Get Out of My Head

The Christians who want to be intolerant again. Just to be difficult (I do love to be difficult, you know), I want to add that there is one place where one of the complainants had a point, though not a religious point.

In a 2004 case, for instance, an AT&T Broadband employee won the right to express his religious convictions by refusing to sign a pledge to “respect and value the differences among us.” As long as the employee wasn’t harassing co-workers, the company had to make accommodations for his faith, a federal judge in Colorado ruled.

That’s a pretty grotesque pledge, frankly. It’s a pretty demanding employer who wants to tell employees what to respect and value, and it’s an employer both demanding and reckless who demands that employees respect and value ‘the differences among us’ without saying which ones. (Maybe AT&T did say, but the quotation doesn’t mention it.) Both demanding and reckless, but that is a pretty common formula – celebrate diversity; value difference. Well – it depends, doesn’t it! Murderers are different, rapists are different, persecutors are different, narrow-minded bigoted fag-haters of the Fred Phelps school are different; so what?

But in truth even if the employer did specify, the demand would still be an intrusive, invasive, presumptuous demand. What we respect and value is, I submit, a pretty basic internal matter – a pretty basic aspect of what we call the self. In short, pretty damn personal. Our employers don’t get to tell us what to respect and value: I’ll respect and value whatever I decide and want and choose to respect and value, not what my employer decides and chooses. Employers can tell us what to do – on the job – in many ways, but they can’t tell us what to think. Even if they’re right. Clearly they are right, up to a point – in a perfect world, we would all respect and value each other, and all would be peace and joy (and boredom, but never mind). But since this isn’t a perfect world, the point beyond which they are not right is not very far up the road.

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