Sunday, December 29, 2013

Free Speech and Consequences

"Phil Robertson should not have been punished by A&E."

So, in America you are supposed to be free to speak your mind.  You are supposed to have the "Freedom of Speech."  Our founders found it so important that they put in our Bill of Rights, right in the top spot.  In short, it says,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Now, this does not mean you can run into a crowded theater and yell, "Fire!"  Nor, do I believe it means you can say things that offend your boss, and not get fired or suspended.  So, here the question is, whether or not the marketplace accepts this kind of speech as acceptable?  Moreover, should it be acceptable?  Clearly, "Duck Dynasty" has a fan base, and plenty of supporters from those who would use the Bible to demean others.  Sadly, we still live in an age where homosexuality is viewed at as a sinful choice, rather than something you are born as or not.

"Mr. Robertson, was only stating what the Bible says…"

Really?  To me this comes off as 'cafeteria christianity' wherein you just pick and choose which 'parts' of the Bible you exploit, at any particular moment.  I mean, first to say that just because the Bible says it, it is good public policy, and acceptable behavior is simply old headed thought.  The Bible was written thousands of years ago, for people thousands of years ago.  The no pork rule was for a time when an improperly cooked pork chop could kill you!  Shrimp and lobster too, were banned simple because they were dangerous to consume if under-cooked.

The Bible also supports slavery, the outright ownership of one man or woman of another!  It also says it is sinful to work on the sabbath, not leave the corners of your field for the strange or weird, and literally hundreds of other arcane rules that no longer apply to our lives today.  If my brother dies, I DON'T have to take in his wife and kids as my own!  I could go on, but the point is made.

So, at what point should a private employer get to tell you keep your pie hole shut, about your religious choices?  The answer can be found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Employers can not fail to hire, or deprive of opportunity, for reasons of race, sex, religion, or national origin an employee.  So, long as the observance of your religion does not interfere with the work setting the acts are protected.  Now, this extension also includes the employers themselves.  They too can practice their religion, so long as they don't require employees to take part.

The law here, it would seem, resides with the Robertsons.  Having and expressing arcane religious beliefs is no reason for termination or suspension from an employer, period.

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