If businesses can’t discriminate, why is it OK for the state to?
The issue of the “Wandering Dago” food vendor truck reveals a bit of a double standard imposed by the state Office of General Services and NYRA [New York Racing Association] toward its owners [Nov. 9 Gazette].
For businesses, there cannot be any discrimination toward clientele on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. For instance, no business owner can ever say, “We don’t serve Catholics here,” or “We don’t take pictures of those kinds of weddings.” When one offers a service, that service must be equally accessible to all.
But here we find the state attempting to ban this food vendor because its name could be taken as offensive. The rationale by the deputy secretary for gaming and racing, Bennett Liebman, was that he believed “people will find the name of the truck both offensive and insensitive, and that fallout for authorizing this truck will inevitably land on NYRA.”
You see the double standard it that? Business owners must provide service to everyone regardless of any potential fallout or negative publicity, but the state can tell this vendor that it finds their name offensive and ban them because it might become a little uncomfortable to explain, should anyone be offended.
NYRA is averse to any negative publicity caused by someone else, but it’s OK to force a private business owner to participate in practices he or she finds offensive.
I think specifically of faith-based photography businesses that have been fined for discrimination for choosing not to use their personal equipment to record gay marriages. Or venues owned by devout people who do not want to rent their facilities for gay wedding receptions. By law, these business owners cannot discriminate, even for religious reasons, since everyone has a right to equal access, but NYRA finds nothing wrong with denying access to a vendor because it disagrees with their name.
I think that a better course would be to let the public decide. If the buying public are offended, then the food truck will fail. If “we the people” are fine with the name, as are the vendors, then the business will thrive.
Let the people make these types of decisions, and let NYRA do a little damage control if it must. There is a symbiosis: Disagreement and offense must always coexist with tolerance and forbearance.
Debate courtesy of Johnstown students
Recently Johnstown High School Participation in Government students organized and ran a city mayoral debate at the Johnstown Performing Arts Center. The students conducted themselves very professionally in creating an informative event for the voting public and the entire student body.
JHS seniors created a spreadsheet to make sure that all necessary jobs were accounted for and all students were assigned tasks. Students determined the time, date and location of the event and reserved the facility. They created sophisticated questions for the candidates and solicited questions from JHS underclassmen and the public.
They were responsible for setting up the auditorium and running the lights and sound. They created the rules for the debate and kept track of the time available for each candidate’s responses. The students publicized the event by contacting many media outlets and putting up signs throughout the community.
JHS seniors should be very proud of what they accomplished.
Johnstown residents can view the debate on a YouTube video also created by the seniors.
The writer is a Johnstown High social studies teacher.
It’s up to parents, not teachers, to stop bullies
Our society once professed that we human beings mutually have an inherent dignity that no individual or group has a right to destroy. That is why we have laws against attacking another physically or verbally.
That is also why the Nov. 7 Gazette article on children in elementary and middle schools making a sport of violating another’s dignity by inappropriately grabbing or slapping is so disturbing. This behavior suggests a kind of thinking that, if extended into adulthood, may well lead to brutalization, rape and stalking.
It should be taken seriously by all parents, particularly by those of the perpetrators. That is where the principal responsibility lies, rather than with the school staff.
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