Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spiking the ball...

"your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins"
 - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) 

"Where we've already won on same sex marriage, stop spiking the ball."
- GayCynic (Hippie Era-Present)

Look. Once you've won the ball-game, don't be spiking the ball - it merely invites your former opponents to get sufficiently bent out of shape to stage a resurgence, something that we in the LGBT community just plain don't need. The current histrionics over the proposed Arizona Statute look suspiciously like spiking the ball, unless someone can show me a version where it actually bars protests and exercise of free speech employed against religious bigots (or religious objectors, if you prefer).

I'd like to see resistance to same sex marriage drop off a lot more than I'd like to see religiously motivated busi

If some florist, or baker, photographer, venue or faith organization has all kinds of religious issues with same sex marriage - ultimately, we don't need  them. There's more than one of each in the world, and there exists plenty of payback possible, should it come to that - boycotts, picketing, protests, pamphlets and a wide variety of other fun that is particularly effective against the most likely targets - one-off mom'n'pops. For some reason larger businesses range from "don't make me get that all over me" on our issues to actually being supportive.

Yet, as a community, we've had to "go there." Not satisfied with garnering same sex marriage several states (and with recent court cases, I wouldn't bet against nationwide sometime soon) we apparently need to compel people to support those marriages publicly, against their will and in violation of their religious faith.

Let's see the response we're getting from our straight allies.

"You know, I'd be much more likely to believe the demands for "tolerance" and "equality" if it weren't for the fact that people are actually suing others because they won't make them a wedding cake.

Here's fair. If a person does not wish to sell you a wedding cake for your gay marriage, then go somewhere else. If he wants to be that way, let him. If you involve the government to force him to violate his religion, then you're a bigger ass than he could ever be.

Oh, and here's the scary Arizona "NO GAYS ALLOWED!" law."
            - Facebook Post, 2/21/14 from Sean Sorrentino, owner of NC Gun Blog"

As it happens, Sean is an ally in most senses - but fairly even-handed on calling "jerk" on either side of the issue.

Coercive laws that force a small business owner or individual to do business with a person or group they'd rather not do business with do not promote tolerance, equality or diversity in any true sense. Instead they promote shoddy service (do you *REALLY* want someone shooting your wedding, doing the cake or floral arrangements against their will? When it really is that easy to do a shoddy job of any of the above?) and festering resentment.

And what are we when we coerce labor from the unwilling but yet another form of oppressor?

I'd rather go across town or the state to get service from someone supportive that I can trust not to make malicious errors. I'd much rather lead a protest or a negative publicity campaign against a bigoted establishment.

Both approaches result in either corrected behavior or the offending party going bankrupt - and they do not require government coercion. These approaches recognize that a business owner has the right to do business with whom he or she chooses and that *particularly* when matters of faith come into play, they have rights every bit as important as ours - but at the same time, ensure that dollars do not go to support bigotry..

I may utterly despise those of Phelpsian ilk, but they have every right to spew their hatred - just as we have a right to our Pride Parades. I may celebrate a faith of love and acceptance, but others have just as much right to stew in a theological sewage pit filled with narrow-mindedness, hatred and bigotry.

I am not required to like them, refrain from making fun of them, nor to do business with or otherwise associate with them. I am merely required to keep my paws to myself and refrain from spontaneous violence. Is that something we want changed, since it will apply just as much against us as for us?

I don't want to be forced to serve dinner to the Phelps clan or have to do up a wedding cake for the Grand Wizard of the local KKK.  I'd rather not accept a photography and promotional graphic arts commission documenting *and supporting* a Catholic Archbishop promoting anti-gay discrimination and an initiative to repeal a gay marriage law.

None of us with a vague grip on rationality would want to be forced to accept such noxious business deals lest we be imprisoned or sued into bankruptcy. Yet that is what we propose for our opponents...and ultimately, the law is pretty good at playing "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander."

If we look at the Boston St. Paddy's Parade case, it came down to "you cannot make someone endorse or support something contrary or sabotaging to their  own message" in a ruling that the parade organizers could exclude LGBT contingents. Later, at least one Pride Parade used this same case to exclude NAMBLA from their event. Many have theorized that inherent to "freedom of association" guaranteed in the constitution is a twin to an equally valid less celebrated "right not to associate."

The current crop of rights-balancing legislation (AZ, MO, elsewhere) is deeply flawed, most basically in the attempt of many such statutes to force the same standards upon both businesses and governmental agencies/employees. Nothing could be less realistic.

Government must be held to a substantially higher standard of non-discrimination than any other body in our society. At a minimum,  a government agency must provide scrupulously non-discriminatory service to all citizens unless such person has through due process of law been disqualified from receiving such service. (e.g., the rights of children, felons and the mentally incompetent are all limited by law, as are their legitimate interactions with governments).

Similarly, active duty members of the military forfeit a variety of rights for the duration of their term of service - I would argue that limitation extends more broadly to government workers in the sense that by signing on as a government employee you should forfeit your rights to engage in discriminatory behavior while acting as an government employee or while on government premises.

In short, if you cannot provide service as a .gov staffer to the public on a non-discriminatory basis in adherence with relevant law, you have no business as a government employee.

The standard for individual and small business service providers is, of necessity, far lower. As a nation, rights are things we have historically we have enforced (or far too often, failed to enforce) as limitations upon government - not individuals. And a business - particularly a small business or a sole proprietorship - is nothing more than an expression of an individual or group of individuals.

When dealing with individuals or a private entities (non-profits, businesses, etc) we need to stick with the notion of requiring a compelling interest and the utilization of the least intrusive mechanism to accomplish said interest before we allow the dread behemoth of governmental regulation upon the playing field. 


Anonymous said...

What you are advocating is a return to "no blacks" "no Jews" "no [fill in the blank]" signs.

If small business doesn't have to do business with anyone who makes them uncomfortable.... Several folks on the intertubes are alright with that. I'm not sure it reflects the kind of country I want to live in.

I agree, the people doing the suing are jerks. But so are the people with cake business.

Heath J said...

Damned well said.

Thanks for posting it.

And to Wheelgun; We're pretty much there, whether you want to live here or not.

staghounds said...

Keep hanging in there.