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Posted by monkey | March 28, 2007 9:16 AM

If you think this is bad just try buying some bacon at the Super Target

You must respect the cashier and advise them first if you have pork

No shit

Posted by JoeBob | March 28, 2007 9:26 AM

40,000 people live in Minnesota? Driving through McDonalds for Breakfast probably sucks.

Posted by D. D | March 28, 2007 9:27 AM

My religious beliefs preclude working on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Oh and on the weekends to. Plus I have to wear only a loin cloth on Tuesday and Thursday is paint your balls red in public day.


Posted by Giffy | March 28, 2007 9:28 AM

Interestingly, Jonah Goldberg posted on this a while back and the comparison to pharmacists dispensing the morning-after pill came up. It is interesting that many conservatives who have a problem with Muslims not giving cab-rides based on their religious beliefs are completely comfortable with having a pharmacist impose his/her beliefs on others. Simple hypocrisy. In both cases it is completely out of line.

Posted by Gabriel | March 28, 2007 9:28 AM

Hm, it seems that refusing to carry drunks like Mr. Wolhwend, who must constitute a major portion of the taxi drivers' customers, would be really bad for business. So good ol' capitalism should take care of this eventually.

Maybe some enterprising Minnesotan needs to start a taxi service that specializes in drunks, with easy-to-hose-out backseats and stomach pumping for a nominal charge. It'd put the fundies out of business.

Posted by cdc | March 28, 2007 9:39 AM

I stopped at Madison Market yesterday for a snack, and would you believe they wouldn't sell me any of my favorites -- no O'Boy Oberto, no Twinkies, and no Cherry Coke. How dare they inconvenience me!

Posted by Brendan Patrick | March 28, 2007 9:39 AM

Let's not forget about biology teachers who don't want to teach evolution.

Posted by Gitai | March 28, 2007 9:43 AM


dan, run for president of something, please?

Posted by gforce | March 28, 2007 9:47 AM

Talk to me when we can buy liquor on Sundays and Christmas.

Posted by DOUG. | March 28, 2007 9:50 AM

Just to play devil's advocate:

The argument seems to go "if you don't want to handle pork or give drunk people rides, you shouldn't have gotten into that business in the first place." This is then applied to pharmacists who refuse to dispense the morning after pill -- you shouldn't have become a pharmacist in the first place if you can't fill prescriptions.

BUT, when was the last time you saw a twentysomething pharmacist? (Not the guys/girls working in the dispensary, I mean the actual pharmacist.) For a lot of them, the morning-after pill wasn't even a consideration when they went into the profession, so it's hardly fair to accuse them of overlooking the issue when selecting their careers.

Just saying, it's not exactly apples-to-apples.

Posted by joykiller | March 28, 2007 9:54 AM


the problem is that taxi services are heavily controlled and regulated. You can't just start your own competing service. For the same reasons, rare taxi medallions (which authorize you to run a taxi service) in NYC sell on the black market for hundreds of thousands of dollars. If there were a free market at work, you'd be correct, and competition would smooth it out, but sadly, this is yet another area in which regulation and control lead to unintended negative consequences.

Posted by cdc | March 28, 2007 9:55 AM


"More than 40,000 Somalis have immigrated to Minnesota, of all places, since the early ’90s."

"I trust the same folks in Minnesota shouting those sentiments at Somali cab drivers..."

Nowhere in the article is shouting mentioned. And yes, most Minnesotans are just as pissed at the fundie Walgreens clerks as the self righteous cab drivers.

Here's the deal Dan. Minneapolis is as liberal as Seattle. Perhaps you've been stuck in the Kansas City Airport for long afternoon, and thus developed your opinion of the midwest as one big podunk flyoverland.

Minneapolis was one of the first cities in America in the 60's to see interracial couples being publically open about their relationship. Like Seattle, the Twin Cities is whiter than the rest of the US, but both the black and GLBT communities in the Twin Cities are strong and vibrant (to say nothing of the largest urban Native American community in the US). Minneapolis and the near suburbs just elected the first Muslim US Congressman.

East Africans, who now outnumber African-Americans in MN, have chosen to settle in MN, despite the very un-African weather, because it is a tolerant, liberal place where everyone who wants to work hard can find a good job, regardless of skin color or sexual orientation.

-Former Minnesotan living in King Co.

Posted by Big Sven | March 28, 2007 9:55 AM

thank you for pointing up the parallel with the Pharmacists. The same principle applies.

(I know I sound like a conservative, but...)In *this* country, one is free to practice your religion, and is encouraged to work. However, no one is forced to be a cab driver or a grocery store scanner or a F-ing pharmacist. If people are so F-ing stupid as to believe in some imaginary force that will condemn them to hell for touching a F-ing pig, then they deserve to have a hard time finding a job.

I feel better now.

Posted by Mike in MO | March 28, 2007 9:55 AM

I think it's high time (not THAT high time, sheesh) to get the MCC and other LGBT friendly religious communites to start having religious law that allow LGBT people to refuse to sell shoes and matching handbags to the wifes, mistresses, and "boys on the side" of anti-LGBT law makers on any level of government.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | March 28, 2007 9:57 AM

the #12 post is from me, not cdc. sorry for any confusion

Posted by chunkstyle | March 28, 2007 9:57 AM

I'm from Chicago, in the Midwest. Never been to Kansas City's airport, but I've been to Minneapolis a dozen or more times.

I said "shouting" because the guy quoted got an exclamation mark at the end of his sentence. And I was shocked by Somalis moving to Minnesota not because it's backwards, but because it's so freaking cold.

But, yeah, Minneapolis is liberal. Now let's do something about Norm Coleman, huh?

Posted by Dan Savage | March 28, 2007 10:01 AM

not perfectly parallel, but the religious beliefs of the zealot-immigrants from russia & e europe in sacramento (and in the seattle area too) could 'inconvenience' alot of gay people if they get their way. these peeps are frighteningly active and vocal on the anti-gay front.

Posted by JudithBjini | March 28, 2007 10:02 AM


Most of your readers won't care about this, but... re: Norm Coleman. I'm worried that the MN DFL will find a way to screw up what should be an easy 2-pointer. The DFL (Minnesota's semi-independent democratic party) mishandled Paul Wellstone's death and handed the election to Coleman, who is reviled in MN.

I worry that they DFL will ignore or squash Al Franken's campaign during the caucuses, and give the nomination to, I dunno, an anti-choice gun-nut taxidermist from Cloquet (it's happened before.)


Posted by Big Sven | March 28, 2007 10:10 AM

Interesting sidenote: Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, represents Minneapolis.

Posted by DOUG. | March 28, 2007 10:13 AM

I'm sorry about Norm Coleman. But Wellstone died, and while it was nice of Mondale to step up last minute, it wasn't exactly the easiest race. Anyway, everyone hates him and he's on his way out.

Is the next step the taxi drivers refusing to haul gay people too? And then women without their personal definition of modesty?

Posted by Tiz | March 28, 2007 10:15 AM

In the early 80s, my mother caught a lot of shit for trying to stay in a hotel alone (i.e. without her husband) in Salt Lake City. It's not cool for any godbags to impose their beliefs on anyone else.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 28, 2007 10:22 AM

As a former resident of Minneapolis, IK can tell you that the reason these simple-minded doofuses are in Minnesota in the first place is because the good citizens have always welcomed oppressed people to the area, and have supported them while they got on their feet. Then they turn around and try to foist their fairy-tale based "values" off on the people who helped them? Give me a break.

How's this: The Cities should pass laws that any cabbie who refuses fares for any religious based reason loses their hack license.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | March 28, 2007 10:28 AM

I completely agree.

And yes, down with Norm. I remember meeting him as a child, before he sold his soul to the Republican party. Sigh...

P.S. There is a taxi type service especially aimed at people who are intoxicated here in Minnesota. You call the company, they send out two people in one car. One person then drives you home, then the other person drives your car home. Ingenious.

Posted by TVM | March 28, 2007 10:37 AM

Yeah, no alcohol, but khat's ok? If my religion believes I need to give elemetary school children a teabag everymorning, is that so wrong. I mean, it's religious.

Posted by you're a libra, arentcha darling | March 28, 2007 10:46 AM

In response to the "morning after pill wasn't around when they choose their career" statements:

When pharmisicts took their job they knew that they had to dispense all medicine that was legal and proscribed by doctors. The morning after pill is legal, and therefore falls in with what they have to do as part of their JOB.

So it is apples to apples. Their job is to give out medicine that is legal. Now they are refusing that. They should be fired on the spot or quit voluntarily if that bothers them.

And Dan Rules!

Posted by Monique | March 28, 2007 10:52 AM

I'd love to hear what the Minneapolis Somali community's take on gay rights is.

Posted by you're a libra, arentcha darling | March 28, 2007 10:52 AM

Worth a shot, 23. Vancouver's taxi companies have to abide by some set rules, and they can't refuse fares unless they fear for their personal safety - and no, the safety of your soul doesn't count. If they do (around here, it's generally cabbies refusing long drives because they make less money driving people an hour out of town), then the company they work for gets fined. It means people need to write down the number of the cab that refused them a ride, but it means less of that sort of thing goes on.

Posted by wench | March 28, 2007 10:54 AM

well, at an airport the rider simiply goes to the next cab in line (and the cab refusing as to move to the end of the queue). i'd hope those cab drivers were not sent to bars, and the dispatcher could ask if the rider required a smoking or alcohol cab. a little tolerance might work...

i agree that it shouldn't inconvenience, but that doesn't mean an acceptable solution can't be found. an inconvenience is having to wait for another cab to be sent, not having to walk twenty feet to another cab.

Posted by infrequent | March 28, 2007 10:54 AM

Amen, Dan! Er, I mean cogently articulated argument, Dan! I mean, come on! What's next, will some Muslim woman become a stripper, but won't take her burqa off?? "Come visit St. Paul's newest strip club, Deja al-Vu! 100's of beautiful ankles, and two ugly cankles."

It is quite funny/disturbing how the fundies don't see the hypocrisy in their stance with pharmacists.

Doug @ 10: You CAN buy liquor on Sundays:

Posted by him | March 28, 2007 11:19 AM

I agree that the Somalis should do their jobs, but I think it's interesting that a relatively small refugee/immigrant community is being singled out as some kind of threat to our way of life. This is more of an employer/employee problem and one that can easily be resolved by simply firing the employee who refuses to provide the services for which they're being paid. I can't help but detect a slight nativist "these savages are going to ruin our civil liberties and way of life" strain of thought in this kind of cherry picking. I mean, this is minor stuff, hardly a controversy at all. It's the kind of story some douche like Sean Hannity would pick up on in order to demonstrate how scary non-Christian religions are.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 11:37 AM

As a Minneapolis resident who regularly utilizes both the airport taxi service and the grocery stores, I feel obligated to point out that these issues are more about perception than actual problems. At the airport when a cab driver will not transport you (and your blatantly displayed alcohol), you simply get into the next cab. Or at the supermarket, you can have your pork product scanned by any nearby employee, or do it yourself. These simple "annoyances" have simple solutions, that can be easily worked out to suit everyone involved.

I would note that this is different than the pharmacist/birth control problem which can result in actual harm rather than simple annoyance.

And by the way I think that the airport commission and tourism board are making a big deal about this because the Republican National Convention is coming.

Posted by Nika | March 28, 2007 11:57 AM

@31 What kind of lawsuit would result for firing someone because their religious beliefs prevented them from performing certain job requirements?

Posted by smade | March 28, 2007 12:06 PM

Exactly, this whole thing has the stench of cooked up controversy to rowd up the usual anti-immigrant, anti-muslim crowd, the kind of people who think Somalis are a fifth column and the first step towards a American caliph. It's the usual nativist crap and totally flies in the face of multi-culturalism that people claim to cherish in this country. If employees are really inconveniencing customers then they can be fired. But I imagine you're right and it's really an overblown perception issue. Kind of like Irish and Italian Catholics "trying to impose a Catholic state" back in the 19th.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 12:10 PM

Doesn't the same principle apply to Lieutenant Watada's refusal to serve in Iraq (since he enlisted after the war started)?

Posted by Joe | March 28, 2007 12:12 PM

Yeah, if one cab driver refuses to serve you... you can just walk to the next cab.

And if one Woolworth's lunch counter refuses to serve you, you can just walk to the next Woolworth's. And if one apartment building manager won't rent to you because you're gay -- or female or an unmarried couple or black or white or, hey, Somali immigrants -- then you can just walk down to the next apartment building.

Discrimination doesn't just become a problem when you run out of cabs or Woolworth's or apartment buildings. It's wrong, period, even if it was just one cab driver, pharmacist, apartment manager, etc.

Posted by Dan Savage | March 28, 2007 12:13 PM

There might be a anti-discrimination lawsuit if a Somali was fired for practicing their religious belief, but that's a fairly normal thing in the United States- people claim religious discrimination all the time. It wouldn't be some horrible unprecedented thing or a national emergency.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 12:14 PM

There might be a anti-discrimination lawsuit if a Somali was fired for practicing their religious belief, but that's a fairly normal thing in the United States- people claim religious discrimination all the time. It wouldn't be some horrible unprecedented thing or a national emergency.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 12:16 PM

Why can't they check the job description?

I have obligations on the weekend, if I want a job I know I must find one that has weekday hours. That's my responsibility. I am allergic to latex, I know to not take a job in a rubber plant. Again, my responsibility.

I'm really happy these fellows are so devoted to their religion, but it does require some vigillence on their part. They know they will be required to handle pork if they take a job in a super- market, so they need to deal with it or find a job elsewhere.

Posted by Shea | March 28, 2007 12:18 PM

Slippery slope anyone? Oh of course, someone refusing to do their job at the cash register directly leads to housing discrimination. Give me a break. This isn't Jim Crow; it's a few individual actors.

We live in a capitalist country- if the employer loses customers because of an employee, they'll probably fire that employee. And much in the same way a fired Somali can sue the employer for discrimination, so can a person sue a cab company for refusing service due to race, religion, etc. We have employer rights, we have a judiciary. What else would please the "injured parties" in this situation: forced assimilation?

Posted by JSM | March 28, 2007 12:25 PM

40 is in response to 36 btw.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 12:26 PM

Actually, clerks should be free to refuse to handle pork products, drivers should be free to refuse to transport alcohol (or alcoholics), and pharmacists should be free to refuse to dispense prescriptions.

And their employers should be free to fire them for it.

Posted by David Wright | March 28, 2007 12:27 PM

By the way, Keith Ellison's campaign slogan was: "Get the pork out of Washington: Vote Muslim!"

Posted by DOUG. | March 28, 2007 12:31 PM

Nobody around here likes Somalians. A vast majority of them don't seem to understand basic manners of acting (cutting in line like it's nothing, just yesterday a man demanded that I help him on the computer at a library even though it was obvious I didn't work there)

Posted by The CHZA | March 28, 2007 12:32 PM

Absolutely, Dan. It is discrimination.

I had a problem with the quote:
"You’re not free to inconvenience others because of those beliefs."

Everyone in America is free to inconvenience others because of their beliefs, no matter what they are. That's what the First Amendment is all about.

However, businesses are not free to discriminate against their customers, and employers have the right and/or responsibility to enforce that.

I work in advertising. I have the right to refuse to work for a client that I deem unethical, and my employer has the right to fire me for not fulfilling my job responsibilities.

Posted by gillsans | March 28, 2007 12:38 PM

So I completely agree that when Target, or a taxi company, hire someone to do a job, that person cannot arbitrarily, while on the job, decide not to do what the worker the shift before him would, be it fill a scrip for the morning-after pill or scan bacon through a checkout line.

But what about an entire store? A private enterprise? I've always thought that the only way to balance individual freedom with other people's rights (that of a pharmacy not providing morning-after drugs, for example) is if the owner of the store decides that it, as a business, will not offer certain items. If a Mom and Pop pharmacy (or even all of Target Corp) never stock condoms, birth control, morning-after, or similar, whether over the counter or by prescription, is this a problem with people on the thread? Then, every person at the store acts in the same way. Surely we wouldn't force a business to sell something it didn't want to? By the same token, a store could choose not to stock bacon.

I completely agree with the "all workers must be treated the same," but I wouldn't want to see the owner of a business forced to sell something he doesn't want to sell.

Posted by torrentprime | March 28, 2007 12:44 PM

There are a number of problems with Dan's thesis that a government should prohit its citizens from descriminating. There is, for example, the philosophical problem that such prohibitions violate the right to free association, which Dan presumably doesn't care about. But the biggest problem is that such prohibitions are practically useless.

Descrimination is illegal when decisions are made on the basis of prohibited criteria as determined by the legislature. Legislatures are majority-driven decision-making bodies; they will only add a criterion to the list when the majority of the public has come arround to the belief that descrimination on that basis is immoral. But that is precisely the situtation in which the law is unnecessary, because in that situation the marketplace will operate, as JSM suggested, to the disadvantage of the descriminators.

Prohibitions against descrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing are an excellent example of this phenomonon. They are only on the books in areas with well-assimilated gay communities, i.e. where they are least necessary.

Note that this practical objection doesn't apply to prohibitions of descrimination by government. Government (unfortunately) has a monopoly; you can't just go use a different one if you don't like you are treated by yours.

Posted by David Wright | March 28, 2007 12:50 PM

I can not quite comprehend the lunch counter parallel.
This does not seem to be about discrimination against customers as individuals or members of a group, this is at worst discrimination against a product.

I agree that refusing service to anyone for any reason is never desirable, and no one wants these incidents to become precedent setting examples of how to legally discriminate.
But I think that giving these individuals a little extra leeway is a small price to pay, for the opportunity to more fully integrate them into American society. And that scanning my own bacon without complaint, is a legitimate cause in the pursuit of a society where employers do not have to discriminate on the basis of religion when it comes to hiring grocery store clerks.

Posted by Nika | March 28, 2007 1:05 PM

Yeah, I personally wouldn't have a serious problem scanning my own bacon (though I actually eat facon), and taxi cab drivers have refused me service before without tragic results. I certainly wouldn't throw a fit over any of the scenerios, but I know some people who would. It really amounts to what customers and employers are willing to tolerate.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 1:14 PM

yay! hypocracy pilloried!

Posted by treacle | March 28, 2007 1:23 PM

Cabs exist solely as transportation for the drunk. How long do you think it will be before a drunk is refused a ride and decides to just drive himself home because he doesn't want to wait for another taxi?

Also, someone else mentioned denying rides to women who aren't appropriately covered. Would everyone here be okay with the cab driver's religion holding sway in that instance, or would that be a problem?

Posted by pan | March 28, 2007 1:35 PM

JMS: I care that you eat facon.

Posted by sniggles | March 28, 2007 1:41 PM

Sniggles: I care that you care that I eat Facon!

I guess that makes two of us passive aggressively expressing our disinterest in eachother's personal lives.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 1:56 PM

Treacle, what is this "hypocracy" you speak of? Nothing I said in any contradicts a thing I said.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 1:59 PM

@31: The Constitution protects religious belief, not necessarily practice. A Muslim (or Sikh, I can't recall) was fired from a Domino's because he refused to shave his beard, which was a violation of health regulations. He lost.

Vodun (voodoo) practitioners sued for protection from animal cruelty laws to carry out ritual sacrifices of chickens. The Supreme Court ruled that animal sacrifice per se wasn't bad, but the unneccessarily cruel way that Vodun practioners killed those chickens was.

The use of drugs for religious purposes is also tightly regulated.

In other words, I can't refuse to hire someone because he's of a certain religion, but I can refuse to hire someone or I can fire someone because his religious practice will not allow him to carry out his job duties. I'm completly in favor of the penalties that have been proposed.

Posted by Gitai | March 28, 2007 2:01 PM

Everyone seems to igore that most of this is hearsay, and may amount to like 5 people denying rides or refusing checkout. I'm pretty sure the whole Somali community isn't employed in the service industry and oppressively denying the whole non-muslim population all these goods and services. Again, an employer may choose to fire the driver and the customer can also boycott the cab company or if they're feeling, litigious, sue. Employer or consumer rights, anyone?

And the idea that some drunk is going to kill someone because they were denied cab service (I still content that this isn't poven to be a widespread phenomenon) is ridiculous. Of course it's not the drinker's responsibility in any way when they get behind the wheel intoxicated; it's because some immigrant is denying his right to be an American. It's really that simple isn't it? Sheesh.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 2:08 PM

By everyone, I don't mean everyone of course. There are plenty of reasonable posters.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 2:14 PM

"You're not free to inconvenience others because of your religion"...
That's baloney. Every religion "inconveniences" every other religion in some way, shape, or form. It's inconvenient for me to

We can't infringe on one another's rights, but the inconvenience of others' religious beliefs is something we're just gonna have to deal with. This is America.

But I agree with you because the real argument is that people who can't scan pork products at a grocery store shouldn't be working at a grocery store that carries pork products. If you can't stand the pork, get out of the butcher shop.

This shouldn't even have anything to do with government or laws. It's business. If a cab company hires a guy who won't drive drunks around, that cab company is the one who has to make a choice -- lose something like 30% of business to other cab companies... or can these stubborn religious pricks. If a grocery store manager has a problem with a person being unable to fulfill their duties, they can either fire the worker or lose the angered customer to another store.
And then the religious person also has a choice -- ditch the religious b.s. or find another job.
Everyone has a choice -- the customer, the religious worker, and the business manager. Freedom to choose is good that way.

Posted by Albaholic | March 28, 2007 2:30 PM

"You're not free to inconvenience others because of your religion"...
That's baloney. Every religion "inconveniences" every other religion in some way, shape, or form. If a Christian pharmacy refuses to carry the morning after pill, tough shit for me. But tough shit for them too because I'll take my business elsewhere... it might be 20 miles away, but that's life. We can't infringe on one another's RIGHTS, but the inconvenience of others' religious beliefs is something we're just gonna have to deal with. This is America.

The real argument is that people who can't scan pork products at a grocery store shouldn't be working at a grocery store that carries pork products. If you can't stand the pork, get out of the butcher shop.

This shouldn't even have anything to do with government or laws. It's business. If a cab company hires a guy who won't drive drunks around, that cab company is the one who has to make a choice -- lose something like 30% of business to other cab companies... or fire these stubborn religious pricks. If a grocery store manager has a problem with a person being unable to fulfill their duties, they can either fire the worker or lose the angered customer to another store.
And then the religious person also has a choice -- ditch the religious b.s. or find another job.
Everyone has a choice -- the customer, the religious worker, and the business manager. Freedom to choose is good that way.

Posted by Albaholic | March 28, 2007 2:34 PM

And I apologize for the incomplete post #58. I meant to click preview.

Posted by Albaholic | March 28, 2007 2:36 PM

Don't many Somali's also believe that they have a right to castrate girls for cultural reasons? I hope that is against the law in Minnesota (and everywhere else).

Posted by elswinger | March 28, 2007 2:53 PM

I think they should just open their store and they can work there. It doesn't seem much different than people requesting not to work on Sunday.

I don't know how they expect to make much money not driving around drunks in a Taxi.

Posted by gregg | March 28, 2007 3:06 PM

And how does refusing to ring up someone's pork relate to female circumcision? The former is basically legal, the latter is strictly against the law. Bringing female circumsision into the debate doesn't do justice to any side since it's not a question that's even on the table.

Unless I'm completely misunderstanding you.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 3:09 PM

well, at an airport the rider simiply goes to the next cab in line

All of the commenters on this thread who are making this argument have clearly never waited two hours for a cab at JFK.

Posted by keshmeshi | March 28, 2007 3:26 PM

I don't know why everyone acts as though firing people who don't do their job is as easy as saying it. Sure, an employer can claim that someone isn't doing their job, but the question is, if that person brings it to court, will they rule in favor of equal oppurtunity, or common sense? I worked in a grocery store, and I worked with several mildly retarded folks who just wouldn't work sometimes. It wasn't a matter of not comprehending the job or their obligation, but that they were lazy and the store was too afraid to fire them.

Posted by Chris | March 28, 2007 3:45 PM

Well, I guess all of this begs the question: what would you, or Dan Savage, do? Have the state intervene on behalf of employers or customers? Forcibly compel them to work? Deport them? The simplist solution, when you cut all the fat and bullshit, is letting the employers decide if it's worth it. And if someone sues them for firing someone, let the courts do their job. This is the only solution, given that (I hope) no one actually wants to deport them, fine them, or intern them over this.

But I think the real purpose of this "controversy" is to ring alarm bells and scare people, christians and secularists alike, with a muslim bogeyman not unlike the nativist bogeymen of the past. The other purpose of this is to say "American ain't gonna take it!" in a way that pleases people on the left and the right. In my view, it amounts to bullying a fairly insignificant minority group in order to make some vague point about American culture, and is a symptom of our multiculturalism allergy.

I understand why D. Savage is horrified by all this. He, like myself, hates organized religious fundamentalism and thinks any chance of it being imposed is a bad thing. But discrimination is not the same thing as the free actions of a given worker, especially since the state is not going to impose their refusal as law. I think fearing Somalis is about as rational as fearing gays.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 4:10 PM

Yeah, it's pretty stupid that people take jobs when their convictions don't let them perform all the job duties. Their employers should be firing them if it's not something that can fall under reasonable accomodation.

But saying that people aren't allowed to inconvenience others because of their religious convictions? That's pretty stupid and unamerican. By that standard, every protest that blocks streets inconveniencing others falls afoul of the stricture.

Posted by King Rat | March 28, 2007 4:37 PM

#36 truly defies logic, but I am afraid that all this is based on Dan's misunderstanding of these "annoying" Somali practices.

The reason the Muslim employees are refusing to touch the pork or carry the alcohol is not to punish or insult the customer. It is actually that the Quran and Sunnah specifically prohibit the acts of touching pork and carrying alcohol (which are two of the few Main Forbidden Things that most Muslims don't argue about).

If Somali cabbies were denying service to people on the basis of some personal trait (race, religion, sexual orientation, you name it), then you could call it discrimination. But they're not and it's not. The problem is with *items* that they wish not to handle, not some sort of self-righteous retaliation against the customers they're dealing with.

In a free market, people have the right to preserve their integrity and lose money doing it, even if they are poor, working class, despised immigrants.

"The laws of this country will trump their religious tradition" is a truly frightening quote, by the way.

Posted by Disappointed | March 28, 2007 4:46 PM

Also, I second JMS and Albaholic, but I don't think Dan seriously objects to free practice of religion or our economy. I think he's just airing some of what seems like a faint anti-Arab/Muslim sentiment, which pops up now and then in his column.

Posted by Disappointed | March 28, 2007 4:56 PM

I think people are getting away from the point, which I read to be: Don't take jobs that require you to violate your religious beliefs. Don't butcher pork if you're Jewish, Muslim, or Vegan. Don't sell alcohol if you're Muslim or certain strains of evangelical. Don't work as a pharmacist if you don't want to give someone the morning after pill. Simple.

Posted by Matt from Denver | March 28, 2007 4:58 PM

That's fine with me.

I just think the situation has been blown out of proportion and because of a nasty ulterior motive. Not Dan's necessarily.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 5:18 PM

Oh, and the fact that the people in the article itself act like a bunch of bigoted assholes who apparently don't understand that immigrants don't usually assimilate in the first generation. If you're from out of the country, you're probably desperate for work and don't have a lot of options in choosing what kind you end up doing. I think the unsympathetic asshole tone of the whiners is what really set me off.

Posted by JMS | March 28, 2007 5:24 PM

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the underlying logic for this kind of issue ought to recognize the difference between reality and imagination.
Nobody has the right to have their special interpretation of 'What God Wants' simply override (randomly) their participation as a citizen- yet still retain the same citizenship status as those whose response-ability to reality is unimpaired.
The idea is not that you can act like your beliefs are law, just that the law won't interfere with your beliefs as long as they don't interfere with other people's objective reality.

Posted by Skeptic | March 28, 2007 10:55 PM

In response to # 56:

Yes almost all Somalians work in the service industry. Due to their limited language skills and low education this is the employer of first resort.

Yes, refusing drunks cab service, esp. in Minnesota where cabs must be called, will result in somebody driving home drunk and then somebody getting killed.

JMS wants to make the scenario sound outlandish but ends up doing the opposite. The scenario is perfectly plausible, and very troubling.

Religious jerks need to park their shit at the door when they leave the house. We don't need little Sharia bantustans in Minnesota. That's not tolerance.

Posted by tina | March 29, 2007 8:21 AM

So, what are you going to do about it Tina? You're going to do nothing but bitch about it, because you know it's up to the employers to decide the situation. So, in essence, all you are doing is making a big deal out of nothing because you have a problem with immigrants not assimilating fast enough. That's the sad truth.

Again, what are you going to do about. Call for a federal injunction against hiring refugees? Give me a break. I mean, oh my god it's an emergency, first generation immigrants take some time to adjust!

Posted by JMS | March 29, 2007 1:28 PM

As for drunk drivers being denied rides, give me some proof this is a widespread phenomenon instead of some hearsay and colorful quotes tied to a few isolated incidents.

Posted by JMS | March 29, 2007 1:33 PM

Ok, I suppose that there are some numbers of reported incidents. Fine, let the cab companies decide if they want to risk alienating their customers.

Posted by JMS | March 29, 2007 1:36 PM

i was a bartender in DC and we had bussers and backwaiters who refused to clear tables with empty alcohol bottles on them or deliver alcoholic beverages to customer's tables. of course that meant more work for me and others. it blew my mind. guess what? bars serve ALCOHOL. if you dont want to do the job thats required of you than go down the street to any one of the hundereds of delis, diners or hooka joints that cover D.C. and work there.

Posted by aaf | March 29, 2007 2:17 PM

Tina, do you realize that you sound like a fucking terrorist?

"We don't need little Sharia bantustans in Minnesota."

They have a right to exist. If you don't like it, move to a more fascist country.

Posted by Disappointed | March 29, 2007 2:39 PM

OK, I admit it- I do feel like I'm taking the unsympathetic bigoted self-righteous asshole point of view when I refuse to identify with people who are living in harder circumstances than my own.
For what it's worth, I'm not getting off on the superiority of my position. I don't like shutting off empathy- but there are 6 1/2 Billion [BILLION] people here.
If we all started paying close attention to the real world, we might be able to quit pretending that the anaesthetic of having a Divine Daddy has really equipped us with the kind of maturity and grace and honesty we're going to need if we want to avoid unnecessarily shameful behavior while we crash and/or belatedly learn to drive.

"the Quran and Sunnah specifically prohibit the acts of touching pork and carrying alcohol"...

Well then.
Everybody certainly must have the right to follow the orders they choose- otherwise, we could be oppressing their freedom of stupidity with our own, since there's no way to agree on anything except that we need to do SOMETHING better...

Posted by Skeptic | March 29, 2007 3:48 PM

Y'know, I don't get this. We've got a pretty decent sized Somali population here in Columbus. They drive taxis, they clean up around campus. I've never heard of that kinda stuff around here(and with the drinking on our campus, it shoulda happened by now.) But I never hear any of that kinda stuff. Is there some kind of recent change that Somalis are now hardcore sharia followers, or are the immigrants here in Columbus just a little more sensible?

Posted by Ferinoch | March 29, 2007 8:13 PM

There's inconvenience, and then there's inconvenience.

Is an entity free to eliminate access to a good or service that can be obtained elsewhere? That depends on the degree of inconvenience, and whether that degree is, in practice, equivalent to eliminating access altogether. Is an entity free to eliminate access to a good or service altogether? That depends on the good or service. However, if the good or service has no tangible adverse impact on anyone other than the one seeking it in terms limiting their ability to exercise their liberty, then no. Their "liberty" in the case comes into direct conflict with the "liberty" of the one seeking the good or service, and it is assumed that if you believe in democracy, it is wrong to limit exercise of one's freedom if the exercise of that freedom does not have a tangible negative impact on anyone but the one exercising that liberty. To be dramatic, anything less is tantamount to endorsing "big brother."

But imagine you're a target work at the pharmacy, and your shift is just about to end, and you want to get home so you can contemplate slitting your wrists in front of american idol. Someone approaches the counter and asks to have their morning after pill prescription filled. You want to start closing down shop (which, let's assume, you can if it's just about closing time). You've got choices because of the company policy. You can, for the moment, become a christian fundamentalist or a pastafarian, say "scram" and punch out. Let's also assume you don't want to tell anyone why you're being lazy with your fundie excuse, because that would be humiliating and/or obnoxious if the pressure were placed upon you to fake it and explain your "earnest beliefs". SO you say "look, I can't fill your prescription because of my beliefs. Hail pasta. LA LA LA LA LA LA LA." (The "la la" is meant to block out the noise of the loud protest issued from the customer, or to stop it by making them think you're uvulating. An IPOD or expressed religious practice of ritualistic killing to appease your god(s) would also probably end the complaints). You get to start closing down early, and get to the bar or market before it closes so you can spend the remainder of your evening drunk...and alone. The point is that in principle, this policy helps some free riders, while enabling those with more sinister intentions to inflict their beliefs on the tramps who desire eternal damnation. And for those reasons, the policy should be stricken from the books.

Posted by aaron | March 30, 2007 8:43 AM

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