Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's Not Always About Legality

Mark Osler's March 31st HuffPo piece fails to live up to its title, "Bigotry or Belief? A Test", in a few rather obvious ways. The first mistake he makes is in conflating whether something is legal or not with whether it amounts to bigotry. This is somewhat understandable since he is a law professor and therefore may think primarily in legalistic terms. However, his "test" only determines whether an individual or group can legally get away with a specific set of behaviors/actions. It says nothing about whether those behaviors are biased and/or bigoted. It is quite possible to be an upright law-abiding citizen and still be a narrow minded bigot.

The other blatant flaw is his reliance on scripture. The manner in which he uses it does not come close to determining whether a belief is bigotry. The best his "test" can do is come up with a relative sense of how sincerely an individual holds a specific belief and whether they attempt to apply that belief universally. In one sense that may mean they do not apply their beliefs in a hypocritical manner but that does not justify the belief itself and does not mean that the belief itself is by its nature not biased. It is also rather problematic to come to a conclusion at all based on scripture. As I have often pointed out, scripture tends to alternate between incoherent and contradictory.

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