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Friday, January 4, 2008

Discrimination not all bad

Discrimination gets a bad rap. Its the first word people throw out when they don't like a decision someone else makes. "You're discriminating against them!" Sometimes that's a bad thing and sometimes its not.

To discriminate means to recognize differences between different things. Sometimes that means treating one group unfairly because of an ignorant prejudice. Sometimes that just means treating a group differently because it makes sense. Different is not necessarily unfair.

We all make discriminate choices in our daily lives - what to eat, what to wear, who to befriend, help or talk to.

That last one may make you pause and say "Hey, don't be a racist!" That is not the point. I can still discriminate among people in a reasonable way.

I believe everyone agrees that we should discriminate against criminals. We put them in jail, take away their freedom and right to vote. In some cases they get treated differently in court, for example a repeat offender. Criminals (and especially felons) are a group of people whom we treat differently - for a reason. Now whether certain crimes are bigger than others is another discussion but for arguments sake let's just stick with armed bank robbers. Anyone think we should treat bank robbers the same as you and me? Should they be allowed to walk around free just because we are "the same"? Once they are caught, do the orange jumpsuits make them feel singled out? Good! They are being singled out and for good reason!

I don't like seafood. I discriminate against seafood restaurants because I don't even consider them an option when making a dinner reservation. There is no one out there screaming for restaurant equality or requiring that X% of my restaurant visits include seabass and shellfish.

I discriminate among the shops I visit, the brands of clothing I wear, the different items I purchase. The entire media marketing world is designed to make you discriminate among competing products for no real reason at all! Our entire economy is based on differences and discriminating opinions of the differences (sometimes only perceived) in the products.

The trick is to come to an agreement as a society as to which discriminations are allowed and which ones are not.

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