Tolerance Is Not a One-Way Street

A word of caution from Andrew Sullivan, an early, forceful advocate of marriage equality and supporter of Barack Obama:

The freedom of any baker to express himself is, in this respect, indistinguishable from that of any gay person to do so — a truth that our current tribalism blinds so many to. I hope, in other words, that the baker prevails — but that the Supreme Court decision doesn’t turn on religious so much as artistic freedom.

More. The response from many on the LGBTQ+ progressive left has been fear-mongering, with little to no empathy for religiously conservative small business owners and often dismissive of religious liberty itself and the right not to be coerced by the state, on pain of losing one’s livelihood (or worse), to engage in expressive activity that violates deeply held religious belief.
Slate: How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia.

What the left keeps getting wrong:

14 Comments for “Tolerance Is Not a One-Way Street”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Whatever.

    Public accommodations laws covering sexual orientation long before Obergefell. Less than half of the states include sexual orientation as a protected class.

    It isn’t as if gay and lesbians passed the laws (in the minority of states where the laws cover sexual orientation) to entrap hapless Christians. State legislators, almost all of whom were straight, and many of whom were Republicans (at least in Wisconsin, which included sexual orientation in employment and public accommodations laws in the 1980’s).

    As to the individuals who bring violations of public accommodations laws to the attention of state authorities, that is their right under the laws. I don’t see any way of stopping individuals from doing so as a matter of law.

    Perhaps conservative Christians can shun them. I will not.

    Reply
    • posted by JohnInCa on

      Seriously, there are hundreds of non-discrimination cases every year that don’t involve gay people. But because of a half-dozen cases over a decade, *we’re* the bad guys?

      Even if seeking enforcement of these laws is “wrong”, we have to seriously ramp up our efforts to make a top-ten worst offender list.

      But instead of advancing any legal argument or legislative strategy that would curb non-discrimination law for everyone (how about a law: “dessert goods and wedding services are not covered under public accommodation law”?) they consistently advance arguments and strategies that are obviously designed to cut against LGBT folk.

      Reply
  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The response from many on the LGBTQ+ progressive left has been fear-mongering, with little to no empathy for religiously conservative small business owners and often dismissive of religious liberty itself and the right not to be coerced by the state, on pain of losing one’s livelihood (or worse), to engage in expressive activity that violates deeply held religious belief. Slate: How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia.

    I wouldn’t, myself, have characterized either David Brooks or George Will as “clueless”. That was mean. “Wrong” would have been sufficient.

    Aside from that, though, Frank’s article is a good roadmap of the legal/cultural counterarguments to Brooks and Will, exposing the intellectual and pseudo-legal rot underlying their arguments. I’m surprised you linked to the article, but I’m glad you did, and I hope that anyone stumbling across this post will take the time to read it.

    As you say, there is a lot of foolishness being written about Masterpiece Cakeshop. Nathaniel Frank’s commentary is not is not part of the genre.

    Reply
  3. posted by Jorge on

    “The freedom of any baker to express himself is, in this respect, indistinguishable from that of any gay person to do so — a truth that our current tribalism blinds so many to. I hope, in other words, that the baker prevails — but that the Supreme Court decision doesn’t turn on religious so much as artistic freedom.”

    I think he gets that last exactly backwards from his premise, but I’ll not concern myself overmuch with Sullivan having a different take on things than I do.

    “Andrew Sullivan writes: “It seems grotesquely disingenuous now for the marriage-equality movement to bait and switch on that core “live and let live” argument. And it seems deeply insensitive and intolerant to force the clear losers in a culture war into not just defeat but personal humiliation.”

    I agree.”

    It’s a question that I have been asking for over a decade: is “civil rights” really about obtaining equality, or is really a screen for obtaining power and control?

    Much of the reason the President of the United States is Donald Trump can be summed up in the backlash against just this sort of bait-and-switch. Unlike what many progressives fear, the dominant demographics do give up their power. But the transfer of soft power is rarely instantaneous or irrevocable, nor is resistance inevitable. There is an evaluation. Large numbers of Trump supporters (now down to 32% of the US voting population) believe that whites and Christians are the most discriminated groups in the country. This didn’t come out of nothing, there’s no uncaused cause here. Events happened.

    Aside from that, though, Frank’s article is a good roadmap of the legal/cultural counterarguments to Brooks and Will, exposing the intellectual and pseudo-legal rot underlying their arguments. I’m surprised you linked to the article, but I’m glad you did, and I hope that anyone stumbling across this post will take the time to read it.

    Maybe later. For now though it seems to me it is enough to have some members of the Trump administration who aren’t glued to their Twitter. If they can’t make sense of things, what could I do that they can’t?

    Reply
  4. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    For now though it seems to me it is enough to have some members of the Trump administration who aren’t glued to their Twitter.

    For all the good it does, which isn’t much.

    Peter Wehner, who has served in three Republican administrations, addressed the issue in a NYT Op-Ed this morning, “Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican”:

    I hoped the Trump era would be seen as an aberration and made less ugly by those who might have influence over the president. That hasn’t happened. Rather than Republicans and people of faith checking his most unappealing sides, the president is dragging down virtually everyone within his orbit.

    President Trump has dragged down and destroyed, to one extent or another to date with the end nowhere in sight, everyone who has entered into his orbit.

    The idea that competent and rational Republicans in his administration would be able to influence or contain him is an idea that has turned out to be false. Rather than President Trump moving in the direction of principled conservatism, principled conservatives have become roadkill.

    The Republican Party is in a swamp from which it can no longer extricate itself. It cannot, and will not, act in opposition to the two remaining pillars of its support — conservative Christians and the Alt-Right.

    The moderates are gone, and the so-called “libertarians” never accounted for piss in the party’s base. Who is going to stand up to Trumpism at this point, now that he has melded a union between conservative Christians and the Alt-Right?

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      “I hoped the Trump era would be seen as an aberration and made less ugly by those who might have influence over the president. That hasn’t happened.”

      I think that’s the wrong attitude to have. Trying to hope that subordinates have influence over the boss is an exercise in frustration (I speak from my personal experience both as a supervisor and from interactions with my own supervisors). Rather, hope in the way the boss delegates his authority in the subordinates, and how they are exercising that authority.

      By that measure, I am very pleased indeed.

      Reply
  5. posted by Kosh III on

    “with little to no empathy for religiously conservative”

    Just as much consideration as the avowed Christians” and GOP/conservatives have given to gay people.
    Remember these are the people who wanted to “kill a queer for christ,” “Got Aids Yet,” “AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality.”

    This baker nonsense is just another means to achieving their goal of destroying gays. Frak ’em!

    If you open for business, you must be open to everyone.

    Reply
  6. posted by JohnInCA on

    Elane Photography was already working it’s way through the courts in 2007. So if Sullivan would have been “gob-smacked” by this question a decade ago, he wasn’t paying attention.

    That said? If the baker wins, there better be a wave of “public notice of intent to discriminate” laws. You want to be free to discriminate? Better be brave enough to put it in a sign.

    Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      That said? If the baker wins, there better be a wave of “public notice of intent to discriminate” laws. You want to be free to discriminate? Better be brave enough to put it in a sign.

      Sorry, that runs afoul of the First Amendment prohibiting the government from forcing an individual or business to engage in speech.

      If a right is protected, forcing someone to reveal that they’re exercising it is no right at all. “I am protecting you from workplace discrimination on account of the fact that you are pregnant. You must carry a big neon sign saying that you are pregnant.”

      Forget it! That’s like forcing people to go around wearing pink triangles. Perhaps it would help make the trains run on time in Gaytown (since the only fascist it’s ever PC to compare liberals to is Mussolini), but its collateral effects on the public at large would be horrific.

      It also runs into the problem that no one can anticipate every single situation in which they may come to have a religious objection. This, too, is what would create a reign of terror.

      It will not happen on my watch.

      Reply
      • posted by Doug on

        “Sorry, that runs afoul of the First Amendment prohibiting the government from forcing an individual or business to engage in speech.”

        The government requires tobacco companies to put warning on their packages. The government requires warning on ladders and all sorts of things so your statement if factually incorrect.

        Reply
      • posted by JohnInCA on

        So you want to be free to violate non-discrimination law because of “Freedom of Speech”, but you don’t want to be obligated to tell anyone about it because of “Freedom of Speech”. You know what I call that? A trap.

        Reply
  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Every once in a while, all I can do is shake my head in wonder.

    Reply
  8. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Jorge, re businesses posting disclosures as a condition of being permitted to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, et al, under exemptions to public accommodations laws: Sorry, that runs afoul of the First Amendment prohibiting the government from forcing an individual or business to engage in speech.

    The government’s ability to require businesses to put warning labels on products, to include product information (side effects of prescription drugs, nutrition information on processed foods, etc.), to compel mandatory disclosures (fair lending practices, RESPA, etc.), to compel product recall notices, and so on, has been challenged in court as constitutionally impermissible compelled speech, and lost.

    The First Amendment protects individuals, not businesses.

    It will not happen on my watch.

    It already has, Senorita Trump. But I have no doubt that you, and you alone, can fix it.

    Reply
  9. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Forget it! That’s like forcing people to go around wearing pink triangles. Perhaps it would help make the trains run on time in Gaytown (since the only fascist it’s ever PC to compare liberals to is Mussolini), but its collateral effects on the public at large would be horrific.

    Pink triangles? Mussolini? If you want an analogy, try this: “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”. I know that its nearly as much fun as playing the Nazi card on gays and lesbians in your Christian Outrage, but it fits the circumstances much better.

    Reply

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