Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mind-Boggling Discrimination On Craigslist

by Ricardo Espanol Savage

If you would like to advertise a housing opening on Craigslist, get ready for bizarro discrimination. For would be housing ad's, Craigslist has this to say:
  • you can be fined more than $10,000 for each discriminatory ad, plus damages in court, plus loss of license if you are a professional
  • avoid phrases which could be interpreted as discriminating by race/color/origin (e.g. 'hispanic area'), religion (e.g. 'christian home'), age / familial status (e.g. 'no kids' or 'ideal for single/couple'), disability, or sexual orientation
  • the words you choose can cost you - get the facts and avoid being prosecuted under fair housing law
Are you scared after reading this? Shaking? Terrified? You shouldn't be, but there's no doubt, that's the perlocution. This is a fear tactic. You could be fined 10,000! Plus damages in court! Plus loss of professional license! Put your hands up 'cause, "the words you choose can cost you." So, let me get this right Mr. Craig List -- one errant ad upon thy site could ruin me for life? Is that what you are saying? 

My standard response to fear tactics is to have no fear. The words I choose can cost me, huh? Cost me what, exactly, pray tell? I can be fined? Does Craigslist have the authority to fine me 10 grand? Nope. "Avoid phrases..." Who says so? 

Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you a discriminatory ad aimed at, um, discrimination. Here is the catch 22 of the hyper PC world. You can't speak against discrimination without discriminating. Craigslist is, first of all, discriminating against people who discriminate. If they really thought any and all discrimination were deplorable they'd just skip this passive aggressive warning. Actually, I believe something more insidious is at work. I believe Craigslist is discriminating against people who don't share their worldview, and especially Christians. Why do they specifically state that a good example of discrimination would be the tagline, "christian home"? Did they just pull that out of a hat? Also, what's wrong with saying, "hispanic area"? What should one say if, for example, they lived in an hispanic area? Is it evil to live in an hispanic area? Is Craiglist against hispanics congregating in certain parts of town? Is Craigslist... dare I say it... racist? 

Go ahead and laugh cause that was a joke, but here's the heavy: this warning is incredibly, even if oddly, racist. For one, Craigslist is picking out (discriminating toward!!!) hispanics as an example of someone who would post a racist ad.  This is certainly an example of racism that comes from a lack of self-awareness -- but don't give Mr. Craig List a pass too quickly. All racism involves a lack of self awareness. All racism involves a sense that everyone is/should be LIKE ME. Racism is, ironically, a lack of discrimination concerning the differences between me/the world. In this case, Craigslist assumes that the whole world shares their postmodern values. Craigslist should do a little more discriminating if they want to avoid discrimination. 

Which brings us to a crucial truth: not all discrimination is bad. To discriminate involves, according to Mr. Webster,

"the quality or power

of finely distinguishing."

Discrimination is not, in itself, a bad thing. In much of life discrimination is mandatory for healthy living. You discriminate between rat poison and Cocoa Puffs. You discriminate between wise/foolish decisions. You discriminate between good/bad causes. You choose one career, not another. One wife, not another. If you are wise, you discriminate among potential friends. You certainly should discriminate between men/women when entering the world of courtship. You know what we call a man who enters freely, with no discrimination, into amorous relationships? Probably not. You know what we such a woman? Yeah, you know. 

And, when it comes to discrimination, you should most certainly discriminate between/among potential housemates. What else makes for happiness as much as your living companions? Ever had a bad roommate? The guy in college who stayed up all night blaring heavy metal and staring at you while you slept? What are you looking for in a potential housemate? Someone likeminded. Someone kind and considerate. Someone responsible. Someone who shares your values. If you are not looking for these things get ready for a slew of fights/misunderstandings/anxiety; get ready for MTV's Real World to invade your world. Discrimination is not, in itself, evil. It is good. Failure to grasp this is why Craigslist enters into strange hypocrisy. They don't get that some basic level of discrimination is necessary. Hence, they list this warning which is, in itself, filled with discrimination. 

In any case, I took offence to Craigslist's warning; I "interpreted it as discrimination." So, I went on over to HUD and filed a 903 complaint against Craigslist. It took about 5 minutes. 

This is what I wrote:

I wanted to list a housing opportunity on Craigslist. I am a Christian, and my religion specifically states that I am prohibited from entering into compromising relationships with non-Christians: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers." Craigslist discriminated against me by not allowing me to list an appropriate ad on their website. They also threatened to extort $10,000 from me, and warned, in a passive aggressive voice, "your words could cost you." They made empty threats about court costs and frightening legal ramifications. They do not have the power or authority to publish these threats. They also specifically discriminated against me as a Christian with the following: "avoid phrases which could be interpreted as discriminating by race/color/origin... religion (e.g. 'christian home'). Why am I singled out and discriminated against as a Christian. Why is my religion singled out as the example phrase of a bigot? 
Be careful, Craigslist. You should avoid phrases like "christian home," and "hispanic area." These could be interpreted as discriminating against race and religion. Watch out! You could be fined more than $10,000, not to mention a boat load of legal fees and court costs, and damages -- oh, not be me. HUD is the one who does all the fining and sheriffing in these parts.

Be careful Craigslist, as you have often said to me, and the world, "your words could cost you."

No comments:

Post a Comment