Employers Can Ban The Burka

The high court of the European Union has ruled that it is not discrimination on religious grounds for an employer to dismiss women who refuse to remove their headscarves at work. The case involved two women, one from France and one from Belgium, both of whom were fired for refusing to comply with their employers’ demands to remove the coverings while at work, as reported here.

The court said that an employer’s policy of banning all “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” is not discriminatory. It went on to say that, absent such a strict neutrality policy, the taking into account a customer’s wishes not to be served by a woman wearing Islamic dress could not be taken as an occupational requirement that is not discriminatory. In other words, employers must have a policy of neutrality in place or risk discrimination claims if they attempt to regulate what can and cannot be worn by their employees.

At first glance this seems reasonable. Simply put a neutrality policy in place. As applied to headscarves, it is simple. What about, though, Jewish yarmulkes, Star of David or crucifix necklaces, wearing of ashes on Ash Wednesday, or even LDS garments, which, though worn beneath clothing, are often visible in outline?

The ruling affects not only religious but political and philosophical symbols as well. That would, it seems, include a rainbow or gay pride symbol, an equality symbol used by the Human Rights campaign and even a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. It could extend to lapel pins of the American flag since that would be a “political sign.”

I don’t know but I suspect that the EU cases arose because someone complained about being subjected to the sight of an employee wearing a headscarf, which is typically associated with Islam. Some would say that is an intolerant and unenlightened attitude, which it is. But do some of those same people feel the same way about crosses on the roadside to commemorate the death of a law enforcement officer or the words “In God We Trust” in a public building or the keeping of Christ in Christmas? Those objections seem to be enlightened enough to bring lawsuits to remove the offending items.

The EU decision is a pragmatic one. If you want to ban anything remotely offensive to someone, ban everything. Maybe everyone should wear the same uniform. Except that won’t work because whatever color the uniform is, it will undoubtedly offend someone. The real solution might be to make it so that we do everything from our computers in our basements so we don’t have to risk offense by having any human interaction.

Not in My Backyard

There’s an interesting dichotomy playing out in Salt Lake City, one that is reflective of our common schizophrenia over certain social issues. On one hand we have protesters marching to demonstrate their disdain for President Trump’s travel ban, chanting phrases such as “nothing great about hate.” On the other hand we have protesters marching to demonstrate their disdain for Salt Lake City’s plans to build a homeless shelter on Simpson Avenue and 700 East. The reason for their outrage is that the shelter will displace local businesses that have been at that location for years.

In a perfect world we’d all agree that refugees should be given refuge in a safe country. Most Americans came to the United States somewhat as refugees — seeking a safe place so they could worship or live or associate as they wished. Some came as actual refugees, fleeing wars in Europe and other places. Members of the LDS faith settled this valley as refugees from religious persecution in Missouri, Illinois and other states. In that same perfect world we’d all agree that we should do something about the homeless rather than leave them under viaducts and in Pioneer Park. So why is it that the refugees get the thumbs’ up from the protesters while the homeless get the thumbs’ down?

I think it’s a case of proclaiming globally but living locally. It’s all well and good in theory to have homeless shelters, except when it’s proposed to be in your back yard. Then it becomes an issue of displacing favorite businesses, crime, drug use, vagrancy and all the problems that accompany homelessness. Likewise with refugees from other countries. Yes, it sounds good to say, come here, we welcome you. But where? We can’t put them in the Nevada desert and say, “good luck.” Who will pay for housing, food, education, medical care, clothing, transportation and all the other costs associated with providing refugees a safe place to live? As in anything, choices have consequences.

I wish this was a perfect world. This post isn’t to take sides on the issue. It’s just an observation. It seems to me that we are much more accepting and welcoming when it isn’t in our own back yard.

Melting Snowflakes

The absolutely unthinkable, devastating election results of last week have upset millions, even to the extent that some liberal university students are reportedly unable to function and professors are cancelling classes and postponing midterm exams. Whether the reports are true or not, they are prevalent enough to prompt one Yale professor, Steven Berry, to write a guest editorial in the Washington Post defending the strength of his students.

While I respect Professor Berry’s coming to the defense of his students, I have to wonder why this phenomenon exists at all. What has happened that students at the university level are apparently so brittle that they can’t deal with real life? I was in 7th grade on November 22, 1963.  We were out of school that day for some reason, but on Monday, November 25, we went back. There were no grief counselors, the school district didn’t cancel school, teachers didn’t excuse us from doing homework. We talked about what Kennedy’s assassination meant. We talked about how the Constitution provides for continuity of government. We talked about being saddened. But we also talked about how life would go on. The United States would remain safe (remember, this was during the Cold War and the threat of nuclear attack by the Soviet Union was real). In short, we dealt with it.

I have to think that it was because we had already been exposed to concepts that threatened our beliefs, and that we continued to be exposed to concepts like that, that we, as junior high students, didn’t crumble. I still remember American History in 1964. This was an election year. Our American History teacher contrasted the Republicans, Democrats and even the Communists on the bulletin board. Think of that! We were exposed to the Communists, whose leader, Nikita Khrushchev, had pounded his shoe on the podium at the United Nations and said the USSR would bury the United States, when we were but pre-pubescent, vulnerable children.

Professor Berry solved his students’ dilemma by way of a standing offer that he has. If a student, for whatever reason, feels he or she isn’t ready to take one of the two midterm exams, the student can opt out and transfer the entire weight of the exam to the final. Professor Berry feels that was a “clever” solution. But is it really?

I’m a lawyer. If I have a big trial tomorrow and I’m upset over the results of the election, the judge doesn’t care. A surgeon can’t tell his patient that he stayed up too late and is too upset about the Trump win to operate and remove the patient’s malignant tumor — sorry, it just has to wait. That response doesn’t fly in the real world. It shouldn’t fly in colleges and universities either.

Hillary How Do I Dislike Thee? Let me count the ways.

i-want-the-truth

This presidential election offers little. The best that can be said for either candidate is, “he/she isn’t her/him.” Donald Trump’s shortcomings have been pointed out by many here, so let me express my concerns with Hillary. In no particular order:

Her only goal is to be elected president. Once elected her place in history is secure as long as she isn’t impeached AND convicted (Bill already proved that impeachment alone means diddley squat). That’s because her biography will forever begin with “Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first female president of the United States.” That’s it, that’s all that matters to her. Even if she’s a total failure as president, no one can take away the fact that she was the first female president.

She’s suckled at the public teat her entire adult life. She has never worked in private industry and doesn’t have a clue about the needs of business owners. Nor has she ever been in a job threatened by the economy.

Related to the last two points, her entire adult career has been one calculated move after the next to achieve her only goal.

Everything (with rare exception) that comes out of her mouth has been strained and filtered for the proper spin. Donald Trump gets criticized for speaking his mind, uncouth and politically incorrect as it might be. Hillary, on the other hand, never speaks her mind without first considering the optics of what she’s about to say. That’s why it’s so newsworthy when she does go off script like she did with her “deplorables” comment.

She has little grasp of reality, whether intentionally or not, as evidenced by the fact that she took the FBI’s recommendation not to prosecute her as not only exoneration but vindication as well.

She has extremely finely-tuned selective memory, whether it’s about coming under sniper fire when landing in Bosnia (when the facts showed her greeted by dignitaries and children) to flat-out ignoring what was written in the FBI report by saying “that’s not how I remember it.”

Benghazi. The whole thing was a tragedy but then to blame it on a video that supposedly went viral and inflamed the mob was despicable. And then, when it wouldn’t go away after a year, it was dismissed as “old news.”

Peddling influence as Secretary of State.  No, it can’t be proved in a court of law, but there are too many questions: 30,000 missing emails, private servers, incriminating emails that have been recovered that suggest influence-peddling, and Bill’s speaking fees. Between 2009 and 2013, (Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State), Bill earned $47.7 million in speaking fees, ten years after his presidency ended. By comparison, George W. Bush, who followed Bill, earned $10.4 million. Why did Bill remain so popular? Maybe because his wife was Secretary of State, hmm?

“Plausible deniability.” That’s the mantra of the Clintons. Whatever you do, make sure that there is a plausibly true, politically acceptable alternate explanation.

I’m no Trump fan. At this point I don’t know who would be better for the country. Maybe the right question is, who will do the least damage? For me, that’s tipping the scales to Trump. I think the nation can survive eight years of either of them, but what concerns me is the legacy that will be left by the Supreme Court nominees that the next president will have to make. I’m too afraid of what Hillary’s choices would mean for my First, Second, Fifth and Tenth Amendment rights. I’m not sure the nation can endure a half-century of liberal interpretation and expansion of federal powers.

We Are Sheep

Three seemingly unrelated news stories caught my attention in the last 24 hours. Taken together they demonstrate that society is willing to be led wherever by whomever.

First, the British Medical Journal recommends that in addition to putting nutritional information on packaged food (calorie count, number of grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates, serving size, servings per package, etc.) the package also features the amount of exercise needed to offset the calories ingested in a serving.

Secondly, the National Weather Service will no longer issue its weather alerts in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS as it has done for over a century. The practice of using all caps was caused by early limitations on typesetting, long before computers or even typewriters. The practice is not being changed because technology permits a more conventional form of writing. Instead it’s being changed because using ALL CAPS is considered shouting in print and the NWS doesn’t want to offend anyone.

Thirdly, a college student, Shannon Workman left the Chi Omega sorority rather than face disciplinary procedures for violation of “human dignity” rules for posting a picture of herself and two sorority sisters in cutoff jeans and Chi Omega tank tops. Here’s a link to the Good Morning America segment.

The common thread in all these is our (society’s) willingness to follow the masses, being unable to think for ourselves. With the food labeling, apparently we just aren’t able to correlate calorie intake to weight gain or understand that eating has consequences that might be undesirable, so now we have to be told what the penance for overeating will be.

In the case of the NWS, no one wants to risk causing offense, no matter how inoffensive what they did was meant to be. Heaven forbid that anyone should feel as if they are being shouted at by a printed bulletin.

Finally Shannon Workman’s case is another example of political correctness gone horribly wrong. The GMA segment airs a part of the disciplinary hearing held for Ms. Workman. Another woman, a Chi Omega chapter advisor, questions her:

Q:  Don’t you see that you have broken the rule on human dignity and your disrespectful attitude?

A: Um, no, not really.

It’s reminiscent of the Salem witchcraft trials or the Soviet Union’s readjustment policies where suspected witches and dissidents were given the “opportunity” to confess the errors of their ways before being punished.

In each of these cases it’s assumed that individuals are not capable of thinking and acting for themselves. Instead we have to be shown the right way, whether that is in the food we eat, whether we use proper print etiquette or what pictures of ourselves we take and post online. Conformity in all cases is a mandate of present society. Like sheep we are being led to greener pastures.

My father grew up on a sheep farm. He told me they used to put goats with the sheep because the sheep would follow the goats, who were more intelligent than the sheep. Some years ago I went on a backpacking trip where we used goats to carry our packs. After three days I realized how stupid goats are. The moral of this story is, be careful that the goats you choose to follow really know what they’re doing.

Hillary’s Victory Speech

Hillary comfortably won Super Tuesday. She gave an all-inclusive acceptance speech. You really can’t call it anything but that — she’s the presumptive nominee and her speech reflected that.

Well, her acceptance speech was almost all-inclusive. At one point she declared“We have to defend all our rights, workers rights and women’s rights, civil rights and voting rights, LGBT rights and rights for people with disabilities.” A great sound bite, meant to portray Ms. Clinton as a candidate of all the people, but notably lacking in at least one category: religious liberty.

Hillary make token acknowledgements of religion. She mentioned her own “Methodist upbringing” that taught her to work as hard as you can for as many as you can for as long as you can. No mention of God. She threw in a homily that referenced a house of worship when she told how she met with a group of Baptists in Flint, MI, regarding the water fiasco. There was no mention of supplication or invocation of Deity,though you can be pretty sure the Baptists had a prayer. And she closed her speech by pleading that we all work together to ensure that every American has the opportunity to live up to his or her own “God given potential.”

This is but one problem with the Left. They give lip service to religious freedom while simultaneously working to restrict those freedoms. Hillary calls for a swift approval of President Obama’s “strong, progressive” nominee to the Supreme Court. Does anyone doubt that “progressive” means one who will limit religious freedom as well as the Second Amendment? It’s like saying “some of my best friends are” blacks, Hispanics/gay, pick your minority that you want to placate. It didn’t play well 20 years ago, it shouldn’t play well now.

Believers use words like “faith,” “God,” “worship” as tenets to live by. Hillary uses them as a punch line and exclamation point.

Super Tuesday

Today is “Super Tuesday,” a day of multiple state primaries in the 2016 presidential election. There is a sense of inevitability in both parties. Hillary Clinton for the Democrats vs. Donald Trump for the republicans. It’s enough to make one wonder, has the electorate got its collective head in the region of its collective nether regions?

Donald Trump takes delight in offending anyone and everyone. His disapproval rating among Hispanics is over 80%. Yet he doesn’t seem to care and, according to election and caucus results, why should he? His message of vitriol is working. He’s tapped into the anger that has been building in the American people for several years now, the sense of outrage with politics as usual. On the outside he’s an outsider, not part of the problem and therefore part of the solution. His claims that he will restore America to its former glory and protect her borders against immigrants is beginning to sound much like the message spouted by two of the world’s most recent villains, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini in the 1930s. This isn’t to say Trump is a fascist or to compare him to Hitler. It’s not Trump the person that is reminiscent of those days. It’s Trump the phenomenon. It’s the way he’s taken hold of the angst that permeates the nation, how he plays on the fears, real or imagined and how he appeals to bygone times. And it’s especially about how he came out of nowhere so quickly as a politician. The New York Times, admittedly not a bastion of conservatism, had an interesting op-ed piece on this topic yesterday.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is firmly mainstream politics. Where Trump frightens the GOP mainstream, the Democratic central party doesn’t want just a democrat in office; it wants Hillary. But Hillary’s problem is that her trustworthiness is low and dropping every week. Benghazi, classified emails, the Clinton Foundation, Wall Street ties even as she touts herself as the champion of the common man or woman — all keep dogging her despite her and the party’s efforts to put them in the past and say they don’t matter. In fact, it’s the very act of claiming they don’t matter that makes them matter. She’s out of touch with reality, just as she was when she claimed she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. Some democrats are beginning to realize that Hillary might not withstand real scrutiny as a candidate and are calling for the party wake up and dump Hillary before it’s too late.

So what it comes down to is a matter of Low T on both sides. Low temperament for the office of president on the Donald’s part (do you really want him in control of the nuclear codes and his finger on the button?) and low trustworthiness on Hillary’s part. What a choice. Can there be a third option, ABCD? Anyone But Clinton or Donald?