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« Just Following Orders The RantsUnwitting Atheists and Other Agnostic Creatures »

If You Can't Stand the Heat...
2008.09.15 (Mon) 11:33

...then you shouldn't be working in the fucking kitchen.

Apparently, a gaggle of Muslims wanted some special consideration for Ramadan — that charming month where they are disallowed from just about anything from sunrise to sunset, including touching women (which has led to some incredibly humorous situations we've been witness to recently...someone write a Muslim sit-com already) — and asked for their break at the meatpacking plant to be moved to a post-daylight moment (so they could actually have a bite to eat on their break). A big hat-tip goes out to Ed Brayton, who covered a lot of the details and musings for us.

Some interesting ideas have floated back and forth amongst the comments over at Ed's post, and some of them have skirted a particular line between the Politically Correct "we should be accommodating everyone's wacky beliefs" and the Snarkily Atheist "we shouldn't accommodate anyone's wacky beliefs" (that latter cropping up, of course, because we atheists, as a group, have no wacky beliefs, so we don't care if they're pandered to or not). Unfortunately, there have, of course, been a number of somewhat ignorant and quite silly comments that are trying valiantly to make our own point...and failing miserably. Engineer-Poet isn't helping anyone by: a) painting all Muslims with the same broad brush; and b) apparently pulling "facts" out of thin air to support his claims.

Leigh Williams really hits the nail on the head, though, following on the heels of similar comments by Marc and Adam:

I would certainly support any reasonable accomodation, but production lines in processing and manufacturing plants can't reasonably be stopped in such a manner unless the whole line changes.

And, you see, this is what we're getting at. In addition to the possible need to make large-scale changes to the entire line, perhaps this also has something to do with the plant's relationship to the entire meatpacking industry as a whole. That is, it would have nothing to do with a bunch of Christians (or even atheists) on the production line feeling irked about the schedule change, but far more to do with the outfit's ability to align its schedule with the slaughterhouses, the delivery companies, their equipment suppliers, their payroll people, their outgoing deliveries, their wholesalers and other clients...you know, the much larger machine in which the Swift meatpacking plant is just one mere cog.

Is this what's going on in this particular case? We don't know. Just because there appear to be legitimate business issues behind this decision it doesn't follow that there isn't intolerance and discrimination at work as well. So we aren't necessarily defending this plant's actions as beyond reproach; we're just pointing out the factors that have to be considered in such a debate. With or without intolerance of other religions or ethnicities, the fact remains that a business needs to be run, and if this shake-up does interfere with the running of that business, then we have a problem with all the blame being laid solely on the meatpacking mucky-mucks.

Don't get us wrong: should bureaucracy prevent us from living our lives as we'd like to, and maintaining our job security? Nope. But now let's flip the page back to reality, folks, where bureaucracy does just that. The simple answer is, if you enter an industry where certain corporate practices (either locally or in general) will conflict with your own preferences and protocols, then you're absolutely welcome to request accommodations; but if you're denied, well, either grin and bear it...or get another fucking job.

Ooh! The callous Two Percenters, E-ville atheists not wanting to help out the Muslims because they believe in a fairy tale psychopath!


To us, it's a direct callback to the various pharmacists who refused to fill prescriptions for the "morning after" pill, and even (on occasion) those regular old daily birth control pills. Hey, when the company itself makes this decision across the board, that's corporate policy — and we may disagree with it, but we can't blame the individual pharmacists. But when some fuckhole takes it upon himself to refuse to do his job (and especially when he goes so far as to sue his employer over it), then we have a fucking problem.

If you can't fulfill the tasks you'll be assigned as an employee in a particular position, then you don't fucking apply for that position. Period.

Should Jerry's Kids, who — darling little tykes though they may be — don't exactly have the most Olympian of athletic prowess, get spots on NFL teams, where they probably won't be up to the task of, oh, we don't know, field goals and gaining actual yardage? (And then ask for the rules to be changed to accommodate these shortcomings?) Of course not.

Should Christian fundies, who disagree with the practice of birth control, voluntarily enter a profession or organization where they will be tasked with providing birth control? Of course not.

Should Muslim fundies, who need to rework their entire work schedule around their own archaic system of beliefs, voluntarily enter a profession or organization where the standard business practices preclude the capacity to rework that schedule so easily? Of course not.

This isn't about accommodation — it's about doing your fucking job first, and seeing if you can work things out with the boss secondarily. Jerry's Kids could easily be "accommodated" in a work setting where they're capable of doing the job in the first place. And, let's face it, their handicap is involuntary. (Yes, religiosos, take that personally.)

Listen, the Muslims are entitled to their beliefs, no matter how silly and archaic they are, but those beliefs are still silly and archaic (as are all religious beliefs — yes, all, kids), so if they're going to insist on their unique schedule, they simply shouldn't seek work at a plant where the work has to be done together with the rest of their colleagues. The Muslims in this scenario aren't being "singled out," here — it's just that their proposed "special accommodation" may actually interfere with the day-to-day business that their company is trying to conduct. Don't complain about your employer being unable to make such sweeping changes for one specific group — as Phil points out over on Ed's thread, try and work with the system (scheduling this stuff in advance with your fellow non-Muslim line workers) to make everybody happy, including the company that still needs to get their meatpacking done with or without your fasting, rug-butting help.

Private employers can set up their business practices however they like — it is not discrimination if you sign up for the job as described, ask to change that job, and are refused. We here at the Two Percent Company like to sleep in most mornings — are we within our rights to tell the entire rest of the economically interactive world to push back the start of the business day from 9AM to noon? (Jeff voted for 4PM, actually.) We're within our rights to ask — but if nobody else agrees, well, fuck us. We understand this, and we weigh our options before accepting employment in certain industries or companies. As a note: in some cases, we often do find accommodation for our sleeping habits — but we don't cry "discrimination" when we don't!

And yes — could these Muslims have a legitimate gripe in this case, and could Swift (or some particular officious bureaucratic higher-ups) really just be fucking with them because they're Muslim? It's possible. But we have trouble choking up some sympathy for people who have "special needs" because they believe in a bunch of atavistic bullshit, when there are people out there with real special needs (because of involuntary conditions), and shit like this distracts and detracts from real issues like those.

Are we a bit irked by the whole religious aspect of this fiasco? Yeah, of course. The fact that Muslims, Christians, or any other believers in sky fairies and magic can claim "Religious Requirements" when they want their shit accommodated, while we rational folks can only claim "Kinda Prefer To," is a bit of a sticking point. Their delusions give them an advantage that should have been taken away a long, long time ago.

To quote ourselves, just above:

...you enter an industry where certain corporate practices (either locally or in general) will conflict with your own preferences and protocols...

And the problem here is that, while our preferences are preferences, the religiosos' preferences are claimed to be Word O Magic Man, Handed Down From On High, and therefore must be given more credence. Or...and we're just spitballing here...their preferences are just fucking preferences, like ours, and the centuries of bullshit behind them shouldn't give them any more goddamn consideration.

In short: can we just stop pandering to the preferences of people whose only real distinction is that they stupidly believe that mythology is real far too long after puberty? It's fucking ridiculous.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Business & the Economy  % Religion  ]

Comments (6)

Infophile, 2008.09.15 (Mon) 14:14 [Link] »

A Muslim sitcom, you say...?

stavros, 2008.09.15 (Mon) 14:26 [Link] »

Nice to see you back guys -it's been a while now.

Very well said. People tend to blame everything nowadays on racism and discrimination without even looking what is actually going on!

Personally I always felt that this whole "politically correct movement" and "trying not to offend anyone" in the form it has taken in the UK (and I assume US as well), is totally ridiculous! It is one thing to try and "accommodate" everyone's needs, but it is the other extreme to be afraid to even be passive on certain issues because you will be labeled an inconsiderate racist! And let's not mention free speech: it doesn't exist anymore! No matter what you say you are going to offend someone -and then it's trouble for you.

People should adapt to the new society they enter and should not expect the society to adapt to them!

TimmyAnn, 2008.09.15 (Mon) 23:00 [Link] »

Sometimes I'll be on the bus and a Somali woman who has drencehed herself in cologne will sit down next to me and I know that if I get up and move she (and all the PC Police watching) will think that I am a racist. Yeah, because when a white woman whose cologne makes my throat close up sits next to me, I just sit there gasping and enjoy it.

ABC, 2008.09.26 (Fri) 07:59 [Link] »

I agree. But following this logic, should businesses also stop to accommodate women who have children ? Reproduction is a voluntary action, it's a personal choice much like believing in superstitious bullshit is a personal choice. So for example, why should a business which requires their staff to work 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, have to alter this requirement to suit pregnant women or new mothers who can only work 10:00 till 16:00 (for example) ?

The Two Percent Company, 2008.09.26 (Fri) 16:18 [Link] »

First we'll answer your question as you posed it.

So for example, why should a business which requires their staff to work 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, have to alter this requirement to suit pregnant women or new mothers who can only work 10:00 till 16:00 (for example) ?

They shouldn't. And, more to the point, businesses aren't forced to do that today. Working two hours less than everyone else is not generally something that companies allow pregnant women or new mothers (or fathers) to do. If an employee wants to request such an arrangement, then they should propose a flexible working arrangement whereby they work less hours than everyone else and get paid less for a shorter work day. If the company doesn't want to allow a flexible arrangement, then they are not (and should not be) obligated to do so.

Perhaps you intended to suggest shifting the workday (as opposed to shortening it). If so, then assuming that the business will allow for such a shift, it's a pretty simple accommodation — but this should be the employer's decision, not an expected (or mandatory) accommodation. For example, a business that is only open from 9AM to 5PM might simply be unable to allow an employee to work from 11AM to 7PM.

Bottom line: if an employer can accommodate a legal and legitimate request, and if all parties involved are okay with the change, then it's perfectly okay (and quite nice) to do that. If not, then it's similarly perfectly okay to say no.

The same logic applied here is evident in the examples in our Rant. We brought up an even more extreme example there, in fact: handicapped kids going out for professional sports. Should we ask all professional athletes to enter the games in wheelchairs, or change the job description in any other way just to accommodate those who are clearly not able to do the job as it is already defined? If you can't do the job, then you don't sign up. If you need an accommodation later on, then by all means ask for a change...but don't demand or expect it. If it works out, great. If not, then decide which is more important to you (the job or the accommodation) and act accordingly.

Ryan, 2008.10.01 (Wed) 18:49 [Link] »

That's funny, whenever people complain about job restraints the first thing I ask is how many one armed football players they know.

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