Selective Discrimination: Why Service Dog handlers Should Denounce Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Bill

Service dog users get a lot of grief. They are barred from restaurants, ejected from cabs, rejected by ridesharing services like Uber, and kicked out of public businesses. Each time this happens, (assuming the handler goes public with the news), there is as much scorn as support. Other blind people tend to rally around these victims of discrimination. Newspapers get involved. The businesses or individuals in question are reminded of relevant laws requiring them to allow service dogs anywhere their handlers go, and in the best-case scenario compensation, or at least an apology, is provided. The best-case scenario doesn’t always happen, though, and if you were to take a stroll through a few comment sections pertaining to any of these stories, you’d find shocking bigotry, hatred, and ignorance.

It is unreasonable to support discrimination against service dog handlers. Besides, anyone with experience knows that most service dogs are well-trained and astoundingly well-behaved. I know a guide dog so focused that she can keep calm while someone literally screams with hysterical fear as she walks by. She’s so quiet that I often forget she’s there (when she’s in harness that is—the rest of the time she is an energizer bunny). I know full well how absurd service dog discrimination is, whether it’s based on fear of dogs, a belief that dogs are destructive and untrustworthy, or a religious objection. The law is the law, after all.

Christians everywhere are celebrating the brand new bill passed in Mississippi. This bill essentially removes all discrimination protection from the LGBTQ community. Under this new bill, it is legal to refuse service to any member of the LGBTQ community as long as you have “sincerely-held religious beliefs.” So, A Christian who objects to gay or trans people could bar them from restaurants, eject them from cabs, reject them while working for a ridesharing service, and kick them out of public businesses. Sound familiar?

So, I ask every service dog handler this: why is it reprehensible for a Muslim, whose religious beliefs are probably sincerely-held, to kick you out of their car or refuse entry to their restaurant, but perfectly reasonable for a Christian to do the same to a gay or trans person? What makes a service dog handler worthy of discrimination protection above a gay or trans person? Why are a Muslim’s sincere religious beliefs met with scorn and censure while a Christian’s are met with support? Why is it acceptable for someone to object to the “choice” to be gay (assuming you still follow that line of reasoning) but unacceptable to disapprove of the choice to own a service dog? Except in a very few and very special cases, having a service dog is a choice, not a necessity. And why, oh why, aren’t you speaking out against this bill?

You face a huge volume of scrutiny and criticism just for wanting your dog to accompany you wherever you go. There are projects in the works to secure identification for all dogs, so that you could be badgered for an ID card at every turn. The vitriolic comments on social media should tell you just how precarious your position is.

A bill like this is so easily passed…and next time, it could be targeting you.

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10 thoughts on “Selective Discrimination: Why Service Dog handlers Should Denounce Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Bill

  1. Oh, Meagan. Are you sure we haven’t been the victims of nightmare time travel to 1860 or 1933 This is frightening stuff.?

  2. It disturbs me that I need to point out the fact that a business transaction is an agreement between provider and consumer, and for the US government to force a businessperson to provide a good or service would be in direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, which states:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or anyplace subject to their jurisdiction.”

    It outlaws more than just slavery. If either consumer or provider disagrees with the terms of service, the consumer goes elsewhere. This is a great advantage of the free market: monopolies rarely exist, so dissatisfied customers have choices. Is it annoying to have to go somewhere else? Of course it is. But to force bakeries and florists to take part in celebrations that contradict their religious beliefs violates both their religious liberty and their freedom to enter into business with whomsoever they choose.

    Also, this law has no effect on the LGBTQ community’s freedom to eat at Chik Fil’a or shop at Hobby Lobby. Eating more chicken and making crafts have no connection to homosexuality. If a business actually decided selling cardstock to a customer who happens to be gay were against its religious principles, that would indeed be absurd, but what business does the federal government have forcing it?

    I don’t consider it unreasonable to expect a blind person to mention his or her guide dog when asking for a ride on Uber. The driver could be allergic to dogs, or his or her next rider might be. If a complete stranger I meet over an app doesn’t want to have to vacuum his car after my guide dog and I ride in it, he has the right to decline. And someone else will be happy to drive me.

    Similarly, if I call a taxi company for a taxi to pick me up, I would consider it simple courtesy to mention my guide dog, just as I would tell them if I had six other people with me. If the company doesn’t know I want transportation for seven people, how can I expect them to know to send a big enough taxi?

    The underlying problem of this scenario is that lately, if someone does something we dislike, our knee-jerk reaction is to label it discrimination and expect the federal government to stop it so we won’t have to deal with people who don’t think exactly the way we do. The Fourteenth Amendment has now become the Eleventh Commandment, surpassing the entire Constitution on its crusade of equality. The truth of the matter is that obsession with equality suffocates liberty, whereas a government that concerns itself with protecting liberty—what the Founding Fathers considered the sole purpose of government—allows equality to flourish on its own. In short, ensure liberty,and equality will follow.

    It’s inconvenient and frustrating when we can’t have exactly the same thing that everyone else has, but that’s what capitalism does. Whether this Keynesian society realizes it or not, the market mechanism does work if given enough time. Our problem is patience.
    I may not like the fact that Muslim cab drivers don’t want guide dogs in their taxis, but they have the right to choose with whom they engage in business. Isn’t the Left supposed to be all about freedom of choice?

    I guess this comment will be labeled shocking bigotry, hatred, and ignorance. So be it. I have the right to post it.

  3. It disturbs me that I need to point out the fact that a business transaction is an agreement between provider and consumer, and for the US government to force a businessperson to provide a good or service would be in direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, which states:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or anyplace subject to their jurisdiction.”

    It outlaws more than just slavery. If either consumer or provider disagrees with the terms of service, the consumer goes elsewhere. This is a great advantage of the free market: monopolies rarely exist, so dissatisfied customers have choices. Is it annoying to have to go somewhere else? Of course it is. But to force bakeries and florists to take part in celebrations that contradict their religious beliefs violates both their religious liberty and their freedom to enter into business with whomsoever they choose.

    Also, this law has no effect on the LGBTQ community’s freedom to eat at Chik Fil’a or shop at Hobby Lobby. Eating more chicken and making crafts have no connection to homosexuality. If a business actually decided selling cardstock to a customer who happens to be gay were against its religious principles, that would indeed be absurd, but what business does the federal government have forcing it?

    I don’t consider it unreasonable to expect a blind person to mention his or her guide dog when asking for a ride on Uber. The driver could be allergic to dogs, or his or her next rider might be. If a complete stranger I meet over an app doesn’t want to have to vacuum his car after my guide dog and I ride in it, he has the right to decline. And someone else will be happy to drive me.

    Similarly, if I call a taxi company for a taxi to pick me up, I would consider it simple courtesy to mention my guide dog, just as I would tell them if I had six other people with me. If the company doesn’t know I want transportation for seven people, how can I expect them to know to send a big enough taxi?

    The underlying problem of this scenario is that lately, if someone does something we dislike, our knee-jerk reaction is to label it discrimination and expect the federal government to stop it so we won’t have to deal with people who don’t think exactly the way we do. The Fourteenth Amendment has now become the Eleventh Commandment, surpassing the entire Constitution on its crusade of equality. The truth of the matter is that obsession with equality suffocates liberty, whereas a government that concerns itself with protecting liberty—what the Founding Fathers considered the sole purpose of government—allows equality to flourish on its own. In short, ensure liberty,and equality will follow.

    It’s inconvenient and frustrating when we can’t have exactly the same thing that everyone else has, but that’s what capitalism does. Whether this Keynesian society realizes it or not, the market mechanism does work if given enough time. Our problem is patience.

    I may not like the fact that Muslim cab drivers don’t want guide dogs in their taxis, but they have the right to choose with whom they engage in business. Isn’t the Left supposed to be all about freedom of choice?

    I guess this comment will be labeled shocking bigotry, hatred, and ignorance. So be it. I have the right to post it, just as you have the right to object to this law.

  4. It disturbs me that I need to point out the fact that a business transaction is an agreement between provider and consumer, and for the US government to force a businessperson to provide a good or service would be in direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, which states:
    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or anyplace subject to their jurisdiction.”
    It outlaws more than just slavery. If either consumer or provider disagrees with the terms of service, the consumer goes elsewhere. This is a great advantage of the free market: monopolies rarely exist, so dissatisfied customers have choices. Is it annoying to have to go somewhere else? Of course it is. But to force bakeries and florists to take part in celebrations that contradict their religious beliefs violates both their religious liberty and their freedom to enter into business with whomsoever they choose.
    Also, this law has no effect on the LGBTQ community’s freedom to eat at Chik Fil’a or shop at Hobby Lobby. Eating more chicken and making crafts have no connection to homosexuality. If a business actually decided selling cardstock to a customer who happens to be gay were against its religious principles, that would indeed be absurd, but what business does the federal government have forcing it?
    I don’t consider it unreasonable to expect a blind person to mention his or her guide dog when asking for a ride on Uber. The driver could be allergic to dogs, or his or her next rider might be. If a complete stranger I meet over an app doesn’t want to have to vacuum his car after my guide dog and I ride in it, he has the right to decline. And someone else will be happy to drive me.
    Similarly, if I call a taxi company for a taxi to pick me up, I would consider it simple courtesy to mention my guide dog, just as I would tell them if I had six other people with me. If the company doesn’t know I want transportation for seven people, how can I expect them to know to send a big enough taxi?
    The underlying problem of this scenario is that lately, if someone does something we dislike, our knee-jerk reaction is to label it discrimination and expect the federal government to stop it so we won’t have to deal with people who don’t think exactly the way we do. The Fourteenth Amendment has now become the Eleventh Commandment, surpassing the entire Constitution on its crusade of equality. The truth of the matter is that obsession with equality suffocates liberty, whereas a government that concerns itself with protecting liberty—what the Founding Fathers considered the sole purpose of government—allows equality to flourish on its own. In short, ensure liberty,and equality will follow.
    It’s inconvenient and frustrating when we can’t have exactly the same thing that everyone else has, but that’s what capitalism does. Whether this Keynesian society realizes it or not, the market mechanism does work if given enough time. Our problem is patience.
    I may not like the fact that Muslim cab drivers don’t want guide dogs in their taxis, but they have the right to choose with whom they engage in business. Isn’t the Left supposed to be all about freedom of choice?
    I guess this comment will be labeled shocking bigotry, hatred, and ignorance. So be it. I have the right to post it, just as you have the right to object to this law.

  5. It disturbs me that I need to point out the fact that a business
    transaction is an agreement between provider and consumer, and for the
    US government to force a businessperson to provide a good or service
    would be in direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, which
    states:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for
    crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist
    within the United States, or anyplace subject to their jurisdiction.”

    It outlaws more than the institution of slavery. If either consumer or
    provider disagrees with the terms of service, the consumer goes
    elsewhere. This is a great advantage of the free market: monopolies
    rarely exist, so dissatisfied customers have choices. Is it annoying
    to have to go somewhere else? Of course it is. But to force bakeries
    and florists to take part in celebrations that contradict their
    religious beliefs violates both their religious liberty and their
    freedom to enter into business with whomsoever they choose.
    Also, this law has no effect on the LGBTQ community’s freedom to eat
    at Chik Fil’a or shop at Hobby Lobby. Eating more chicken and making
    crafts have no connection to homosexuality. If a business actually
    decided selling cardstock to a customer who happens to be gay were
    against its religious principles, that would indeed be absurd, but
    what business does the federal government have forcing it?

    I don’t consider it unreasonable to expect a blind person to mention
    his or her guide dog when asking for a ride on Uber. The driver could
    be allergic to dogs, or his or her next rider might be. If a complete
    stranger I meet over an app doesn’t want to have to vacuum his car
    after my guide dog and I ride in it, he has the right to decline. And
    someone else will be happy to drive me.

    Similarly, if I call a taxi company for a taxi to pick me up, I would
    consider it simple courtesy to mention my guide dog, just as I would
    tell them if I had six other people with me. If the company doesn’t
    know I want transportation for seven people, how can I expect them to
    know to send a big enough taxi?

    The underlying problem of this scenario is that lately, if someone
    does something we dislike, our knee-jerk reaction is to label it
    discrimination and expect the federal government to stop it so we
    won’t have to deal with people who don’t think exactly the way we do.
    The Fourteenth Amendment has now become the Eleventh Commandment,
    surpassing the entire Constitution on its crusade of equality. The
    truth of the matter is that obsession with equality suffocates
    liberty, whereas a government that concerns itself with protecting
    liberty—what the Founding Fathers considered the sole purpose of
    government—allows equality to flourish on its own. In short, ensure
    liberty,and equality will follow.

    It’s inconvenient and frustrating when we can’t have exactly the same
    thing that everyone else has, but that’s what capitalism does. Whether
    this Keynesian society realizes it or not, the market mechanism does
    work if given enough time. Our problem is patience.

    I may not like the fact that Muslim cab drivers don’t want guide dogs
    in their taxis, but they have the right to choose with whom they
    engage in business. Isn’t the Left supposed to be all about freedom of
    choice?

    I guess this comment will be labeled shocking bigotry, hatred, and
    ignorance. So be it. I have the right to post it, just as you have the
    right to object to this law.


    “Many are th

    • Hi, Rebecca. I received four duplicates of your comment, before I’d even had time to moderate the first. If this is a WordPress glitch, let me know and I will report it. Otherwise, please be advised that all first-time commenters go through moderation (I always say yes, but it does take time) and I don’t always get to new comments immediately. Please refrain from sending duplicate comments in future.

    • If you wouldn’t approve of a law that allowed businesses not to serve blacks, then you’ve got no business approving a law that allows them not to serve homosexuals or segments of the disabled. Your right to freedom of religion, and your right to hold whatever beliefs you so choose, do not allow you to impose that religion or belief on the rest of us. If you’d be offended by the very notion of doing business with $group, then you my friend are in the wrong business. And if you’d be offended by someone, say, rejecting a Uber driver because muslim (and let’s not kid ourselves, most of the people who supported this law would), then you’re being a hipocrit for hipocricy’s sake and I’ve got no time for it and would strongly recommend you provide yourself with an education.

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