Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

30 May 2014

When Do Public Accommodation Laws Become Discrimination And Oppression?

AP:  Colorado panel: Baker must make cakes for gay weddings

He added his bakery has been so overwhelmed by supporters eager to buy cookies and brownies that he does not currently make wedding cakes. 

The couple who sued Phillips, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, were pleased that the commission roundly rejected Phillips’ arguments. “We’re just thrilled by that,” Mullins said… 

The panel issued its ruling verbally. It ordered Phillips to stop discriminating against gay people and to report quarterly for two years on staff anti-discrimination training and any customers he refuses to serve.

Read the Article

Gays are making a big public relations mistake. Why would anyone want to force a person to provide a service that has enormous emotional importance when they quite obviously aren’t interested? I wouldn’t want someone to bake my wedding cake or photograph me if his heart and soul weren’t in it. I would want my cake to be memorable and to have photographs that were beautiful and loving. Could I be as assured as possible that my cake or photographs would be the best if I forced someone to do them for me, especially when that person disapproves? Would a militant homosexual want to bake a wedding cake with the message ‘Marriage between one man and one woman is the only true marriage’?

The fact of the matter is that everyone discriminates in one form or another every single day. I like Coke, but hate Pepsi. I’m not a big fan of Mexican food, but love French cuisine.  I discriminate.

I'm a supporter of gay rights, but I also understand why people like Mr Phillips hold the beliefs that they do.  After all, they do have thousands of years of tradition and custom on their side.  I certainly understand why some have been slow to 'come around' and why many never will regardless of the actions of the Thought Police.  I, for one, no more want to live in a society with a secular form of the Taliban or the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice than I do in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, North Korea, or Iran.  The Political Correctness Police have come to the point where they are engaging in nothing more than a 21st-century version of the Salem witch trials.  An intellectual Mao jacket is nothing more than a straightjacket on society. 

Should Sylvia’s in Harlem be forced to host a Neo-Nazi wedding? Should Sylvia Weinstein, the famous and incredible baker of wedding cakes, be forced to bake a cake for the Aryan Nation complete with swastikas? Should anyone be forced to bake birthday cakes for Adolf Hitler Campbell, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, and Honszlynn Himmler Jeannie Campbell? Should a woman be forced to take photographs of a female genital mutilation celebration? Should a Muslim service company be forced to provide the wait staff for a party mocking Mohammed? Should a white person be commanded to service a meeting of black militants, who call for the extermination of the white race? Should a black baker be forced to make cakes in the shape of nooses?

Apart from the fact that making obviously uncooperative people perform a service increases the odds of a lower quality product, why would the LGBT community pick this sort of fight when it is quite apparent that they have chosen purposefully to impose their beliefs, opinions, whatever on others to coerce acceptance? It isn’t like this baker was the only person who could have baked the gay couple’s wedding cake. They chose him because he is a Christian and they wanted to force the issue.  This is a case of pure intimidation, spite, and intolerance.  Mr Phillips' religious beliefs were well known and he was targeted specifically because of his Christianity.  Of course, they would never have chosen a Muslim bakery.  As the current CEO of the New York Times Company and former Director-General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, once said, Christianity is treated with far less sensitivity than other religions, especially Islam, because it is 'pretty broad-shouldered' and its adherents are far less likely to react in a violent manner towards the media and society, in general.  I think that it is fairly safe to say that Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig wouldn't have dared demanded that the 'Religion of Peace Bakery' bake a wedding cake for them.

Gays are running a huge risk of a backlash. They have been oppressed in the past and the public has made tremendous strides in acknowledging that fact and accepting them, but how does becoming an intolerant oppressor of others further their cause and increase acceptance? Can they not see that some of them are becoming everything they once claimed to hate?

As someone who supports gay rights, I must say that stories such as this turn me off and make me pull for the underdog. Americans, as a whole in general, usually root for the underdog and I’m not too sure that gays will continue to be the underdog if they begin to be seen as intolerant bigots.

I believe in the rights of freedom of religion, conscience, contract, and association.  There is a tremendous difference between refusing service to an entire class of people based solely upon the colour of their skin and declining to enter into a commercial transaction with an individual or individuals with whom they have an ideological  disagreement that is the product of genuine and deeply-held beliefs not animus.  While Justice Kennedy and others have argued that there is no other reason to oppose gay marriage than bigotry and animus, I disagree.  There are millions of compassionate, honest, and good people that oppose SSM, but nevertheless love homosexuals as they do heterosexuals.  Do some people honestly believe that Pope Francis opposes same sex marriage because he is an intolerant bigot, who despises homosexuals?  Really???  Should he be forced to perform the marriage ceremonies of homosexuals even though SSM violates his deeply-held, honest, and faith-based beliefs?  Doesn't he have as much of a right to decide not to enter into an association as those that choose to enter into the relationship of their choice?

As David Harsanyi once wrote, 'if the state’s authority over consumer choices continues to expand, and societal norms and demographics continue to change, and orthodox Christians find themselves as a minority, as some believe is inevitable, it’d be nice to have a serious debate about the role of the state and faith. Like my colleague Ben Domenech, I trust markets and people over government to regulate bigotry and “bigotry.” The problem is that secular liberals aren’t content with coexistence.  I’ve been writing pro-gay marriage posts since I became a columnist at the Denver Post a decade ago. And though I don’t believe any of those columns or interviews with many gay Coloradans made much of a difference in the world, I do realize I was exceedingly gullible in believing that any group would be content simply being “left alone.” It’s clear that coexisting doesn’t only mean having the freedom to take part in the civil institution of marriage, but it also means compelling others into participation and acceptance. As Will Cain pointed out, the Arizona bill kerfuffle soon became an excuse to hunt for homophobes — some real, most imagined. I know too many religious Americans — Catholics, Evangelicals, Lutherans, and many other denominations — whose generosity and patience have humbled me. It’s nothing more than contemptible bullying to paint entire communities, whose faith has been built on thousands of years of theological and intellectual history, as dogmatic bigots. It’s no better, in fact, than the bigotry the gay community had to deal with for decades.'

In a free society, people must be able to live according to their own consciences and beliefs.  Will there be some people who are offended or have their feelings hurt?  Absolutely, but there is no right not to be offended.  Yes, homosexuals may have their feelings hurt and be offended by the beliefs of some faithful, but is the answer to, instead, enforce conformity of one position thereby hurting the feelings and causing offense to others?  We are told that we must strive to achieve a more equitable, fair, and just society, but how do we attain such if we value the heartfelt opinions, beliefs, and feelings of some more than others?   Will our society be more just and equitable if we force one segment of the population to violate their consciences in order to protect the sensitivities of another?

There is a reason that societies where there is only one permissible thought are littered with millions of corpses.  Human beings are not of one mind.  Their thoughts are as different as their very DNA.  To achieve uniform beliefs, force must be employed.  For some, that might be an acceptable course of action to achieve their agenda, but it is certainly not the sign of an equitable, fair, and just society.

Something to think about for those that believe that an establishment must do business with whomever demands it…

Some Strange Consequences of Public Accommodations Laws

There is a German restaurant called the Alpine Village Inn, in Torrance California. A group of four neo-Nazis went there to eat, each wearing a lapel pin with a swastika on it. The management asked them to take off the lapel pins. They refused. The management asked them to leave. They refused. The management called the police, who arrested them.

Then, remarkably, the Southern California ACLU gets involved, and sues the restaurant for calling the police on the Nazis! This much I’ve confirmed from media accounts. According to the commenter who first alerted me to this story, “the defendants’ insurer eventually settled following unsuccessful pretrial challenges to the complaint, believing they could not prevail under California law!” I’m informed that the restaurant actually lost at trial, and the insurer refused to foot the bill for an appeal.

The lawsuit was brought under California’s Unruh Act, which provides that “all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” The California courts have held that the protected classes delineated by the Act are not exclusive; the Act also protects arbitrary discrimination by a business establishment based on similar characteristics to the above. Apparently, the insurer thought that “political views” was sufficiently similar to “religion” that the courts would likely rule against the insured. (This was, after all, the Rose Bird Court, which issued a series of absurdly broad and illogical rulings under the Unruh Act; in one of those opinions (Isbister) Bird personally gratuitously insulted a little old lady who donated money to a Boys’ Club as one of the “select few” who wish to be “insulated from the 20th century” because the Boys’ Club didn’t admit girls.)

There are several remarkable things about this story, which occurred in 1986. First, the ACLU of Southern California represented the Nazis, yet, at least by the late 1980s, this local ACLU branch was known as a vigorous proponent of hate speech regulations. How to square that circle, I don’t know. Perhaps the organization had a sudden and dramatic leadership shift. Perhaps the local ACLU leaders saw this as “discrimination based on ideology in public accommodations” and somehow didn’t notice it was also the suppression of hate speech. Perhaps they just had their heads up their behinds.

Second, why was the ACLU concerned about the rights of the Nazi patrons, but not the owners? Why didn’t the owners have a right to send a message that they disapprove of Naziism?

Third, even accepting the absurd premises apparently underlying this lawsuit, that the Unruh Act somehow protects Nazis from discrimination in public accommodation, where was the discrimination here? The restaurant didn’t refuse to serve the Nazis, it simply refused to serve them so long as they were turning the restaurant into a forum for promoting their Nazi views by wearing swastikas. A restaurant couldn’t discriminate against Satanists, does that mean they are required to let the Satanists wear T-shirts showing Jesus being tortured by a gleeful Lucifer?

Fourth, under current hostile environment law, the restaurant could get in serious trouble for not ordering the Nazis to stop wearing the swastikas. Tolerating swastika-wearing patrons would be considering by some to be the creation of an “illegal hostile public environment” for Jews, Gypsies, and others.

If you’re familiar with my views on such issues, you know that I don’t think the restaurant owners can or should be forced to censor the Nazis’ expression of their views (unless the owners censor all points of view except Naziism, which could then be seen as their way of getting around the law and excluding Jews), but I also don’t think that the Nazis can or should have the right to impose their speech on the unwilling owners of the restaurant, who are acting not only on their own behalf, but as agents for their patrons.

Anyway, my jaw just dropped open when I read about this case, and it hasn’t closed yet.

How did a civil rights principle meant to aid African Americans and others who suffered grievous discrimination for generations come to protect the “right” of Neo-Nazis to parade their Nazi wardrobes in a privately owned restaurant against the wishes of management? The short answer is that legislation and its interpretation doesn’t develop from a coherent set of moral principles, but instead based on who is able to persuade the legislatures and the courts to adopt the principles they prefer. The principle involved in Alpine Village case appears to be hostility to the rights of private property owners, not “civil rights.”

When do public accommodation laws become the tools of oppression, intolerance, conformity, and discrimination to be wielded by those that seek to impose their beliefs on society, as a whole?  In other words, when do public accommodation laws, which were passed to redress past discriminatory practises, cross the line and become codified discrimination?

No comments: