Californians could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for failing to use a person’s preferred gender pronoun due to a new bill that has passed the state senate and is headed for Assembly. The bill is presently limited to Elder Care facilities, but many see this as a “proving ground” because of the sympathy factor associated with the elderly.
The bill states that those who “willfully and repeatedly failing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns” would be lawfully punished. But the reality is that it is a law that cannot ever be applied equally and without exception, and this is therefore not a just law.
It is a law based on preference, not facts. If a resident chooses to be “known” by a name, they would be within their rights to be “known” by another, and this will be enforced under law. What happens if the name they choose to be known by is offensive to others? What if their preferred pronoun is “Doctor”? Whilst doctor is not recognized as a pronoun today, it is about preference, and will, under this law, be enforceable.
Critics of the bill are questioning how it fits in with the First Amendment; Greg Burt of the California Family Council testified:
“How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” “This is not tolerance. This is not love. This is not mutual respect. True tolerance tolerates people with different views. We need to treat each other with respect, but respect is a two-way street. It is not respectful to threaten people with punishment for having sincerely held beliefs that differ from your own.”
In a decent society, people generally respect the wishes and choices of others as long as it has no impact on themselves; by using the law to enforce an individual’s preference, it negates the need for genuine civility.
This is a law that can never be equally enforced; one right must suffer to enable another. Would the same advocates of this bill push equally hard for the president’s “right” or preference only to be referred to (or about) as “President Trump?” It is the same principle, isn’t it? And what if someone chooses to be referred to as “Allah?”
California is trialing this in the care facilities, but it will soon enough be pushed as law for all individuals in the state. Government involvement in how two individuals interact with each other is wrong on so many levels; it is invasive, and it is social engineering in the worst possible sense.
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