Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Forced to bake a cake"

A recent legal decision that was handed down in Colorado has caused some to throw a hissy fit. That a privately owned business does not have a right to discriminate is not a new idea. The precedent that Barry Fagin writes about in his ridiculously named "Forced to bake a cake" commentary was established quite some time ago. What is most disturbing about his writing is that he is not necessarily a far-right firebrand or a religious conservative. So why does he write: "To some, it's freedom of conscience. To me, it's freedom of bigotry. But we agree that someone's freedom was lost last Friday, at the hands of the Colorado judiciary."

His view of "freedom" seems to be a rather childish one. Throughout the piece he seems to imply that freedom is an absolute to the point that it comes across as a supernatural force rather than a human social construction. Even if we existed in a pure state of anarchy, which is also not possible, you still would not be able to do precisely whatever you wanted the moment you wanted. There are all sorts of practical reasons that this type of "freedom" does not and cannot exist. It does not take much thought to reach the conclusion that either Fagin is clueless or disingenuous. After all, would he argue that every American should have the right to kill anyone they choose to? By the same standards aren't government prohibitions against murder also limitations to our freedom?

It is not just his basic premise that is flawed. He continues:
"Does anyone seriously believe that forcing a private business to provide a product or service to a gay couple is even remotely progressive? That it will help promote tolerance and acceptance? And why would a gay couple choose to do business with someone under those circumstances? Are the political points scored really worth it?"

First, no one is "forcing" Jack Phillips to do anything. He still has a choice to make. He can continue to refuse to serve homosexuals and face fines, or he can comply with the law (which already exists and is simply being enforced). This passage makes me think that Fagin is both clueless and disingenuous. How do you simply gloss over things like the Civil Rights Movement? All you have to do to see this as utter bullshit is swap "gay" for "African American."  Should I or anyone have the right to refuse service to women just because they are women? When such discrimination is found the government has a duty to put a stop to it. We live in a civil society governed by law. Does enforcing the law always "promote tolerance and acceptance" among every individual and group in the country? How do you make progress without action?

Fagin may have reached the right conclusion that Phillips is a bigot but his route to that decision is dangerously flawed and loans credence to ideas and perceptions that do not deserve any respect.

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