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Two-light proposal would make Islamic law become the law of the land in this case

Reader comment on item: Don't Bring That Booze into My Taxi

Submitted by Jonathan Harris (Israel), Oct 14, 2006 at 13:17

Dear Commissioners,

I am writing to express my deep dismay at the proposed "two-light" solution to the problem of Muslim taxi drivers refusing to carry passengers with alcoholic beverages. You are discarding over 200 years of the separation of church and state by even considering this action. You would be making Islamic law be the law of the land, not laws passed by our elected city, state, and national governments.

In most towns I'm familiar with, taxi drivers are required to take all fares, except where there is a question of personal safety, or in cases where the passenger wants to travel far beyond the metropolitan region, or in cases where there is illegal activity occurring. By allowing taxi drivers to pick and choose fares based on personal criteria, in this case, their personal religions beliefs, you are imposing those beliefs on the general public, and are thus failing to uphold your mandate to oversee taxi service properly. By allowing private religious practice to interfere substantially with legal public (or at least, publically-overseen) services, you have crossed a line drawn firmly by our nation's founding fathers.

It seems to me that the penalty for violating taxi medallion rules should be the same for this reason as for other cases of refusal to accept valid fares, whatever that is, bearing in mind that this is a permanent refusal to accept legal fares, not a one-time error on the part of the driver. In fact, the only logical response to a permanent refusal to meet the obligations of owning a taxi medallion is to revoke the medallion.

The obvious questions that would follow accepting the "two-light solution" include:

  1. What's next for Muslim taxi drivers?
    • Can they refuse to transport women who aren't wearing burkas?
    • Can they refuse to transport women who aren't accompanied by men?
    • Can they refuse to transport non-Muslims?
    • Can they refuse to transport people carrying art books showing nudes?
    • Can they refuse to transport people carrying pictures depicting Mohammed?
2. How about other groups?
  • Can Hindus refuse to transport Muslims?
  • Can Protestants refuse to transport Catholics?
  • Can they all refuse to transport Jews?
  • Can Northerners refuse to transport people from south of the Mason-Dixon line?
  • Can Republicans refuse to transport Democrats?
3. What about other city services?
  • Can Muslim sanitation workers refuse to pick up trash containing underwear advertisements from K-mart?
  • Can Muslim fireman refuse to put out a fire at a bar?
If you allow the "two-light" solution, or anything remotely equivalent, you are opening the door to exactly these kinds of questions, and trampling the religiously-neutral democracy that has made our nation so great. Please rethink this issue, and decide on a course of action that would make our founding fathers proud.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Harris

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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