Here’s something I just posted on Facebook; it’s a short blog post here:
I’m seeing a lot of talk right now about hate and discrimination. Let’s be clear on one thing. You don’t have to hate someone to discriminate against them. You don’t have to discriminate against someone to hate them. Two different things.
Hate is an emotion, a feeling of animus toward someone else. And you can hate someone without ever letting them know that, though it’s difficult.
To “discriminate,” all you have to do is to treat someone differently. To “discriminate against” someone, you have to treat them in a way that affords them lesser treatment than you would afford someone else. It’s not the reason that makes an act discriminatory, it’s the act itself.
So (for example) if you treat someone who is [gay] less well than you do someone who is [straight] BECAUSE THEY ARE [GAY] (for instance, if you refuse to sell to someone who is [gay] a wedding cake, but you would sell it to someone who is [straight]) you are discriminating against them. The fact that you’re doing it out of religious conviction rather than hatred is immaterial; your motivation may be important to you, but it is not important to them. They just want a cake.
Whether that discrimination rises to the level of being legally actionable is another matter–one that isn’t important to what I’m saying here.
The point is, it’s the actus, not the mens, that matters. The act, and not the intent.
Two things to take away from this:
(1) When you discriminate against someone, all they see is the discrimination, not your reason. They may well conclude that you hate them;
(2) On the other hand, when someone discriminates against you, you may infer that they hate you, but that may not be the case, and without more than the act of discrimination, you don’t really know their reason.