From the Daily News:
Turkish public opinion continues to advocate for a total restriction of rights for atheists and homosexuals, according to recent study conducted by Boğaziçi University and the Open Society Association.
An astonishing 53 percent of participants strongly believed that the right to freely express a different sexual orientation should be restricted. Similarly, 37 percent of the people sampled denounced the right of believing in no religion, with 59 percent standing against atheists flaunting their lack of religion. Moreover, 28 percent denounced the right of non-Muslims to be open about their religious identity.
Well, that’s Turkey. Such advocacy could never happen here in the West. Could it?
In the US this week, Rand Paul, who beat an establishment-backed candidate in a May 25, 2010 GOP primary to win the Republican senate candidacy in Kentucky, appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and, in a long exchange with the liberal host, repeated his belief in a limited government that should not force private businesses to abide by civil rights law. Maddow asked him, “Do you think that a private business has the right to say ‘we don’t serve black people’?” “Yes,” was Paul’s answer, although he tried to explain that in terms of freedom of expression. It was actually another attempt to explain his belief that a limited government that should not force private businesses to abide by civil rights law. In a 2002 letter Paul had written to a Kentucky newspaper, he argued that private individuals and businesses should have the right to discriminate, even if it is abhorrent.
Not only can it happen in the US, it IS happening in the US with direct support from those who call themselves tea-baggers. Paul’s win is evidence for that support. Let us hope that the people of Kentucky will not elect him and his dangerous willingness to undermine civil rights legislation.
So why should we care?
If we don’t support civil rights laws and those who are willing to uphold them against people like the tea-baggers and their chosen candidates, then we open the door to once again to discriminate on the basis on race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, and so on. We can reasonably expect similar advocacy for discrimination against identifiable minorities if they are elected. Those who allow discrimination to flourish are not just the politicians once they are in power; they are us – the ones who give in to our fear and biases and bigotries and cast our vote in that direction. And that vote can have a direct cost that creates victims – real, live people – out of our willingness to tolerant bigotry.