course, the business does not have a right to refuse service if the refusal would violate an antidiscrimination law. That's where the controversial demand for religious exemptions from antidiscrimination laws comes into play. But that seems not to be an issue with the cabs' alcohol-based refusals to serve.
10.19.2006 10:17pm
Randy R. (mail):
Whit: um... how is that consistent? Do you REALLY believe they should be OUTLAWED? Talk about a TRULY anti-choice position

Yes, I would love to have them outlawed. But that's a also fantasy. I thought I made that clear. I also understand that they have the right to exist. There can be a difference between my personal bias and knowing how the world really works, and respecing their rights.

But then, I am, as others have posted, a freak.
10.19.2006 11:53pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
> But then, I am, as others have posted, a freak.

Excuse me, no. The word "freak" appears exactly ONCE in these comments prior to your comment, as part of the hyphenated phrase "act-like-a-freak". I'm the one who said it, and I said it in response to JosephSlater, not to you.

And yet, you seem to honestly believe that "others" have posted that YOU are a freak. One other person said the word freak to someone else - not you - and you claim to have been called a freak.

How exactly do we differentiate between this incontrovertible behavior, supported by evidence anyone can see, and a real injustice perpetrated unfairly against you on the basis of sexual preference?

How are you not the boy who cries wolf?

This behavior hurts the entire gay community, and every last one of you needs to stop it. It is just one more example of where you bring injustice upon yourself. I don't understand it. Most straight people don't understand it. More than anything else, we don't RESPECT it.

Once you're "out", you are representing the gay community, whether you like it or not - and you have the ability to dramatically affect how other people view that community. If you don't like it, there's the closet. Make your CHOICE.
10.20.2006 4:29pm
Randy R. (mail):
Hmmm. I agree with you I'm a freak, and then you argue with me. I'm a freak because I believe I can differentiate between a fantasy and reality, which some people can't. So I'm a freak, and I wear that label proudly. Just like when I was young and kids called me queer, well, I now proudly call myself queer.

No, once I am out I respresent me. Just as you are a 'out' hetersexual male doens't mean that you represent all heterosexual males. How do I know that? Because not all hetersexual males compare gay teenagers to murderers.

It's your choice to view me as a rep of the group, or as an individual and hey, what ever floates your boat. It doesn't bother me. But unless a person holds a position as a spokeperson for a group, most people I know have the maturity to judge each person on their own merits, rather than as a rep of any group.
10.20.2006 4:58pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
> Hmmm. I agree with you I'm a freak,
> and then you argue with me.

No, you tell lies about me and I correct them. There's a subtle difference between those two views of the situation.

> I believe I can differentiate between
> a fantasy and reality

Except, of course, that you're a LIAR.

> not all hetersexual males compare
> gay teenagers to murderers.

I *actually* compared them to people who refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions. You're *pretending* that you *thought* I was comparing homosexuality to murder, because you're a LIAR.

> It's your choice to view me as a rep of the
> group, or as an individual

No it isn't. I can't view you as an individual until you have sufficiently differentiated yourself from the rest of your group. That's not my choice, it's yours.

And it is a damn shame that being a LIAR doesn't distinguish you from the rest of the gay community.

> most people I know have the maturity to judge
> each person on their own merits

Then why haven't they figured out you're a LIAR and stopped associating with you?

Lies can be readily dismissed by finding the truth. Anyone and everyone reading this post can use the "Find" function in their browser to look up EACH AND EVERY WORD I SAID in this discussion. I did not say the things you try to pretend I said.

So if anyone thinks this is just an ad hominem response, check the facts.
10.20.2006 10:13pm