The Buncombe County Commissioners put an end to the current wave of controversy the media were trying to stir. Commissioner Holly Jones announced she would be making a motion to waive the commissioners’ rules to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of federally protected classes in the county’s revised employee ordinance. Singling out special characteristics for protection against evils like harassment, bullying, and denials of promotion annoys. I’ve been judged for having ugly hair, a hunch back, and bad acne; but I’ve learned to live with it. A little meanness is more tolerable than being lumped in a class with all sufferers of acne under the supposition that we are all alike.
Granted, all of my problems could be solved were I motivated enough to get rich enough to pay the right physicians, psychiatrists, and exorcists. Michael Jackson was rich enough to get somebody to change the color of his skin, and Birthers believe some folks are powerful enough to change their nation of origin. So, in one sense, the list of protected classes prevents discrimination against everybody too poor to turn themselves into Marilyn Monroe or Rock Hudson. However, judging from popular opinion, the classes Jones sought to protect were as immutable as the Greeks’ atomos.
Regardless, it would be much simpler to state that job performance is to be the sole criterion for discrimination in the workplace. But that would mess with affirmative-action attempts to make up for generational injustices. It would further eliminate opportunities for political dynamics. Jones is running in a district with a huge LGBT population, and special interest groups are reputed to rally around symbols of recognition. Carol Weir Peterson, who is running for re-election in a rural district, needs the votes of a broader conservative base. Chair David Gantt straddled the fence voting this way and that to appeal to everybody. One could call this political slime, but it is in fact responsive, representative government.
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