A Philosopher's Blog

Does Religious Freedom Justify Discrimination?

Posted in Business, Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Religion by Michael LaBossiere on April 1, 2015

 

IndianaThe scene is a bakery in a small town in Indiana. Ralph and Sally, a married couple, run the Straight Bakery with the aid of the pretty young Ruth. Dr. Janet and her fiancé Andrea enter the shop, looking to buy a cake.

Sally greets them with a pleasant smile, which quickly fades when she finds out that Janet and Andrea are a lesbian couple. Pointing at the door, she says “baking you a wedding cake would violate my religious beliefs. Go find Satan’s baker! Leave now!” The couple leave the shop, planning to drive to the next town—their small town has but one bakery.

At the end of the day, Sally leaves the shop. Ralph says he will help Ruth close up the shop. After Sally leaves, Ralph and Ruth indulge in some adultery.

Indiana has recently gotten nation attention for its version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill would prevent state and local governments in Indiana from “substantially burdening” the exercise of religion unless it can be proven the state has a compelling interest and is using the least restrictive means for acting on that interest.

Proponents of the bill claim that it is aimed to protect people, such as business owners, with strong religious beliefs from the intrusion of the state. Those who oppose the bill note that it would legalize discrimination and that it is aimed at gays and lesbians. Many other states have similar laws, but some of them have laws that protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Since the law cannot specify individual religions for protection, it is likely to lead to some interesting consequences, possibly involving Satanism—as happened in my adopted state of Florida. While the legal aspects of this matter are rather important, as a philosopher my main concern is with the ethics of the matter.

On the face of it, religious freedom seems to be good—after all, it would seem to fall under the broader liberty of thought and belief (which is ably supported by Mill in his work on liberty). As such, the bill initially seems to be a morally reasonable defense of a well-established right.

The bill, as opponents argue, would certainly seem to allow people to discriminate against others, provided that they can justify their discrimination on religious grounds. The law cannot, obviously, require that a religion be true, rational, consistent, sensible or even sane—all religions are equally protected. This, of course, could lead to some serious consequences.

Driving home, Sally’s car is struck by a delivery van and she is badly injured. Luckily, Dr. Janet and Andrea (a trained nurse) are right behind the van. As Dr. Janet and Andrea rush to help, they see it is Sally. Dr. Janet, a devout member of the Lesbian Church, has sworn to God that she will not treat any straight bigots. Looking down at the dying Sally, Dr. Janet says “saving you would violate my sincerely held religious beliefs. Sorry. Perhaps you can find another doctor.” Sally dies.

The obvious counter to this sort of scenario is that religious freedom does not grant a person the liberty to deny a person an essential service, such as medical treatment. Using the standard principle of harm as a limit on liberty, the freedom of religion ends when it would cause unwarranted harm to another person. It could also be argued that the moral obligation to others would override the religious freedom of a person, compelling her to act even against her religious beliefs. If so, it would be wrong of Dr. Janet and Andrea to let Sally die. This, of course, rests on either the assumption that harm overrides liberty or the assumption that obligations override liberty. There are well-established and reasonable arguments against both of these assumptions. That said, it would certainly seem that the state would have a compelling interest in not allowing doctors, pharmacists, and others to allow people to die or suffer harm because of their religious beliefs. But, perhaps, religious freedom trumps all these considerations.

After having a good time with Ruth, Ralph showers off the evidence of his sins and then heads for home. Ruth helps herself to some of the money from the register and adjusts the spreadsheet on the business PC to cover up her theft.

Ralph is horrified to learn that Sally has been killed. He takes her to the only funeral home in town, run by the Marsh family (who moved there from Innsmouth). Unfortunately for Ralph, the Marsh family members are devoted worshippers of Dagon and their religious beliefs forbid them from providing their services to Christians. After being ejected from the property, Ralph tries to drive Sally’s body to the next town, but his truck breaks down.

He finds that the nearest shop is Mohamed’s Motors, a Muslim owned business. Bob, the tow truck driver, says that while he is generally fine with Christians, he is unwilling to tow a Christian’s truck. He does recommend his friend Charlie, a Jewish tow truck driver who is willing to tow Christians, provided that it is not on the Sabbath and the Christian is not a bigot.  Ralph cries out to God at the injustices he has suffered, forgetting that he has reaped what he has sown.

In the case of these sorts of important, but not essential, services it could be argued that people would have the right to discriminate. After all, while the person would be inconvenienced (perhaps extremely so), the harm would not be large enough to make the refusal morally wrong. That is, while it would be nice of Bob to tow Ralph’s truck, it would not be wrong for him to refuse and he is under no obligation to do so. It might, of course, be a bad business decision—but that is another matter entirely.

If appeals to harm and obligations fail, then another option is to argue from the social contract. The idea is that people who have businesses or provide services do not exist in a social vacuum: they operate within society. In return for the various goods of society (police protection, protection of the laws, social rights and so on) they are required to render their services and provide their goods to all the members of the civil society without discrimination. This does not require that they like their customers or approve of them. Rather, it requires that they honor the tactic contract: in return for the goods of society that allow one to operate a business, one must provide goods and services to all members of the society. That is the deal one makes when one operates a business in a democratic society that professes liberty and justice for all.

Obviously, people do have the right to refuse goods and services under certain conditions. For example, if a customer went into Ralph & Ruth’s Bakery (Ralph moved on quickly) and insulted Ruth, urinated on the floor and demanded they give him a half price discount, Ruth would be justified in refusing to make him a cake. After all, his behavior would warrant such treatment. However, refusing a well-behaved customer because she is gay, black, Christian, or a woman would not be justified. This is because those qualities are not morally relevant to refusing services. Most importantly, freedom of religion is not a freedom to discriminate.

It might be countered that the government has no right to force a Christian to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. This is true, in that the person can elect to close his business rather than bake the cake. However, he does not have the moral right to operate a business within civil society if he is going to unjustly discriminate against members of that society. So, in that sense, the state does have the right to force a Christian to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, just as it can force him to bake a cake for a mixed-race couple, a Jewish couple, or an atheist couple.

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  1. ronster12012 said, on April 1, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Michael

    Interesting final paragraph.

    ……………………………………………………………………

    “However, he does not have the moral right to operate a business within civil society if he is going to unjustly discriminate against members of that society. So, in that sense, the state does have the right to force a Christian to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, just as it can force him to bake a cake for a mixed-race couple, a Jewish couple, or an atheist couple.”
    …………………………………………………………………..

    So you are advocating slavery by forcing people to perform services and sell products they would rather not?But only for some, I see. Isn’t that discriminatory?

    The whole thing about discrimination is all complete nonsense. We all discriminate against people every day.
    We discriminate in favour of our loved ones and friends, therefore against all others however subtly, as we don’t treat them the same.We all treat others differently depending on who they are and our relationship to them as well as how they themselves act.

    The other thing about ‘discrimination’ laws is that they are only used against one class of people. It would be laughable if it were not true. How many blacks are charged with ‘hate crimes’?

    cheers

  2. Michael LaBossiere said, on April 1, 2015 at 11:15 am

    The scene is a bakery in a small town in the 1960s. Ralph and Sally, a married couple, run the White Bakery with the aid of the pretty young African-American Ruth. Dr. John, an African-America and his fiancé Andrea enter the shop, looking to buy a cake.

    Sally greets them with a pleasant smile, which quickly fades when she finds out that John and Andrea are not there to apply for the “colored help” jobs advertised by the bakery but are there to buy a wedding cake. Pointing at the door, she says “git out of here, ni****! This shop is for white people only.” Dr. John says “Discrimination based on race is against the law. You cannot refuse to serve me because of my race.” Hearing this, Ralph runs from the backroom carrying his shotgun. “You heard her, ni***! Git out of here! I won’t be a slave of the state, forced to not discriminate against you blackies! Freedom! Liberty!

    • ronster12012 said, on April 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Michael

      Why would they refuse them as customers yet have them working for them?? If they were really racially conscious and not just cheapskates they would employ white workers, no?

      …………………………………………………………………
      “Git out of here! I won’t be a slave of the state, forced to not discriminate against you blackies! Freedom! Liberty!”
      …………………………………………………………………

      Touche’, and a nice line too lol.

      Isn’t this the problem with ‘freedom’? It is such a vague and contradictory concept, freedom of association versus freedom from discrimination(and all the other freedoms)……..and someone’s gonna lose. Still a great slogan to wave in front of people for political purposes……they hate us for our freedom lololol(no they hate us because we are invading them, bombing the shit out of them, regime changing them, DUing them ) etc etc.

      How would Kant approach the idea of anti-discrimination, given that to universalize(anti-discrimination) it would mean all sorts of contradictions ie. being forced to treat all equally is impossible, contradicts human nature and cannot be coerced? Would he say that it was therefore unworkable and cannot be applied? And if so would that mean another formulation of society and one’s duties and rights be necessary instead?

      cheers

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 1, 2015 at 3:46 pm

        Well, look at the South of the past-white folks were plenty happy to have black folks working for them.

        True-freedom is a tricky concept.

        Kant would, presumably, be against discrimination: we must treat each rational being as a end and not just a means.

        • ronster12012 said, on April 1, 2015 at 7:44 pm

          Michael

          Surely Kant wouldn’t get sucked into that.That’s like saying that it is good for everyone to like each other therefore everyone should like each other therefore they must be coerced into liking each other.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:26 am

            God wants us to love each other as He loves us. Kant just wants us to treat each other as ends and not just as means. That seems reasonable. We don’t have to like each other, just not treat each other as things.

    • Scheme said, on April 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      See p. 57 of LaBossiere, M. (2010) 42 Fallacies [E-Book]. Specifically the “Straw Man” section.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on April 1, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Meanwhile, a person can be fired for smoking cigarettes in her own home and on her own time, and nobody cares.

    • ronster12012 said, on April 1, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      TJ

      “Meanwhile, a person can be fired for smoking cigarettes in her own home and on her own time, and nobody cares.”

      But was she white? Just joking lol. It’s definitely not OK to persecute people(of protected classes) but for the remaining scum, yeah, grind ’em into the dust(or so it seems). Is it a case of the more we have to tolerate things by edict the more vicious we are to those unprotected ones?

      Also amusing is the push for decriminalizing/legalizing/normalizing weed over there compared to the punitive approach to smokers. Perhaps there always has to be someone who is harassed.

      cheers

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      But you care.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on April 1, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    The moral preening of so many progressives is absolutely nauseating.

    Tim Cook is the CEO of a company worth 800 billion dollars that has made its money mostly on the backs of poorly paid workers in the third world. Is he really in a position to lecture the rest of us on morality?

    • WTP said, on April 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Of course. He has no problem doing business with Saudi Arabia, where I need not inform you how homosexuality is “managed”, but Indiana? The horrors!

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 1, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Well, he clearly is-that money gets him a international podium from which to speak.

      But, you are right to raise the point about moral consistency: if ethics matter so much to him, he needs to put some money where his morals are. Or rather where the workers are.

    • ronster12012 said, on April 1, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      TJ

      I do agree that the moral preening of ‘progressives’ is nauseating but also wonder how poorly paid the chinese Apple workers actually are in relation to other chinese workers and at this particular point in Chinese economic development?

  5. Scheme said, on April 1, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    You are falsely equating refusal to carry out a specific task for a customer with refusing to serve them at all on the basis of their beliefs/race. I imagine a Jewish bakers would happily serve a Muslim customer in general, but might not want to make a cake with a Hezbollah flag, or in the shape of Palestine.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Interesting point.

      I would agree that a person has the right to refuse to make a specific product but not to simply refuse service. For example, a person could not refuse to serve a person because she is Christian, but could refuse to make her a hard core pornographic cake.

      • ronster12012 said, on April 1, 2015 at 7:11 pm

        Michael

        Ever see Monty Python;s Cheese Shop sketch? That is how things will run if people really are forced to perform against their conscience. Personally, I would never eat anything that I had forced someone to make.

        I think these cases(and there have been a few in the US and UK too) are really just setups and attempts to get money and/or notoriety.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:24 am

          It is not that people are forced to perform against their conscience. It is that business owners who operate within civil society and enjoy the legal protections, civil rights and goods of that society are not permitted to discriminate against other members of that civil society. That is the deal. Social contract 101. To refuse service to a black, white, Christian, Jew, straight or gay would be discrimination.

          If someone finds serving the general public too morally onerous, she has the option of leaving the field and choosing another occupation.

  6. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 1, 2015 at 5:06 pm

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 1, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    You should write an article about the bullying, hatred, and death threats directed toward #MemoriesPizza. The small business owners stated they would gladly serve LGBT customers but wouldn’t cater weddings, due to their religious beliefs. Last I heard they had to close down due to the bullying, hatred, and death threats. Their case is hardly unique. How many more people will be bullied by the PC mob? Let’s hope they don’t lynch those who chose not to be PC.

  8. TJB said, on April 2, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Mike, Time Cook of Apple is refusing to do business with Indiana because they are doing something he disagrees with. How is this different with a baker refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding because they are doing something he disagrees with?

    • WTP said, on April 2, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      This is a rhetorical question, correct? I mean, just as with damn near everything said here the answer simply a matter of whose ox is being gored.

    • TJB said, on April 2, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      I want Mike to explain why it is OK for Apple or another company to refuse service to someone from Indiana.

      • WTP said, on April 2, 2015 at 2:12 pm

        Well if you ever get an answer to that one, see if you can find out how that fits into Apple buying parts and labor from the far more homophobic China and selling end product to customers in Saudi Arabia where gays, excuse me…LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM amongst others, are subject to whipping/flogging, chemical castration, and execution. Though I’m sure he’ll just dodge the issue by saying he’s not responsible for Tim Cook. Which of course he isn’t. But that dodges the question regarding his whole point. Which was somewhat destroyed by his own admission, though poorly worded and somewhat nonsensical, possibly on purpose, @ April 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        • ronster12012 said, on April 3, 2015 at 7:28 am

          WPB

          You ignorant bigot….LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. What about the PEDNECROZOOWSSCATCARPETMUNCHH crowd …they have feelings too and are most probably (no firsthand knowledge!) gravely offended by your insult. You need some sensitivity training!!

          Actually, I laughed out loud when I read your LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM…….it really is getting tooooo silly or maybe it’s just too silly for me.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:40 am

          To be morally consistent, Tim Cook would need to criticize Saudi Arabia and China. If Apple were to stop doing business in Indiana because of the law in question, Apple would need to do the same in other places that have anti-gay laws and practices.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

        Refusing service to someone because he is from Indiana would not be okay. Deciding to not operate in a state with discriminatory laws would be okay. If I ran a company, I would not operate in a state that still had whites only laws. One concern would be with how any non-white employees would be treated. If someone from the state came across the state lines to buy stuff in my store, I would not discriminate against her.

    • ronster12012 said, on April 3, 2015 at 7:37 am

      TJB

      Thanks for putting the whole issue so neatly and simply.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Interesting point.

      On the one hand, the principle of not doing business with those you regard as morally wrong is certainly appealing. So, Cook and the folks who refuse to bake gay cakes would seem to be operating by the same principle.
      On the other hand, refusing to do business with someone who discriminates seems morally different from engaging in discrimination. For example, if I refuse to do business with the KKK Bakery because they won’t bake cakes for blacks, Jews and Catholics, then I would seem to be acting rightly while they are acting wrongly. Even if they cite the bible and appeal to their faith.

      I do, however, agree that Apple was wrong to pull the app they yanked from their store. They did act in accord with their TOS, but publishing an app is not endorsing the app, anymore than Amazon is endorsing the views in all the books it sells. Likewise, baking a gay cake is not an endorsement of gayness. So, if Christians cannot deny service to gay customers, Apple cannot deny apps based on the religious content or political views.

      • WTP said, on April 3, 2015 at 11:11 am

        So, if Christians cannot deny service to gay customers, Apple cannot deny apps based on the religious content or political views.

        Ignoring the fact that no Christian business in Indiana has been shown to have denied service to any gay customers. Yet we have, demonstrated in my link earlier today, solid evidence of Muslim bakeries refusing to produce “gay cakes”, as you call them. You will note that the only business that was accused, widely condemned, mocked, sent death threats, and deluged with hate messages did not refuse to serve gay customers. Their only sin, thought crime actually, was for their 24 year old waitress (daughter?) to honestly answer the hypothetical question of if they would cater a gay wedding. Something much different than simply making the product. Something highly unlikely to have ever happened. Something that would require active participation in, not just providing a service for. I’m curious if they even had a catering side business.

        Also in regard to Likewise, baking a gay cake is not an endorsement of gayness., someone else said I would agree that a person has the right to refuse to make a specific product …oh, wait that was you. Same guy. And yes, I know the logistical crack there that you will inevitable try to crawl through and distract from the point. Been here for years. Seen it time and time again from you. Let’s not waste each other’s time with that one.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm

          My claim is not that people have denied services. My claim is that discrimination is wrong, be it a Christian discriminating against a gay person or Apple discriminating against a Christian.

          • WTP said, on April 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

            Ahem…yes, I know the logistical crack there that you will inevitable try to crawl through and distract from the point. Been here for years. Seen it time and time again from you. Let’s not waste each other’s time with that one.

            More importantly, the point I knew you would try to distract from by addressing my last paragraph (amazing how I can see into the future like this, it’s like I can read your mind…doesn’t that creep you out?), again is this:

            no Christian business in Indiana has been shown to have denied service to any gay customers. Yet we have, demonstrated in my link earlier today, solid evidence of Muslim bakeries refusing to produce “gay cakes”, as you call them. You will note that the only business that was accused, widely condemned, mocked, sent death threats, and deluged with hate messages did not refuse to serve gay customers. Their only sin, thought crime actually, was for their 24 year old waitress (daughter?) to honestly answer the hypothetical question of if they would cater a gay wedding. Something much different than simply making the product. Something highly unlikely to have ever happened. Something that would require active participation in, not just providing a service for. I’m curious if they even had a catering side business.

            Mike, let me ask this directly:
            Does it concern you that a lynch mob mentality swept through our society, a mentality to which you yourself contributed in your comparing this law to Jim Crow laws, which is a significant fallacious comparison in that Jim Crow REQUIRED businesses to discriminate vs. this law which only provides for the legal standing to religious persons to legally defend themselves from potentially malicious prosecution…but I digress, does this lynch mob, hate-filled mentality concern you? A hysteria that while inaccurate in itself led to death threats and arson threats, etc. against people who were put in the spotlight by a reporter trying to create news rather than report on it? Does this form of journalism concern you?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 3, 2015 at 5:14 pm

              Let me answer directly,

              I was not bothered by the rational criticisms and disagreements with the law. The vast majority of the responses were not anything remotely resembling a lynch mob mentality. Or perhaps the mainstream media is covering up the lynchings?

              I did hear about the one pizza place that reported threats. If this is true, then I am certainly bothered by that. While I think that refusing to serve people on the basis of race, etc. is wrong, I also believe that threatening people is also wrong.

            • wtp said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:20 pm

              So by “rational criticisms of the law” do you include your own comparison to Jim Crow? If the shoe were on the other foot I am certain (’cause I’m in your head and know what you think, per above) you would have no problem seeing the absurd fallacies in your own argument. Jim Crow laws required businesses to treat people differently based on their race. The Indiana law was created with the purpose of providing the legal standing to conscientious objectors, not to force anyone to do what they consider wrong. No one has a right to anyone else’s labor, but especially not when being asked to do something that is against one’s principles. You say so much yourself above. So what were the “rational” criticisms?

              But of course you refuse to see any of this, just as you believe that Hobby Lobby was “imposing” it’s morality on others when in no way were they preventing their employees from accessing whatever they wished. You now in this context have actually argued above that if a business finds serving the general public too morally onerous, she has the option of leaving the field and choosing another occupation. An employee has the same option with much less impact to society and by extension the economy.

              And AGAIN….you dodge the Muslim question. I have seen no evidence of a business run by Christians or Muslims that has refused service to a gay person based solely on their sexual orientation. I have however seen several instances of Muslims refusing to provide specific services that are against their principles. I have seen one or two instances of Christian run businesses, though none in Indiana, who have behaved similar to the Muslim ones. And no one, even in the Muslim cases, was seriously inconvenienced. This controversy band wagon that you jumped on to is all a big, fat lie. Worse than “hands up don’t shoot” and in the context of a lie in the neighborhood of Trevon Martin/Zimmerman.

              As for The vast majority of the responses were not anything remotely resembling a lynch mob mentality. Or perhaps the mainstream media is covering up the lynchings?…I said “lynch mob mentality” not actual lynchings. This line of argumentation is complete bullshit. But I’ll even go so far as to tolerate it if you will acknowledge that the vast majority of actual, real lynch mob participants never touched a rope.

              So you did hear, vaguely apparently, about the pizzeria. Perhaps you should consider getting your news from a wider domain. Have you considered the possibility that you are seriously misinformed, ill-informed, or even just plain ignorant in a number of subjects? Perhaps you should think before you type.

              And another item you dodged, Does this form of journalism concern you?

            • wtp said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:26 pm

              yes, my bold is oversold above. missed a slash bracket after “though none in Indiana” and should have started and ended again at last bold of “mentality”. my bad.

          • ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm

            It’s quite alright to demonize, lampoon, and discriminate against Christians. That’s the whole point of the same-sex marriage juggernaut. SS marriage is only the tip of the spear… the battering ram used to break down traditional Christian morality. All Christians are now considered bigots and homophobes. Because of this they can “rightly” be persecuted, bullied, punished, and lynched in the name of libertinism and hedonism.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 4, 2015 at 6:26 pm

              Christianity is doing great in America. Discrimination, such as denying service to Christians, firing people just because they are Christian and so on is illegal. Religious views put a person into a protected class. Being denied the right to discriminate against others is not discrimination.

              Now, if you want to see real abuse of Christians, you just need to look outside the US and see what it is really like. Murders of Christians, burning of churches and so on. Christians have it just fine here in the US-especially since it is still the dominant faith. Heck, I’ve got all my Easter stuff ready for tomorrow’s Easter dinner-I was able to walk right into a public grocery store and openly talk about Easter. I wasn’t harassed, attacked on lynched.

            • wtp said, on April 5, 2015 at 8:31 am

              if you want to see real abuse of Christians, you just need to look outside the US and see what it is really like. Murders of Christians, burning of churches and so on. Christians have it just fine here in the US-especially since it is still the dominant faith.

              Oh give me a fucking break. If you want to see real persecution of gays, you need to look outside the US and the English speaking world, along with a couple other, at damn near every country in the Muslim world murders, tortures, and persecutes gays mercilessly. But of course in the Mikey world, logic and “reality” only flow one way. This comment itself is absolute total bullshit. You really should be ashamed of yourself. Though I’ve long suspected shame is something you are incapable of applying to yourself, it only belongs to others. Really. In the context of all discussed here, this is bullshit.

            • ajmacdonaldjr said, on April 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

              I’ll call the CIA and tell them to call-off their jihadists.

  9. WTP said, on April 3, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Gay man attempts to purchase wedding cake for gay wedding in Michigan. It’s funny. Not funny-ha-ha but mostly the other kinds. Though I suppose it is kinda funny-ha-ha, just not the out loud kind.

    http://louderwithcrowder.com/hidden-camera-gay-wedding-cake-at-muslim-bakery/

    Of course I’m sure we will be seeing much about this problem of religious bigotry form Mike. Because these people more closely fit the strawman Mike presented above. Funny how he chose to reach back in time half a century and invent such extreme circumstances when such is going on right now in America. No one is hiding it. Except for maybe the media. And people like Mike.

  10. T. J. Babson said, on April 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Democrats at work:

    As Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch noted earlier today, Memories Pizza was forced to close because of death threats the business received in response to its owners’ statements regarding RFRA and service to gay customers (they said they would serve anyone but could not in good conscience cater a gay wedding). And that’s a terrible thing, regardless of what one thinks about religious freedom, or gay rights, or discrimination. No one should be threatened with violence, period.

    Many in the media—particularly on the right—are now accusing those who reported and re-reported the story of irresponsible journalism. And they have a very good case.

    The owners of Memories Pizza, the O’Connor family, did not willingly seek out controversy, deny service to a gay person or couple, or even go out on a limb to suggest that they would. No, they merely responded to a question from Alyssa Marino, a local reporter for ABC 57 News who had come to their shop in search of a story.

    And they did give her a story—but not the one she reported. Her initial headline was “RFRA: First Michiana business to publicly deny same-sex service” (Michiana is the region in Indiana where Memories Pizza is located). That headline implies two things that are false. The O’Connors had no intention of becoming the first Michiana business to do anything discriminatory with respect to gay people; they had merely answered a hypothetical question about what would happen if a gay couple asked them to cater a wedding. And the O’Connors had every intention of providing regular service to gay people—just not their weddings.

    That policy, while not as gay-affirming as many of us supporters of same-sex marriage would like, isn’t as discriminatory as what the headline claims. And though ABC 57 changed it at some point, several bigger outlets ran with the distorted version. PJ Media has a good rundown of it: The Huffington Post reported, “Indiana’s Memories Pizza Reportedly Becomes First Business To Reject Catering Gay Weddings,” and BuzzFeed ran with, “Indiana Pizzeria Owners Say They’d Deny LGBT People Service.”

    http://reason.com/blog/2015/04/02/was-memories-pizza-a-victim-of-irrespons

  11. wtp said, on April 4, 2015 at 7:02 am

    70 year old lady with a long established flower business, was perfectly willing to serve gay customers and had one gay customer for whom she provided services for 9 years. But when he asked her to do his wedding, she could not in good conscience do so and referred him elsewhere. Story blows up on social media, he gets 20 other offers from other florists willing to do his wedding for free. This isn’t good enough so he sues, the state of Washington sues, she may now be ruined. But there is no lynch mob MENTALITY here. This is nothing to be concerned about. All the hate is coming from this lady, none directed at her. Behold the hateful beast:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MDETkcCw63c&t=305

    And Mike don’t use this specific post as an excuse to dodge the unanswered direct question above regarding the reporter. Though if you must try to distract from above by commenting on this, I ask you should the state of Washington also be actively engaged in finding other businesses committing these thought crimes? Shouldn’t Muslim businesses be put under the same spotlight? Why are we not seeing such? Applying laws to only certain kinds of people while not prosecuting others is much more similar to how Jim Crow worked than your fantastical comparison.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 4, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Yes, suing a 70 year old florist with the intent to ruin her would certainly not be nice. If she is a decent and kind woman, she certainly would not deserve such a fate.

      I know that plenty of old people were very upset when they had to serve other protected classes as discrimination laws changed throughout US history. Older folks often find it harder to change in response to new laws and often sincerely believe they are acting rightly. I’ve met people that are still angry and upset about having to serve “Negroes and Mexicans” and, aside from their racism, one might regard them as “good folk” (kind to their kids, generous to others, etc.).

      But, I would say that the quality of mercy would enjoin us to not be over harsh in what is regarded as justice.

      As far as the Muslim question, it should be rather obvious that I think that Muslim businesses are subject to the same law. Why would you think I would grant Islam a special exemption? One does not get a license to discriminate by having a certain faith or lack of faith. No doubt some people are less inclined to be critical of Muslims for fear of, ironically, seeming to be intolerant. However, my view is that if Christians should be criticized for refusing service to gay folks, so should Muslims. So should atheists and Cthulhu-worshipers.

      • wtp said, on April 5, 2015 at 8:44 am

        it should be rather obvious that I think that Muslim businesses are subject to the same law. Why would you think I would grant Islam a special exemption?

        Because right here you are endorsing giving exemptions to 70 year old grandmas. This entire discussion, as I say above, is bullshit. You want to talk in terms of law but you do not respect the rule of law. You create fantasy worlds in your head to justify the way you think the world should be. Many (most?) of your little ramblings have no basis in reality. Or are they meant to be a “bloody shoe” that tells a greater truth than reality?

        I was going to address the various other assaults on reason and thinking that you have made in this discussion, but what’s the point? You hold yourself to no standard of consistency. You will never admit fundamental misunderstanding of anything because you live in a fantasy world of your own construction. You are the god of that world. Hence the solipsism that is the subtitle of this blog. Were you a college sophomore, such is a path of philosophical and intellectual growth. But you stopped right there. Which would itself be no big deal, except you hold a job teaching people who are essentially on the same intellectual maturity plane. There’s a reality out there, Mike. You may be able to hide from it in the ivory tower, but history has shown time and time again, a refusal to comprehend reality leads to disaster. Disaster for individuals as well as societies. The Gods of the Copybook Headings are never swayed by the dreams of fools.


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