“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw
It is a sad testament to the lack of social progress to see so many cultural and political issues reemerge into the fleeting gaze of the public spotlight. An issue appears, as quickly as a speck in your vision, and just as it becomes clear, it vanishes from view. The public no wiser, the politicians no better, the country no stronger.
I have been writing these “articles” for just a little while and I already find that I have sufficient material to regurgitate topics from the archives. Just add a dash of my patented snarky ketchup to the pre-prepared topic casserole du jour and, voila!. What was once old becomes new!!
But that wouldn’t achieve one of the primary goals of The Last Best Hope: to expunge the detritus that settles between my ears. So let’s take those leftovers and really whip up something divine!
A few months back I’d written about two gay guys who walked into a bakery. (I made the same joke then too, as you can find here) The gist is that they wanted the baker to make them a wedding cake and the baker said “no” due to his religious convictions. The men pressed a lawsuit and said baker was compelled to make said cake, decorations and all. My position on this was, and is, that government compulsion of behavior is an invalid role of the state and that everyone deserves the right to direct or withhold his or her own work. There is little quite so demoralizing as a job you take no pride in doing.
Which, of course, brings me to the great state of Indiana. The Hoosier State has become the new Cuba, with trade and travel restrictions accompanying a general disgust for its leader, Mike Pence, who apparently hates homosexuals so much that, along with the state legislature, just made it legal to discriminate against those of same-sex orientation.
Despite the rampant criticisms of certain reporters, the mob mentality, and of course Al Sharpton (just know that if Sharpton is on your side then you’re doing it wrong. And by it, I mean Life) Indiana did not pass a sweeping reform to bring back the gestapo in white hoods. What Indiana lawmakers drafted, and what Governor Pence signed into law, (and has done an admirably atrocious job of explaining) is a protection of the limitations on government as articulated in the first amendment, because, as 19 other states have found sans protest, the federal protection does not extend to the states.
And, in the spirit of leftovers, this federal protection, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), was signed into law in 1993 by that fastidiously fellatio-ed fellow, former President Bill Clinton. It was supported by then senator Barack Obama in the Illinois legislature (although Indiana does not have the same legal discriminatory protections of Illinois), along with a 97-3 vote in the Senate and unanimous support in the House. (that’s right, EVERYONE) Simply put, this was not a controversial bill and times have not changed that much. Gay marriage is on the rise but not universal and religion is still a bedrock of American culture. I have yet to find a town of any substance without a church of some kind…or a liquor store.
The federal bill has been used to protect native americans, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Jews and followers of Santeria. The feds, and subsequently the states, like Indiana, have altered the way that courts approach cases where there are competing rights and possible governmental interests in the protection of those rights. The laws are now “requiring a “compelling state interest” justifying a ban on religious practice, an action “narrowly tailored” to that interest, and the “least restrictive” means of pursuing it.”
The question now becomes (and has been) which rights are paramount and deserve protection? Is a Jewish printer required to create recruiting pamphlets for the Aryan Brotherhood? Should a devout Muslim photographer be compelled to shoot the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition? Is a homosexual florist mandated to provide ornamentation for the opening of the new Westboro Baptist church? And should an evangelical Christian be made to bake a cake for a ceremony that fundamentally violates her beliefs? No, no, no and NO!
The abilities of every human being are the result of experience, dedication and hard work. Religious beliefs provide a sacred foundation for how to live this life and prepare for the hereafter. And sexual orientation is a basic component of all human beings. But, when one person, couple, group, church, magazine or psycho-outfit demand that an individual act against his conscience, that individual deserves protection.
Yes, stores and restaurants are places of public accommodation and being that the owners of such establishments have opened their shops in such a legally-mandated climate, they are NOT allowed, under Senate bill 101 or any other, to openly discriminate. The baker must still bake a cake for a gay customer. But, the baker is not compelled to partake in any part of the wedding ceremony of two gay men. There is a subtle and vital distinction. It will be up to the courts to decide when to use which of the aforementioned rights to whom applies… etc. etc.
The First Amendment is the most basic of all protections against government that the citizens of this nation possess. It protects the most endangered and discriminated group of all…the individual.
Some people have deplorable views based upon nothing more than a shallow upbringing, vapid stereotypes, and, in the absolute worst cases, unsubstantiate-able hate. And some of those people own businesses. Personally, I believe that much like one’s house, one’s business is one’s property and the owner should determine how to conduct business in said business. Allow the free-market to determine who succeeds. In most cases, as displayed by one aspect of the outcry in Indiana, people support each other and will serve whomever walks in the door. And those who don’t will suffer the wrath of fierce competition. Let the creative destruction begin!
But no one should be compelled to act against his or her own will by government forces in violation of religious beliefs. One person can never have a right to another’s time or ability. That is not a right, that’s slavery. Senate bill 101 will see some added language to specifically prohibit discrimination but such additions are catering to the wrong forces.
Don’t be like so many people, inclined to believe what is spoon-fed, flown into the hanger, when it fits comfortable, intellectually lazy preconceived ideas. The mob is rarely right and never interested in truth. It is the most base reaction to forces that, on most days, it can’t be bothered to attempt to understand. Just check out voter turnout for the biggest elections. Within the lifetime of anyone who might be reading this, the highest turnout among the voting age population was in 1960 at 62.8%. In 2012 it was 54.9%. That means that on the best of days only have of any of those people marching have any idea of what they protest. The rest are acting on emotion alone, too busy chanting to be bothered with the details.
Learn and seek truth, not support for the opinions you already possess. The world will open in ways that you can only now imagine.
“Buy the Truth…and sell it not.” – Proverbs 23:23