Discrimination = Bigotry?

Posted on March 8, 2011


From a guest blogger:

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg

If I were to describe a friend as possessed of ‘discriminating taste’ many would think I had proffered a compliment. Images of a man who knows his Virgil from his Wagner come to mind, not to mention the knowledge that ‘V’ and ‘W’ in those names should be pronounced in the same way. He might well be a man of letters, have studied at a prestigious university and, in general, be capable of voicing coherent and considered opinions on worldly subjects. I count myself lucky to know at least one such person. The one thing he certainly could not be is a bigot.

Yet, increasingly discrimination of any kind is coming to be read as just that, plain bigotry. Take for instance the European Court of Justice’s recent ruling that insurers may no longer charge men more than women for a policy if the decision is based purely on an applicant’s sex. Indeed, the court’s decision, that ‘[t]aking the gender of the insured individual into account as a risk factor in insurance contracts constitutes discrimination’, seems to be missing a vital adjective. I must ask the reader’s indulgence on this point of linguistic usage. To be able to tell the difference between men and women, for whatever reason, will always constitute an act of discrimination. If only the European Court of Justice had inserted the word ‘unjust’ or ‘unfair’ into its judgement it might have avoided the gaffe. This would, one suspects, have been quite impossible for the judges, who knew something about what they were doing. They chose to turn a blind eye to the fact, agreed by statisticians the world over, that men have on average more car accidents than women, a fact that has understandably led to men having had hitherto to pay higher car insurance premiums. By way of contrast, women, who live on average considerably longer than men have been obliged to pay higher prices for annuities. Whatever one may think of insurance companies on other grounds this kind of sex-based ‘discrimination’ is hardly unfair or unjust. It simply takes into account widely accepted and uncontroversial facts. One is left with a distinct feeling that the European Court of Justice actually disapproves of discrimination as such.

A cursory glance through the Anglophone press would seem to support the ECJ’s position. Discrimination is increasingly understood as something that cannot be other than bad or reprehensible, as if discrimination on the ground of sex were always tantamount to wife-beating.

Such ‘arguments’ taken to seemingly logical conclusions seem to leave out of account that it is a very condition of the success of our species that we have been able to distinguish men from women. Human procreation would problematic, to say the very least, if we could not discriminate between the sexes. The ECJ, nonetheless, asks insurance companies to leave the distinction wholly out of account in drawing up policies. One does not need a degree in Human Biology to know that men and women are not identical. In matters wherein men and women behave, live or survive differentially the ECJ should jettison its crazy, if socially and politically correct, notion that differences should be ignored. To act otherwise is to impoverish humanity itself.

Judges are appointed, one would hope, because of their capacity to distinguish, indeed to discriminate, in regard of the law and justice. Their work necessarily involves grasping and refining details and distinctions. That the ECJ wishes insurers to ignore facts and differentials can only bring ridicule upon its credentials.

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