Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Some People Need To Find Another Career

I heard about this on Air America this morning and couldn’t believe my ears.

Yesterday I picked on fundamentalist Christian pharmacists for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions. Today it’s Muslim med school students in the UK:
Some Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs.

Some trainee doctors say learning to treat the diseases conflicts with their faith, which states that Muslims should not drink alcohol and rejects sexual promiscuity.

A small number of Muslim medical students have even refused to treat patients of the opposite sex. One male student was prepared to fail his final exams rather than carry out a basic examination of a female patient.

Oh for crying out loud. There’s a difference between religious discrimination and WATBs demanding special treatment. I think this crosses the line.

This is news in the UK because recently a large grocery chain agreed to let Muslim check-out clerks refrain from selling alcohol:

MUSLIM supermarket checkout staff who refuse to sell alcohol are being allowed to opt out of handling customers’ bottles and cans of drink.

Islamic workers at Sainsbury’s who object to alcohol on religious grounds are told to raise their hands when encountering any drink at their till so that a colleague can temporarily take their place or scan items for them.

Other staff have refused to work stacking shelves with wine, beer and spirits and have been found alternative roles in the company.

Sainsbury’s said this weekend it was keen to accommodate the religious beliefs of all staff but some Islamic scholars condemned the practice, saying Muslims who refused to sell alcohol were reneging on their agreements with the store.

This is pretty funny to me because one of the stereotypes of American Muslims is that they own all of the liquor and tobacco stores.

So, how would that work here: would Mormons refuse to sell liquor, cigarettes, coffee and tea bags? Mitt Romney didn’t have any problem bringing porn and alcohol into Marriott Hotels. But what if a member of the hotel housekeeping staff refused to restock the mini-bar for religious reasons? Or wouldn't rent a room to a gay couple? I mean, we could go on and on with this.

On the other hand, is it really that big of a deal for someone who objects to selling alcohol on religious grounds to turn the cash register over to someone who doesn’t? After all, that’s how beer sales are handled when a checkout clerk is underage. What’s the difference?

I think it’s one of those slippery-slope issues. If you tell someone they don’t have to scan a six-pack of Budweiser then you’re also saying it’s OK for someone else to not dispense birth control pills. It doesn’t matter to me if there’s someone else in the store who can handle the sale, because there will come a time or place or situation where someone is denied the healthcare or prescription medicine they need because of someone else’s religious beliefs. No one needs a six-pack of beer, but someone with an STD does need medical treatment--for themselves, and for the health and welfare of the general population. And I don’t see any religious justification for denying that treatment.

I think we getting into cuckoo-bananas territory here. Everyone wants their special needs catered to, and it's time for it to stop.