Friday, January 30, 2015

Civil liberties, principles and jobs

Contradictions are inevitable in assertions of personal liberties and civil rights. Just as North Carolina legislators seek to carve out an escape hatch for government officials who object, for religious reasons, to participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies, the other side of this issue has also cropped up.

I find myself sympathetic and conflicted on both issues. I believe sincerely held religious doctrines should be respected, although determining how "sincerely held" and "religious" these beliefs are, versus conveniently rationalized or political, may not be simple.

Likewise, I am sympathetic to the cake decorator who wanted no part of hate speech on a cake. Should her job be protected, or is disobeying a boss' order grounds for firing, no matter what the extenuating circumstances?

I once resigned from a job because the bosses overruled my best judgment on a matter I considered a principle of my profession. I didn't sue. I thought it better to simply walk away than to violate a sacred principle and live with my feeling of guilt the rest of my life.

So, while I am sympathetic to those who stand on principle for religious, moral or ethical reasons, I'm not sure that my sympathy for their quandary should be written into law. And I'm not sure that words, even hateful ones, written in icing that will soon disappear, is worth losing a job over.

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