Is all discrimination the same?

So yesterday I watched this video, I suggest you do the same just to know what I’m talking about. It concerns a news story about a restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee, where the restaurant owner refused to serve a US Senator for his ignorant homophobic policies and statements (for future reference in this post I dub this the ‘initial situation‘). According to the video and news article this guy has said some pretty bad things in the past, such as comparing homosexuality to bestiality, and that it is ‘impossible to get AID’s if you’re heterosexual‘. He also promoted the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill which would have prevented the discussion of homosexuality in American elementary and middle schools.

Now to your surprise this article isn’t about his supposed statements, or whether they might be right or wrong. I openly disagree with them, and hopefully this to you is something that doesn’t need to be debated. This is more about whether the restaurant has the right to reject him for being homophobic. The authors in the video argue that you have the right to believe in what you want , and say what you want, because freedom of speech is something everyone has the right to without fear of being ostracised. By refusing to allow the senator in, they in fact were discriminating against him for his beliefs, and you shouldn’t combat ignorance with discrimination. They proposed an ‘opposite situation’ in that if a restaurant had refused to serve someone  because they were pro-gay rights wouldn’t that be wrong? I however, am calling bulls**t on this one – they, to me, are not the same thing.

I am a firm believer of freedom of speech, and the right to believe what you want, but I also think that there is a limit to free speech. Its quite simple: if your speech promotes discrimination of a race, gender, or sexuality for no other reason than their race, gender or sexuality you are free to get the f**k out of the same room as me.  In this situation I totally agree with the restaurant owner and will fully back them. The difference between the ‘initial situation’ and the video’s ‘opposite situation’ is that the former is promoting discrimination, the latter combating it. The former shouldn’t be tolerated, the latter should be. I think that in this situation ‘discriminating’ against someone who promotes ignorance, prejudice and discrimination is A-OK.

I thus propose to you another, more accurate, ‘parallel situation’: where a person that had said known racist things in the past such as “Black people are not humans, they are monkeys,” and that “they are HIV infested,” was refused from a restaurant.  I believe this and the ‘initial situation‘ to be more accurate parallels because they are both combating discrimination. In neither of these two situations should the person’s beliefs be tolerated. Only it’s a lot easier to agree with the parallel situation because racism is something that in today’s day and age is absolutely abhorred and is recognized as wrong, incorrect, scientifically inaccurate etc… and if you disagree with a restaurant owner who has ejected a known racist, tbh I think there’s something wrong with you. The only difference is that unfortunately, homophobia still isn’t;  sexuality is still something that is openly debated in politics regarding  morality, and whether it is a lifestyle you choose.

So in the end it boils down as to whether you you hold sexuality as in the same esteem as gender, and race. I do, and thus  I agree with the restaurant owner’s actions.

If you however disagree with this, and that it is more a freedom of speech issue then feel free to comment!

(Any gay-bashing will be insta-blocked, you have been warned.)

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My thoughts on David Laws

I feel this whole situation proves that, that while legal by letter of the law, many in this day and age still feel terrified by the prospect of coming out, a matter proven by David Laws.

Firstly, I would like to say that I applaud the Telegraph for its expenses story last year, it seemed to cut out all of the nonsense that we would get from any ‘official enquiry’, and exposed all of the politicians who abused the system we had by profiteering and wasting money that had come from the people who elected them into office. Certainly this is best shown in the cases of expenses claimed for Moats, Duck Islands, and Pornography, all of which abused the system in a way that quite clearly wasted the tax payer’s money, and funded personal habits rather than accommodation and food. The difference between these and David Laws is that he fell because he wanted to keep his sexuality a secret and did nothing more than that, somewhat disproportionate from any of the other abuses I have already mentioned.

I would like to make 2 key points about this affair:

1) He claimed £40,000 from 2001, but this action only became ‘illegal’ from 2006 onwards. £40k is an inaccurate figure for what he claimed against the rules, and I believe its irresponsible reporting to suggest otherwise. We will have to wait for the inquiry to see how much he claimed legitimately.

2) He could have quite easily put his own name on the mortgage, and claimed a lot more than what he actually did without breaking any rules at all. Rather than claiming co-habitees mortgage with his partner (which would have netted him £200,000+ by now) he paid rent to him as a non-family member. The amount paid (£970 a month) was less than the average going rate of £1200 for an apartment that size, so in actuality he saved the taxpayer money.

That, however, would have meant coming out and acknowledging his relationship to the public and his own family. This is something he clearly was not comfortable doing. Instead what it seems he’s done is worked around the paperwork to keep his relationship secret, rather than fiddling his expenses to cheat taxpayers.

Neither he nor his partner have gained financially from the arrangement, when compared to the alternative legitimate arrangement, it almost seems negligible. No-one will remember this though, everyone will remember that he resigned as a casualty to the expenses scandal and his reputation will be tarnished for many years. I’m not saying he didn’t break the rules because he did, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as reported by certain members of the press.
It is an incredible shame that David Laws, one of the most talented members of the coalition, who could have ensured cuts that (I feel) we need without crippling public services, had to go because of a pathetic sting by the Telegraph who decided to sit on this information for over a year until he had a cabinet job. I somewhat doubt that 3 weeks into the new government they just happened to work this story out. Those who were outed during the scandal have been forgotten (hopefully because most resigned), however every time they do it now it seems like a much bigger issue because it’s a stand-alone story, not part of this package that affected all MPs nationwide. I am quite worried that they are going to use this to their advantage. Any day of the week they can see a politician in the public eye, who they potentially disagree with politically, trawl through their expenses and find a skeleton in the closet. The Telegraph potentially have the power to dismiss anyone from the government at any time. This is not in the public interest.

We have just had the general election where the electorate have judged those who have cheated the system, an example best shown by ex-home secretary and MP Jacqui Smith. Politics and the country as a whole should now start afresh and put the expenses scandal behind us, before any more unnecessary casualties like this are repeated.