KY Jelly for the Baptist College?
"Discrimination" is a pretty complicated idea. It's commonly used now as a bad word. You shouldn't discriminate. That's not nice.
Yet discrimination is the very essence of life. I'm choosing this over that. I'll accept this behavior, but not that. I strive to be a discriminating consumer. This person is good for me to associate with, but I should stay away from that one because he'll get me in trouble.
So what's good discrimination versus bad discrimination? More specifically, what's socially acceptable discrimination? Who gets to decide?
This brings us to the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky and the current controversy. Are the Baptists going to get screwed out of their funding?
A gay-rights group sued Gov. Ernie Fletcher on Tuesday for not vetoing $11 million in state funds earmarked for a Baptist college that expelled an openly gay student this month.
Legislators included in the budget $10 million for a proposed pharmacy school and $1 million for scholarships at the University of the Cumberlands.
The college expelled Jason Johnson after he posted details of his dating life on the Web site MySpace.com.
The Kentucky constitution prohibits the use of state tax money to support religious institutions or entities that discriminate against citizens, according to the lawsuit.
What to think? Certainly the University of the Cumberlands discriminates against homosexuals. But then, Yale discriminates against stupid people. Good luck getting into Yale or Harvard with an IQ under 80. That's certainly discrimination.
You might argue that elite schools discriminating in favor of smart kids is good, just what they're supposed to do, but that this Kentucky school discriminating against homosexuals is bad. I suppose I'd tend to agree with that.
But this is a Baptist college. This Jason Johnson fellow is not just gay, but very public about it as well. Would it really be reasonable to expect a Baptist college to tolerate this guy making a public mockery of their beliefs on their campus- and representing them as a student? Should he have a civil right to advertise an orgy in a Cumberland dorm room, and damn those bigot Baptists if they disagree?
I think I'll have to side with the governor on this. The Kentucky Fairness Alliance is demanding that the governor discriminate against the University of Cumberland. You might argue that this would be good discrimination, but it's still discrimination.
As it is, the University of Cumberland is lined up at the trough just like every other institution of higher learning. KFA demands that the government not treat their requests for money the same as other schools because they don't like their policies. Any way you want to slice it, this amounts to a demand that the government discriminate against religious groups of whose beliefs they do not approve.
Generally speaking, both legally and practically, government discrimination is worse and less acceptable than private discrimination. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Lefties get all bent out of shape on this count over as little as a local county courthouse showing the meaningless favoritism of displaying a nativity scene. Seems like cutting off someone's funding because of their religious beliefs would be considered a lot more heavy handed than an atheist having to walk by a display they don't endorse on their way to the county clerk's office.
Mostly, it's less bad when private citizens or groups discriminate, in that they don't have the sweeping force of law. If Mr Johnson can't work within the University of Cumberland system, there are plenty of other colleges and denominations of churches that will be happy to see him. Whereas if you're a college trying to compete against all other colleges and the state cuts off your money, then you're really hurting. They're going to have some awfully dry toast to eat in Cumberland if they lose $11,000,000 worth of jelly.
Also, it's less bad for private citizens to be inappropriately discriminatory because such things are largely within their individual rights. You have a right to freedom of association. Or instead you could demand that citizens all play together nice as YOU define it, on pain of being sent to The Death Camp of Tolerance.
A lot of this comes down to a critical distinction between ethics or morals vs politics: what you should do vs what you should HAVE to do under force of law. It's a simple and obvious distinction, but the difference often seems lost on people. KFA seems to think that it is wrong for the Baptist college to discriminate against homosexuals, so they shouldn't be allowed to.
I'll just say that the Constitution, common sense and good manners all suggest it is best if possible to avoid bringing in the heavy hand of government to arbitrate these value judgments.
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