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When is discrimination "just"?

Updated

A comment article, written by me, appears at Cif belief.

See Equality, the church and discrimination. (They changed the title…)

“Unjust discrimination is fundamentally wrong.” So say the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales in evidence to parliament on the equality bill. But doesn’t this terminology imply there might be another category of “just discrimination” which is slightly less awful, or even in some circumstances righteous?

Update
A news report, also written by me, appears in this week’s Church Times. This was filed on Wednesday morning, before the publication of the full transcripts of the Tuesday hearings.

See Churches argue for job discrimination.

REPRESENTATIVES of both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church told the House of Commons on Tuesday that their existing right to discriminate in cases of employment, on the basis of factors other than religion, would be unreasonably limited by the new Equality Bill. A scrutiny committee was taking oral and written evidence this week, before starting its clause-by-clause examination of the Bill, which is scheduled for completion in early July…

(Note that the last part of the article is from another journalist).

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Ford ElmsdrdanfeeChristopher ShellSpirit of Vatican IICynthia Gilliatt Recent comment authors
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rick allen
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“When is discrimination “just”?” When the distinction made by the law is in fact a distinction between two really different things that may fairly be treated differently in the context in which they are so treated. Every law is discriminatory. Every law favors something or discourages something or prohibits everything in a particular class. To think that “discrimination” in itself is unjust is to forget that the word simply means recognizing a difference, and that, fundamentally, it is just to discriminate between right and wrong. The flip side is, of course, that just as it is wrong to treat things… Read more »

ruidh
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ruidh

Discrimination means treating people with different personal qualities differently. An example of discrimination which is not considered unjust is life insurance premiums. Older people pay more for life insurance. That is age discrimination. But it is not unjust discrimination as the probability of death is greater for an older person than for a younger person.

We should be talking in terms of fair and unfair discrimination rather than just and unjust.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Unreasonably”???

Jay Wilson
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Jay Wilson

We discriminate as a basic function of intelligence. Not everyone is a trusted person to loan money to or to marry your sister, or to borrow your car. To ‘make windows into mens’ minds’ and outlaw certain kinds of personal decisions requires a very finely tuned judgment which most of us cannot always compass in any accurate way. Hiring Quotas and the ideological attitudes of Political Correctness – whether of the Right or Leftist orientation – are politically crude and frequently mendacious approaches since they most often both ignore and simplify the facts of the case. I frequently note the… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

Funnily enough,in this century it does not fall to me, to discriminate, about whom my sisters marry — if at all.

Soon these denominations (RCC and C of E) will have to enter the twentyfirst century, or continue their decline, towards oblivion.

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

I may add that there is no agreement among Anglican or RC clergy and laity, on the absolute necessity of pretending, that RC or Anglican clergy or laity cannot be gay. What of gay and lesbian members and youth workers, and clergy in service now ? Ignored again. Why aren’t the Committee members hearing evidence from lesbian and gay believers ? We are silenced again — the RC rep and the C of E rep do NOT speak for us. Is this freedom of religion ? I was ordained as an openly gay partnered person in the years 1978 /… Read more »

counterlight
Guest

Legacy admissions and good ol’ boy networks are “affirmative action” for white people (and the most famous beneficiary of both was former President GW Bush). Until those are completely eliminated from academic and professional life, complaints about “political correctness” and calls for meritocracy will fall on my deaf ears. None of us chooses the circumstances into which we are born. The playing field of opportunity is not, and never was, level. The only permissible discrimination is self selection through merit and character. Everything else is just so much arbitrary privilege. As far as I’m concerned, a good 3/4 of the… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Jay Wilson: I’m pleased you don’t think making windows into men’s minds is a good idea. In my experience, some leaders within churches routinely make such windows and then treat those who work for or with them badly on that basis. It’s happened to many people whom I know. The sooner such a culture within the Church ends the better.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

The longer I mull over these legal, policy, and administrative or regulatory details, the more I think that something else is really going on, beneath the details. Clues to something else? Well, underlying change, obviously. What sort of change? I would guess: We are working through another dimension of the ongoing sea change, from premodern to modern, to at least in some instances, hints of postmodern – change. At hand is the shift in leeway frameworks. Our legacy leeway frame is one way. Especially in church life. Those who are most conservative hold the reins and say the say. Brakes… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“I frequently note the same email names trying to monitor discussions on this website from what they believe to be a ‘politically correct’ viewpoint.” How are you using the term? I ask, because when I taught undergraduates and told them, unless they were writing in a medical or scientific context, not to refer to men and women as males and females, I was accused of ‘political correctness.’ This baffles me. When I asked the students to explain what they meant by “p.c.” they said I wanted them to use ‘feminist’ language. This just baffles me. I understood better when, in… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

What looks and sounds like picky PC stuff from outside, can and does get boring, thoughtless in its own beat dead horses ways, and all that. From inside such little groups – and the groups who manage to be most correct are concentric circles of small, no matter what the counted numbers; the twin initiatives are fairness, purity, or some mix of both. As our generalized ideals of fairness, and purity heighten nowadays, we are bound to see people striving. Right now the fairness folks want to keep the purity people from meanness, and the purity folks want to keep… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“…Lesbians or gays…”

Cynthia, just why is the word “lesbian” capitalized here? You know ya’ll aren’t really from Lesbos, right? 🙂

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Cynthia, just why is the word “lesbian” capitalized here? You know ya’ll aren’t really from Lesbos, right? :-)”

I’ve seen it with cap and without. Since the word does derive from the name of the island, I suppose you could call it a Proper Noun.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

“Just” discrimination, as used by the Vatican and the bishops repeating the Vatican line, is a weasel word. What decides justice or injustice is the sexual teaching of the Vatican. Any recognition of gays that would be prejudicial to church doctrine is to be avoided. Freedom of conscience, recognized by Vatican II, may allow gays to be free of criminal penalties (as the Vatican declared for the first time at the UN on Dec 19, 2008) and civil unions may be tolerated on the theory that they may be non-sexual friendships, or possibly as the lesser of two evils. But… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Rick Allen sums it up well. ‘Non-discrimination’ is a self-contradictory ideology. Fairness and justice are necessary goals that will be achieved from consideration of all the data not simply from treating everyone as though they were the same.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Non-discrimination is a reply to Discrimination, insofar as we seek to open doors and remove barriers built up from prejudiced views – negative halo effects in social perception? in social belief systems? – by which justifications are stated for taking actions against whomever the prejudices target or identify. Otherwise, we most likely would simply call what we are doing, fair, democratic, equal, or ….. choose your own synonym unrelated to prejudice and discrimination. Letting the first woman into medical school (she had to sit and try to hear lectures, all behind a screen, so that the male students would not… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“The challenge for the traditionalistic believers is still tangled up with change, regardless.”

Not really. Traditionalism is not synonymous with petrification. We need to distinguish tradition from Tradition. Not ordaining women, for instance, is definitely part of the tradition, but is it part of the Tradition? Same with a lot of other things. The problem is that many traditionalists are unable to make that differentiation.