Category: political opinion protection act

Defending POPA

Defending the Political Opinion Protection Act (POPA).

Of relevance to this, I state the following.

Free speech is meaningless if expressing dissident opinions makes life in a modern society completely untenable.   In this manner, “private” social pricing attacks against dissident beliefs, opinions, and activism have a chilling effect on free speech, particularly today when “private” businesses and institutions rival governments with respect to power and influence. Outsourcing speech suppression from the public to the private spheres – transforming the “private” into a tool of public coercion – violates the First Amendment in spirit and this problem needs to be rectified through legal and political change.

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The Political Opinion Protection Act

Against social pricing.

This is a very crude, initiative draft of an anti-social pricing law (and explanation) that requires significant further development and refinement. Consider it a starting point.

Political and social opinions, beliefs, and ideologies, and the adherence and promotion thereof, now define a protected class of individuals, against whom business and institutions, private or public, cannot discriminate in employment or in the provision of services.  The only exception is where the opinions, beliefs, and ideologies are directly and overtly incompatible with the core mission of the business or institution, strictly defined by analogy to the examples that follow.

Now, there will be some examples – relatively rare – where sociopolitical opinions would disqualify an individual for employment (or service).  For example, the core mission of a conservative political foundation is the creation, analysis, dissemination, and promotion of conservative political ideas and ideals; a committed anti-conservative progressive can reasonably be seen as an unacceptable employee of such a foundation (and the converse is true: a hard core right-winger would be unacceptable in a progressive/liberal political foundation).  Planned Parenthood should not have to hire anti-abortion activists; right-to-life organizations should not have to employ abortion doctors or pro-choice activists.  These are clear examples where the core missions directly deal with sociopolitical memes and thus certain beliefs would be obviously incompatible.

However, indirect factors allegedly affecting core missions are not the same as the core missions themselves.

The core mission of a restaurant is to sell food to customers.  A restaurant may claim that “diversity helps business by expanding the pool of potential customers,” but promoting diversity is not the core mission of the business, selling food is.  Thus, opposition to diversity cannot be reasonably seen as incompatible with the fundamental core mission of the business.  A restaurant may claim that “immigrant labor is important for our profits,” but promoting immigration is not the core mission and hence an anti-immigration attitude cannot be seen as being incompatible for someone to work in that business. On the other hand, a steakhouse can have a reasonable rationale for skepticism in hiring a militant animal rights activist (and, conversely, PETA can reasonably have the same attitude toward, say, a butcher).

Let us consider academia. The core mission of academia is education and research/scholarship; basically to create and disseminate knowledge and ideas.  An academic institution can make (and they do make) arguments about how (demographic) diversity assists them in their mission, and that may be true or it may just be justification for social engineering.  True or not, promoting diversity is not the core mission of academia, and therefore opposition to multiracial/multicultural diversity cannot be seen as incompatible with the core mission.  Indeed, if we expand the definition of diversity to include types of (e.g., intellectual) diversity that can have a direct impact on exposing students to a more varied set of ideas, then one can argue that it is a good thing to have individuals opposed to multicultural diversity in academia; it is important to have a diversity of beliefs and opinions (perhaps we need affirmative action for the Far Right in academia?).

It is also important to prevent businesses and institutions from redefining their core missions so as to exclude opinions they do not like.  Core missions are those that derive naturally from the existential meaning of what the business and institution is, how they have been perceived and/or are perceived and/or will be perceived by reasonable people, and which can be organically associated with the “product” of the business or institution. Thus, attempts by, say, a college to redefine its core mission so as to include “promoting diversity” should be rejected, since that is an ad hoc extension of the natural and organic real fundamental academic core mission, and therefore can be reasonably seen as an attempt to evade the spirit and letter of this new law.

Services like Internet providers or transportation companies have a core mission in providing the specific service that defines the company; the opinions, beliefs, and ideologies of current or potential customers do not affect the core mission (indeed, one would think a business, valuing their core mission, would want to maximize their customer base and not arbitrarily exclude customers) and thus cannot be used as an excuse to deny service. Ad hoc redefining of the core mission to exclude “undesirable customers” is, again, forbidden.