The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Relax Guys, it's Not Going to Kill You...

There's a post over at Hemant Mehta's blog about a franchise deli where the owner has decided to play Christian music pretty much continuously. A customer complained, and was given a response that indicates that the owner didn't care about the complaint. Mr. Mehta holds that it is not appropriate for the owner to continue to play religious music in a business that caters to the public, and takes the side of the guy who made the complaint.

I normally like Hement Mehta's blog, and usually agree with him, but this is one of two complaints he has made recently where I really think that he's way off base. The other complaint concerns Tim Tebow's religious-themed facepaint, which Mehta also feels is inappropriate.

In the case of the deli, it's a private business. Unless the owner is violating the terms of his franchise contract by playing Christian music (and he apparently is not), there is no real problem with him doing so. By the same token, if I owned a business and I wanted to prominently display atheist books throughout the place, I would be free to do so. The deli owner may lose the business of non-Christians, just as I would likely lose the business of theists, but that's the decision that the business owner is free to make. I get annoyed when I hear religious people complain that a business is "too secular" for them, and this seems no different to me.

In the case of Tebow's makeup, I fail to see why anyone should care. If other members of the team are prohibited from putting non-Christian messages on their faces during games, well, then that is a problem, but I have found no reason to believe that this is the case (if someone can provide solid information indicating otherwise, by all means let me know). Again, when Christians complain about someone having non-Christian messages displayed on themselves, I want to tell them where to stick it, and this is no different.

Here's the deal - I fully agree with Hemant Mehta that the government should not be forwarding a religious agenda, that people acting in their capacity as government employees should not do so, and that religious people need to come to terms with the fact that the non-religious have all of the same rights as them. But this goes both ways, and I fail to see how complaining about the music selection at a sandwich shop or the face of some college kid is going to have any productive results. If Tebow annoys you, that's fine and you're free to say so. If you don't want to go to a sandwich shop because of the musical selections of the owner, that's fine, too (it's even fine to let them know the reason why you won't be their patron anymore). But that's a very different thing from declaring that their actions are inappropriate or unethical.

Edit to Add: This is a case where there is a legitmate problem - the student with a non-religious viewpoint is censored while the religious students are not. However, the face paint and deli music? Not a problem.

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