On Discrimination

Democratic countries (and some undemocratic ones too) have it written into their constitutions that their citizens have rights not to be discriminated against. Heroic movements such as those of the abolitionists, suffragettes and anti-apartheid campaigners have formed the basis of these laws. Yet, is there such a thing as the right to discriminate?

We all value our rights to privacy and choice, and fiercely insist that we have every right to choose our own friends and material possessions. Yet, at times these rights might infringe on others' rights to not be discriminated against.

A case in Sweden recently illustrates this points. A child's invitation cards to his birthday party were confiscated by his teachers. They said they had to do it because he left out two children from his class, while inviting the rest. It could have caused psychological hurt to the ones excluded: exclusion as we know, is a very painful experience. But it was HIS birthday party, and he had every right to invite whom he wished. Who was right, and who was wrong?

Perhaps he should not have done the inviting in school but outside it. Doing it in class was the easiest way, but did it then oblige him to invite the two he left out?

The decision has now been left to Sweden's parliament to solve. But I am puzzled - what really is the right answer?


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