What IS Equality, Anyway?

In today’s haze of political befuddlement, it can be difficult for some to distinguish between what is fustian and what is concrete. Perhaps the grandest buzzword of this time is “equality”.

But what defines equality? Where does equality come from and how do we realize it?

Let’s use a recent hot-button issue – the Masterpiece Cakeshop incident. A simplification of the situation is that a baker refused his services to a gay couple because baking a cake for them would have violated his personal beliefs. So has this couple suffered from a lack of equality within America’s system?

Well, to achieve an objective viewpoint, let’s place the shoe on the other foot.

Let’s say a gay painter is contacted by a representative of a church that is local to the painter. The representative says he wants to hire the painter to paint a mural on a wall of the church with the theme being that homosexuals will be damned by God. If the painter disagrees for whatever reason and does not want to be made the churches means of making such a mural possible, should he not be permitted to preclude himself from a subjectively distasteful thing?

It is here that we find the ideological disconnect. “Equality” by itself does not mean much. There’s another half of the concept to be addressed: equality of what?

So why is it so imperative that we elucidate the term? Well, the equivocation of the word “equality” by itself facilitates all manner of interpretations! This lack of consistency, in turn, ripens the culture to virtue signalling rather than the utility of diagnostic standard.

What does this mean? It means that when arguing on behalf of the gay couple, people can claim that the couple is being discriminated against while they will also argue for the gay painter because now they can assert that the latter has a right to be respected. The inequality they refer to suddenly means inequality of respect rather than treatment.

To fix this, let’s nail a definitive niche for equality that leaves no room for hypocrisy or sleight of hand. How do we go about doing that?

RIGHTS!

We uphold the rights of life, liberty, and property for each individual regardless of sexuality, ethnicity, or status. Because respect, dignity, and treatment inevitably change according to who is concerned, any construal of these will be subjective. This is one of the many reasons that no one has a right to these things. So how about we clarify this term for all and say equality of rights?

Now you might be thinking, “That outlook is pretty naïve! We must level the playing field for everyone! Minorities in particular!”

Well…what does that mean exactly? Before we can begin to address the idea, we must first define the strategy used to implement this idea. What rights do minorities not have that they need to be given? Nowhere in current law is it ruled that minorities’ access to rights is excluded! Theoretically, we are already equal! Now think to yourself what exactly it is you mean when you say, “level the playing field”.

Could it perhaps be a conflation of equity and equality?

What you probably want is “equality of status” rather than “equality of humanity”. Any initiative to “balance the scale” for minorities in a country that already treats us all as equal on the legal level is only a move to give special treatment. By protecting their rights the same way as anyone else’s is, we give them the tools they need to build a better future for themselves and their children.

Perhaps one might contest that minorities are treated poorly by homophobes or racists. Perhaps one might claim that minorities are in bad shape because of sociological dissonance.

Well, would it not be prudent to address these things on the sociological front? Rather than push for government intervention, wouldn’t it be healthier and more developmental to get more of us involved on the cultural level?

Let’s examine one final tidbit – just because we are all different does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that we are not equal.

Let’s go back to the same gay couple I had mentioned before. Another claim that is made is that gays deserve the right to marriage. As we all know, marriage has always meant the union of a man and a woman. What we were given is something called civil unions, but that wasn’t good enough for the LGBT community. 

I implore you to think! Whyever would it not be good enough? So long as a civil union gives us the same rights as a marriage, why would we object to it? Why can’t we understand that just because something is different, does not make it any less equal?

Perhaps it may be that federal protections are unavailable to the civilly united, but if the problem is that civil unions don’t give rights uniform to those of marriage, why can’t we fight for those rights to be inserted into civil unions rather than redefine terms?

For all our powers of reason, too many of us find it difficult to grasp a very simple concept: in today’s world, we are more equal and more accepting a nation than any other time. We have made incredible leaps to fix the wrongdoings that are years past and we must look to building a future with our brothers and sisters regardless of who is part of a minority and who is not. Rather than let our personal and intercultural differences divide us, let’s be grateful that we each of us get to celebrate and live out our own dreams and perceptions.

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