The other day, a friend of mine jokingly poked fun at a nose. Yes, a nose. It was a large nose, surely. And it was, from my subjective angle, perhaps unattractive in the way it silhouetted, or got stuck in the doorway. But it was just a nose. And, above all–and most importantly–a nose that this individual did not choose to claim. So one shouldn’t, as this friend did, and I did for sake of argument here, judge.
My running comrade Justin recently explained this idea as follows: that it makes no logical or rational sense to judge/discriminate/evaluate/value someone based upon a factor that they did not choose. And I wholeheartedly agree. Things we do not choose hold no inherent value because we don’t choose them. It’s merely happenstance.
We don’t choose our race. So it doesn’t make a lick of sense to judge based upon race. It’s irrelevant. We don’t choose our ethnicity. So we shouldn’t value someone based upon their ethnicity, based upon what they did not choose, something they were born into. Similarly, we don’t choose our gender or sexual orientation. So we should not judge/value based upon something that was not chosen, as it doesn’t hold any inherent value.
If you do make judgments/valuations based upon race, gender, sexual orientation and/or ethnicity, you are saying that you believe a person’s value or character is determined before they are born, by something they did not–and could not–choose and evaluate/judge themselves.
Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand said it quite well: “Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination” (The Virtue of Selfishness, 126).
Things we do choose are fair game for open evaluation and discrimination because we are, in fact, making a conscious decision, using our “rational faculty” to make an evaluation. We choose our religion. We choose our philosophy. We choose the clothes we wear. These are things that can be judged. Not race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity. These are irrelevant and hold no inherent value.