When should discrimination be allowed?

February 20, 2007 at 2:36 pm (Uncategorized)



  1. soniarott said,

    Recently the School’s Student Union has ruled unconstitutional the holding of blood drives on their property. This is due to an article saying that the student union cannot discriminate upon “irrelevant personal characteristics”. They consider that the fact that the blood services does not accept blood from men who have had sex with men since 1977 as irrelevant. This is something that studies seem to disagree with but they all agree that the risk of allowing a subset of this excluded population instead of the whole set is very small (on the order of one additional case of AIDS being passed through blood transfusions in USA every 16 years or so).

    But is this something we want? Should we as a society consider the additional expected case to be acceptable considering the psychological harm caused by the discrimination?

    On related matter, courts have agreed that it is acceptable for a certain religious group to bring a ceremonial knife with them to school (high school). This is due to the fact that disallowing this is not allowing their right to practice their religion and therefore discriminatory.

    When should a society allow discrimination and when should it not? Should judges be the ones to decide all these cases?

  2. postmodern beatnik said,

    A note on Sikh’s and their ceremonial knife: as it is primarily a symbolic thing to carry the kirpan, many Sikhs have accepted a compromise of bolting it into its sheath so that it cannot be removed and keeping the blade dull and short (since tradition does not require it to be either sharp or long–some blades even being less than 10cm). Given that Sikhs are willing to be so compliant with security concerns, I hardly see why they should be banned from carrying a kirpan.

    As for the case that you cite, the rule at issue was part of a code of conduct for students prohibiting the carrying of “weapons and dangerous objects.” The Supreme Court of Justice in the UK agreed with defense attorney Julius Grey that, since not one violent crime has ever involved the use of a kirpan, there is “overwhelming empirical evidence that the kirpan is not a dangerous weapon.”

    Blood drives may be a different matter, but it seems not in this case.In the US, all blood collected for the purpose of transfusions must be checked for HIV/AIDS and a host of other abnormalities. If for some reason the blood donations accepted from men who have had homosexual contact since 1977 (when the AIDS population really began to rise) were overwhelmingly likely to be useless, it would not be discrimination to disallow it, but rather a matter of saving time and effort. If this is truly not the case, however, then it may very well be discrimination. But tell me: is blood not checked for HIV/AIDS in the UK? Surely, there must be safeguards already in place for blood from those who have only had heterosexual contact, since they can also have blood abnormalities. Given that, it does not seem justified to exclude those with even a single instance of homosexual contact since 1977 from the blood pool.

  3. cadrache said,

    The claim is….
    75% of all cases of reported aids has been ‘traced’ to male-male sex.
    Quite frankly, the report rate seems rather too high and is a bit questionable.
    UK Aids fact sheet:
    61423 diagnoses since nov. 1985.
    47% from men having sex with men.
    The 75% answer is 75% of all cases are reported by men. The non-discriminatory aspect therefore should be a complete refusal of accepting blood from ALL MEN.

  4. the other said,

    Even taking the “psychological harm” out of the equation for the time being, I see many cases where anti-discrimination laws/policies were beneficial to society. By bringing women and minorities into the competition for important jobs, we get closer to a meritocracy, for instance. The entire company/government gets the benefits of superior leadership.

    However, in the examples you bring up, it seems like society is just trying to balance the possible suffering of one group against the possible suffering of another. Is it worse for a small segment of society to be subjected to “psychological harm” or for an even smaller segment to be subjected to AIDS? I don’t know. I suppose some utilitarian scale could be applied here, but, unlike many instances of anti-discrimination law/policy, the situations you discuss here are not win-win.

  5. baldron said,

    If they are going to keep them from giving blood on the grounds that they could pass HIV/AIDS on to the recipient then that is absolutely discrimination and for a horrible reason since it is not only the homosexual community that is known for HIV/AIDS. It is more likely to be passed in homosexual relationships due to the nature of it but a woman or man with HIV/AIDS can pass it onto their heterosexual partner as well. I would have to agree that the rate seems a little high and i would also like to see how many sex partners these men where having, when they found out they had it and before they did.

    I to would also like to know if and how UK goes about checking their blood donations.

    “The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.”
    ~Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC)

    “The first and great commandment is: Don’t let them scare you.”
    ~Elmer Davis (1890 – 1958)

  6. ron harvey said,

    soniarott wrote:

    When should a society allow discrimination and when should it not? Should judges be the ones to decide all these cases?

    If is is wrong to discriminate then homesexuality is wrong, because it deliberately discriminates against the opposite sex.

  7. EcceQuiTollisPeccataMundi said,

    Um, Ron? If I’m reading you correctly – or you are expressing yourself poorly – you seem to be saying that “it” – homosexuality – discriminates against the opposite sex? Homosexuality in and of itself is nothing but a description of an action taken by people who choose to have sex with people of the same sex. I think that you are about an asshair away from saying that homosexuals themselves discriminate the opposite sex of their preference by virtue of exlcuding the opposite sex from their bedroom endeavors.

    Funnily enough, the opposite must also be true if that’s the case, that being that if homosexuality is not wrong(pace right to choose) then discrimination is not wrong. Obviously, this can very easily lead to some severly bigotted statements or frames of mind.

    The church leaders exploit man’s ineradicable need for metaphysics and infantilized the public while dwelling in a state of perpetual deception by refusing to confess they deliberately cloak their truths with allegories. – Arthur Schopenhauer

  8. ron hearvy said,

    EcceQuiTollisPeccataMundi wrote:
    Obviously, this can very easily lead to some severly bigotted statements or frames of mind.

    If homesexuality is somewhow supposed to be a state of unaffected indifference the effective way to convince me of that would be for them all to shut up about it, once and for all.

  9. nawitus said,

    This is not discrimination. Blind people are not allowed to fly planes (to my knowledge anyway..), but it doesn’t make it discrimination. Discrimination is something when you allow/disallow some people without any rational reason for it.

    For example it is not discrminiation if somebody only wants to hire Asian people, because it has been proven that Asian people work harder and are more intelligent than black people. This is proven with massive amounts of evidence and statistics.

    “In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God — Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?” – Pope Benedict

  10. ron hearvy said,

    nawitus wrote:
    This is not discrimination. Blind people are not allowed to fly planes (to my knowledge anyway..), but it doesn’t make it discrimination.

    …treatment or
    consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a
    person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that
    person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.

    There are good reasons to discrimate against emplying women, but there are none the less attempts to impugn that as wrongly discriminatrory.
    There are good reasons to discrimate against associating with smokers, but there are none the less attempts to impugn that as wrongly discriminatrory.
    You are lucky if anything so much as worth the name of reason gets a look in.

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