Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy. (from here)

Think for a moment about the First Amendment.

Amendment I (archives.gov)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We have a right to discriminate and choose our religious beliefs. We have a right to discriminate in our words and deeds, to live in accordance with our religious beliefs. We have a right to discriminate in our choice of words; we each get to choose what write and read. We have the right to discriminate and choose the people we want to associate with; we can even choose the people we want to work with to affect governmental changes.

So, is “discrimination” a bad thing? Consider the history of the word.

discriminate (v.)

1620s, “distinguish from something else or from each other, observe or mark the differences between,” from Latin discriminatus, past participle of discriminare “to divide, separate,” from discrimen (genitive discriminis) “interval, distinction, difference,” derived noun from discernere “to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive,” from dis- “off, away” (see dis-) + cernere “distinguish, separate, sift” (from PIE root *krei- “to sieve,” thus “discriminate, distinguish”).

The adverse sense, “make invidious distinctions prejudicial to a class of persons” (usually based on race or color) is first recorded 1866 in American English. Positive sense remains in discriminating. Related: Discriminated.

Don’t we have a responsibility to discriminate — to discern — the difference between good and evil? Yet because of the negative connotation that has been added the word, we now use the word “discriminate” less and less in a good sense. Nevertheless, we spend our days distinguishing the differences between people, places, and things. Isn’t voting, the way we choose our leaders, all about discriminating between the candidates?

So, why do we need this bill, SB 868 Discrimination; prohibited in public accommodations, etc., causes of action? The Virginia Senate passed SB 868 yesterday. Therefore, the bill is going to our governor for his signature. What does SB 868 do? The bill adds discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of prohibitions against discrimination. So, the law will prohibit race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, and gender identity as the bases for discrimination.

What is especially odd about the new additions? Sexual orientation and gender identity only “exist” in the mind. So, we cannot objective determine anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Are prohibitions against discrimination good idea? Do such prohibitions actually square with the First Amendment? Why don’t we add political affiliation, scent, body mass index, accent, charisma, wealth, food preferences, education level, age and whatever else seems like a good idea?

If we want to live in a free country, then we must allow each other to discriminate in our choices, but where do we draw the line? Where does the choice of one person infringe upon the rights of another?

Your Liberty To Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins. (from here (quoteinvestigator.com))

Because it acts in our name and administers justice, we all obviously have an interest in preventing inappropriate discrimination by government. Still, because we each have our own beliefs, we find it difficult for us to agree. What is inappropriate discrimination? How much do we want our political leaders with this decision? Because our leaders must discriminate when the government hires people and administers justice, they must legislate ground rules for the government, but what our our private choices?

Do we actually share a common interest in using the government to prevent private individuals from discriminating inappropriately? The Constitution, especially the First Amendment, certainly suggests otherwise. Moreover, when the government stands aside, society and economics punish inappropriate discrimination. When we discriminate inappropriately, we make a bad decision. Don’t we all discriminate against people who have a habit of making bad decisions? Do any of us want to give up the company of someone who would be a good friend just to conform to the desires of a bigot? What about business people? Do business people want to give up potential customers just to conform to the desires of a bigot? That is good for business?

Please carefully consider SB 868. Is this needed legislation, or is it just an attempt by special interest groups to impose their values upon the rest of us?

Remember. As citizens, we have the right to work to ensure our government conforms with our beliefs. If we don’t want special interests using the government to force us to practice beliefs we condemn, we must act. We must take an active role as citizens.

  • We must become informed.
  • We must work to nominate and elect good candidates for public office.
  • We must hold the people we elect accountable.

To remain a free people, when we vote, we must discriminate wisely.

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  1. Salvageable says:

    You ask some good questions. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people always involves choices like the ones you offer. When should the will of the majority be honored, and when should the rights of the minority take precedence? Swing the pendulum too far either way, and we lose more than we gain. J.

    • Tom Salmon says:


      That’s one reason why it is so important to understand the principles upon which our Constitution is based. Unfortunately, our schools don’t seem to be teaching those principles well.

  2. Tom,

    Discriminate may not be the proper word to describe this latest action that took place on the House Floor.


    Not sure what the right word would be to describe it ito be unlawful to read the Bible to school children, but it is legal to read this not only in schools but on the House Floor?

    If you can think of a word, let me know.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    • Tom Salmon says:


      Try indiscriminate.

      • Tom,

        Good choice brought a smile. However discriminate and indiscriminate are action words or verbs or actions..

        What we need is a noun to describe legislator’s actions.

        King Solomon only used two words to describe every action of a person he observed of humans, wise or foolish.

        This leads to the question if a legislator’s actions in office describe themselves.

        Problem it is a misnomers to state someone is a wise fool.

        So if you approve a legislator’s action, what word do you use to describe the legislator or the voter’s actions?

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

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