To fight ‘cancel culture,’ California state senator would make political affiliation a protected class

State Sen. Melissa, R-Lake Elsinore, is taking aim at “cancel culture” with a bill that would make it illegal in California to deny someone a job or housing because of their political affiliation.

The Diversity of Thought Act, which would prohibit discrimination such as firing someone or refusing them a mortgage based on their political affiliation, is one of two bills Melendez introduced that seek to elevate political affiliation to a protected class under the state constitution — just like race, religion, disability and other statuses.

The other bill would require schools to investigate bullying based on political affiliation.

Both invoke what has become known as “cancel culture:” the practice of forcing someone out of a position because they’ve said something that offends others. Especially since the rise of social media, members of the public have risen en masse to criticize comments by celebrities and others that they find racist or otherwise offensive, leading others to say they no longer want to do business with that celebrity.

“It is unfathomable to me that corporations and members of the public would ruin a person’s career, business and family because of their political ideology,” Melendez said in a written statement. “A free society shouldn’t allow thoughts and ideas to be censored. Free speech covers all speech, not just that with which you agree.”

It’s unclear how “affiliation” would be interpreted if the bill passes — merely party registration, any political expression, or something in between.

Melendez did not have time for an interview Wednesday, Feb. 17, or Thursday, Feb. 18, spokeswoman Ellia Rosado said. Rosada did not cite examples of someone losing their job or housing because of political affiliation.

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While the announcement appears to invoke high-profile figures who’ve lost their jobs after members of the public complained about racist or otherwise objectionable comments, it’s unclear that the bills would address that, said Aaron H. Caplan, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“If ‘political affiliation’ means ‘political ideology,’ which is probably what she is intending, then let’s say someone posts something racist. Is that political ideology?” Caplan asked. “If you post something from QAnon, where you say Nancy Pelosi eats babies, is that political ideology, or is that just a mistaken assertion of fact?”

If passed, the bill could be challenged on constitutional grounds, Caplan said.

“Is telling me I can’t discriminate against someone on the basis of speech, is that curtailing my speech?” Caplan said, noting that a similar argument got support from the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. “Ultimately I don’t think that (challenge) would be successful, but legislators voting on this law might want to think, are there legitimate reasons why a shop owner might want to exclude certain speech?”

The ideal of free speech should already protect people from being fired over a political statement, said John Berry, a cabinet member with the Redlands Tea Party Patriots.

“Old-time liberals used to say ‘I disagree with you, but I’ll …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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