Foggy Thinking about ‘Discrimination’ at UNC

By on May 31, 2005

In his column today, Mike Adams discusses a truly revealing exchange he had with the UNC-Wilmington student newspaper. As readers may know, UNC Chapel Hill has been at the center of a controversy because it wanted a Christian group to add language that to its constitution that said it would not “discriminate” against people who do not share its beliefs:
I recently mocked the editors of UNC-Wilmington’s student newspaper, The Seahawk, for wanting Christian organizations to sign a non-discrimination clause that would clearly trump constitutionally protected freedoms of religious expression. I jokingly suggested that the paper believes that “students who believe that rape and pedophilia are good must be allowed to join, vote, and hold office in a Christian fraternity.”
 
Unfortunately, The Seahawk missed the sarcasm and gave this serious two-word answer: “They should.” They even explained their position:
 
“The one incontrovertible legal point at the center of the Alpha Iota Omega debate is that AIO is an official student organization, funded by student fees. And, thank God—no pun intended—it’s University policy that organizations funded by student fees should be open to all students, without discrimination of any kind. End of story.”
Wow. In my career I have seen the idea of “discrimination” turned on its head. There are times when “discrimination” is unquestionably wrong (e.g., excluding someone from a state college because of his or her race), there are times when we take it for granted that it is a good thing (e.g., excluding sex offenders from working with children), and there are times when it is an essential right to freedom of association (e.g., the Green Party’s excluding members who despise the Green Party). As David put it so well in his column about the UNC Chapel Hill case:
“Discrimination” has become a word that is so immediately associated with social evils that we seem to forget we live in a society that discriminates for good reasons every single day. We discriminate against people with less experience when making hiring decisions, and we discriminate against the blind when choosing airline pilots.
 
Discrimination is wrong only when it is based on characteristics that have nothing do with someone’s merits. A chess club, for example, should not exclude women or minorities. Your status as Latino or female is irrelevant to your love of chess. However, the chess club is fully within it rights to discriminate against people who don’t play chess, or who wish to see the game of chess abolished forever.
Adams goes on to address the student newspapers claim that their bizarre take on discrimination is an ‘incontrovertible’ legal fact:
The quote you just read shows why a university without a journalism school or a law school should not publish a student newspaper offering legal opinions. In the lawsuit filed by AIO against UNC, the Christians won an injunction against the school, just weeks before the Seahawk editorial was published. So much for that “one incontrovertible legal point.”
Yes, the AIO students have already won a major (and likely decisive) victory in their case. I am glad Mike is pointing this out, since too many commentators seem to have missed this rather important development.

Schools: University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill