Monday, March 26, 2007

Hoisted on our own petard

A fair amount of attention has been paid of late to efforts by Islamic groups to force Americans to bend over in the face of shariah law. The Wall Street Journal has a column detailing the situation in Minnesota, where not only do you have the "Flying Imams" suing airline and whistle-blowing passengers alike, but Muslim taxi drivers refusing to take passengers carrying alcohol, and even Muslim cashiers refusing to ring up pork products.

I've followed these developments--and especially the suggested solution that these Muslims should stop working as taxi drivers or cashiers--with a growing sense of unease. It's seemed all too familiar to me...and Brad at The Liberty Papers nails the reason: the argument against the Muslim cashiers and taxi drivers is pretty much identical to the argument against Christian pharmacists who don't want to dispense birth control.

Is there any way to justify a conscience clause for the pharmacists, but not for the cashiers and drivers?

I'm not sure there is.

And I'm worried that this is ultimately going to end up forcing the pharmacists to follow the lead of Catholic Charities of Boston, and abandon the field altogether.



Dad29 said...

Well, WE know that there's a difference--it's life/death in the case of the pharmas, and dirty hands in the case of pork.

Shack said...

We may know that, but unfortunately, America in general doesn't. And as long as they don't, it looks to me like there's nothing stopping these people from using the rationale behind the conscience clause as a backdoor to shariah.

Dad29 said...

...and the term "relativism" arises again.

See my posts on Robert Miller's vacuous analysis of Cdl. Crepaldi's writing, or see:

Shack said...

With all due respect, I'm not sure what you're getting at, here. Yes, relativism is the significant problem here, and yes, Americans are wrong for holding that position.

That doesn't change the fact that unless and until that trend is reversed, we have to deal with these wrong Americans, and deal with them on their terms, not ours.

And in dealing with these wrong Americans on their own terms, those pushing shariah are using exactly the same argument that we are forced to use for a conscience clause.

John McAdams said...

I agree that Christians and Muslims have the same rights to have their religious scruples accomodated.

In the private sector, the answer is simple: you have a right to do (or not do) what you want.

Do you own a pharmacy? You can sell or not sell the morning after pill. Feminazis who want to force you to are nasty authoritarians.

Suppose you own a pharmacy, and you are hiring a phramacist, and she tells you she has scruples about selling birth control to unmarried people.

You are the owner, you get to decide whether to hire her. If you are happy to sell to anybody, you can refuse to hire her (after all, you get to set the policy). Or you could decide that it's worth your while to accomodate her scruples.

Same with a grocery store and a clerk who won't touch pork.

It's more dicey in the public sector. I think government has an obligation to make a "reasonable accomodation" for religious belief.

In the case of the taxis, if there is an efficient way to simply let a non-Muslim from the 2nd place in line move up and carry the passenger, implement it.

If observing the scruples of Muslim drivers entirely messes up the process of getting passengers in taxis, Muslims might better seek other jobs.