A Win for Freedom

More. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission was headed for another probable 7-2 loss before the Supreme Court, given that some of its members had shown the same religious animus against baker Jack Phillips that they had the first time around.

As The Federalist reports, Phillips’ attorneys:

found current commissioners publicly agreeing with 2015 comments from commissioner Dianne Rice that compared Jack’s Christianity to the ideologies motivating slavery and the Holocaust. Rice’s comments were specifically singled out by the Supreme Court as evidence of the commission’s bias.

That bias aimed to jettison Jack’s constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, and free expression of religion, all over a cake that could be had from any number of nearby shops. Yet when the commission discussed the Supreme Court ruling in summer 2018, two commissioners openly supported Rice’s comparison of Christianity to Nazism and racism. …

Faced with this evidence of their persistent animus against Christians, the commission folded its second case against Jack. But it still maintains the power to do this to anyone at any time, even still based on anti-religious bigotry so long as they keep that to themselves.


Related: Washington Post, The Senate just confirmed a judge who interned at an anti-LGBTQ group. She’ll serve for life.

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21 Comments for “A Win for Freedom”

  1. posted by Jorge on

    Jump on the cake, oh jump on the cake.

    Um, that’s a jump rope rhyme.

    Whee! Time to watch and rewind Super Mario doing his Super Jump on Bundt to gloat.

    Surfing a little bit. Found this tidbit in the Colorado Springs Gazette (gazette.com):

    “In January, a state bill aimed at reimbursing Phillips for his legal expenses died in a state House committee.”

    Hmm, think I’ll run with it.

    Reply
  2. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    With Justice Kennedy gone, and given the fact the Supreme Court is almost certain to hold with the next Term or two that conservative Christian business owners need not comply with anti-discrimination laws, it looks like Colorado caved in to reality, recognizing the futility of attempting to defend enforcement of non-discrimination laws with the Alito-Gorsuch-Kavanaugh-Roberts-Thomas majority in place. Colorado’s decision, although disappointing, isn’t irrational. The handwriting on the wall is very clear.

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  3. posted by Jorge on

    To paraphrase John Roberts, the way to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating.

    Reply
  4. posted by Jorge on

    Oh, and I had no idea the commissioners endorsed the same sort of statements that got them a loss the first time. No wonder Mr. Philips sued for DAMAGES. This is not about the Commission’s case losing at the Supreme Court, Tom. It’s about Mr. Philips’s case winning.

    Reply
  5. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I can’t say I’m surprised, but I think that it is worth noting that Stephen has reached a new low, posting a graphic from The Federalist that depicts a rainbow-tagged jackboot beating helpless Christians — full-blown anti-gay hate propaganda. A picture is, sometimes, worth a thousand words.

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    • posted by Sebastian on

      If your life had been turned into a nightmare the way that Jack Phillips life was because you refused to violated deeply felt religious and traditional beliefs, you might see the accuracy in the representation.

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      If your life had been turned into a nightmare the way that Jack Phillips life was because you refused to violated deeply felt religious and traditional beliefs, you might see the accuracy in the representation.

      I was born in the mid-1940’s, grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and came into adulthood before Stonewall. I was threatened with a sodomy arrest in 1968, served in the military when it was illegal for me to do so, and know just about everything there is to know about the closet. I watched when friends were kicked out of the college I attended, and worked to remove the glass ceiling in the law firm where I broke the ceiling and became a partner. I’ve was treated to an unrelenting diet of ugly letters in our local newspaper, and personally denounced by Christians in the pulpit, during the anti-marriage amendment battle in Wisconsin. I know more that you would want to hear about repression at the hands of the government and of Christians, as do most gays and lesbians my age.

      Now in my 70’s, I can tell you two things with absolute certainty:

      (1) Hateful speech begets hateful actions. As Rav Abraham Herschel put it: ” Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed.”

      (2) The Federalist graphic steps over the line of acceptable speech, moving over the line from fair comment to incendiary speech when it chose to use that graphic, and Stephen should have know better than to post it.

      But on your head be it, Sebastian.

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      • posted by Sebastian on

        Your identity is so bound up with being “the victim” that you’re unable to see that, in this situation, you’re now the oppressor. It reminds me of the communists who were persecuted and then took power and persecuted those who were of the class that had persecuted them. They couldn’t see that they were now the oppressor — they had no mental picture in which it was conceivable to them that good communists, who had been targeted and persecuted all of their adult lives, could now be the oppressor.

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      • posted by Jorge on

        (2) The Federalist graphic steps over the line of acceptable speech, moving over the line from fair comment to incendiary speech when it chose to use that graphic, and Stephen should have know better than to post it.

        Sorry, I don’t agree. In fact I think that graphic makes a very important point.

        I see the picture as nothing more subversive than a passionate presentation of one’s grievances that forthrightly points the finger at and holds accountable those who are inflicting the harm. I didn’t even notice the rainbow armband until you pointed it out, and it does not significantly change my view of the picture. It is far more a grievance about actions being carried out by certain people than a grievance about people. That’s why the rainbow flag is minimized and the riot police is maximized and silhouetted.

        What your comment suggests to me is that you can’t even mention that you’re being attacked when it’s gay people attacking you. What harmful stereotype is being portrayed in that picture? What hate is being produced. It is at worst, the stereotype that gays are the Gestapo.

        The rainbow flag is a symbol not of mere homosexuality, but of public consciousness at the least and very often public activism. I think representing that gay activism has reached the point that mere citizens have taken the role of abusive secret police is not only a very fair criticism to make, but almost exactly on point as relates to what has been happening to one person, Jack Phillips (“Bake the cake!”).

        And respectfully, I think it is unconscionable for society or its agents to try to hide the issue behind accusations of hate. This is a free country. The people shall be empowered to state their grievances in a free media, and the mere happenstance that the grievance is between two so-called diversity groups will not be used as an excuse to subvert the social traditions and expectations of this country.

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    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      What your comment suggests to me is that you can’t even mention that you’re being attacked when it’s gay people attacking you. What harmful stereotype is being portrayed in that picture? What hate is being produced. It is at worst, the stereotype that gays are the Gestapo.

      And you don’t think that portraying gays and lesbians as the Gestapo — the brutal secret police of the Nazis who persecuted opponents of the regime, gays and Jews — is incendiary? Particularly so, when the style of the graphic at issue mimics almost perfectly the crude graphics used to demonize Jews during the period when the Gestapo reigned? I do.

      But maybe I’m being overly sensitive because of my background, being of a people who have been the subject of hate speech (and the attendant persecution) for two millennia. To me, Rav Herschel’s observation about the connection between hateful speech and hateful actions has power.

      But think about this — maybe you don’t understand why portraying gays and lesbians as the Gestapo would be incendiary, given your religious background — Christians have historically denounced each other in terms that would make Satan blush.

      It may simply be that you and I are on opposite poles — me over sensitized because of my background and you desensitized to the point of numbness by your background.

      That, though, is not the end of the story as far as I am concerned. The connection between hateful speech and hateful action is clear enough to anyone who knows anything about history.

      Would Jews have been as persecuted by Christians over the years had not Christians laid the groundwork with tomes like Luther’s “On the Jews and Their Lies”?

      Would we have seen 30+ states enact anti-marriage amendments if Christians had not spent years and years lying about gays and lesbians — diseased, perverted child molesters and so on — to instill fear and loathing about gays and lesbians?

      To repeat: “Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed.” We’ve seen it over and over again, Jorge, and we will see it again.

      And respectfully, I think it is unconscionable for society or its agents to try to hide the issue behind accusations of hate. This is a free country. The people shall be empowered to state their grievances in a free media …

      I understand full well and almost always defend the right to speak freely, however incendiary that speech may be, but our constitutional right doesn’t address the wisdom or appropriateness of incendiary speech, or doesn’t address the connection between hateful speech and hateful actions, or discuss the role of ugly speech in shutting down rational discussion.

      I would argue just the opposite — the constitutional right to free speech shouldn’t be used as a justification for stifling criticism of incendiary speech.

      Just one other small point: When the Nazi card is played, rational thought has come to an end. In my opinion, The Federalist has reached that point.

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        And you don’t think that portraying gays and lesbians as the Gestapo — the brutal secret police of the Nazis who persecuted opponents of the regime, gays and Jews — is incendiary?

        No. I think the portrayal is accurate. When that is the case, it is the actions being reported on that are incendiary, not the reporting itself.

        Although, Gestapo is perhaps and overgeneralized word, given how many totalitarian countries with secret police there have been.

        It’s ultimately a matter of opinion to be sure. Compare and contrast the Corvington smirk with the reporting on various white-on-black and police-on-black homicides over the past five or so years, especially when people are set free.

        One thing that sets the racial unrest in cities such as Ferguson and Baltimore around deaths of black men caused by police is the existing environment–like putting a match to a tinderbox of tension and bitterness. I wonder at two things: 1) Supposing the incendiary images you are concerned with were already in people’s heads, how can one tell, and how is it relevant, if the blaze ignited from a loose spark from someone merely holding the light of truth, or someone actively touching truth to anger?

        2) Given that the background behind such is a history of some kind of deprivation, what, then, would you have people do with speech that is designed, whether accurately or no, to prevent such and further deprivation by informing people of it? Because that’s what I see the picture as in context.

        I think the free exchange of ideas between two or more groups that are relatively stable in their power bases is more likely to reduce violence than it is to increase it.

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        • posted by Jorge on

          “One thing that sets the racial unrest in…” >> One thing that sets apart the racial unrest in…

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        • posted by JohnInCA on

          Comparing someone facing civil fines to people being brutally murdered is “accurate”?

          Reply
  6. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Your identity is so bound up with being “the victim” that you’re unable to see that, in this situation, you’re now the oppressor.

    Drivel.

    When it comes to Christians, you seem to be asserting that perceived victimhood (“If your life had been turned into a nightmare the way that Jack Phillips life was because you refused to violated deeply felt religious and traditional beliefs …”) justifies incendiary speech and support of incendiary speech by those Christians (the Federalist’s life was not “turned into a nightmare”, nor was yours or Stephen’s) is similarly justified …

    … but when it comes to gays and lesbians who attempt to use existing religion-neutral non-discrimination laws to right a perceived wrong, you assert that those gays and lesbians, as well as those who do not immediately denounce them, have become “the oppressor”.

    If the situation I commented about was reversed (that is, the graphic portrayed a Christian-tagged jackboot beating helpless gays), you’d be squealing about “hateful gays” like a stuck pig. Right?

    That’s nonsense.

    Rav Herschel was right. Hateful speech does beget hateful actions. And “victimhood” does not excuse it.

    You may be right or you may be wrong about whether non-discrimination laws oppress Christians. (My view is that Christians running businesses serving the general public should play by the same rules as non-Christians, that is, serve the public without discrimination, but that’s just my view.)

    But whether you are right or wrong about that, it makes no difference. Rav Herschel was right, and if you had any sense (or knowledge of history) you would not be so foolish as to suggest that incendiary speech is acceptable just because you feel aggrieved.

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    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Correction: … support of incendiary speech by those Christians … should read “support of incendiary speech by those who support Christians”.

      Reply
  7. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    I think the free exchange of ideas between two or more groups that are relatively stable in their power bases is more likely to reduce violence than it is to increase it.

    I think that the free exchange of ideas is a good thing, period, because it is in the exchange of ideas that the wheat can be separated from the chaff.

    But that does not mean that incendiary speech from either side reduces violence or has positive effects.

    True, incendiary speech from one side allows the other side to demonstrate that the argument of the side resorting to incendiary speech is devoid of substance and merit, as was the case when the lies of conservative Christians (e.g. Anita Bryant, John Briggs, David Blankenhorn, Tony Perkins, et al) were exposed for what they were — blatant lies, devoid of substance, vicious in intent — and reasonable Americans looked at those lies and changed their opinions about marriage equality.

    But, on the other hand, incendiary speech and images reinforce ugly stereotypes, and, while adding nothing of value to the exchange of ideas, serve primarily to dehumanize and demonize the “enemy”, hardening the prejudices of the side to which the images are addressed.

    I think that incendiary speech and images should be called out. When Tony Perkins started yapping about “reeducation camps” and “boxcars” during the 2014 round of the Masterpiece Cakeshop controversy, folks interested in rational debate called him out. The “Bake the Cake” graphic is more of the same, and I think that the graphic used by The Federalist needs to be called out, too.

    You “think the portrayal is accurate”, and you are entitled to your point of view. But I don’t see how tossing the Nazi card around furthers “the free exchange of ideas”. It seems to me that it makes “the free exchange of ideas” less viable rather than more. I guess that we disagree about that, too.

    I think that a reasonable discussion of anti-discrimination laws, including but not limited to discussion of public accommodations laws, is both possible and desirable. But, in all honesty, I encounter almost no conservatives willing to enter into that discussion, which necessarily entails eliminating protection for classes other than gays and lesbians. Instead, what I get is a shit pile of invective about gays and lesbians, and that’s it.

    As an aside, I note that the “Bake the Cake” graphic used in The Federalist article was created by the Memesters Union for The Patriot Post in April 2015. The graphic is copyrighted material, and I took a minute to alert the Memesters Union to a possible copyright infringement. I assume that The Federalist purchased the right to use the graphic. At least I hope so.

    Reply
    • posted by Jim Michaud on

      Well, I’m certainly glad Perkins was called out on the boxcars and camps comment. Hopefully normal people are waking up to the fact that the Nazi card against gays has been shown one time too many. I mean think about it: soc cons are comparing the compliance of anti-discrimination laws to the mass incineration of 6 million Jews. People need to start getting a grip.

      Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      But I don’t see how tossing the Nazi card around furthers “the free exchange of ideas”.

      That’s not a surprise. I don’t imagine you see Christians as a group that’s oppressed or threatened with oppression, either/

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    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      I don’t imagine you see Christians as a group that’s oppressed or threatened with oppression, either.

      I think (know, actually, based on a lot of reading and close contact with many conservative Christians) that Christians in the United States perceive themselves to be under constant attack, threatened and oppressed, but I also think that in almost all cases, the perception is the result of a sense of victimization resulting from the loss privilege and cultural dominance rather than actual attack, threat and oppression.

      As to the Nazi slur, I’ll learn to live with it.

      As a child, I was a taunted as a Christ-killer by the kids from a particular Lutheran church in our small town, as a young man in the military, I was taunted as a baby-killer, as an older man, I was taunted as a faggot, and as “homosexual activist” I was accused of working to destroy marriage and Christianity, and so on.

      When I was about ten, during the Christ-killer stage, my uncle pulled me aside and explained that the kids using that taunt were morons, incapable of reading and understanding their own scripture, and ignorant of the long history of the consequences of anti-Judaism in European Christian culture. He told me that I should ignore the taunts.

      That advice stuck with me, and was of great help during subsequent stages. I learned to ignore the taunts, get to work and change things for the better despite the morons.

      Members of my family died during Shoah, and I know the difference between “the compliance of anti-discrimination laws to the mass incineration of 6 million Jews”, to quote Jim Michaud’s apt comment.

      So if you want to emulate a recent poster start with the Nazi taunts, go right ahead. I’ll treat it (and you) with due respect.

      Reply
  8. posted by GregG on

    Per JohnCA, Comparing someone facing civil fines to people being brutally murdered is “accurate”?

    Facing fines and litigation costs onerous enough to force the closure of your business, as other small service providers faced, is pretty severe state action against religious dissidents. The graphic shows a protester being kicked by the state, not “brutally murdered.” Losing your livelihood is probably worse than being kicked.

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  9. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    An interesting new PRRI study suggests that non-discrimination laws covering gays and lesbians has relatively high support among Americans:

    Americans remain supportive of broad nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Nearly seven in ten (69%) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the job market, public accommodations, and housing.

    In general support has risen, slowly but surely, within all demographics of the American public, with one notable exception:

    Support for nondiscrimination protections enjoys broad support across the political spectrum. Majorities of Democrats (79%), independents (70%), and Republicans (56%) say they favor laws that would shield LGBT people from various kinds of discrimination. While support among Democrats and independents has remained relatively constant, Republican support for these provisions has fallen five percentage points over the past few years, down from 61 percent in 2015.

    I’m not quite sure what that suggests. It could be that Republicans are shifting away from support, or it could mean that a number of those who supported non-discrimination laws for gays and lesbians no longer identify as Republicans.

    Even more interesting though, is the fact that for the first time I can remember, a majority of white Evangelical Protestants now favor non-discrimination laws covering gays and lesbians:

    Solid majorities of all major religious groups in the U.S. support laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and the workplace. More than three-quarters of Americans who identify with New Age religions (86%), Jews (80%), Hindus (79%), religiously unaffiliated Americans (78%), and Buddhists (75%) support these protections. Similarly, robust majorities of Mormons (70%), Hispanic Catholics (72%), white mainline Protestants (71%), white Catholics (71%), other non-white Catholics (68%), and Americans who identify with other religions (67%) favor LGBT nondiscrimination protections, along with majorities of black Protestants (65%), other non-white Protestants (61%), Muslims (60%), Hispanic Protestants (60%), and Orthodox Christians (59%). White evangelical Protestants (54%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (53%) are least likely to support LGBT nondiscrimination protections, but even among these groups support remains in majority territory.

    Reply

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