Thursday, May 04, 2006

You might be an authoritarian if ...

In suburban Washington, D.C., Bono Film and Video has an announced policy of refusing to duplicate material that owner Tim Bono regards as contrary to his Christian values. Now the Arlington County (Va.) Human Rights Commission has held a public hearing and investigated Bono on charges that he discriminated against Lilli Vincenz by refusing to duplicate her Gay Pride videos. Various social-conservative pressure groups have taken up Bono's cause, and this would appear to be one of those instances where they have a point.

Hell yes they have a point. Bono runs a private business, and no one has the right to tell him what materials he should or should not duplicate. No one's being discriminated against here but Bono.

Stephen H. Miller at the Independent Gay Forum sums it up appropriately:

One wonders, are only liberals allowed to have consciences? If Tim Bono were refusing to duplicate White Power tapes, would they then defend him? Is it a matter solely of who can use the state to force ideological fealty to their ideas?

As gay people, we often protest against what some see as manifestations of creeping,Taliban-like theocracy from the right. But in the case of Tim Bono, just who is insisting on imposing their values on everyone?

In short, it is not in our own long-term interests, which are grounded in liberty and respect for individual autonomy, to use the state to force others to reproduce content of which they disapprove.

1 comment:

  1. And I suppose that if this Bono fellow owned, say, a diner, and his religion taught him that, say, black people shouldn't eat at his diner, you'd have no problem there?

    When you own a public business, you abide by non-discrimination laws. The vicissitudes of the commerce clause aside, the Supreme Court has ruled on this. Bono will get away with this because Virginia, in a state of undiluted bigotry masquerading as "morals", refuses to protect gay people from discrimination. Would that they did.

    Religious conviction has long been used as an excuse to flout the law, whether it was Mormon polygamists, peyote-smoking Native Americans, or tax protesting fundamentalists. Now the right is using the religious excuse to flout anti-discrimination laws, and the L.A. Times recently profiled in the case of the University of Georgia undergrad who is suing the school for discriminating against her "Christian beliefs". They've got there lawyers, and they are going to use them, damnit!

    The great deal that our founders made, their great advance, was that they raised the civic over the religious. This was the genius at the heart of modern Western democracy, that we claim to be a Christian nation and then do absolutely nothing, as far as the government is concerned, to assure that we are.

    I take H.L. Mencken's advice to heart, when he said that we should respect a man's religious belief, just as we should respect his belief that his wife is beautiful and his children intelligent.

    (Oh, and I support absolutely the right of Mr. Bono to change his profession to one that in no way would ever require him to demean his deeply held beliefs by doing business with people who are different then him. I'm sure that Bob Jones University has occasional openings on their janitorial staff.)