It was bound to happen: with Kim Davis, conservatives found their false equivalency.
Charee Stanley, a Muslim flight attendant working for ExpressJet, converted to Islam a year after she started working as a flight attendant. A year after that, she learned that she was prohibited by her faith not just to drink alcohol, but to serve it as well. She asked the airline for exemption from the duty of serving alcohol, and the airline reasonably accommodated her.
The accommodation should be simple to figure out: when serving meals, she always does the food end, and not the drink end of the cart. And if a passenger asks for an alcoholic beverage at any other time, she takes the order and hands it off to another attendant. If that causes her coworkers to complain that she’s causing them more work, then she can simply pick up the slack in other duties. Simple.
But then this happened:
It seemed to be working out until another flight attendant filed a complaint against Stanley on August 2 claiming she was not fulfilling her duties by refusing to serve alcohol, Masri said. The employee complaint also said Stanley had a book with “foreign writings” and wore a headdress.
Well, it’s not hard to figure out what happened there. The headdress and “foreign writings” complaint are an unmistakable tip-off: the co-worker, clearly hostile to Muslims, and probably a fundamental stripe of Christian, either was freaked out by a religion they did not understand or just simply was filled with hate. I would gladly lay down a sizable bet that had the attendant asked for an exemption because her Christian beliefs prohibited serving alcohol, the complainer would have had no problem with it. Even if she had a Greek bible.
Sadly, the airline felt that this was more trouble than they wanted to deal with, and responded by rewarding the asshat xenophobe and essentially fired the Muslim attendant—precisely the opposite of what I would have done were I running the outfit.
Not that I am completely on Stanley’s side: if her religious sensitivities make handling the affair too difficult, she has no right to demand the exemption; if the position more or less requires the handling of alcohol and there’s no easy way around it, then that’s the job. If it would have caused too much extra work for her co-workers, again that would be a problem. Stanley didn’t have the right to demand the exemption were it an undue burden for the employer or others on the job.
However, that wasn’t the case: handling the affair was, for quite some time, a simple enough matter. It was only when her hostile co-worker complained that the problem arose. The difficulty issued not from Stanley’s exemption, but from the co-workers personal issues. Stanley was essentially fired not for her religious beliefs, but because of bigotry on the part of a co-worker, which the company unreasonably accommodated.
So the Muslim flight attendant sued the airlines, the issue hit the media, and now right-wingers are gleefully whining about how those hypocritical liberals are coddling the Muslim in what was the exact same situation as Kim Davis, whom those same nasty liberals were savaging.
This is a much different sentiment than what’s been said about accommodating Kim Davis’s religious beliefs at her place of employment. In addition, Stanley’s job duties were known when she took her position, unlike Kim Davis, who had her responsibilities change after the Supreme Court ruling.
Many will state the difference is that one position is a public office and the other is not. This too is flawed. According to Davis’s opposition, the fact she is an elected official changes what’s expected of her, and they therefore believe she should have resigned if she could no longer comply with her duties. However, if we want to talk about the proper way to handle an elected position, let’s discuss what Kim Davis should have faced. There should have been an immediate recall election. Why didn’t her opposition do this? Because they knew she’d likely be reelected. Therefore, does this not infringe on the rights of voters to choose their county officials? The appropriate procedure was circumvented in an attempt for the liberal left to demand their way.
So, let’s look at the objections stated above:
#1: Stanley knew her job requirements when she took her job. Sure; and if her converting to Islam made it impossible to do her duties, then the result would be the same as Davis: live with the conflict, or quit. However, Stanley had an accommodation that was simple and easy to carry out, as was demonstrated.
#2: Kim Davis had her responsibilities change after the Supreme Court ruling. Yep. And if the Supreme Court ruled that headdresses were a health hazard for flight crews and that religious exemptions could not be made, the same would have applied to Stanley.
#3: It is flawed to argue that the cases are different because one position is a public office and the other is not. It is not at all flawed. Davis had to swear an oath to uphold the law, and was not exempt just because the law changed. Also, if Stanley didn’t want to serve drinks, that would not send her to jail.
#4: The proper way to handle Davis’ situation would have been an immediate recall election. Um, no, actually, that’s stupid. That would suggest that the public had the right to judge whether or not Davis could ignore the law; they do not. Had Davis won a recall election, it would have simply landed Davis right back where she was at the start: in contempt of court.
As quickly becomes apparent, the objections are based on convoluted distortions, misrepresentations, and apparent ignorance of how things work, with attempts to dodge the central issues and claim issues where none exist.
Not to mention that there is one major, significant difference that cannot be honestly ignored: Stanley agreed to serve customers with a work-around, while Davis explicitly refused any work-around, and forbade all workers in her office from doing their duties. Davis’ actions would be the equivalent of Stanley forcing the entire flight crew to stop serving alcohol against the airline’s strict orders.
Indeed, Davis was specifically offered an accommodation by the court, exactly like the one Stanley was offered—in this, their cases were the same. The difference was that, while Stanley happily accepted hers, Davis outright rejected hers. Stanley was happy to allow others to enjoy their rights, Davis was intent on denying others their rights.
Do you think I would care one bit if Davis had done exactly what Stanley had done, and allowed people to enjoy their rights under the law while herself avoiding direct participation? Absolutely not. No one would have. Davis could have avoided any problems from the start by doing that.
Liberals have absolutely no problem with anyone of any religious calling receiving accommodations for their beliefs, so long as this does not infringe on the rights of others or interfere with their lives in any significant manner. So come down from the ceiling, conservatives—the hypocrisy is not from this end.
Remember those religious orders that refused to allow their workers to get health care if treatments the orders objected to would be included? They were also offered accommodations, and had they accepted them, there again would have been no big deal. Liberals would have been perfectly fine with that. However, the religious orders instead insisted on denying their workers the right to health care of their choice. The religious orders did not try to accommodate, did not try to keep their hands clean while allowing individuals the right to practice their faith as they wished; instead, the deliberately extended their own participation far beyond what was acceptable, and insisted on controlling the lives of others where they had no right to do so.
That’s the line: affecting the lives of others, denying them their rights, interfering with their lives. Accommodations can almost always be made. It is not the people these Christians disapprove of who are causing the problems, it is the Christians demanding religious control beyond their own right to do so.
The First Amendment gives you the right to free practice of religion, and it gives the same right to everyone else. Yours is not special, it does not extend to covering others you believe you have dominance over.