Geez there is so much to write about today that I kind of agonized over what I would write about first because there are a couple of subjects that are jumping out at me. But you don’t need to get your violins out yet and start playing for me because I bit the bullet and I have decided to write today about whether or not it is the government’s responsibility to protect my dignity.
There is a lot of anger and vitriol over the recent religious freedom law in Indiana and since I have already blogged about this two or three times I won’t rehash those arguments. What I want to discuss today is related to this law but it is not about the law itself. It is about an abstract idea that it is the government’s responsibility to preserve the dignity of the gay and lesbian community or any of us frankly.
Many people believe that the primary reason that you shouldn’t allow business owners to refuse service to anyone on the basis of religious convictions because if you discriminate against them you are harming their dignity. Which, I understand is probably the same way I would feel if someone wouldn’t serve me because they looked down upon me or my request. I would feel like I wasn’t as important or valuable and it would make me angry or upset, etc.
Let’s say that I went to a restaurant today for lunch. Let’s say that I am just minding my own business when the owner of the establishment came out and asked me to leave and proceeded to explain to me that because I am overweight that he couldn’t serve me. I would ask him why and lets say that he/she said it’s because he/she felt like they would be either participating in my sin of gluttony or that he would somehow be demonstrating to people that gluttony was okay and it offended his conscience. I would probably be pissed off and my feelings would be hurt, but does this mean that the government should be trying to preserve my dignity?
Well, first what is dignity exactly? Dignity is a state of being where something is worthy of quality and respect. It is a sense of pride or self-respect. Dignity is a good thing. It produces a self respect that allows people to believe in themselves. When people believe in themselves they are much more likely to have a more dynamic life. People who don’t have dignity go through tremendous amounts of trouble and usually stay stuck in the same old depressing ruts. But dignity is also subjective.
What I mean is should everybody have dignity? Most people automatically want to say yes, but what about pedophiles? I’m not comparing homosexuals to pedophiles, but I am trying to demonstrate that some people don’t deserve to have dignity. Who we decide should have dignity is a gray area and because it exists as such nobody should make rash judgments. You shouldn’t hurry to cast judgment on the gays or the religious business owners who have offended their sense of dignity.
But is it the government’s place to protect the dignity of people? It seems to me that if there is such a gray area on who we decide should or shouldn’t have dignity how is that government bureaucrats suddenly can be trusted to make accurate decisions on dignity? Just because you form a coalition of people that can sway them to vote one way or another doesn’t legitimize their decision.
How can a third party protect something that only exists to the end of your nose? Dignity is a personal matter. You can’t have dignity for someone else. You can only yourself have dignity. You yourself have to choose whether or not you relinquish that dignity. The actions of another can’t take dignity away from you. It is a conscious or unconscious act of the will to determine whether or not you have dignity. A third party, such as the government, can never preserve or protect your dignity without creating an environment where the rights of someone are going to be infringed upon. That’s what the government does. They either make a law that discriminates against one party or a law that discriminates against the other party.
What should have been done was nothing. The religious liberty laws, and laws like them are often times a response to other legislation, like the one about the florist in Arizona or New Mexico where she was forced to shut down her business because she wouldn’t provide floral arrangements for a gay wedding. It’s okay to destroy a person’s livelihood and try to destroy their dignity so long as one party’s dignity is preserved. This is what happens when the government gets involved. But to some people that’s okay if they aren’t the one being harmed by the government. It’s not a party on one side or the other. It’s both sides that are a problem. Both sides are generally bigoted and love government intervention so long as it favors them.
To conclude this little derby doo, the government or any third party ultimately cannot protect your dignity for you. Any action against you can’t remove your dignity. It has to be your own conscious act of deciding you have no dignity that causes the damage. Don’t involve the government to try to force, coerce and destroy those that don’t acknowledge that you have dignity.
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