WHEN GOVERNMENT BECOMES THE PROBLEM

Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus's followers on the road between Rome and Capua. 1878 painting by Fedor Andreevich Bronnikov
Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus‘s followers on the road between Rome and Capua. 1878 painting by Fedor Andreevich Bronnikov (from here)

Slavery is an old and recurring bane of mankind. Even as we imagine we have grown out of it, some of us still try to put down and control others. Hence some people have almost turned our republic upside down. Sadly, many people don’t even realize the extent to which they have lost the freedoms Americans once enjoyed.

Therefore, when tildeb left this comment at this post, DISCRIMINATION BY GOVERNMENT, I decided to use it illustrate the point.

tildeb says:
April 1, 2015 at 1:22 pm

The principle remains the same about selling in the public domain: you cannot discriminate on private domain reasons. This was the heart of the case whereby white restauranteurs refused service to black customers. All the rest of your comment about the Left neither addresses the principle at stake nor why protecting arbitrary discrimination by law is harmful. This issue isn’t about Left and Right, Democrat and Conservative differences of philosophy and politics; to steer it in that direction is a diversion. The issue is about the principle of equality law and either maintaining it in practice or subverting it under the guise of ‘religious freedom’ in this particular case.

‘s comment ended a string of four, the best of which was Keith DeHavelle‘s (here). In fact, ‘s comment may be better than this post. Please read it.

Now think what it means to operate a private business.  If you own the business, you get to decide how to run that business. You get to decide who you serve and how you will serve the people you serve. Isn’t that the whole point of owning your own business?

If customers are happy with your choices, they pay you. Otherwise, those customers discriminate against you, and they don’t use your business. That’s the risk you take.

But what if we take ‘s comment to the logical extreme? Discrimination is wrong, right? What gives customers the right to discriminate? Well, don’t worry. With Obamacare, our government has now established a huge precedent. Our wiser than the rest of us politicians can now tell us how to discriminate in our purchasing choices.  Gosh! Don’t they already tell us what kind of light bulbs, toilets, and cars we can buy?

Seriously. Discrimination is not evil. Every time we make a decision, we discriminate between the options presented us. Discrimination becomes a serious issue when people discriminate for the wrong reasons. However, when as a private citizens we discriminate stupidly, we lose customers or we waste our money. As individuals or as private companies, we cannot force someone else to pay the price of our stupid decisions.

When is discriminating stupidly a real problem? That happens when the government discriminates. Government can force one group of people to pay the price of another group’s stupid decisions.  Slavery, for example — the tyranny of one group people over another — is government sponsored discrimination. When busybody politicians insist upon being our consciences, punishing private citizens just for disagreeing with their beliefs, that is the first step in enslavement. When we are forced to follow the dictates of someone else’s conscience, they have enslaved us. Unless we are prepared to accept being punished, we must do what those busybodies want us to do.

So what about those Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) laws that states have been passing, the topic of DISCRIMINATION BY GOVERNMENT? Are they all about discriminating against homosexuals?  No.

So far the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never worked as a defense for Christian bakers embroiled in lawsuits over gay weddings, but for a handful of Apache, Muslim and Sikh plaintiffs, it’s been a godsend.

Critics of Indiana’s newly signed RFRA — joined Tuesday by the Arkansas legislature’s passage of a similar bill — have warned that the law provides a “license to discriminate” against gay and transgender people, although that hasn’t been the case in the 22 years since President Bill Clinton signed the federal RFRA in 1993 or in 19 states that passed similar laws before Indiana.

Instead, the federal law allowed Abdul Muhammad, a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas, to grow a half-inch beard. Thanks to the Texas RFRA, Adriel Arocha, a Lipan Apache kindergartner, was permitted to wear his hair long. Kawal Tagore won her case against the Internal Revenue Service after being fired for carrying a kirpan, a small knife worn to remind Sikhs of their commitment to justice. (continued here)

Nevertheless, same-sex “marriage” is a device homosexuals use to punish people who disapprove of their perverse sex activity. These people apparently believe that only they have the right to decide how the rest of us should discriminate in our choices, and they are hysterically afraid some baker, florist, or caterer might refuse to endorse their perversions. Hence, to protect their “rights” to practice their sexual perversions, they would deny everyone their first amendment rights.

44 thoughts on “WHEN GOVERNMENT BECOMES THE PROBLEM

  1. I take it, then, Tom, you oppose the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s and believe that a Christian (however misguided he may be about what his faith requires), should be allowed to decline to serve an African American at his lunch counter, or provide accommodations at his motel, or permit a black child to attend schools with white children, because he acts from a sincere religious impulse. The position you express in your last comment is indistinguishable from the position expressed in opposition to 1960s federal legislation by opponents invoking religious justifications to oppose civil rights legislation. Your position seems to be that every work-related activity that we engage in as Christians has religious, doctrinal, theological implications and thus is inviolate from regulation. I don’t see where you draw a line legally or consitutionally between those discredited anti-Civil rights positions and the idea that a cake seller can refuse to sell a cake because he doesn’t approve, for religious reasons, of his customer’s lifestyle.

    The constitutionality of federal measures requiring non-discrimination in the provision of accommodations has been well established for decades. They are not “enslavement” of any citizen, but a liberation of arbitrarily oppressed classes of citizens. That oppression sapped our national commercial strength and was morally wrong. I acknowledge your point that constitutional challenges are decided by the federal courts, but that’s how we do things around this country. My “pharisaical” , “abominable” logic is simply what we put in place centuries ago to make our Constitution work.

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    1. scout, you fuzz the issue as usual by making assertions and comparisons that are not true.

      First, you assert that religious freedom was the argument or an important argument against integration. Specifically, that someone would “decline to serve an African American at his lunch counter … because he acts from a sincere religious impulse.”

      But this was not the argument. The forced integration/civil rights movement opposition was not based upon religious freedom, it was cast as a federal versus state power issue. In other words, it was based upon “States’ Rights”; the famous Democrat Strom Thurmond’s 1948 speech against integration was also called the “States Rights Americans” speech.

      Secondly, you assert that the the issue raised to decline to cater a same-sex marriage is merely because “he doesn’t approve, for religious reasons, of his customer’s lifestyle.” But that is NOT the issue. Note, for example, the famous Memories Pizza case where they had no problem serving pizza to gay customers, who presumably were practicing their homosexual “lifestyle” (whatever you might conceive that term to mean) in their daily lives. Instead, the issue was being forced to participate in and enable a specific event that they objected to because their forced participation was offensive to their own practice of religion.

      By making the civil rights opposition seem to be religiously based, you attempt to tar the “overly religious” people that you regularly disdain as being the cause of mistreatment of blacks. And by making forced participation in ceremonies and events and acts that some find offensive mandatory, you try to recast the objections as merely being against someone’s “lifestyle.” So you busily argue against points that do not represent the issues at hand, while using the opportunity to make clear, one again, your sneering condescension toward those of deep faith.

      I have long been wryly amused that I, a lifelong atheist, demonstrably have more respect for those of deep faith than you do, who claim to be religious yourself. But of course, you also claim to be a conservative, and it doesn’t take long to see you demonstrate the abject falsehood in that claim.

      Speaking of famous Democrats, would you also insist that the owner of a printing press who happened to be gay should be forced to print signs for Fred Phelps’ group that proclaim “God Hates Fags”? Such a print shop owner would not even have a religious objection; merely one of lifestyle. What say you to this forced customer service?

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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    2. @scout

      Keith is correct in saying that you are fuzzing the issue. I suppose someone could claim a religious objection to serving blacks, but that is not the excuse people used.

      Nevertheless, when the government forces people to serve customers they don’t want to serve, there is a first amendment issue and a 13th amendment issue.

      The first amendment issue is that we have the right to associate with the people we want to associate with. When a private business does not to serve customers, that should be their choice. Unless the government is pressuring them to do it, how many private businesses are going to want to turn away paying customers? Not many.

      The 14th amendment issue is involuntary servitude. When government can force businesses to serve people they don’t want to serve, they are enslaving the people who own those businesses. Except when the public’s safety is involved, there is very little reason to do that.

      So what about the civil rights legislation in the 60’s? I think Federal Government had a good reason to stop state and local governments from discriminating based upon race. I don’t think the Constitution gives Congress any power to sanction private businesses that discriminate based upon race. At best that is a weird interpretation of the interstate commerce clause, and as I said, private businesses don’t have much reason to turn away paying customers. Their competition will just fill the gap, and that is punishment enough.

      In retrospect, I think Congress overstepped its authority. That has been happening a lot lately.

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  2. Keith – perhaps Tom’s logic leaps make more sense to you than they do to me, but having witnessed many of them in response to some of my comments, I have come to the firm conclusion that he distorts purposefully to distract from the substance of what I have just said, or, alternatively and perhaps more forgivably, his emotions and ideological enchainments interfere with the clarity of his thought process. That’s a long way from his calling some unidentified person or persons “feeble-minded” and then avoiding queries about whom he was referring to. Tom leapt from my cake-selling observation to bread and wine at communion (Tom is or should be aware of the sacramental differences). That’s hardly a jump that can be explained rationally.

    But, in this particular case, I was making what I think is an objective, rational point that selling cakes (or, by extension, selling pizzas or Milk Duds, or hotel rooms or dining services at a restaurant) is not a religious activity. You and I are both old enough to have direct memories of opposition to integration in the South in the 1950s and 60s when a memorable battle cry was that integration was against religious principles and that Government could not force people to violate their profoundly held religious beliefs by forcing them to do business with African American citizens. The conclusion we came to as a Nation was that one’s religious beliefs are inviolate, but , when one elects to conduct commercial activities, one accepts the condition that one will serve all people indifferently. If one’s religion does not allow for that equality of commercial traffic, then one is free to abstain from entering commerce. One can also remain in that commercial stream and sell services and merchandise without discrimination, all the while believing that the Bible teaches that the races should remain separate. That philosophy, originally set forth in federal laws based on participation in interstate commerce, has been picked up at state and local levels across the country in similar anti-discrimination laws. (BTW, Tom asked where “cake-selling” is mentioned in the Constitution. As I have patiently tried to explain to him several times previously in many contexts, the Founders used general terms to describe the activities that they apportioned to the federal government. They wisely avoided particulars, and we can be very grateful that they would use a term like “commerce” as opposed to phone-book sized lists of occupations, objects, activities. They also used general terms referring to religious activities and beliefs instead of listing such items as “praying”, “genuflecting”, “preaching”, “baptising”, etc. etc. etc. If Tom thinks this issue swings on an explicit mention of “selling cakes” or “selling flowers” in the Constitution, then my concern about the clarity of his thought seems particularly well-founded. But I don’t think he really believes that, and that he is more intelligent than that – hence I assess that recurring gimmick as being a deliberate tactic).

    Back to the topic raised in the post: If Christians were being required by Government to marry same sex partners, to enter into same sex romantic relationships, officiate as clergymen at same-sex religious weddings, pledge fealty to the Pope in Rome, etc., then we’d have a true religious liberty issue. Of course these things have not happened, and cannot happen under our Constitution. If the owner of Memory Pizza were being required to enter a same-sex marriage, I’d say he merited our support (in point of fact, he’s not even being required to provide the pizzas for a same sex wedding, he just worries that he might be and has pre-emptively announced that he’s not about to do that). But he’s just selling pizza.

    Matthew offered a refreshing point seldom seen in these discussions – if your religion compels you to abjure same-sex relationships, when customers come to your commercial establishment, witness for your beliefs by talking to the customer about your concerns for their mortal souls. Whether done lovingly, as one expects of members of our Faith, or harshly, that speech is very much protected both as speech and religious expression and cannot be controlled by the State. (Good luck on getting the next gay customer to be the target of subsequent witness, but that’s just a commercial issue).

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    1. @scout

      Google “Christian work perspective”. When a Christian works he should be working as if he is working for God. When we work, we should be trying to do his will.

      Here is an example of what you can find.
      http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-171/gods-perspective-on-work

      For some reason, given what the Bible says about homosexuality, I don’t think God would think providing support for a same-sex “wedding” would be doing His will.

      If the people we have elected did not agree with you, what you have to say about the Constitution would be laughable.

      The conclusion we came to as a Nation was that one’s religious beliefs are inviolate, but , when one elects to conduct commercial activities, one accepts the condition that one will serve all people indifferently.

      That is not in the Constitution either. It is just something judges made up, and that is not what the Constitution authorizes them to do.

      Of course these things have not happened, and cannot happen under our Constitution.

      Why not? Because of abominable logic such as yours, legalistic as anything the Pharisees could have imagined, we are turning our republic into a bureaucratic tyranny. In time, instead of being able to do anything that does not violate our neighbor’s rights, we will each have to get permission from a bureaucrat to do anything. And how will we get there? Instead of understanding the government only has the right to do what the Constitution says it can do, we will have swallowed the lie that the government can do anything that the Constitution does not specifically say it cannot do. And, of course, the wise men and women who sit on Supreme Court seem less and less able to find anything the government cannot do. They just ignore the plain language of that document, and We the People don’t know what to do. We have been so well bought we don’t know to protest our own enslavement.

      Laugh, but remember what goes around comes around. Those legal shenanigans you gloat about using against others can just as easily be used against you.

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