I Don’t Like You Either

I’m moving into a two bedroom apartment soon, upstairs in the home of a family whose church I attend. I’m looking for a house-mate to help with rent. I’m kinda particular about who I’m willing to allow in the apartment with me as house-mate: he’s gotta be a guy and he’s gotta be a Christian, he’s gotta be clean and he’s gotta be able to put up with me. Nothing to hard right?

So I post an ad titled “Christian man, nice neighborhood, good family” on a popular website and a helpful and friendly monitor sent me a message warning me that my ad violated the law, specifically the Federal Fair Housing Act. Apparently it is illegal to post an ad stating either your preference of religion or your personal religion, both these cases adding up to discrimination.

I’m a little hot under the collar over this travesty, so I make a quick check of other postings on the site and notice plenty of “Male Roommate” titles which I assumed would be discriminatory as well and therefore illegal. I quickly replied back to the monitor:

Matthew:

I trust you’ve notified those who are practicing sex discrimination and other religions as well.

And he patiently replied:

Monitor:

Nope, it’s just Christians that I hate.. heh.. Just kidding. Sorry I didn’t mean to be rude. Yeah every once in a while but very rarely I’ll see someone posting that they are looking for a Muslim roommate or whatever and sure, I’ll e-mail them and/or flag their posting too. As for sex discrimination, it’s actually legal to discriminate on the basis of sex in some rental situations where parts of the living arrangement is shared, such as the bathroom, etc… e.g. an hermaphrodite could advertise that he/she’s looking for a only male, only a female, or only an hermaphrodite roommie. But it’s not legal to discriminate on the basis of religion even in these situations.

Well anyway, sure of course everyone, including myself, discriminates on the basis of religion when they’re looking for a roommate, and I don’t have a problem with it. That seems reasonable, since religion is part of a person’s culture, and if you’re living with someone, sharing living space to some extent, then you want someone whose culture will be compatible with yours.

I guess it’s just preferable for all of us if we can keep advertisements from discriminating specifically on the basis of religion, because that sets up an environment where such discrimination is normalized by all who read the advertisement, so then in people’s minds and actions this discrimination may spill over into other types of rental arrangements, such as a regular apartment or house rental where the person renting it out is not living and socializing with the person renting it. And that really sucks… Wether you’re Christian, Muslim, athiest, wether you do have a family with kids, don’t have a family with kids, wether you’re old, young, middle-aged, there are landlords out there who will discriminate against you because of it. I got denied an apartment the other day because I own a motorcycle, and that, sadly, is legal… 😛

Which answer caused me to think about equality and discrimination again. I’ve thought about it a bit recently, but I’m still at a loss to define truly immoral discrimination versus allowable preference:

Matthew:

Ouch, bummer about the cycle. They thought it would be too noisy? I’d agree with them there :), But I know really nice people who like cycles. I’d like to look up info on the case history or precedents involved in the sex discrimination allowances, that would make for an interesting study.

Personally, I believe the only basis for moral discrimination is that based on changeable characteristics. Any unchangeable characteristic (sex or race, etc) cannot be a basis for any moral discrimination ie. it is immoral to discriminate based on unchangeables. There is a difference between preference and discrimination: it is not discrimination to say I prefer to date white women, both of which (white and female) are unchangeable characteristics and therefore immoral to discriminate based upon. This is merely a statement of preference within a state (activity or relationship) where preference is allowable and expected. I’m not sure how to define appropriately the difference between preference and discrimination, but there are times when comparing similar actions in two different situations, one will be preference and allowable and one will be discrimination and immoral.

Though, personal beliefs aside, being as I am a citizen of America and therefore subject to the laws of this country, I do have to abide by the laws of this land while working to change those I see as immoral.

Thanks for the heads up on this issue. I must say my second response was not sent with the nicest of intentions or needed grace, I apologize, I was wrong.

So I’m still at a loss. How do you define allowable versus immoral and wrong discrimination?

2 thoughts on “I Don’t Like You Either”

  1. I think the difference is that when you discriminate, you are saying “You’re unacceptable to me” and “I will therefore judge you based on those things about you that are unacceptable to me, and disallow you from existing (at least in my world).”

    I think preference is more tolerant or lenient. Preference says, “I don’t agree with you. We’re different, but I won’t judge you. (Who can judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart but God alone.) I may not agree with you or get along with you, but you’re allowed to live your life the way you want.”

    For example. Tim’s mom is gay. I really like her as a person. She’s really nice. All that aside, I can’t agree with her life choices, but I don’t judge her for them either. I don’t feel I have a right to judge anyone. I make just as many mistakes as anyone else. So, my preference is that her lifestyle is not appropriate as to the laws of God, but I don’t discriminate against her.

    I give this whole example because I think discrimination vs. preference is based on more than just unchangeable characteristics. “Religion” for example is a changeable characteristic.

    I think in the rental situation that discrimination and preference amount to the same thing. And I hate to say it, but I think landlords should have the right to decide that for themeselves. I hate to say that because obviously there are alot of bigotted, racist, sexist, you-name-it folks out there and they will obviously discriminate in inappropriate ways. But I think that if the land is privately owned, the government should not be allowed to have a say in who you can and cannot rent to. (Also, the fact that a law exists does not prevent these things from occuring anyway, and change [like this] must come from within to be effective. Outside controls will not solve the problem. They will simply mask the symptom.)

    The fact remains that there will be idiots out there who will disrespect others to further their own ends (even if it is only their ego or racial/ethnic/religious/etc pride). But I do believe that people should be free to make those choices for themselves not dictated by an ever increasing socialist government.

  2. Good point. As I think about it, I can discriminate against ideas, ideologies, and choices, but I don’t believe it is ever moral to discriminate against a person. Preference? yes.

    And I believe that there are fewer racist, (truly) bigoted people than you believe. Truly bigoted compared to the numbers assumed by the flagrant misuse of the word by many immoral ideologies and their subscribers.

    Policing of discrimination and preference are not responsibilities of the Government, especially ours, because we do have the right to be stupid idiots and immoral people as well as good moral and righteous people contained in the Freedom of Speech clause as currently interpreted. Therefore, the government ought not make laws requiring or forbidding certain beliefs, because in some cases there is legitimate grounds for preference and they are just as illegal as the illegitimate abuses of our liberty to prefer.

    Thank you for your ideas, Kristi, as always your input tends to help me clarify my own ideas.

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