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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I was just sent this link from August Berkshire of Minnesota Atheists, regarding the ongoing controversy of Minneapolis-St. Paul cab drivers refusing to transport customers who have alcohol because of their Muslim religion. It's made the national news several times.

I think that I have been very supportive of new Somali immigrants and of Muslims in general because of the bullshit they face ever since September 11, but damn. I don't agree with this "no transport" policy and, yes, I do think somebody has to make a choice here. I don't want to deprive anyone of the livelihood, but do your job or find another one. Can't bring yourself to dispense the morning-after pill? Do something else. (Do these same people dispense Prozac?)

I once worked at a prominent savings-and-loan delivering the executive mail, often hair-raising right-wing solicitations ("Keep the gays from raping our children in the streets!") and coupons for Solid Gold, a strip joint, addressed to senior vice-presidents. I felt like throwing that crap right in the garbage but hey, it's none of my business, and I'm no little schoolmarm myself, and that's illegal besides. (A very prominent member of the Republican party who was among the executives there was clean as a whistle, though--I'll give him that. Lots of Vikings games, and that's about it. No dirt. Sorry.)

The irony here is that at the same time there's an item in City Pages about two local companies whose nitwit management is so controlling that it mandated scheduled employee breaks, thus disrupting the prayer-times for Muslims (and who knows what other horrors, probably Avon catalog riffling and microwave popcorn) which had worked just fine up to that point. Okay, everybody, get out your hankies for the poor corporations' "undue hardship" of letting people take an unauthorized break shorter than a smoke outside the door to the loading dock. My only quibble is, do you have to have a religious reason to sue or does just having a bladder (and some adult dignity) count? (I looked for a link but can't find one; I read the print version.)

But I'll never forget the executive who called me and asked (I am not making this up) if we had a place for lost mail in the mail center! Yeah, we have a big-ass pile of lost mail, genius. What do you make, $80,000 a year? Can I have your job?

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Blogger Kristine said...

Okay, in all fairness I should say that the moment the words were out of his mouth I could tell that he felt pretty stupid. He and I had a good laugh about it.

It still tickles me though.

January 25, 2007 10:58 PM  
Anonymous JanieBelle said...

Just one thought about the mail:

If it's in the mail center, it's not exactly "lost" is it?


And the cab drivers? I agree. You have every right to object to doing something that's against your personal beliefs.

But if that something is part of the job description, then people are depending on you to do your job.

If you can't do it, don't do it.

Um... lemme try that again.

If you can't do the job, don't take the job.

How's that?

January 26, 2007 1:28 PM  
Blogger Greg Laden said...


I just don't believe that the most unsavory thing you've had to do is to pass out junk mail. I think you are not telling us something.

The Muslim cab drivers are, of course, out of line. It isn't even that they are Muslim. There are Muslims transporting spirits all over the world. Its this particular group. But there are two angles that should be mentioned.

First, this never should have become an issue. Muslims in the Twin Cities occasionally get shot to death because of their religion, and if they own an overt walk-in business such as a restaurant, (other than one that caters to other Muslims) we close 'em down via lack of business. That's been the story since 911. This story simply adds fuel to the fire.

The other is that the situation is NOT about what these cab drivers want. Their rights are not being violated. Its about the passengers. You can't ask a passenger to declare if they have a flask or a beer hidden on them. First and fourteenth, baby. (as the cool constitutional lawyers are fond of saying).

So the answer to the question "Can I avoid transporting customers carrying spirits" is "You can't even ask me that question"

Hmmm ... feeling a little edgy today. Maybe I should go put on a patch or something...


January 26, 2007 3:46 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Ding, ding, ding, you got it JanieBelle. And so did Mr. Executive Genius the minute he said it. I said something like, "Well, if we had a spot for it here..."

And then we both said, "It wouldn't be lost."

This was in the time before "D'oh!"

Regarding the cab drivers, I really am sympathetic, but 1) the Koran doesn't say you can't transport alcohol (for pity's sake they transport it all over the Middle East to make a buck from Westerners) and 2) what if someone just had a drink and then got in a cab? If the passenger has alcohol in their stomach the cab driver is transporting alcohol, right? How do you enforce that?

I just don't believe that the most unsavory thing you've had to do is to pass out junk mail. I think you are not telling us something.

Geez, a lot of that going around lately. ;-) Of course I'm not telling you something! I don't reveal everything to everyone, not even here.

So if you’re seething with curiosity about the scuba suit in my bottom drawer of my desk at City Hall, you can just forget it. I’m never going to reveal what I did with that while singing “Livin’ La Vida Loca” for the firefighters.

I get to have some secrets! :)

January 26, 2007 4:26 PM  
Blogger PiGuy said...

While I'm certainly don't at all subscribe to the "America - Love it or leave it" attitude, the whole point is that here in America we're supposed to accept each others' cultures while at the same time feeling comfortable living our own way, not just the ones of which we approve. You know, Land of the Free, melting pot, and all that. You're supposed to do a job. If you're going to use your religion to decide which people you're allowed to serve, then it's time for a new job. (BTW: The same goes for pharmacists declining to prepare birth control.)

Feel free to pray to any god you choose or none at all. No problem. Just don't impose your religion on us. We've already got a president for that.

January 27, 2007 3:27 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well no, I don't think any of us subscribe to "love it or leave it" thinking--maybe "love it and leave it alone" thinking.

There's some conflict between Somalis and Muslims from different parts of the world as to how strictly to interpret the Koran. Opinions on alcohol are really on a continuum. I know Muslims who drink wine and who say, "Look, the Koran was written when there was too much drunkeness and orgies."

And my personal beliefs prevents me from doing certain jobs. My not having a car definitely restricts where I work, although that's a good thing.

January 27, 2007 10:16 PM  

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