Ethics Dunces (Bigotry Division): Arizona Republicans

Message received.

Message received.

I don’t know what Arizona Republican legislators are running from now: they have accomplished their mission. They’ve made it abundantly clear that they don’t like or respect the rights of gays, bi-sexuals and transsexuals, and want to leave no question in the minds of anti-gay bigots (or good and gentle religious people  across the state who want to discriminate against gays because they thing doing so is “moral”) that the nationwide cultural shift to approval of gay marriage, a.k.a, equal rights under law, hasn’t changed this: Arizona Republicans back your dislike of these perverts’ sinful, corrupting lifestyle, whatever the law is.

The disingenuous and offensive argument being made by Republican supporters of the modifications of  an 1999 Arizona law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is, in essence, that Arizona businesses can already discriminate against gays, and so can those of lots of other states. This isn’t an anti-gay law! It’s a religious freedom law! Yes, and the Civil War was about States rights. The new bill’s clear motivation—Timing! Timing!— is to strengthen the hand of businesses, organizations, corporation and non-profits that object, allegedly or actually on genuine religious grounds, to serving, employing, or dealing with gays. More than that, however, the goal is to line up the legal, moral and ethical authority of the state behind those who want to treat gays in this fashion, whatever the reason, rather than behind the rights of the LBGT community to be treated like all other citizens.

The adoption of such a of such a bill into law would harm every single member of the LBGT community whether they were ever refused service or not. By asserting that  it is fair and reasonable to treat them differently and with less respect than other Americans, Arizona will have declared that in its view, they are not as worthy of rights and protection as other Americans. They are not welcome.

That was the message, in great measure, of the state’s controversial anti-illegal immigration legislation of a few years ago: let illegals know they are not welcome. I endorsed and still endorse that message, for illegal immigrants should not be welcome, and it is incomprehensible that anyone should be welcome to break important and standing laws. The message of the new version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, however, is un-American….and it has already been sent.

Governor Jan Brewer is playing coy about whether she will sign the bill or not, and that is a message too. It tells everyone, but especially the state’s gays, that she approves of the vile message being sent, but perhaps not all the consequences of sending it. She has been waiting to see where the winds are blowing, especially those carrying money to her state. Now it looks as if Arizona will be the target of serious economic consequences and even boycotts if the bill becomes law, much as it did when it initially rejected Martin Luther King Day, and even in Arizona, most bigots prefer money to what they call “principle.” If Brewer found disparate treatment of citizens according to their sexual preferences to be wrong, she would have sent a very different message, by announcing immediately that the bill was an embarrassment to Arizona, that it did not correctly represent the attitudes of the citizens of the state, and that it would be Dead On Arrival when it reached her desk. She does not possess the courage or the dedication to justice, fairness and equality to send that message., even if she agrees with it.

Whether the bill is passed or not, its message has already insulted and marginalized the LBGT community in Arizona and out of it, and steeled the resolve of religious conservatives who refuse to recognize when their religious beliefs have begun doing more harm than good, as well as the outright bigots who rationalize their hate—it’s mostly based on ignorance, habit, and “Ick!“—with religious beliefs that they only break out when they’re useful.

The bill also sends a useful message to everyone else about the stubborn, deceitful, irrational politicians who sent it, and their party. They are kicking and screaming and holding their breath until they turn blue because they don’t like where the culture is going, and they continue to back an ugly, smelly, limping nag in a lopsided race to determine what’s right and wrong in a democracy based on equal rights. They are going to lose. Indeed they have already lost; the only question is how much these bitter and inflexible politicians are willing to lose on the inevitable results.


Facts: The Christian Post, LA Times

Graphic: Cocorioko

194 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces (Bigotry Division): Arizona Republicans

  1. Here’s a late update… Freedom or oppression? That’s the question for Arizona’s SB1062 –
    Can we agree that SB1062 would amend the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012?

    Is the argument here about whether this amendment expands religious freedom, or does it enable discrimination based on (among other things) sexual preference? Or does it do both?

    If both, who wins and who loses?

    People of a different sexual orientation would become SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS. That would be a huge loss.

    “A second-class citizen is a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there. While not necessarily slaves, outlaws or criminals, second-class citizens have limited legal rights, civil rights and socioeconomic opportunities, and are often subject to mistreatment or neglect at the hands of their putative superiors.” –

    Although the Old testament condemns homosexuality (it also condems round haircuts, tattoos, divorce, wearing gold, and shell fish), surprisingly, Jesus has nothing to say about the subject. Perhaps we can make an educated guess about what Jesus might have thought. Quoting below…
    Matthew 22:21 : “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

    The speaker here is Jesus. And the context is a trap: In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus’ opponents were trying to catch him in a contradiction between his religious beliefs, which would forbid giving tribute (tax) to Caesar, and his political obligations to give such a tribute. They hoped to ensnare him by forcing him to deny one or the other.

    But Jesus acknowledged that while we may have religious beliefs and practices, we all live in two worlds: the world governed by laws, and the world that transcends them.

    This is a lesson Arizona’s legislature appears to have forgotten, in choosing to allow discrimination as long as the discriminator professes a religious belief. If it is sincere, it represents a new low in the misunderstanding of democracy.

    The bill is nicknamed “Turn the Gays Away,” but it would actually apply to just about anyone. If I’m a Christian who believes the Jews killed Christ, I can place a “No Jews Allowed” sign on my hotel. If I think Mormons are unrighteous, I can ban them from my shopping mall. And, of course, if two women sit down for lunch in my diner, I can kick them out on their abomination-committing butts.
    The proponents of this bill, along with people who could care less either way, would also end up on the losing side. –

    Companies from Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) to American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL:US) called on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto a bill permitting businesses to refuse service on religious grounds, a measure that opponents say is meant to allow discrimination against gays.

    The measure passed last week prompted tourists to cancel reservations and companies to say they would locate elsewhere if it became law. The bill threatens to reverse an economic recovery in a state among those hardest hit by the housing crash, opponents said, and to cement a reputation fostered by a 2010 anti-immigration law and a fight in the 1990s over celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
    Looks to me like everybody loses if this bill is signed into law.

    Bottom line –

  2. Post-veto/mortem: Here we go. Now, for the turnabout to commence – the chapter of Revenge of the Evil Empire of the Left. Governor Brewer did her Pontius Paulette’s duty. For that, she will enjoy for a time the spoils as are customary of a racketeers’ enabler-in-chief. Perhaps she will also enjoy seeing her own name mentioned favorably in certain footnotes of certain histories. In any case, she will enjoy the gratitude, across the state of Arizona and beyond, of:

    (1) wealthy fascist activists, obsessed with litigating their sex-driven specifications for institutionalizing the righteous oppression of small businesses and religious minorities;

    (2) lawyers, eager to litigate for notoriety and big fees to seed future political campaigns, feeding off the funds raised by such activists and their shadowy, unaccountable organizations;

    (3) judges, who welcome having full dockets of litigation promoting Big Progressive Emotion causes, so that they may ply their own activism and promote their own political careers; and

    (4) leftist political party machines and their protégés among (1), (2), and (3), now availed virtually unlimited opportunities in Arizona to steal, hijack, and otherwise secure powers of governance (but only for good causes, of course) for purposes of coercing and controlling residents’ behaviors – particularly religious and “associative” behaviors – such that the holders of government powers are established as the Eternal and Ever Unaccountable Supreme High Priests of the one and only State Church of Arizona.

    The people of Arizona will herd on – or more precisely, be ever more diligently herded on. All of Arizona life will be tranquil and sufficient, even blissful, with equality for all, for as long as none in the herd bring up any of their petty religious convictions in contradiction of anything the State Church approves. Ethics will evolve such that righteousness is universal, and all of diversity shall be in solidarity and unity of conformity.

  3. Annnnnnd…good Thursday morning, lovers, and lovers of social engineering law, evolving ethics, and redefining of equality. The Texas Constitution has been declared…wait for it…unconstitutional. Get those fists up there where they belong, and sing of justice! Sweet Mystery of Law, At Last We’ve Found Youuuuuuuuu

  4. Scott: re: the “if that happens” query. If it happens, it will happen because a court makes the tough call that photography, cake-making and floral arrangements are not art, which is speech, but just services like any other to be treated like a public accommodation. That means the court would have decided that the First Amendment doesn’t apply, so one could say that it harms the cause of free speech.

    The law, you know, in no way is restricted to gray area businesses.

    • I think that the “Art is Free Speech” line of reasoning here is disingenuous. You’re only giving the legislators an ‘out’ to allow a small sector of one industry the ability to use a bad faith argument to discriminate. IF it is unethical, and so unethical as to justify illegality, to discriminate selling services and products because one disagrees with the another’s lifestyle/conduct on religious grounds and claiming 1st Amendment Religious protection, THEN it is also unethical, and so unethical as to justify illegality, to discriminate selling services and products because one disagrees with another’s lifestyle/conduct *religious reasons irrelevant* and claiming “Free Speech”.

      This is really pushing the “Art is Speech” principle established by SCOTUS to expose flaws in it. Either EVERYONE’s behavior on the Free Market (or at least every independent/owning operator in the Free Market) is protected by “Art is Free Speech” OR “art” *sold* on the Free Market IS NOT SPEECH.

      I don’t see how CLEAR consideration for this conflict can expand past the Religious Freedom components of the 1st Amendment.

      • Art IS speech. Not only that, but civil law also accepts that you can’t compel it, for practical rather than constitutional reasons. The only remaining question is regarding wedding photography, cake-making and floral arrangements. It’s interesting—the commentary that want to compel calls it “supplying flowers,” baking a cake” and taking photos. That minimizes the expressive content. A floral arrangement requires aesthetics, and is thus art, hence expression.

        • I’m not denying “Art is Speech”, I’m questioning “What is Art…as it pertains to Speech?”

          Anything requiring aesthetics (a very undefinable quality)? Presence of expressive content? Requires creativity or that ever vague “putting some of yourself into the work”? When it boils down to it, there is not ONE item on the Free Market — not even the most coldly designed element of engineering — that does not involve some element, even a modicum, of “art”. Not one.

          So, what, then, is “Art” (as it pertains to Speech)? What is your Freedom of Speech then. We all know…but, if we wish to protect EVERY LAST expression of yourself to the community, then that means EVERY LAST item you produce for the market as well. Which means, Freedom of Speech protects ALL discrimination by those who produce or own the means of production on the market, because “Art is Speech”…OR, it must mean that not everything we want to call art, IS art, therefore this isn’t a Freedom of Expression issue and solely a Freedom of Religion issue. But if, as we accept certain modes of Speech to be sold of the Free Market (books, newspapers, TV programming), and Art then sustains itself on the Free Market.

          Your wedding photographer, did not produce art to be sold or just to be expressed, he/she was commissioned by you, to produce art *on your behalf* because you lacked the skills/equipment/time to do it yourself. The art is YOURs, until then, it’s just a service available on the Free Market. That same photographer, may, of his/her own accord produce here own art (Freely as Americans are allowed), and see how the Market accepts it. But that he/she expresses herself artistically with the same tools/techniques he/she also sustains himself/herself through commissioned works, should not automatically make the efforts with which he/she sustains himself/herself art.

          With the wedding photographer (and cake maker) then, either her whole livelihood and everything she produces – be it for expression, for the market, or commissioned – is Art, AND SO SHOULD EVERYONE ELSE’S market behavior be protected as Free Speech, OR, what she is *commissioned* to produce is NOT *her* Speech and therefore is not protected by Freedom of Speech and this is only a Freedom of Religion issue.

          All I’m saying is keep the argument where the argument should stay.

          If I had 2 hours, I could really flesh this out.

          • “Your wedding photographer, did not produce art to be sold or just to be expressed, he/she was commissioned by you, to produce art *on your behalf* because you lacked the skills/equipment/time to do it yourself.”

            A perfect example, Tex. And the civil law has always held that because it is art, and the expression of personal talent (on my behalf or not), it cannot be compelled. Thus an artist will never be ordered by a court to perform as the remedy for a breach of contract—the remedy is damages. A bricklayer? He’ll be ordered to finish the wall.

            I don’t think the line is that hard to draw. The problem is that wedding services are sitting right on, pr close to, that line.

            • I don’t care what current opinion would compel the bricklayer to do, if we’re going to distill this to its basics then we must. In that example, I’m well acquainted with several bricklayers in the landscaping industry — every single one of them is capable of plying their trade in VERY artistic ways, full of creativity and expression and aesthetics. If client X commissions bricklayer Y to lay bricks in a manner that the artist in the bricklayer doesn’t want to do, then by the photographer’s exemption, the bricklayer IS exempt.

              If, however, certain actions performed by artists ARE just typical tasks performed across the market in which there is a minimal amount of art and is mostly science, like a simple running bond for our bricklayer, or boring stock ID photos for our photographer, then NO, the individual doesn’t get blanket immunity via freedom of speech simply because some of their work would qualify as protected speech.

              And since every industry involves a certain level of art (and they all do), then either everyone has the opportunity to discriminate (although 99% wouldn’t) or this shouldn’t be argued as an “art is speech” issue or everyone has the opportunity to discriminate in aspects of their profession which does involve art.

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