Laws of Diminishing Civil Liberties; A New Book Traces the History of Antidiscrimination Laws and Highlights the Threat They Now Pose to the Basic Freedoms Guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution

Insight on the News, February 2, 2004 | Go to article overview

Laws of Diminishing Civil Liberties; A New Book Traces the History of Antidiscrimination Laws and Highlights the Threat They Now Pose to the Basic Freedoms Guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution


Byline: David E. Bernstein, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The agenda of left-wing activists anxious to elevate antidiscrimination concerns above all others poses an acute threat to civil liberties. The First Amendment prohibits the government from interfering with freedom of expression, which includes free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But all of these civil-libertarian restrictions on government power are at risk from so-called antidiscrimination laws. For example:

* In Berkeley [Calif.], the [U.S.] Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] threatened to sanction three neighborhood activists for organizing community opposition to a plan to turn a rundown hotel into a homeless center. HUD alleged that the activists had violated the Fair Housing Act by interfering with a project that would serve a group of people who would be disproportionately mentally ill or recovering substance abusers, protected groups under the act. HUD spokesperson John Phillips, trying to parry free-speech concerns raised by the media, instead stoked them. "To ask questions is one thing," Phillips told reporters. "To write brochures and articles and go out and actively organize people to say, 'We don't want those people in those structures,' is another."

* In Denver, the city government refused to issue a Columbus Day parade permit unless the organizers signed an agreement stating that "there will be no references, depictions or acknowledgment of Christopher Columbus during the parade; and no speeches or wreath-laying for Christopher Columbus will be conducted." The city was responding to pressure from American Indian activists who alleged that a parade celebrating Columbus would create an illegal "hostile public environment."

* In New York City, Michelle Ganzy sued the Allen Christian School for firing her after she became pregnant out of wedlock. Ganzy, like all of the school's teachers, had agreed to serve as a role model for her students, in part by behaving in accordance with the school's conservative moral beliefs. Nevertheless, Ganzy sued for sex discrimination. A federal court, seemingly oblivious to the threat this lawsuit posed to the autonomy of religious institutions, ruled in her favor, holding that "[r]estrictions on pregnancy are not permitted because they are gender-discriminatory by definition."

* In Eugene, Ore., the state Newspaper Publishers Association published a list of 80 words and phrases that its members should ban from real-estate advertisements to avoid liability under federal, state or local fair-housing laws. The forbidden words and phrases include language that signifies an obvious intent to violate fair-housing laws (e.g., "no Mexicans"), but also language that is merely descriptive, such as "near church" or "walking distance to synagogue." Fair-housing officials overzealously interpret such phrases as expressing an illicit preference for Christians and Jews, respectively. The list also includes phrases that some fair-housing officials believe are used as codes to discourage minorities ("exclusive neighborhood," "board approval required"') or families with children ("quiet tenants," "bachelor pad").

There are a number of other phrases that did not make the Oregon list but that some realtors avoid nonetheless for fear of liability, including the following: master bedroom (either sexist or purportedly evocative of slavery and therefore insulting to African-Americans), great view (allegedly expresses preference for the nonblind) and walk-up (supposedly discourages the disabled).

These anecdotes are just a few examples of the growing threat antidiscrimination laws pose to civil liberties. The clash of civil liberties and antidiscrimination laws has emerged due to the gradual expansion of such laws to the point at which they regulate just about all aspects of American life. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Laws of Diminishing Civil Liberties; A New Book Traces the History of Antidiscrimination Laws and Highlights the Threat They Now Pose to the Basic Freedoms Guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.