Discrimination a catchcry
A very common catch cry these days is ‘‘discrimination’’.
Whenever a group decides it wants something and cannot get it, the favourite tactic is to scream ‘‘discrimination’’.
If I am not allowed to do what you do, for whatever reason, then I am being discriminated against.
So what exactly do we mean by discrimination?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 7, states: ‘‘All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
‘‘All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.’’
All of which does not really clarify the situation, does it?
The dictionary definition of the word discrimination is: 1. a. To recognise as distinct; to perceive the distinguishing features of.
b. To make sensible decisions; judge wisely.
2. To make distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit; show preference or prejudice.
It is this second definition which causes us all the trouble. No matter how well intentioned or well thought out a law may be, there is always someone who will feel his or her rights are being violated.
The fact is that we are all different. No two human beings, no two blades of grass, no two domestic cats are the same.
And by choosing any one thing over another, you are discriminating (in the first sense of the word above).
We are faced with choices all the time and by selecting one we automatically reject the other.
If I choose to go to a Catholic church instead of an Elim church, I am actually discriminating. If I choose to eat Chinese instead of Indian, I am discriminating.
It’s when such choices involve disregard or hatred of other alternatives that we get into trouble.
It is all too easy for us to fling words like ‘‘ discrimination’’ around.
We New Zealanders in particular hate to think of anyone being treated unfairly and bend over backwards to prevent or remedy such situations. But there is no way in the wide world that every single individual or group will get everything it feels it is entitled to. And catering to the demands of one group will of necessity sideline another.
Let’s illustrate. An apple looks at an orange and thinks it would like to be called an orange, too.
Some oranges think this is okay. Other oranges don’t agree.
They want to remain the only fruit which can be called oranges.
The apples, however, are stroppy and loud, and push to get the government to let them be called oranges. If this legislation is passed, the apples, now called oranges, get their way, sure.
But the original oranges are now discriminated against because their views have been overpowered.
A rider to the illustration: governments can legislate any way they want but that does not change facts.
They can legislate that everything with four legs will be a table, even if it is a dog, or that grass is blue, not green – but the legislation does not make it so. Last month we heard from the Minister for Senior Citizens, Jo Goodhew, about her various portfolios and her ambitions for the senior citizens.
This month we aim to inform our members about the Local Government Commission.
Do you know anything about this body or how it works? Donald Riezebos, the Commission’s chief executive, will be addressing us, and if anyone knows how the commission works, he should.
So why don’t you come along? Tuesday, September 11, 1.30pm, The Porirua Club, Lodge Place. Contact: Helen Griffith Phone: 236 0112.