The other day I wrote about how offense is not a Constitutional right. Yet up in Grand Rapids, Michigan a certain group apparently disagrees with me. According to them, a woman posting a private advertisement for a Christian roommate is illegal and violates people’s civil rights. Their basis for their claim?
“It’s a violation to make, print or publish a discriminatory statement,” Executive Director Nancy Haynes told Fox News. “There are no exemptions to that.”
Haynes said the person who filed the initial complaint saw the ad on the church bulletin board and contacted the local fair housing organization.
The ad included the words, “Christian roommate wanted,” along with the woman’s contact information. Had the ad not included the word “Christian,” Haynes said, it would not have been illegal.
“If you read it and you were not Christian, would you not feel welcome to rent there?” Haynes asked.
In other words, if the ad can offend someone, it’s illegal.
To be honest, this is quite absurd. If the Michigan law does in fact state that one can’t mention religious preferences when seeking roommates then the Michigan law is wrong. It forces the tenet to put herself in a position that might violate her religion. If someone holds the religious belief that she should not live with someone of another religion (no matter how baseless such a belief might be) then she should have that right and to state that up front.
The First Amendment protects us from the government, not from our fellow citizens. It protects us from the government saying, “You have to be a Muslim” or “You can’t have a religion at all” in order to work for the government. If an Islamic organization, who is private, wishes to hire only Muslims or house Muslims then they have that right. They have the right to advertise their desires as such too. If the law doesn’t recognize this right, then the law is wrong.
I understand that sometimes the government has to step in between people to ensure discrimination is not occurring. But when it comes to person-to-person relations, regardless of if the person is ethically right or wrong, the government has no say over the issue. If someone only wants to befriend, live with, or work with people of a like mind, like culture, like language, or like skin color, then the person has that right. If others find such a desire deplorable then they have the right to refuse to purchase from that company and/or work with that individual. It’s that simple.
So even if the ad offends someone, so what? The right to not be offended is not a civil right, it’s not a right at all.