Twelve Post-Veto Ethics Observations On The Arizona “Religious Freedom” Bill

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1. As we now know, Governor Brewer vetoed AZ SB1062, the so-called “religious freedom” bill that was widely (and accurately) interpreted as support for discrimination against gays. In the previous post, I suggested that her delay in doing so sent a message that was as hostile to gays as the law itself: if she felt the law was ethically wrong, then she should have and would have announced that she would not sign the bill long ago. Instead, she waited to see how much economic damage the law would do to the state, and then vetoed it, not because this was the right ting to do, but because it was the pragmatic thing to do. (As the satiric Borowitz Report put it, “The state of Arizona found itself in the middle of a conundrum today as it awoke to the awkward realization that gay people have money and buy stuff.”) USA Today noted that, to the contrary,”Some political insiders believe Brewer has allowed furor over the legislation to build to thwart social conservatives’ attempts to push a similar bill later.” I doubt it, but if so, Brewer allowed her state and her fellow Republicans to be represented nationally as homophobic for as long as possible to spare herself the inconvenience of vetoing a second bill.

2. Despite the extravagant debate over the bill, almost no commentators actually published the bill’s text in the commentary. The reason appears to be that since the bill is really an amendment of an existing law, it takes a modicum of intelligence to figure out what’s going on. Here it is (the original law is in black; the new text is in blue; what has been removed in the amended version is struck through):

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1. Section 41-1493, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.Definitions

In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

1. “Demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.

2. “Exercise of religion” means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

3. “Government” includes this state and any agency or political subdivision of this state.

4. “Nonreligious assembly or institution” includes all membership organizations, theaters, cultural centers, dance halls, fraternal orders, amphitheaters and places of public assembly regardless of size that a government or political subdivision allows to meet in a zoning district by code or ordinance or by practice.

5. “Person” includes a religious assembly or institutionANY INDIVIDUAL, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION OR OTHER BUSINESS ORGANIZATION.

6. “Political subdivision” includes any county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district, any board, commission or agency of a county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district or any other local public agency.

7. “Religion‑neutral zoning standards”:

(a) Means numerically definable standards such as maximum occupancy codes, height restrictions, setbacks, fire codes, parking space requirements, sewer capacity limitations and traffic congestion limitations.

(b) Does not include:

(i) Synergy with uses that a government holds as more desirable.

(ii) The ability to raise tax revenues.

8. “Suitable alternate property” means a financially feasible property considering the person’s revenue sources and other financial obligations with respect to the person’s exercise of religion and with relation to spending that is in the same zoning district or in a contiguous area that the person finds acceptable for conducting the person’s religious mission and that is large enough to fully accommodate the current and projected seating capacity requirements of the person in a manner that the person deems suitable for the person’s religious mission.

9. “Unreasonable burden” means that a person is prevented from using the person’s property in a manner that the person finds satisfactory to fulfill the person’s religious mission.

Sec. 2. Section 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.01.Free exercise of religion protected; definition

A. Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.

B. Except as provided in subsection C, governmentOF THIS SECTION, STATE ACTION shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

C. GovernmentSTATE ACTION may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if itTHE GOVERNMENT OR NONGOVERNMENTAL PERSON SEEKING THE ENFORCEMENT OF STATE ACTION demonstrates that application of the burden to the person PERSON’S EXERCISE OF RELIGION IN THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE is both:

1. In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.

2. The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

D. A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT IS A PARTY TO THE PROCEEDING.

E. A PERSON THAT ASSERTS A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION MUST ESTABLISH ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:

    1. THAT THE PERSON’S ACTION OR REFUSAL TO ACT IS MOTIVATED BY A RELIGIOUS BELIEF.

    2. THAT THE PERSON’S RELIGIOUS BELIEF IS SINCERELY HELD.

    3. THAT THE STATE ACTION SUBSTANTIALLY BURDENS THE EXERCISE OF THE PERSON’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.

    F. THE PERSON ASSERTING A CLAIM OR DEFENSE UNDER SUBSECTION D OF THIS SECTION MAY OBTAIN INJUNCTIVE AND DECLARATORY RELIEF. A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.

E. G. InFOR THE PURPOSES OF this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.

H. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, “STATE ACTION” MEANS ANY ACTION, EXCEPT FOR THE REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED BY SECTION 41-1493.04, BY THE GOVERNMENT OR THE IMPLEMENTATION OR APPLICATION OF ANY LAW, INCLUDING STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, ORDINANCES, RULES, REGULATIONS AND POLICIES, WHETHER STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, AND WHETHER THE IMPLEMENTATION OR APPLICATION IS MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT OR NONGOVERNMENTAL PERSONS.

I plead guilty to commenting on the bill myself without showing the text; at the time, I didn’t realize how few news and commentary sources included the bill they were writing about. It’s just poor journalism.

3. Note that there isn’t a single mention of “gay” or “gays” in the bill, a feature that has been disingenuously trumpeted by the bill’s defenders, glossing over the fact the that the bill was unapologetically drafted in response to the August decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court asserting that a photographer had no right to refuse services to a gay couple who wanted him to photograph a gay marriage ceremony. The only likely applications of the law would be in the realm of refusing services to gays. Yes, it is an anti-gay law, was intended to send an anti-gay message, and did.

4. This is exactly the kind of situation that demonstrates how the “disparate impact” approach to discrimination is sometimes justified and necessary. The law will mostly affect gays negatively, and is intended to do so, even though it is written as if it is not targeting gays.

5. A favorite pro-bill argument was that the law would also allow a gay photographer to refuse to apply his craft to a wedding of members of the gay-hating Westboro Baptist Church, so it protects gay individual rights as well.  First, the law only addresses such rejections based on religion, not refusals to serve based on the fact that the business owner regards the potential  customers as evil and disgusting. (Note to ignorant Republicans: being gay isn’t a religion, it’s a biological fact.) This reveals the true reasons behind the law and support of it, however, when this is offered as an analogy. Gays have good and valid reasons not to like Fred Phelps’s followers, and the authors of the bill, though they couch their rationale in religion, feel the same way about gays. They have no  valid justification whatsoever. Second, citing an impossible situation as counterbalance to a very likely one is intellectually dishonest. What is the likelihood that the gay-hating Phelpsians would knowingly seek to engage a gay business for anything?

5. The fact that the law, as written, was so broadly framed disguises the fact that its main target is gay marriage, that is, to make gay marriage as difficult as possible, and to put Arizona’s government on record as disapproving it. Yet the bill’s authors didn’t have the courage or transparency to take a free speech approach to the issue, and declare that such services as floral arrangements, photographs and custom bakery are artistic and expressive in nature, and thus should never be compelled by law. That would have properly narrowed the issues, and would not have targeted gays. (I also think such a law would have had a chance of surviving legal challenges.)

6. The contention that simply selling a neutral service to an individual constitutes a violation of religious belief is absurd on its face, unethical, and suggests that discrimination is a valid religious tenet that the United States is bound to facilitate and respect. It isn’t, any more than animal sacrifices and female circumcision.

7. Nor is it reasonable to stretch the concept of “freedom of association” to the point that it works to tear asunder the societal associations required in a functioning, civilized republic. This is the Ethics Incompleteness Theorem at work. No ethical principles work all the time, and when you see that one doesn’t work in a particular anomalous situation, it doesn’t undermine the rule to accept the fact that all rules sometimes fail. Don’t be stubborn about it. Fix the problem.

8. The defenders of the law in the threads on Ethics Alarms have mostly agreed that refusing to serve gay customers was unfair, cruel, or needlessly hostile, but that citizens should have a right to do it. Laws are, in most cases, constraints on freedoms that have little utility or value to society but that harm other members of society or society itself. This is an example. You no longer have the right to harm innocent people because your religion says you should hate them. This is not a breach of religious freedom or freedom of association. This is law stepping in when substantial numbers of people refuse to be ethical.

9. The ostracizing, marginalizing and stigmatizing of gays by shunning and disparate treatment by businesses cannot be supported under any ethical system. It is a Golden Rule breach. It fails all the tests of absolutism. It leads to a malfunctioning, hateful, vindictive, segmented society, and thus fails any rational utilitarian balancing process. When asked to defend such a policy, defenders fall back on the “absolute liberty” to serve or not serve whomever you wish in your own establishment. That liberty, however, has been rejected by federal law, because of its catastrophic effects on other minorities. The ethical culture of the land has rejected it, and for good reason. If it is wrong to discriminate against blacks, it is wrong to discriminate against gays.

10. Outside of a clear gay marriage context, what is the process by which a business would be able to discriminate against gays? Who walks into a store announcing, “I am gay!” Does the law mean that a storeowner would be able to quiz customers about their sex life? Does the law mean a business can refuse people who look gay? Lisp? Walk funny? Wear rainbow T-shirts? Come in singing “YMCA”? Wouldn’t a storeowner have to be able to prove a customer was gay? How would he do that? All of which confirms my belief that the point of the law was not to provide a practical tool for discrimination, but to send a message to gays: Arizona doesn’t respect or like you.  That message was sent, but eventually it will be understood a little differently:  a lot of Arizona Republicans who will hold on to their destructive biases until the last dog dies (or they do)  feel this way.

11. Brewer didn’t mention gays in her veto message at all. She should have; she had an obligation to do so, if she really thinks the law was ethically wrong and unjust. I see no reason to believe that she does think that. It was a bottom line, politically-driven veto, with no ethical message whatsoever. Too bad.

12. Finally, this: There are many principled and ethical positions that conservatives and others should not stop supporting, arguing and fighting for simply because the tide of popular opinion may be moving in a different direction. A balanced abortion policy is such a position; so is respect for and enforcement of our borders. It appears now that the battle to avoid yet another legal addictive and socially disruptive recreational drug to our already deadly list is all but lost—opponents should register their objections and reasons for the record, and be prepared to be proven right in the near future. There are other such issues, but the stubborn hostility to gays is not one of them. To the contrary, it undermines conservative credibility on all the rest. All traditional justifications for anti-gay bias have been thoroughly exploded by science, psychology, research, observation, common sense, experience and gays themselves. There is nothing left but intransigence, ignorance, stubbornness, and hate. Eventually, conservatives will see this too, but the damage they do to their larger mission and the nation while waiting for enlightenment to dawn may be catastrophic.

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Sources:CNN1CNN2, Prescott News, USA Today

212 thoughts on “Twelve Post-Veto Ethics Observations On The Arizona “Religious Freedom” Bill

  1. “You no longer have the right to harm innocent people because your religion says you should hate them.”

    Stop. Not photographing someone’s wedding isn’t harming them. Not selling someone a sandwich isn’t harming them. Not providing someone a desired service, or otherwise helping them, isn’t harming them.

    To borrow the Good Samaritan parable, if I see a car go off the road or a man injured on the sidewalk, I am not legally obligated to help. (My personal feelings are that only a sociopath would do anything BUT help, but I also think only an asshole would refuse service to someone because they’re gay. I’m talking about legal responsibility here). I don’t have to help someone, even though by ignoring them they may end up in worse shape or even dead. I believe in some states there are some professions that obligate you to do something, but it’s far from universal. I legally can walk on past, but by no means could legally have been the one to beat the guy up and leave him on the sidewalk.

    So no, “not helping” isn’t the same as “harming,” and “not serving in a business context” isn’t even in the same fucking ZIP CODE as Krystallnacht, which you claimed was the logical extension of this bill in the previous article’s comments. Stop making hyperbolic claims and bad arguments. Stop making appeals to emotion and claiming that they have the force of settled law.

    • “Stop. Not photographing someone’s wedding isn’t harming them. Not selling someone a sandwich isn’t harming them. Not providing someone a desired service, or otherwise helping them, isn’t harming them.”

      Wrong! And obviously wrong! It inconveniences them. It constrains their power of choice. It withholds from them benefits other citizens receive. It stigmatizes them. It encourages similar mistreatment by others. It costs time. It may incur greater expenses. Rudeness is harm. Insulting treatment is harm. Unkind treatment is harm. Treating someone like they are untouchables is harm. How can you deny it.

      And please stop using photography. I have agreed that this a gray First Amendment area (though refusing the service is still harm). The law as written would extend to any business. See here: https://ethicsalarms.com/2011/04/11/arizonas-anti-ethical-free-exercise-of-religion-bill/ and here: https://ethicsalarms.com/2011/02/19/good-bye-and-good-riddance-to-bushs-unethical-conscience-clause/

      • The fact is the veto isn’t going to win hearts and minds, people will just be more subtle about it. If I’m running a grocery store getting ready to close up at 9, and a local guy shows up saying he just wants to grab a quart of milk because his wife used the last in the mac and cheese and his kids need it for their breakfast in the morning, no problem. If a gay couple swing through and say they just want something to drink and some chips, “Sorry, store’s closed.”

        • Well there’s that, too. There’s one of two ways that enforcement of discrimination-prevention rules falls. Either, as you say, there’s a million little ways to be less welcoming and less helpful to your target of choice, or else you tip it the other way and start infringing on unrelated refusal of service because the customer falls into a protected category.

        • As before, I ask–and how can you possibly reconcile gratuitous, nasty jerkism with either good citizenship or ethics? Sure, and people can be racist in a million little ways, and are. How has that worked out?

          • Jerkassery is jerkassery, but it’s not illegal, and shouldn’t be something the state intervenes in unless it rises to the level of a crime or flagrant violation, where you’re dumb enough to be open about your hate.

            • “Jerkassery is jerkassery, but it’s not illegal, and shouldn’t be something the state intervenes in unless it rises to the level of a crime…”

              People thought Jim Crow was jerkassery when I was a kid. You know when it rises to the level of a crimes? When we say it should be a crime, and make it so. Same with insider trading and littering.

              • Jim Crow wasn’t private businesses, Jack. That was also the State mandating how private businesses handled themselves, lest you forget.

              • That sounds like dealing in legalities, not in ethics – that sounds like it’s wrong because we voted that it was wrong, or some activist judge said it was wrong. My point is that good citizenship, in a free society, recognizes the fact that some people just don’t get along, and doesn’t require state intervention for every little offensive word or denial of rights. Back in school when kids were insulted and even pushed or tripped, the principal didn’t give a damn, he just told them to develop a thicker skin. So they sucked it up and got on with life. I think we need to encourage people sucking things up and driving on, not turning everything into a lawsuit or cause celebre.

                • This isn’t the first time that Jack has used the “Because the government made it illegal we know that the government needed to make it illegal” tautology. He said it before with regards to dangerous sports- any activity (I think Russian Roulette was the specific example, but it was given as a general rule) that the Government deems too dangerous and bans, was by definition dangerous enough to be properly worth a government ban. This is a horrendously statist tautology that totally ignores the idea the the state can get it wrong.

                  Of course, if he’d stop using pretending Jim Crow laws WEREN’T the state sticking its nose into private enterprise and telling it what to do, he’d realize that those laws were also the state “saying something was a crime.” Apparently that made it so, and it must have in fact been wrong back then for black people to be equal because the law said so.

                  • False characterization: “Because the government made it illegal we know that the government needed to make it illegal.” never said that or implied it. Fact: “Because the government made it illegal we know that a sufficient number of our duly elected representatives believed the government needed to make it illegal.” I have never said that the government or its judgment is infallible.

                    • Look back at this: https://ethicsalarms.com/2014/02/02/nfl-commissioner-roger-goodells-super-bowl-deception/

                      These are quotes directly from the comments to that article.

                      JM: If the activity is so inherently life -threatening that the government bans it—say, as in professional Russian Roulette—that’s a reasonable exercise of government power.

                      LG: Minor logical quibble here, but you say that “If the activity is so inherently life-threatening that the government bans it… that’s a reasonable exercise of government power.” Isn’t that a tautology? If the government decides something is too risky and bans something, that means it was risky enough to properly deserve the ban?

                      JM: Yes.

                      (End quotes)
                      So no, my characterization is not false. You directly claimed that if the government decided that something needed to be illegal, that means that it by definition properly deserved that ban. That is the very definition of a tautology: The government banned it because it needed to be banned, and we know it needed to be banned because the government banned it.

                    • Why don’t you team up with John? The government’s job is to make such judgments, and when it makes such judgments, the judgments are presumptively valid unless declared otherwise in court. What are you trying to say? That if the government bans it, that means it shouldn’t be banned? That the fact that the government decides something is dangerous and bad for society has no meaning? The government, properly functioning, is charged with overseeing the health of society, and takes signals from the culture. That’s not a tautology—the government does not make random and pointless declarations if it is functioning properly. Is a government that does not properly address the welfare of the people and the public’s needs and beliefs a valid government? No—and that’s not “No True Scotsman,” that’s Jefferson.

                    • I’m fully in agreement that if the government bans something the ban is valid, that’s self-evident. I’m saying that the government banning something isn’t an argument that they did so based on any kind of good reasoning. You’ve brought up Jim Crow enough times lately to realize that’s true- Jim Crow laws were the government operating as intended to do something stupid because they thought it was a good idea. I see little to make me think that the current members are any more likely to actually make reasonable decisions, as the ridiculous ACA makes abundantly clear.

                    • Point of order, Jack:

                      Fact: “Because the government made it illegal we know that a sufficient number of our duly elected representatives believed the government needed to make it illegal.”

                      Counterexample: All the chair-warmers who don’t bother reading or trying to understand the legislation they vote on, they just follow the party line or line of least resistance.
                      A video of the debate reveals that senators spent about 12 minutes discussing the bill, never once bringing up the topic of homosexuality. One senator expresses his concern about individuals “praying facing Mecca”; another worries about religious liberty for “devil worshipping” and “voodoo.” One particularly lively legislator, who introduced himself as a “foot-stomping, back-slapping Baptist,” seemed earnestly confused about the bill’s purpose. Yet no senator seemed concerned about the measure’s implications for gay rights.* Perhaps some Democrats truly didn’t understand its horrific consequences for gay people; perhaps some did but are now trying to back away from their mistake following nationwide political fallout. Neither explanation is particularly comforting: Either legislators were shockingly negligent in the performance of their basic duty—reading the bills they vote on—or they were cruel enough to vote for a terrible bill and now too cowardly to stand by it.
                      http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/02/27/mississippi_anti_gay_segregation_discrimination_bill_got_unanimous_bipartisan.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

                      The Mississippi bill is far, far broader than the Arizona one. Truly outrageous

          • Because the law attempting to force everyone to be good kind polite ethical people is a sucker’s bet, and just a convenient way for increasing central government power. I do my best to be a good ethical person and citizen, but what gives that effort meaning is the very fact that I don’t have to be. It’s much like the religious concept of free will- God could have made us all perfect, but you aren’t really worth the title of “good person” if you can’t behave any other way. It’s how you act when the bad options are open to you as well that makes a difference.

            In other words: Character (and ethics) are what you do when you think nobody is watching, not what you do because if you don’t the police come.

        • I do like how Jack seems to be using this comment later on to accuse you of bigotry and claim that you’re endorsing this behavior, rather than pointing out how the law is made pointless by the ease of getting around it.

            • Drug laws are easy to get around in the sense that it’s hard to catch people breaking them, but when someone IS caught with drugs you can still go ahead and confiscate all of their stuff and sent them to prison. An antidiscrimination law that can be ignored by having a vaguely plausible non-banned reason to refuse service is more analagous to Michigan’s drug PARAPHERNALIA law, where stores can sell bongs by hanging a sign that says “for tobacco use only” and throwing out anyone stupid enough to flat-out admit they’re going to use it for weed. There’s no way to prosecute it, because there’s no way to prove the seller knew what it would be used for- just like there’s no way to prove a store keeper banned someone for being gay rather than for being rude, or didn’t let someone dash in for milk at closing time for being black rather than because he was in a hurry to get home.

      • Emotional harm? Cruel harm? Unethical harm? Sure. Harm that it is the business of the law to curtail? No. You could see me in the street and insult my weight, my appearance, my fashion sense, and the general moral fortitude of my mother and it would harm me. I would be insulted, It would be unkind, and if you were emphatic enough I would go home and feel bad about myself, which is harmful. Guess what? It’s all legal, as it should be.

        Wal-Mart constrains my power of choice when it drives small businesses to close their doors. Liquor laws inconvenienced me when I was working night shifts, as I couldn’t buy a six pack after work. There’s a million ways in which bad things can happen to people and it’s not the government’s job to fix every one of them.

          • We conservatives deal in INDIVIDUAL rights, not group rights. You have rights because you’re a citizen and a person, not because of your melanin content or what is or isn’t between your legs.

            • Yup, that was the argument for Jim Crow all right. If conservatives stay stuck in the logic and values of George Wallace, Lester Maddux, Orville Faubus and the rest, they will end up like the Whigs.

              • So certain groups have more rights than a white, hetero male like me? Actually I was channeling Neal Boortz, a much more modern libertarian.

                • You are playing the “I’m dense” card, which is beneath you. If a black merchant refuses to serve you because you are white, you have a remedy. If he refuses to serve you because you look like his cousin, no you’re out of luck.

                  • I was thinking more the Socratic card, but ok. Of course this brings us back to the question of did the guy refuse to serve someone because of a protected characteristic or not? I think that question is ALWAYS going to be hard to answer.

                    • Look downthread. Jack acknowledges that the law may be unenforcable, but holds that it’s OK to pass laws that are easy for a jerk to get around, in order to send a message about how it feels about the values of the situation. I (and you, I suspect) think that laws should serve a purpose, and shouldn’t be passed just to make a show of doing so.

              • It’s worth saying twice in one thread: Jim Crow laws were the government placing requirements on who private businesses chose to serve. Claiming similarity to Jim Crow amounts to “It’s good that the government tells you who you can do business with, because of how bad it was when the government told you who you can do business with.”

                • I do agree – the law needs to actually have a purpose, it’s not a platform for moral posturing, which is what the current administration is turning it into.

                  • The term “moral posturing” is used to criticize anyone who makes any point about right and wrong. The judgements must not be made out of morality—this isn’t a theocracy. It needs to be based on ethics—what’s good for society. That’s governments job. And setting the ethical tone isn’t posturing–a government has to stand for values, and valid ones. Was the Declaration “moral posturing? This s nation based on vital ethical values. (Yes, Jefferson used God to enhance the authority of his ideas, but that’s salesmanship and PR, not morality.) Of course the law also has to have a purpose. The purpose of not encouraging people to discriminate against gays is to keep gay kids from being driven to suicide, and gay accountants from having to stay in the closet out of fear of reprisals.

                    • “The purpose of not encouraging people to discriminate against gays is to keep gay kids from being driven to suicide, and gay accountants from having to stay in the closet out of fear of reprisals.”

                      I have to play the Savage card again, although without the gratuitous f-words and religion hating. This sounds just like his rhetoric when he was saying everyone who has faith has blood on their hands. If a gay kid kills himself because his classmates push him out of the social circle, then I submit he has other issues, and they are his issues, not his classmates’. That goes double if he deliberately camps up with eye makeup or breaking into “I am What I am.”

                      If a gay accountant comes out of the closet at work and suddenly gets lewd underwear in the mail or finds lipstick kisses stamped on his desk, then he has his remedies. But, if the same guy finds himself getting less-than-wonderful evaluations or shut out of plum assignments because he’s not viewed as up to the task, then he’s probably SOL, that’s going to be very tough to prove.

                      I think the key ethic this government has to stand for is individual liberty. This nation came to be largely because folks in the UK were being denied the rights now enshrined in the Bill of Rights – freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to worship as they believed, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and being simply thrown into prison while the government took its time with BS charges, and you know the rest. I see some of what I’m seeing now as attacks on that individual liberty, a lot of it just to cave to persistent pressure from a noisy minority.

                    • You keep saying that. But individual liberty expressed in ways that makes the liberty of others illusory and miserable is not an acceptable exercise of liberty. 1) Tell me: do you really think the Civil rights laws of 1964 were a breach of personal liberty, a la Rand Paul? and 2) How do you justify refusing service to the gay man you described in that earlier post?

                    • Moral versus ethical isn’t the main point. Of course laws need to be made from a basic ethical framework, but that isn’t enough. They also need to have a function and purpose, an actual utility. “not encouraging people to do X” is just a more detailed way of saying the point of the law is- wait for it- POSTURING. The declaration had an actual effect- we actually did something, took action, set a course. If the declaration had been the list of Britain’s offenses followed by a binding resolution to not like them and a statement of disapproval, it would have been “sending a message-” and also completely useless.

                    • I agree completely. And not allowing majority groups to align themselves so as to handicap equal participation in society and the community by minority groups is just such a legitimate purpose.

                    • Number one, it’s not enough that the law has a pleasant motivation for it. Steve-O’s example was just one of a million ways you could skirt it, and you said that the point of the law wasn’t how easy it was to get around it but the message it sent. That’s where I have to take issue: If the law can be danced around by anyone who cares to, then it’s a useless law. Saying “we think this is bad” is pointless.

                      Second, I thought that the whole point of laws such as this is to represent the communal values of the people (“our” values, not “theirs”, as you corrected me downthread). So which is it? Are nondiscrimination laws reflective of the will of the masses, serving to curtail those nasty few holdouts (who will be on the wrong side of history and should give up because people in the future will think they were bad)? Or are they necessary to keep the masses from ganging up on the minorities, in which case it looks like they ARE the government asserting values and then trying to legislate them into existence?

                • The statements are not inconsistent. You can be on the wrong side of history and be wrong, and you can be the wrong side of history and be right. A party that doesn’t find a way to adapt while holding its core values is doomed, right or wrong. It’s a fact.

                  • It’s all going to burn, anyway.
                    More precisely: It’s all going to BE burned.

                    You can make history – even make the “sides” – then, adapt history to what you choose to be right and wrong. You can adapt (that is, evolve), changing what you may choose to call your core values, and still be doomed nevertheless.

                    Party while you can.
                    Allahu Akbar.

                  • They absolutely are inconsistent. You may be right or wrong and be viewed later as being on the wrong side of history, but “people years from now will think you’re wrong” is absolutely a rationalization. You called it out before and you make it now.

                    • That’s not what I said. I don’t care what people think. Years from now, it will be screamingly obvious that that position was wrong, just like white supremacy and Communism.

                    • Come on! EVERYTHING that we think “obviously was wrong” was controversial once. Years from now everyone will take it as screamingly obvious that having a team called the “Redskins” WAS wrong. You’ve made two absolutely inconsistent statements, because in one case you support the group being told they need to wake up and be more in line with others sensibilities and in the other case you support TELLING the holdout group to get in line with the crowd.

                    • I’m saying they are wrong, Luke. That’s all. I think it should be obvious.I think it will be obvious. It’s screamingly obvious now that Redskins is an unfortunate name—the issue is whether it really injures anyone, because it’s just a name, and whether caving to political correctness wielded for power’s sake is more harmful, in the short and long run, than keeping it.

                      I’m still waiting for anyone, anyone, to make a coherent, ethical argument why it is fair, reasonable, desirable to make gay citizens vulnerable to random and gratuitous discrimination that other American will not face. Not gay marriage, not desperate analogies—explain why it isn’t inherently wrong, unjust, un-American, and and worthy of the government saying so.

                    • You’re making a critical mistake if you think that I have to find an activity fair, reasonable, or desirable in order to say that it should be legal. There’s plenty of things that are none of the three, and yet not every bad thing needs the loving hand of Uncle Sam to squash it.

                      And it’s disturbing that on this issue you say “it’s wrong” and on another you say “it’s up for debate if there’s actual harm…” Here’s the thing. Everybody demanding the government force the Redskins to change is SURE that the name is horrible and harmful and wrong. They may be right or not, but saying “Years from now people will think you were a mean bad man!” is a terrible argument. THE SAME IS TRUE WITH THIS. You are absolutely sure that a given set of laws is right and laws to the contrary are wrong. I think that the laws are well-intentioned but outside the acceptable purview of the government to try and make. “Years from now people will think the republicans were mean jerks” is just the same tired rationalization, though.

                • You can do the Googling as well as I can. When I studied race relations and Jim Crow in college, I read all sorts of screeds, speeches, newspaper editorials and more over about 70 years citing the freedom of association as the reason why segregation and Jim Crow were “right.” Do you doubt it? Do you think segregation was instituted because whites thought they shouldn’t be able to avoid associating with blacks?

                  • Yes, well, I tried. I partially doubt it. I believe the justifications were mostly based on other things, because government mandated segregation is incompatible with freedom of association. However, as you’ve noted is so many other things, you can find lots of stupid arguments out there. I’ll take some more time later. I am more than willing to believe you can find freedom of association used as a justification for private actors choosing to discriminate, especially among people opposed to the Civil Rights act. However, I specifically asked about the laws.

          • So to resurrect my question that I kept asking on the previous thread: How do you propose the law handle the store owner who catches a customer leaving the store and says “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I’m going to ask you to take your business elsewhere in the future.” Oh- the customer is a gay man.

            There are a host of reasons the store owner could choose to do so. The man may have been rude to a cashier, or the manager may think he saw him pocketing some goods, or who knows what else. The customer concludes it is because the manager is anti-gay. What then?

            Does the manager have to give an explanation for why he decided to refuse further service? What if he gives one, and the customer believes that to be a convenient excuse for his bigotry? How do you prove your mental process? Or is the answer that once the accusation is levelled, the owner must back off and allow the customer to shop, because he can’t prove himself innocent of anti-gay discrimination?

            And it’s a bit of a foul to pull the “you’re not a minority” card on me. You, after all, comment on race-baiting and abortion, and you’re a white guy. I support the right of any private business to choose who it does business with, without the interference of laws in either direction.

            • The post was about messages. Everyone forgets that there are two reasons for law—to punish wrongful behavior and discourage it, and to state the society’s values. The law either says it’s fine with Arizona if you mistreat gays, or it isn’t. In most cases, the victimized gay/black/ handicapped person just tells off the asshole and goes elsewhere. The question is, who’s in the right? What conduct does the state encourage, and who does it protect? Read the law. How does anyone prove their religious belief is “sincere,” either? Again—as I said in the post—the law itself isn’t the point. The point was to get Arizona to condemn and insult gays and gay marriage as much as the law will allow.

              • ” In most cases, the victimized gay/black/ handicapped person just tells off the asshole and goes elsewhere. ”

                Bullseye. That’s what more folks need to be doing. Take your business where it’s wanted, and don’t hassle someone who doesn’t want you around, same as hitting on this or that girl in a bar or at a mixer. If she tells you to take a hike, move on to the next one.

                • I agree with that…Actually, I’d say make as big a stink as possible, make sure everyone knows what a jerk the guy is, and move on. But it it still important that the law makes it clear who the jerk is.

                  • Why? Why is it important for the law to make it clear that it thinks some people are bad people? I think that men who ogle women are jerks, but Hooters has made a successful business out of welcoming that kind of jerk. Other places wouldn’t dream of allowing the sort of behavior that goes on there, and they likewise are successful by welcoming their sort of clients and sending someone with grabby hands packing.

                  • Not sure I agree with that – to me making as big a stink as possible is a no-no, because then you are just causing more trouble. I don’t think the law was written to differentiate good people from bad people, only to differentiate permitted behavior from prohibited behavior, and when we start confusing the two, that’s a problem.

              • And there it is, a key difference between you and I- you accept the authoritarian position that the state should be making laws (enforcable by men with guns, remember) based on their value judgements, and if you have wrongthink you better keep it to your damn self or we will punish you. I, conversely, firmly believe that laws should be value neutral. You think it’s bad to refuse someone service? Then see where you can get with a law forbidding refusal of service. Trying to pussyfoot around and police people’s values is way, WAY further than government control belongs.

                  • Ah, but the government isn’t trying to embody the values of all of society, nor is it leaving those values open to be shaped by free interaction. The government is legislating what it WANTS our values to be, which isn’t the same thing.

              • Well said. Everyone keeps forgetting that the law was meant to codify that discrimination is ok as long as you are religious. Governments shouldn’t be encouraging discrimination in any form.

                • Certainly is one way to look at it.

                  And like most of these political disagreements, it’s all in the wording.

                  You say “the law was meant to codify that discrimination is ok for religious reasons”

                  They say “the law was meant to protect you from compelled participation in market behavior that knowingly violates your conscience”.

                  Gosh, both sound great.

                  • Tex — WRONG. Discrimination happens every single day and will never be punished. And, you know what? That’s okay to a large degree. It is not feasible for the government to wander into every shop and quiz owners about why they did or did not perform a service. But, putting a law into effect that says, “Hey people. It’s okay to discriminate!” is a very different and dangerous path.

                    • Not wrong. The dual way I worded it demonstrates the disagreement, most of the people on this debate on the pro-law side have acknowledged that discrimination is WRONG and would not do so themselves, but see the law as protecting them from compelled violations of their consciences.

                      NOT A BAD THING TO PROTECT.

                      That it allows some jack asses to engage in jackassery IS FINE. We don’t stifle free speech because some jackasses ruin free speech.

                      If your interpretation of the law was the only way to read the law (and quite frankly can only be read that way given the *emotional* attachment of the context) then I’d be inclined to agree with you.

                    • Here’s the thing, again from the original post: it was intended to be read the latter way, but to be defended as if it were the former.

                      Did you note this fatuous statement by the Tea Party boss in Arizona? “Should a devoted baker be required to create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it or should a baker be required to create pastries for a homosexual wedding in the shape of genitallia ?” Phillips asks.

                      What an idiot, and how telling. NO court would order a baker to create a cake that the baker found personally offensive. No law, anywhere, allows customers to force bakers to make pornographic cakes, and religion and sexuality are irrelevant. Can’t happen, won’t happen. And “penis cakes” are not a religious issue. Moreover, there is no more likelihood that a gay couple will ask for a “penis cake” than a hetero couple would. This statement shows the kind of warped, hateful, dumber than dumb and bigoted homophobia that this bill sprung from. They think gays are all some kind of mad sexual perverts determined to corrupt the world. When animus and crazy bigotry like that is vocally supporting a bill, what are gays supposed to think is going on???

                    • The bill proposed in direct reaction to the state via the courts deciding that certain sellers were compelled to act against their consciences to participate in the ceremonies of homosexuals (despite the already existing law that allows for refusal of service). What are those sellers supposed to think is going on?

                    • Irrelevant the catalyst. The initial refusal of service could have been anything, the resultant court ruling had broader implications than just cake and pictures.

                      Had we relied on the free market, these 2 outliers would have lost business, had the word spread that they don’t like homosexuality, and would have slipped into oblivion, without a needless civil war in the courts to decide what is more important.

                    • Come on. You really think this bill wasn’t generated by gay marriage, against gay marriage, and in response to gay marriage? Did I quote the “penis cake” rant? Gee, why did he seem to think it was all about bakeries and gays? EVERYONE thinks its about bakeries and gays, making this an interesting example of a rationalization I’ll need some time to define: “Well, we are aiming this at one group we don’t like and that we think SHOULD be discriminated against, and wouldn’t bother without the movement toward giving this group equal rights, and yes, it would be kind of dickish if we were only doing it to discriminate against this group alone, so remember, it doesn’t only apply to that group, but any group religion wants to discriminate against, so it’s OK.”

                    • It was generated by court decisions which interpreted a refusal to do same-sex weddings as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

                      This does beg the question of how refusing to do same-sex weddings discriminates against homosexuals. Would refusing to photograph a Kingdom Hall meeting discriminate against Jehovah’s Witnesses?

                    • The reasoning is that photography isn’t “doing” a wedding, and only gays engage in same sex weddings.

                      Similarly, only Jehovah’s Witnesses engage in Kingdom Hall meetings.

                      And yet many people would consider providing direct support to Kingdom Hall meetings (such a photography) as furthering the sin of heresy. This is what I find problematic about applying anti-discrimination laws in this manner (as opposed to the sale of off-the-shelf goods and services)

                  • They say “the law was meant to protect you from compelled participation in market behavior that knowingly violates your conscience”.

                    No-one’s compelling them to participate in market behaviour. They have the freedom to do so or not do so as they choose.

                    But if they do so participate. they must follow the rules. A theatre must have fire exits for example, and sprinkler systems, even if the owners are fire-worshippers.

                    This law *does* have some practical effects. While GLBTs are not protected at Federal or Arizona State level, they are protected at city level in Phoenix for example. This law over-rules that, preventing such protection, and stating that groups not protected at Federal level are not just not worth protecting, but actively should not be protected from persecution, as long as that persecution is based on religious beliefs. It gives the religiously convicted special rights, over and above what atheists (for example) have.

          • I’ll push you on this one and ask: are fat people a group? They’ve been traditionally ostracized; and you could argue being fat is not necessarily a choice.

            Should then we outlaw refusal of service (or insults or mockery) of fat people? I fall on the side that it is unethical, but nowhere close to illegal.

            • Some people could lose weight with relative ease. Some would face an incredible uphill struggle. Some are medically completely unable. But fat people are unattractive, so there’s very little push to consider them a group.

            • Discrimination for weight has been disapproved in many workplace suits. Yes, you can always come up with new cruel justifications for discrimination, and yes, it is impossible to make them illegal, yes, when you get around to saying that you have to hire short, stocky, flat-chested girls at Hooters, things are out of control.

              I will bet that discrimination against the obese will be legislated within five years.

              • I was typing a Hooters example at the same time… I don’t know what that says about our mental states.

                Anyway. As a card-carrying fat man I loathe the idea of legislating to “save me” in some way. I am who I am. Some things are difficult for me. Some activities are harder, more expensive, or downright unavailable. Some people are cruel. Heck, size discrimination (not even FAT discrimination, just SIZE discrimination) will likely keep me out of a friend’s wedding, as the shop renting kilts and jackets to the groomsmen won’t accomodate my height and shoulder width in one jacket.

                Tough titty for me. It’s life, it’s not always fair, and the solution to the endless new justifications for discrimination isn’t an endless flow of laws trying to nail down “be nice.”

      • It isn’t causing them harm. They wouldn’t have the sandwich you aren’t selling them if you didn’t exist either. If there is no effect on a person from your action that is distinguishable from not existing or not being present, there is no way you are causing anything, harmful or beneficial, by any reasonable definition of cause and and effect. Inaction is always a neutral act.

        There is an existential difference between failing to help someone and actually causing harm. A great deal of rationalizations go into pretending otherwise, mostly from the left. The only effect of doing so is to justify the use of actual force, that caused direct measurable harm, as retribution against people who aren’t as nice as you want them to be. You conflate the two above: Not providing a convenience to some person X that you provide to some other people doesn’t inconvenience X, it just leaves the status quo in place. It seems like a variation of the fallacy of excluded middle, where you don’t even acknowledge the possibility of inaction, only harmful or beneficial actual actions.

        • “If there is no effect on a person from your action that is distinguishable from not existing or not being present, there is no way you are causing anything, harmful or beneficial, by any reasonable definition of cause and and effect. Inaction is always a neutral act.”

          Oh, come on. You can’t possibly believe that. So if the house the real estate agent refuses to sell me didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be able to buy it, so I’m not harmed if he denies me the chance to buy my dream house, perfectly located for schools and my business, but sells to the nearest white guy instead?

          I have to say, the tortured arguments I’m reading have me aghast.

          • And yet the anti-discrimination laws you’re defending wouldn’t help you a whit, since as you pointed out to me you’re not in a protected minority group. If the rules said you couldn’t refuse service to ANYBODY I’d still disagree on a personal liberty front, but at the very least there would be some consistency.

          • Yes, I do actually believe that. Words mean things. It’s not fair to redefine words ala humpty dumpty. It’s not a tortured argument when it’s based on common definitions, even if most people don’t think about their rhetoric carefully enough to catch the problem (The meaning of ‘is’, ala Clinton, is several stages worse than anything I’m doing here). Leaving the status quo in place is by definition not harmful. Harm requires a change to your status for the worse, and by most definitions actual physical damage. You didn’t have the house before, you don’t have the house now. No change, No harm. If you redefine the word harm to suit you, then every pre-existing ethic regarding harmful action has to be re-examined in light of the altered definition.

            I think you have been surrounded by poorly reasoned left wing ideology for so long that some of it’s basic denials of reality have influenced you. Please, if you think I am wrong, detail exactly how the potential buyer is harmed. Don’t just assert that he is and expect me to accept it.

            Do you have a reason for supporting anti-discrimination laws that don’t come down to a personal distaste for the behavior? I get that you don’t like rudeness, lack of convenience, unequal privileges, encouraging others to be equally jackasses, but those things are also instances of neglecting to engage in beneficial actions rather than actually causing harm. I’ll give you credit for time wasting. I like the idea of the equivalent of a scarlet R being required on the advertisments of any racist pricks, which would deal with that aspect without pretending that the discrimination itself is inherently harmful. I’ll take a government that does no harm over one that will punish people however it likes for being insufficiently nice any day.

            • You’re saying so many strange things and jumping into so much logical gobbledygook that I don’t know if I can catch it all:

              1. Harm requires a change to your status for the worse, and by most definitions actual physical damage.

              An absurdly narrow definition of harm that neither the law nor reality recognize. Harm is also “Actual or potential ill effect or danger” which includes loss of opportunity, chance at advancement, all those things I mentioned. There’s no Humpty Dumptyism there. (But I LOVE the Carroll reference).

              2. “Harm requires a change to your status for the worse, and by most definitions actual physical damage. You didn’t have the house before, you don’t have the house now. No change, No harm. If you redefine the word harm to suit you, then every pre-existing ethic regarding harmful action has to be re-examined in light of the altered definition.”

              Again, that’s just wrong. I had a chance to buy the perfect house that would solve my problems, and thanks to your actions, now I don’t. HARM, and obviously. Where did you get such a strange idea? And what does the Left have to do with it? If you throw roadblocks into my journey in pursuit of happiness, that’s harm.

              3. “Do you have a reason for supporting anti-discrimination laws that don’t come down to a personal distaste for the behavior?”
              Well, gee, do you have a reason for supporting anti-robbery laws that don’t come down to a personal distaste for the behavior? I see no difference between the two questions, and again, how did you fall into the grip of such a reality destroying ideology?

              4. “I get that you don’t like rudeness, lack of convenience, unequal privileges, encouraging others to be equally jackasses, but those things are also instances of neglecting to engage in beneficial actions rather than actually causing harm.”

              Utter sophistry! So it’s not that treating people badly is unethical, it’s that treating them well is exemplary?

              You do scare me. Your idea of how society should work not only doesn’t and can’t, but it would be hell to boot.

              • Your definition of harm is ridiculously over-broad, at least in a legal sense. If I frequently grumble about how a coworker is a jerk, and lazy, and I have to fix his messes, I may cost him a chance at a promotion. I’ve done him harm, yes, but he can’t call the cops for me saying mean things about him (outside limited and specific libel/slander laws). The same goes if I tell everyone in town bad things about a local store owner, when really I’m just mad that he told me to control my misbehaving children in the store. The government cannot, and SHOULD not, try to legislate away every single source of harm one person can do to another.

                OF COURSE treating people badly is unethical. Are you really claiming that everything unethical should be made illegal? Because that’s taking a big steaming shit on the entire concept of individual rights. That way leads to Canadian-style laws where offending someone sees you hauled in front of a criminal court proceeding.

                  • It’s harm. So what? It has no legal remedy.

                    (which is the answer to MOST cases, unless you are one of the very specific groups that have been set aside for added protection)

              • I’ve been meaning to get back to this. There were a number of ways to approach it. Rather than engage in a point by point discussion, I’m going to focus on the house buying example and try to pinpoint why I disagree with you. For the sake of argument and to avoid principal agent problems, assume the homeowner is the seller. Please identify in which of the following scenarios the potential buyer was harmed.

                1. The owner decides not to put the dream house on the market in the first place.
                2. The owner is selling at a price larger than the buyer is able to pay.
                3. The owner sells to someone else who tried to buy first.
                4. The owner sells to his personal friend instead of you.
                5. The owner refuses to sell because he doesn’t like the buyer.
                6. The owner refuses to sell because the buyer is a criminal.
                7. The owner refuses to sell because the buyer is a female.
                8. The owner refuses to sell because the buyer is black.
                9. The owner refuses to sell because the buyer is not a citizen.
                10. The owner refuses to sell because the buyer is gay.
                11. The owner refuses to sell because the buyer is ugly.

                As far as I can tell, in none of those examples is the buyer harmed. At the end, the buyer is in the exact same circumstances in all cases. Harm is a descriptive term of events. Unlike determining the relative ethics of the situations, determining whether the behavior is harmful or not relies only on the actual measurable consequences. There may be some hurt feelings if the potential buyer finds out why he was turned down, but that would be it.

                Society is worse off if lots of people make some of the choices on the list. I would describe those choices as unethical, but nonetheless not harmful. Because they aren’t harmful, engaging in harmful punishments for those behaviors is not an ethical way of discouraging those behaviors.

                • I don’t see how not being able to buy a house that you should be able to buy, want to buy, would benefit from buying and have every right to buy except for bias doesn’t register as harm to you. The rejected buyer can’t take advantage of a good deal—have a house in a good neighborhood—be close to the subway, schools, fire stations, relatives (my parents, elderly, lived 5 minutes away), have a shorter commute. My life and quality of life would have been greatly diminished if a bigot stopped me from buying my home. Harm.

                  Do you feel the same about jobs? Because I see no difference, ethically speaking.

                  • Jack,

                    I’d submit that in regards to material harm, Phlinn is right. If there is no reduction or removal of current property or life, then there isn’t harm in the regards Phlinn is referring to. By your assertion, any unrealized but preferred outcome in the future becomes harm — anyone beating your bid at an auction has harmed you, anyone beating you in a race that had a cash prize has harmed you. That’s not a good rule, and a base principle behind all the collectivist and redistributive systems.

                    However, there is still HARM. Anyone behaving with good faith expectations that they will be treated like any other shmoe without having to unreasonably reveal their private lives does social harm. Violating Good Faith expectations that we’re all playing by the same civil and good faith rules does social harm, makes us trust each other a little less in the regards that we should trust each other as fellow citizens.

                  • http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/harm%5B1%5D

                    Yes. Harm is descriptive term for the result of an action. It is not a question of ethics. My feelings don’t enter into it.

                    The proper comparison is the buyer’s status beforehand, not their status in a hypothetical present which didn’t occur. Your scenario, of buying their dream house, was never actually a possibility except in your imagination. The reason an action occurs is irrelevant to the nature of the consequences, which is why I posted that list of alternative scenarios that had identical effects on the buyer, despite bias only being a factor in some of them. The comparison you are making, having the house versus not having the house, would make my scenario #3 harmful as well. Those damned anti laziness bigots are such terrible people after all.

                    The reason for an action is relevant to whether it is ethical or not, which is the way you normally view things. I think your normal heuristics have been incorrectly applied.

                • “Society is worse off if lots of people make some of the choices on the list. I would describe those choices as unethical, but nonetheless not harmful.”

                  If society is worse off if such a decision is made, then I would say that society is “harmed.” I would say that societal harm is what makes a decision unethical. I would say that if a person is denied a house for an unethical reason, they are harmed. By rights, they would have had a house, but an unethical act kept them from it. If an ethically sound act kept them from it, then they are not harmed. For example, a black person has no right to expect me to sell my house to him if I do not intend to sell it to begin with. Nobody is harmed, because I am denying an opportunity for a good reason; I want to keep my house.

                  However, if I were selling anyway, I would say he should be able to expect that I will not take his ethnicity into account when making my decision. Otherwise, he is being denied an opportunity he would have had access to, for a reason that is irrelevant to the situation. It does not reflect his character or any other important circumstances. It’s not bad luck, either! It’s my choice! If I choose to systematically mess with his opportunities relative to other people’s based on trivialities that he can’t control, I am harming him. It’s true that it’s hard to legally enforce, but there is a difference between doing things for the right reasons and doing them for the wrong reasons, and one that makes a difference in people’s lives.

                  If the government can competently enforce or even merely affirm the principle that I will not deny him the house solely on the basis of his ethnicity, I think that’s fine.

                  Translation: Racism is harmful, and if we can’t effectively enforce laws against it in practice, those laws can at least make it clear that we acknowledge as a society that it is objectively bad (or, more precisely, it prevents the optimal functioning of a human society as defined by most humans, even if they don’t realize it). The only danger is when people start enforcing the laws in ways that actually cause problems rather than solving them.

  2. It appears the law would have actively discriminated against non-religious people. I mean, is it fair that Christian fundamentalists get to discriminate in their business dealings but not atheists and agnostics? I imagine there are some atheists and agnostics out there who don’t like dealing with gays.

      • Oh – so NOW we’re supposed to say the First Amendment is unfair, because it enshrines protections of religious liberties, but does not equally protect the same actions by citizens of (what those citizens want called) non-religions – actions which are indistinguishable from the actions which reflect the liberties of the freely exercising, protected religious citizens. Clever.

        • The utter, utter nonsense of this statement would have me calling 911 if I were nearby. Rather than engage in gibberish and Arabic nonsense, explain HOW anyone’s first amendment rights are harmed by treating all lawful, orderly, earnest citizens fairly and equally? Are you in favor of allowing female circumcisions? Wife beating? Honor killings?

          The libertarian mindset is utopian, and is completely fanciful in its ignorance of reality. The state allows “religious” people to oppress gays with the governments’ passive approval, and a whole, large, benign group of good people and citizens will get the bottom of society’s shoe—Steve wouldn’t open his store for them…and that’s—progress? What the Founders had in mind? It’s ruinous–bad policy, bad government, bad ethics. Bad. Go ahead, spout more gibberish. It’s easier than getting past a hard-wired bias, but you know, you would really be better off if you could rise to it.

          • Jack, you’re more unhinged than you think I am. Weddings. Nothing else. You said so yourself. Those are what are at the root of all this huffing and puffing about the law of Arizona. That’s the “pathological pettiness” that certain pathologically petty people don’t want to be – cannot bear to be – out-pettied about. We have bridezillas and groomzillas, celebrizillas, in-lawzillas and bureaucratzillas. And now – the HERESY! The HATE CRIME! – we have “religious merchantzillas.” Taking a simple, civil stand. On the puniest of battlefields. For what THEY think is right, and wrong. For what THEY are entitled to be free to respond to as they see fit.

            But no: This is Jim Crow all over again. This is the “Try to Buy 1, Get 1 Star of David Free” Post-Kristallnacht Clearance Sale. This is global sexual nuclear winter, an anti-marriage Holocaust. If equal treatment demands your (and SB 1062 opponents’) reactionary level of response, then no: It ain’t worth it. Screw it. Suck it up. Learn. Grow. Take the rejection, and go find another merchant who will sell you what you want to buy. You will find one. Plenty.

            And, that wasn’t very nice of you, your dismissal in terms of “gibberish and Arabic nonsense.” I am being kind to you, though you may deny it. I am expressing what you owe it to yourself to increase your tolerance for, by your own ethics. The world is changing. Ethics are evolving. So is equality, and the realities of some being more equal than others. So I’ll say it just one more time, for now, for tonight, to encourage, admonish, and bless you: Allahu Akbar.

            • “Those are what are at the root of all this huffing and puffing about the law of Arizona. That’s the “pathological pettiness” that certain pathologically petty people don’t want to be – cannot bear to be – out-pettied about. We have bridezillas and groomzillas, celebrizillas, in-lawzillas and bureaucratzillas. And now – the HERESY! The HATE CRIME! – we have “religious merchantzillas.”

              I have no earthly idea what you think you are trying to say, but it sounds passionate and fun.

              “Taking a simple, civil stand. On the puniest of battlefields. For what THEY think is right, and wrong. For what THEY are entitled to be free to respond to as they see fit.”

              A simple, civil stand: “I don’t regard you as good enough to spend your money here, and will treat you like every underclass, shunned outcast group throughout history in a nation that claims to be above such things.” Right.

              But no: This is Jim Crow all over again. This is the “Try to Buy 1, Get 1 Star of David Free” Post-Kristallnacht Clearance Sale.

              Yup. That’s how it started, that’s how it feels. Sarcasm is no argument, but I know it’s all there is.

              “If equal treatment demands your (and SB 1062 opponents’) reactionary level of response, then no: It ain’t worth it. Screw it. Suck it up. Learn. Grow. Take the rejection, and go find another merchant who will sell you what you want to buy. You will find one. Plenty.”

              Reactionary? Black is white, war is peace, right is wrong. It was OK for the hotel owners in the South to tell Jackie Robinson he couldn’t stay with his team, because he could find another hotel. Have you been in ice since 1947?

              “And, that wasn’t very nice of you, your dismissal in terms of “gibberish and Arabic nonsense.”

              Uh-uh. Funny. Allahu Akbar.

              “the realities of some being more equal than others”

              I must say: flat out lie, and nothing but. WHO is more equal than others? If you believe this, your brain has been invaded by a poison-carrying radio wave. All absolute rights are subject to government limits in the best interests of society and legitimate and valid purposes. Some absolute rights must yield to the greater needs of the society. The right to be an asshole and hurt innocent people is not going to fare well when matched against these other considerations. One cannot have absolute freedom to serve only those we like or want to and preserve basic values of equal opportunity, equity and social cohesion. It.s an ethical conflict, and the choice in this one is clear, except to people who can’t get past their dislike, distrust, and lack of respect for gays.

              Why don’t you articulate an actual argument instead of acting superior about having an inferior shadow argument with no ethical traction at all?

  3. Please stop stating and/or implying that religious Christians hate gays. We do not, nor are we asked to hate them. We are however asked to love one another and there is no exception given for gay people.

    • Don’t waste your breath. Perception=reality, and we believers are becoming the new hated class. Frankly, I think it’s perfectly okay to stand up and fight back and use the same nasty tactics the other side is using.

      • “…we believers are becoming the new hated class.”

        And of course, Jack refuses to see the government-abetted role-reversal of the old world order of persecution, and its effects; he dismisses that reality of burgeoning “separate-and-unequal” like George Wallace on the schoolhouse steps. So, of course he also will be truly shocked to see how the government-abetted rejection, and marginalization (which he calls ethical, as in, rejection of all members of the historical rejecting groups) of formerly tolerant, non-hateful persons like wyogranny and me will quite understandably (to those of us who see the causation, which Jack also will fail to see, or blow off) compel us to begin hating, and acting out our hate in ways never seen before, even against those who we were falsely accused of hating in the first place. That is how rackets of godless governance sustain their reason for existence and justify their insatiable usurpation and centralization of power. It’s very Maoist: Keep the pot stirred-up; it diverts the attention of those being cooked from the keepers of the fire. In more modern times, it’s Rahm’s Rule of never letting a crisis go to waste. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,” and then proceeds to make a god in the fool’s image, and call it government.

        Allahu Akbar.

        • That’s right, E, telling people they can’t harass and sabotage gays and blacks by not letting them engage in entertainment, buy food and housing, get medicine when they need it, and hire a limo does all of that, or threatens to.

          And I am Marie of Rumania.

          • I can’t believe you really believe that Arizona’s proposed law will “harass and sabotage gays and blacks by not letting them engage in entertainment, buy food and housing, get medicine when they need it, and hire a limo”

            That is so over the top. It’s borderline dishonest and I’m insulted by it.
            I’m not offended. I hate the “offended” industry. But, it is insulting to imagine that allowing people freedom to manage their lives and business in their own way and take their own consequences somehow will result in a complete breakdown of civility and decency.

            You probably don’t see it, but your tone in this matter mirrors the tone you are attributing to Christian’s. We are no more likely to “harass and sabotage gays and blacks by not letting them engage in entertainment, buy food and housing, get medicine when they need it, and hire a limo” than you are to do the same to Christians.

            • “You probably don’t see it, but your tone in this matter mirrors the tone you are attributing to Christian’s.”

              I think we are beyond suspecting “probably,” and are seeing most clearly what he fails to see.

              “We [Christians] are no more likely to “harass and sabotage gays and blacks by not letting them engage in entertainment, buy food and housing, get medicine when they need it, and hire a limo” than you are to do the same to Christians.”

              The more I read Jack’s tone and content here, I am less and less sure of that, and more and more convinced that we are (so far) FAR less likely to refuse to engage in commerce with the Immune Historical Minorities,* than he is to do the same to Christians. It seems clearer by the hour that we are crawling inland on a figurative beach of Normandy, cracking a figurative Atlantic Wall of anti-religious bigotry. The “support from the skies” we might have benefitted from in the battle space has come and gone, and resulted in hardening, rather than softening, his defenses.

              *the immunity, being a monster – created and nurtured more to the detriment of the minorities than to their benefit – of more recent decades’ usurpation of power and its authoritarian abuses

              • “The more I read Jack’s tone and content here, I am less and less sure of that, and more and more convinced that we are (so far) FAR less likely to refuse to engage in commerce with the Immune Historical Minorities,* than he is to do the same to Christians.”

                I’m going to request an apology for that smear, E. And I may demand one.

                I was raised a Christian, and embrace the principles and ethics of Christianity in life more than most. I have never and would never discriminate against a Christian or anyone because of religion, and nothing I’ve written here suggests that I would. Refusing to endorse a religion’s determination to oppress, bully and marginalize others is not in any way “anti-religious bigotry.” Religious people that do wrong are still doing wrong whether their religion tells them to do wrong or not. And yes, I expect ethical, thinking members of any religion to be willing and able to know when those occasions are. You are the one applauding proposed designed to encourage people to use religion as a pretext to burden, mistreat and stigmatize innocent law abiding citizens

                That was an insulting, hysterical, ignorant, vile, cruel and stupid comment; I expect better of you. and I will pretend you didn’t write it. After your apology and retraction.

                • Jack: You are applauding proposals designed to encourage people to use their entitled sexuality as a pretext to burden, mistreat and stigmatize innocent law-abiding members of religious minorities. You are entrusting a manifestly untrustworthy State to (1) establish justice that that State has unquestionably proved itself incompetent to establish, plus (2) establish sexuality over religion as the priority of human rights to be honored and protected by that State. Your failure to see that (or your denial of it) is insulting, ignorant, vile, cruel and stupid. Now you are hysterical, claiming I have “smeared” you, for merely holding up a mirror to exactly what you have been saying, and clarifying, and not retracting or apologizing for, all along here.

                  Okay, then, like you said to ethicist John in another thread: Your blog, your definitions of moral. That is all I am going to concede.

                  • “You are applauding proposals designed to encourage people to use their entitled sexuality as a pretext to burden, mistreat and stigmatize innocent law-abiding members of religious minorities.”

                    This statement seems entirely fanciful to me. What burden? How “mistreat”? How stigmatize? If one is going to use the rhetorical device of flipping the subjects and objects, it also has to fit, or it’s ridiculous.

                    Note: Requiring you to accept a group’s existance and right to exist is not burdening, mistreating or stigmatizing

                  • Burdens

                    The problem is, according to your characterization of the situation, the homosexuals don’t burden the Christians *in this world*, only burden them *in the great beyond* should they be held accountable for endorsing, through participation, the homosexuals personal choices. However, the Christians are *burdening the homosexuals *in this world* by refusing their attempts to purchase goods and services that they VALUE. This can be argued as an error on the Christians’ part of misinterpreting the Grace of the new covenant, BUT, it is NO ONE’s business telling that particular Christian they’ve misinterpreted their scripture.

                    *the extent of that burden, I think, is where a great deal of this disagreement arises.

                    In one camp, the pro-Hyper-Free-Market crowd believes that 1% of 1% of the sellers would ever discriminate and believe they would be competed out of the market or would learn to live with a much reduced market share coupled with associated reduced revenues. They also have a small kernel of believers that feel that there is a slippery slope racing towards state suppression of Religion to the delight of virulent and busy body atheists.

                    In the other camp, the pro-Compelled-Seller crowd, sees the passage of a law like Arizona’s as enabling some hidden bigoted majority to jump to the banner of discrimination and lay siege to the gay section of the greater Community with the hopes of starving them out of the community in some Market driven frenzy. They are additionally burdened by slippery slope visions of jack-booted Christians marching lockstep through the streets, burning out the homes of homosexuals and pushing them en-masse into rooms for gassing.

                    • All of which, though, looks past the point of the original post…that this law was not a sincere effort to address religious freedom at all, but a cynical hijacking of religious freedom arguments to send a hostile message to the gay community. The law itself was redundant (businesses can refuse service in Arizona as it is) and badly written, and its timing makes it clear it was aimed at gays. The willful dishonesty on this point also points to pretense.

                      I remember lots and lots of people, some of whom were friends of mine, whose reactions to the AIDS epidemic in the Eighties was “Good!” I know it “can’t happen here,” and I tend to believe that, but for me, it’s enough that so many gay Americans have reason to doubt. And this bill gave them more.

                • Huzzah! Well said. I feel the same. I am not a Christian — even though I was raised to be one — and I often feel that I espouse Christian values to a greater degree than other Christian family members and friends. Because I don’t believe in an actual deity, however, everything I say or do is somehow suspect. This makes no sense to me.

    • I have stated exactly the opposite, in fact. I think, however, that when someone endorses hateful treatment of gays—did you read Steve’s post? The claim of non-hate doesn’t pass the giggle test. Tell me –how does a Christian defend not selling a sandwich to a hungry gay couple? Is that loving?

      The law makes the exception. You can’t have it both ways.

      • A Christian using his religion to refuse to sell a sandwich to a hungry gay couple would be as ridiculous as using his religion to refuse to sell a sandwich to somebody wearing a blue sweater. There is nothing in Christianity that requires that its followers rebuff people just because of their sexual orientation. Like I said before, if a Christian baker would make a cake for a gay soldier’s welcome home party or a lesbian’s birthday bash but refuse to offer his service toward an occasion celebrating what he believes to be sacrilegious, then whatever legalities aside, you couldn’t reasonably assert that there is any hate involved.

        That said, I do believe that the bill was poorly worded and left open the very real possibility of being abused in anti-gay bigotry.

  4. Jack
    You tore me a new one the other day on this issue because I was less than articulate than I should have been. I stated that these laws do nothing to promote unity and cohesion is a civil society. I don’t want society to be so homogeneous that everyone looks the same, dresses the same and thinks the same; these differences help us grow.

    My primary objection to this and any other bill that provides specific protections based on some arbitrary value – skin color, sexual orientation, gender or religious ideology simply creates or maintains mistrust and a sense of being a 2nd class citizen in both the majority and the minority communities. Giving protections/preference for one group automatically makes the other unprotected group feel its citizen status has been diminished. Many of today’s anti-discrimination protections for some put others who played no role in creating or maintaining an apartheid like social order in the twentieth century at an economic disadvantage. The sins of the father seem to be visited upon the children in perpetuity. This is no more fair or ethical than piling mountains of federal debt upon our children and grandchildren so that we can consume more today.

    Discrete group protections perpetuate in the minority communities that the majority will discriminate against them at the first chance they get to do so; this is not necessarily so and probably the contrary is true. As such these laws continue to instill fear in the minority community and implicitly tell them they are in need of protection because they are unable to protect themselves. I have more faith in minority groups such that when confronted with a bigot that wants to deny them their commerce then they will find substantial numbers of other enterprises more than willing to accept their valuable business.

    We have come a long way since 1964. Some have come kicking and screaming but the idea that institutional racism is ready to rear its ugly head is unfounded. Robert Byrd died some time ago along with many of his cronies.

    Conservative columnist Cal Thomas said it best today. If a business decides to not serve a gay couple because it is a sin in their mind, then it will be unable to serve anyone because everyone sins. This refutes that basic premise that it – the business- is following its religious tenets by refusing service to gay consumers because it is a sin.

    • “Giving protections/preference for one group automatically makes the other unprotected group feel its citizen status has been diminished.”

      So, we shouldn’t give protections to religious people and everyone should be treated the same. Fair and equitably. Is that your argument? I like it!

    • The example of what you are talking about is hate speech, and I agree. Also affirmative action, which, at this point, also fits the bill.

      Gays are the only ones discriminated against for being gay. The law isn’t favoring them at all, nor by saying they can marry like everyone else.

      • But Jack, hate speech causes harm! It makes people feel uncomfortable and no doubt brings up a host of negative emotions. IIf the Klan decides to have weekly speeches in a park in the business district, any black-owned businesses in the area are going to suffer unpleasant effects. At a bare minimum employee morale goes to hell, and I bet it affects their customer base as well. So why don’t we just ban that too? It harms the social order, after all, and does harm, and a lot of people are against the Klan’s values- doesnt’ that mean the state should pass a law banning them? To make a statement, you know, about how unethical they are.

        • “Hate speech” does cause harm, whatever hate speech really is. Unfortunately, there is no way to define hate speech or to permit its or prohibition that would not lead directly to censorship. Look at all the non-hate speech that the MSNBC gang characterizes as such. That’s how utilitarianism works—you look at pros and cons, and balance. Stopping people from saying “nigger” by fining or imprisoning them is going to cause more harm than good. The balance goes the other way when it comes to invidious discrimination, so that absolute has to be pared back. This is a utilitarian society and system, but speech, properly, is as close to an absolute was we have.

      • The law isn’t favoring them at all, nor by saying they can marry like everyone else.

        If they can marry “like everyone else”, then the state is not discriminating against them regarding that particular suibject matter.

        Take a look at the coed bathroom bill in neighboring California, allowing transgendered to use the restroom that matches their “gender identity”. While there was no doubt harassment and persecution against transgendered, just as with others with mental illness, there is no indication that sex segregated restrooms were a part of this. The previous rule of requiring students to use the restroom based on their sex organs did not discriminate against transgendered. To the contrary, it treated transgendered exactly the same as normal people.

        • That’s a slippery slope argument, and a good one. Ditto the fully male player who “identifies” as a girl and is flattening the opposition in athletic contests. Lines always have to be drawn. The fact that they do does not, in itself, invalidate what comes up to that line.

      • Jack, I read the law and I know it makes no reference to gays. Therefore it provides them no special protections. At issue is that the law specifically gives protections to people that claim a conscientious objection to something that offends them irrespective of what it is. Well, that can be anyone as we are all so easily offended when someone looks at us cross-eyed. I am simply against any law that favors and grants protections to anyone.

  5. As an aside-–the tenor of these threads show how difficult it is to maintain a non-political, non-ideological blog with any balance. A large number of the regular commentators from the Left abandoned ship here because 1) they couldn’t face the truth about the Martin-Zimmerman case and 2) they couldn’t stand having to confront the reality of the Obama presidency. That doesn’t speak well for them,frankly.Facts shouldn’t be subject to ideological litmus tests.

    Now over at the Legal Ethics Forum, where the ethics lawyers, like most lawyers and most ethicists, are Democrats and progressives of various intensity, this entire issue in Arizona was dispatched with one post, It said this…“Veto time in AZ: One should not have to look for a pink triangle or a yellow star in a shop window to get service in America There is not much more to say on this one.” and has gotten no comments.

    We’re not served —as a society, a nation, ethically, intellectually—by this kind of echo chamber effect, where everyone seeks out forums where they will be in the majority and comfy, nodding their heads. I don’t know what can be done about it, but my only solution is to keep making everyone uncomfortable. A little more balance would help…the pendulum swings, but it seldom stays in the center.

    • I like to be uncomfortable – but lately nothing has. I think my small time citizen foray into politics really messed me up. I’ll tell you about that sometime. Maybe in DC next month.

    • “We’re not served – as a society, a nation, ethically, intellectually – by this kind of echo chamber effect, where everyone seeks out forums where they will be in the majority and comfy, nodding their heads.”

      Now, there is as clear an admission as can be, that you have not been involved much in any Christian church community lately. You’ve got a lively blog, albeit suffering from an ideological “exodus” or “recession” of sorts. But it’s still an echo chamber, compared to churches I know.

        • “A Church is the ultimate echo chamber. I have been to church you know. My father in law was a minister. Can’t fool me.”

          Feelin’ the love, again. You are obviously molded and jaded by your earlier church experiences. Your cynical belief in the lie that a church is the ultimate echo chamber reflects obviously (to me), at least in part, failings of whatever church community you experienced. I did not have, have not had, do not currently have, and am absolutely assured that I shall not have in the future, the church experiences that have genuinely harmed you. At the same time, you exude a rigor of exercising your conscience and intellect that strengthens my confidence that you would not be doing so well today, and certainly not doing what you’re doing here, had you not benefitted in some way from your earlier church experiences, despite the harm you also suffered. But of course, both you and I reject consequentialism, but recognize and endorse utilitarianism.

          You are no different from a man who has been assimilated into a community where the Big Lie that homosexuality is a life sentence beyond his control is “the gospel,” while his personal constitution and experiences are in conflict with that lie in ways only he can know: He is decidedly, earnestly, autonomously, without bigots’ contrarian coercion and oppressive governments’ license of more of the same coercion, striving to grow in fulfillment of his true sexuality, and to escape that deceptive, destructive, harmful echo chamber.

          But the religious liberty you are agreeable to seeing trampled in Arizona is only one of the early victims of a nascent echo chamber under construction – a chamber which reflects a tyranny of compulsory tolerance in favor of a newly ordered priority of human endeavor: sexuality over religion. How progressive! You can congratulate yourself, though, I suppose, for doing your part to establish a new and particular Historical Minority’s Immunity, while simultaneously wrecking the health and happiness of many previously protected (historically persecuted) behavioral minorities. Congratulations: you are fighting a ferocious fight to see history repeated like never before. We’ll see just how far society advances on the principle that “any sex one wants is OK.”

          • Yare yare da ze. Okay, maybe “ultimate echo chamber” is an exaggeration, but I think “echo chamber” is warranted. In a church, how often do you hear someone say, “You know, this ‘Bible is the source of all wisdom’ theory doesn’t adequately describe the world very well. We have to keep ‘interpreting’ it ad hoc to make it conform to what we now know about science, or even about ethics. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to ditch it and start from scratch?” That’s the sort of thing you hear from scientists all the time, because science (when done right) isn’t an echo chamber.

            [i]”At the same time, you exude a rigor of exercising your conscience and intellect that strengthens my confidence that you would not be doing so well today, and certainly not doing what you’re doing here, had you not benefitted in some way from your earlier church experiences, despite the harm you also suffered.”[/i] [Let’s see if I use formatting tags correctly]

            I’m reading from this that you think conscience, intellect, and ethics advocacy cannot be the product of anything other than religion. I hope I’m wrong. I see religion as promoting behaviors that appeared to work in ancient societies, and because few people think critically about it, whether those behaviors are actually ethical or not (i.e. good or bad for society) was a matter of mostly luck.

            [i]”You are no different from a man who has been assimilated into a community where the Big Lie that homosexuality is a life sentence beyond his control is “the gospel,” while his personal constitution and experiences are in conflict with that lie in ways only he can know: He is decidedly, earnestly, autonomously, without bigots’ contrarian coercion and oppressive governments’ license of more of the same coercion, striving to grow in fulfillment of his true sexuality, and to escape that deceptive, destructive, harmful echo chamber.”[/i]

            Well, I admit that I don’t think it’s impossible in theory to change one’s sexuality, same as I don’t think it’s impossible to acquire different personality traits, immunities, or allergies. These aren’t perfect analogies; sexuality is (as far as I know) a more or less biologically-based personality trait which is highly individualistic, with thousands of different aspects pertaining to physical, emotional, and mental responses to physical, emotional, and mental triggers. It’s different for each person, covering omnidimensional spectrums, so of course there’s variation on how much sexuality could vary over time for different people. That said, I don’t see any reason for prioritizing a conformity to one type of sexuality or another, unless the human species was in danger of dying out or something. Also, what in the world is a “true sexuality”? Is it like a “True Scotsman”? If I wanted to have sex with people whose genitals looked like mine, isn’t that a sexuality that’s “true” enough?

            You seem to think that bigotry and coercion describe a situation that I describe as “we’ve figured out what’s right and are enforcing it, and you are late to the party because you’re intellectually lazy to a criminally irresponsible degree and so are still taking ethics cues from a book that bribes people with promises of paradise and threats of torture.”

    • I guess that’s the downside of faith and the limits of being human with biases. A lot of people thought the Martin-Zimmerman case was the lynchings of the 60s all over again. A lot more think Obama is still the Second Coming. No amount of evidence is going to shake those beliefs, and it’s easy to dismiss the evidence presenter as a racist. Still other people think homosexual activity is disgusting, dysfunctional, sinful, and not worthy of legal protection. Nothing you say is going to change that, and that’s why you’re getting pelted with posts from the right on this one.

      • Just like the Martin-Zimmerman outcome is falsely translated as “lynching” all over again, the same error leads to the translation of the Arizona bill into “Jim Crow” all over again. It’s emotionalism. I’m not for market discrimination, it is UNETHICAL. I’m currently undecided on just how unethical or just how large a scope of effect the 1% of the 1% of people who would actually discriminate to their own market peril the situation it is. So I’m not decided on if it is ethical or unethical to compel market behavior by sellers.

        But even if I do decide it is ethical to compel market behavior by sellers, I will not use the false analogy of the Arizona bill is the same as Jim Crow laws. The two simply are not analogous, not without EMOTIONAL connections.

    • the pendulum swings, but it seldom stays in the center.

      And as it swings, it apparently dismisses any freedoms of liberties it doesn’t like.

      As I said, I’ve no use for a place that gleeful advocates that forced activity is anything but wrong.

    • I wonder if many of the progressives left this thread because of what you are facing here now on this issue — an impenetrable set of thought processes from your regular readers. The libertarian movement is alive and well and this highlights the major problem with it — all laws and government course of action (or lack thereof) has to be absolutely 100% consistent with their preexisting definition of personal freedom damn the consequences. Its followers seem to be incapable or unwilling to accept anything else.

      And the same cannot be said about progressives on the issues that you have raised. Obama gets critiqued all the time in my inbox and facebook page. I have critiqued him here — pretty relentlessly actually. Maybe the media is giving him a pass, but not everyday citizens. Progressives on your blog seem to be capable of nuanced thought and will change opinions on certain items — same cannot be said for the libertarians here. And it seems pointless to try.

      • What a joke. The Leftists here left en masse because they COULD NOT handle a critique of Obama and because they COULD NOT handle the call for further deliberation or change of minds. That the libertarians here haven’t changed their mind is nothing until the very basic roots of this debate are handled – and they haven’t been handled. Additionally, they haven’t run away en masse, although I rather suspect some have or will (although much less likely after the Lefties took flight).

        Amusingly, is your mischaracterization of the audience. I only think there’s about 2 or 3 libertarians arguing on the Arizona law debate, the rest are simply social conservatives.

        • I can personally attest to being a Libertarian with slight socially conservative leanings, and a definitively non-strict-isolationist foreign policy stance who HAS changed his mind on a handful of topics debated here. So your generalization is grossly inaccurate.

        • I think you are a Republican Tex, I wouldn’t characterize you as a Libertarian. But many social conservatives are identical to libertarians on social issues. So in that sense my comment is correct. I haven’t found a difference between the movements on abortion, gay rights, affirmative action,etc. I’m open to seeing conflicting information if you have any.

          • then you’d be wrong.

            Beth, getting pissy at the Libertarians for not changing their stances, and pissy at Republicans for not changing their stances, but then totally being cool that the Leftists RAN AWAY EN MASSE (because they would not change their stances) is plain dumb.

            We debate on here because we believe in what we believe, and whether you see it or not… the intelligent ones ARE modifying their views AND GOOD. Sometimes those views are actually strengthened by the debate, sometimes only slightly modified. AND GOOD.

            • Tex — I get that the vast majority (if not all) of the people here would never discriminate against anyone. My complaint about lack of change re stances is different — those who are “right of center” (I don’t want to keep throwing around specific labels) on this blog appear to believe that if government just got out of the way, suddenly the US would be a far more civil and just place. Unfortunately, people who are “left of center” like me believe that most people are not like you so we think government protection is needed for minorities or targeted groups. That debate seems pointless — so why do we keep doing it?

              Sure, I have seen nuanced opinions from all sides on economic planning, government spending, foreign affairs, but NOT on social issues — like abortion or gay marriage.

              • Oh the trap you leftists always fall into. You see just because you lefties think every last thing should be legislated and then legislated on the national level for the entire country, doesn’t mean right wingers think that way. This is why y’all use the tired argument of “you right wingers hate all government and just want anarchy since you dont have any answers for the nation”

                Try again. Federalism is an awesome thing. And yes if government handled what it ought to AT THE appropriate level, I do submit that life would be easier and smoother. Oh and people would interact more justly and civilly if they didn’t roll around believing they are entitled.

                • What trap? Oh, you mean such nonsense like gay marriage and abortion should be handled at the state level? That’s a load of crap. If rights are protected by the Constitution as interpreted by SCOTUS, then States ONLY are allowed to provide additional rights to citizens, not limit them. History, Government, and Political Science 101.

                  • Nope, you don’t get to make a general statement like ““right of center” (I don’t want to keep throwing around specific labels) on this blog appear to believe that if government just got out of the way, suddenly the US would be a far more civil and just place” and then suddenly respond with specifics. Won’t work.

                    Yes, you leftists fall into the trap because you think EVERYTHING, EVERY LAST TOPIC, should have a national cookie cutter answer, decided by the national level of government. EVERYTHING.

                    Right wingers don’t see it that way, and that’s why you all fall into the trap of crying that right wingers hate ALL government ALL the time and that they have no solutions to problems.

  6. Zoe, according to the results of years of laboratory experiments, monocultures cannot breed true and will eventually die out. Unfortunately, not before the sports run amok and infect the aether.

    • But…you’re arguing that an insular biosphere cannot evolve, thus its species cannot thereby survive, thrive, and diversify, thereby securing ever more successful evolution?

      • It comes down to a recessive genetic flaw in the culture, Ee: to progressively weaken the desire to evolve; to hallucinate the dead-end as a protective barrier against “them”. There always has to be a “them.” Otherwise there is no need for “us.” Eventually the gated community and the ghetto are functionally identical, and George the Watchman (who doesn’t live there) and Trayvon the Watched (who does) will try to beat one another’s brains out because each thinks of the other as belonging on the other side of the wall.

        The reality is that there’s nothing on the other side of the wall. If Arizona does not enact this inane piece of legislature, the wall is still there … and SOMEONE has to be picked up and placed outside it (or fined or whipped or shot). It doesn’t matter who, as long as the homogeneity — the last thing a healthy society needs — of the “us” is preserved. Patching up imaginary holes in the wall just eats away at the life force — hating, fearing, discriminating, thinking up ways to thwart the imaginary enemy-of-the-day — the Marrying Gay — is a futile exercise. Ironically, unlike others set-apart by, say, color and creed … that LGBT person who is not wanted in the stores, churches, schools, neighborhood, that person is right there among them all the time with more arriving every day, trapped inside that ever constricting community . . . growing up gay in their own families, hee hee hee). The result is as Eeyoure (whom I almost never agree with) so elegantly, succinctly and sardonically put it: devolution.

        That being said (in apology for the runaway analogy – you’re lucky I didn’t start on the social consequences of entropy), those who drafted SB1062 took it to the wrong place. It should never have gone to Governor Brewer. If they’d just thought to leave it on Nancy Pelosi’s desk re-titled Community Marketing Health Law, it could have been signed without a read-through.

  7. The problem was that the New Mexico Supreme Court interpreted refusing to photograph same-sex union ceremonies as discrimination against gays. There was no indication that the photographer in that case wiould have refused to photograh the birthday party of a gay person.

    For another example, take the example of Jehovah’s Witnesses. a straightforward application of Christian theology leads to the unescapable conclusion that they are Christ-denying heretics who are all one heartbeat from Hell.

    Few people would argue that an anti-discrimination law improperly applies to a photographer refusing to photograph a birthday party merely because the celebrant is a heretical Jehovah’s Witness. But what about photographing a Kingdom Hall meeting? That could be considered promoting a damning heresy. Why should a policy of refusing to photograph Kingdom Hall meetings be considered discrimination against Jehovah’s Witnesses? If not, why should refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding constitute discrimination against gays?

    • Because gay marriage is coming, like it or not. It’s breaking down barriers in state after state, and the cultural zeitgeist is that opposition to it or antipathy for it in any form is outdated, hateful, and bigoted.

        • Are you arguing against me? Because I’m not making a case, I’m answering your question about why refusing to photograph the wedding is going to be seen as the same as yelling “queers get out” in the middle of town. Once the culture begins to shift, EVERY resistance to it is tarred with the same brush.

          • That’s exactly why the Koran was declared to be the complete and eternal record, and it says at the end of the Bible that “if any man adds to the words of this book, God will add to him all the tortures described herein, and if anyone takes away from the words of this book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the Holy City described here.” The religious truths set forth in those books aren’t supposed to be something that “progress” with changing times or tastes. Have a lot of them bent with the times? Yes. But acceptance of gayness is still a bridge too far for a lot of people.

            When I was a kid in the 70s, gayness was just something my parents and their friends scoffed at and made fun of as a weird but basically harmless subculture. They stayed in the Village and Chelsea and didn’t bother us normal folks in the respectable places. However, then came the 1980s and the AIDS crisis, and suddenly those weird guys who dressed up in chaps and skeevy mustaches were wanton spreaders of a disgusting and ultimately fatal disease. Forget racism or other issues, these people were the absolute lowest of the low. I was in high school at the time, and as different guys’ voices broke at different times and we all struggled with the awkwardness of changing from boys to men and finding our own identities, this was the one identity to be avoided at all costs, for to be tarred as gay and a potential AIDS-spreader was to be like a medieval leper.

            To this day, acceptance of those who were lepers not too long ago is something I just can’t get my head around.

            • “But acceptance of gayness is still a bridge too far for a lot of people.”

              I get it, and I understand it. So is evolution. So is the idea that there may be life on other planets

              “However, then came the 1980s and the AIDS crisis, and suddenly those weird guys who dressed up in chaps and skeevy mustaches were wanton spreaders of a disgusting and ultimately fatal disease.”

              That’s a really unfortunate and unfair way of stating it, Steve. The first description reminds me of how Spiro Agnew described a lot of my friends in college. The second could describe the victims of leprosy, syphilis and the Black Plague. Why do you think it’s fair to blame the victims of dread disease? They don’t spread the disease intentionally

              • I think I’m trying to set forth where my thinking took shape. In the time I was talking about, the spread of AIDS wasn’t widely understood, as I’m sure you remember, and it was feared you could catch it by a lot more casual contact than sex or blood exchange. To teens just not quite on the edge of adulthood, insecure, and just looking for ways to torture each other, because that’s what teens do, this opened up a whole new world of insults, mocking, exclusion and bad treatment.

                Your voice didn’t quite break all the way when you spoke? Be prepared for a whole falsetto song from your colleagues about packing fudge and other gay activities. You didn’t think and crossed your legs in an insufficiently masculine way? Be prepared for a lot of lisping and limp-wristed gestures. God forbid you slipped more than once or were just the odd man out, because then the other kids would start saying “don’t touch that guy, he might have AIDS.” Of course most of us weren’t actually gay, and you can bet your last dollar that if any were, they were DEEP in the closet, because that would have meant a lot more than taunting and insults.

                After a few years of this, hatred of gay people was seared into us, and pivoting from hate to celebration is just impossible.

                    • I know. And despite my tone on the issue—you know me—I empathize. As a freshman in college, completely isolated from any knowledge of homosexuality, I got to know a brilliantly talented young actor who was a Boston area restauranteur, a Welsh immigrant. His name was Jeff Davies, and in retrospect, you could hardly be more recognizably gay, though he was not flamboyantly gay, just flamboyant in every other. He was also just a great, kind, smart, generous friend. His “roommate” was the head of psychiatry for Mass General; he was also terrific. My parents were immediately alarmed that I was spending time with Jeff, and asked whether I realized he was a homosexual. I was shocked, and said that was impossible. (Jeff later said, “I’m a master chef, I design my own clothes, I’m a hairdresser, an actor, a dancer, a singer, an interior decorator and event planner—-was it that I don’t have a poodle that threw you off the track?”)

                      I did many projects with Jeff over the years—he was the lead in the first show I ever directed, and substantially responsible for all the accolades I received for it. Jeff Davies was almost beaten to death in the streets of Boston, and later missed my wedding because he was one of the very first US casualties of AIDS—when he died of it, it wasn’t even named yet. He sent my wife and I, and my parents, typically gentlemanly notes from Wales, where he had gone to see his family, and to die.

                      Knowing him—he was truly one of the best—and most fascinating–human beings I have had the honor to know—was life and attitude changing, and I realize how lucky I was.

      • The fact is, gay rights is likely to end up becoming more akin to abortion, largely due to the interference of the courts.

        I do not see Mormons, Catholics, or evangelical Christians changing their views on marriage any time soon.

        So, the government will eventually HAVE to crack down on those religions to appease those who support gay rights, precisely due to the “zeitgeist” that proponents are creating. It is almost as if it is not enough to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states, but to suppress ANY CRITICISM WHATSOEVER of homosexuality.

            • Yes, IM, Michael and Steve-O, and let’s not forget Islam. I tried to warn Jack about that gently yesterday, by closing my comments persistently with “Allahu Akbar.” The world is Islam-embracing one hell (to some, on earth) of a lot faster than it is queer sex-tolerating. I don’t see that trend decelerating, either. We in these parts of earth’s landmass have only begun to see the coming societal evolution, and the change-overs in ethics and law, and the disparate impacts those changes will impose, and on whom, and how those impacts will be imposed. The “sides of history,” and which of those sides are right and wrong, and the people on those sides, are in for some wild whip-sawing. I feel at this moment like the overwhelmed Chief Engineer at the ill-conceived, and operationally never-ready-for-prime-time, Jurassic Park: “Hold on to your butts.” There are unstoppable people who will “spare no expense,” if you know what I mean, to make happen the changes they want. And I’m not even talking Democrat Party activists.

              • There’s pushback alright – just not in the sense the original poster meant.
                A lot of people are getting fed up with Fundies.

                In a recent survey, about 70% of people thought (incorrectly) that GLBT people have some Federal protection, so bills like this are seen (incorrectly again) as some kind of intrusion or nullification of long-held existing rights, rather than just rubbing salt into the wound.

                The Religious Reich has deliberately fostered this mistaken belief, that protections already exist, in order to prevent them from being instituted. Now it’s come back to bite them.

                http://nation.time.com/2014/02/26/gay-marriage-america-statistics-poll-lgbt-issues/

                Americans incorrectly believe that many anti-discrimination protections are in place: 75% of respondents said they believed that there was a federal law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people, which there is not. The majority of states also lack anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Proponents of such laws say that the widespread belief that the measures already exist makes it hard to build political momentum.

                • “There’s pushback alright – just not in the sense the original poster meant.
                  A lot of people are getting fed up with Fundies.”

                  I think you misunderstood what is reported in the article you linked to in your March 1, 1:28 a.m. comment. Maybe you and I should compare our impressions of that article. When I read it, I saw that Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, enacted some kind of ordinance that seems intent on doing at least some of what SB 1062 is widely interpreted as intending. The headline is terribly misleading. Perhaps you misread the meaning of the article because of the headline.

                  So, it is true, being “legislation,” the Tempe ordinance was not “violent pushback” by forces who supported SB1062. It WAS, however, a reflection of SOME pushback by those forces, or a few sympathizers with them – NOT pushback by the forces who have prevailed in the governor’s veto of SB 1062. The Tempe ordinance WAS NOT a reflection of “people getting fed up with Fundies.” If anything, the ordinance was more a reflection of some friends of “Fundies” being fed up, and drawing new lines in what liberties the local government permits religious citizens to enjoy while being “discriminating” in doing commerce with certain customers. The headline misleads a reader to think that in the Tempe ordinance, SB 1062 was “rejected again” in a “pro-LGBT” way. It was not. The Tempe ordinance may provide a test case for the courts – a test case which SB 1062 would have provided, if the governor had approved it.

                  • One day after Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062, the Tempe City Council unanimously approved an anti-discrimination ordinance that will secure broad civil-rights protections for gay and transgender residents.

                    In interviews with The Arizona Republic, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and other council members said the GOP-controlled Legislature is out of touch with its constituents.

                    The council’s 7-0 vote was “another action that shows we don’t discriminate in our community,” Mitchell said Thursday. “We’re moving in the right direction in terms of equality.”

                    The city ordinance bans discrimination in housing, employment and accommodations at restaurants and hotels, but includes exceptions for religious organizations and social clubs.

                    Businesses or individuals that discriminate in Tempe on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, gender, religion, national origin, familial status, age, disability and U.S. military veteran status face a civil sanction with a fine up to $2,500.

                    Tempe became the fourth Arizona city to provide such protections, joining Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.

                    http://www.azcentral.com/community/tempe/articles/20140227tempe-poised-ok-anti-discrimination-law.html

                    Seems pretty clear to me.

                    • You and I are reading the meaning of “accommodations” differently. I see the specification about hotels and restaurants. Is that supposed to be read as implicit prohibition on the photographers and wedding cake-bakers, too? I also see the exemption for religious “social clubs” and organizations (as if that means anything; see the Boy Scouts’ getting screwed). My point is that it is NOT clear, and thus even this “liberal” ordinance will likely be challenged in court for not being “liberal” enough.

        • Abortion opposition should never be paired with anti-gay efforts…it degrades the anti-abortion battle. There is a very obvious, undeniable, clear basis to oppose abortion that does not require the use of faith, morality, or religion. A life is involved (or isn’t—that’s the question) The position can be persuasively argued on humanistic, ethical, bioethical terms, and should be.

          If an anti-abortion advocate can muster no better argument than “it’s a sin,” then that advocate is doing more harm than good.

  8. Jack, I disagree when you make a statement like “All traditional justifications for anti-gay bias have been thoroughly exploded by science, psychology, research, observation, common sense and experience.” So opposing that redefining marriage to include gay couples (vs. a contractual relationship which I don’t think many people would disagree with) is totally unjustifiable by reasonable people? It seems to me that the argument is basically “because they love each other, they should be allowed to marry”. Well, if somebody loves two women shouldn’t they be allowed to marry both simultaneously?

    • Wayne—the statement you quoted refers to anti-gay bias, not anti-gay marriage. I have written elsewhere that I understand the reasons behind the objections to gay marriage that have nothing to do with antipathy, and that such objections do not necessarily require or spring from hostility to gays. Up until a few years ago, I knew gay men, older ones, who thought the idea of gay marriage was absurd.

      I also think—indeed, I know, that much of the more vociferous objections to gay marriage do arise from bigotry.

      • Sorry about your friend, Jack. He certainly didn’t deserve to be beaten almost to death, no one does simply for being, and it sounds like he fell ill when there was literally nothing they could do for him, or he could do to avoid it, since knowledge was sketchy.

        The day may come when sexuality is as irrelevant as handedness. I would HOPE we can get there without tearing some of the other things we hold dear, like faith, like basic societal institutions, apart. At this point though, I think there’s going to be a lot of pain.

        • Thanks, true,and wisely said, Steve. I am actually grateful any time anyone reminds me of Jeff—it is sad to think of his pain and him being gone, but he was also one of those very special, one-of-kind characters who enrich our lives, even when all we have left is memories.

          • Lincoln had originally intended gradual enfranchisement of the freedmen after the Civil War and a not-so-heavy-handed approach to reconstruction. Had he lived, I wonder if we’d have a better model now for what I’ll call civil rights expansion. Then again, Kennedy gave his Civil Rights Address to the nation 9 years after Brown v BOE, and he had been having meetings with business and education leaders about implementation.

            For the record, the implementation of gay marriage dates back to only 2004 in MA, and was a little bit unexpected. That, together with the unilateral decisions in CA to start issuing licenses to gay couples turned into, let’s face it, election year politics at its worst, hence all the constitutional changes at the state level. Things only started to tip the other way in 2012, and I wonder if some of that was residual Obama coattails.

            For order’s sake, the UK approach, of creating domestic partnerships that were later converted to marriage after everyone had time to get used to the idea, was probably a better one – ironically proposed by a conservative PM.

            • Domestic partnerships WERE tried first. When the push came for the next (logical) step, one of the main, and most specious, arguments was: They don’t need to be married, that’s just for breeders — not for homoSEXuals — they can just be satisfied with the DP.

              Come to think of it, all the arguments were specious, and proven so … . There was nothing “ironic” about the progression to gay marriage being proposed by a conservative UK legislator. I wouldn’t attempt to explain all the differences between our politics and theirs (not sure I understand all of it, myself — at present the House of Commons seats 11 major parties, four of which make up the majority). The current prime minister, David Cameron, leader of the conservatives (officially: the Conservative and Unionist Party, aka Tories) and a strong coalition government at the time of the gay marriage proposal (pun unintended) — might give you an idea of their platform, stated in 2010: “This party has a heart, it has a great heart, but we don’t like wearing it on our sleeve. Conservatives think: let’s just get on with the job and help people and not bang on about it. It’s not our style.”

              I wish it weren’t ours.

  9. A Chesterfield County man who told authorities that God told him to shoot Virginia State Police Trooper Junius A. Walker has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial in the trooper’s slaying and will be sent to Central State Hospital for rehabilitation.

    http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/local/crime/man-ruled-incompetent-to-stand-trial-in-trooper-s-death/article_153ef538-a09e-11e3-828a-001a4bcf6878.html

    Obviously a case of persecution of someone’s sincerely held religious belief. No, I’m not being facetious. If one is to hold religious belief so highly in value that it trumps Man’s law, and if one has Faith, how do we know that a god didn’t command this action?

    I’ve seen this argument made in all sincerity. It’s not a mainstream view, but it’s held by a sizeable, and apparently growing, minority.

    Katie then calmly walked up to the news crew and explained to reporter Hilary Magacs that she tried to kill her mother because her mother was the antichrist and a Satanic cult ringleader. The stabbing was in self-defense, explained Katie, as her mother was casting spells on her and her daughter in an attempt to kill them both. She had figured out who her mother was after interpreting the signs on her mother’s knick-knacks that decorated her apartment.

    ‘I had to kill her. She was going to kill both of us. She was so powerful, I had no idea. I had no idea that my mother was that powerful,’ Nichols said.

    http://www.dreamindemon.com/2014/02/20/mentally-ill-woman-confesses-camera-stab-mother-death/#xgpQO8QTwkGbdgZU.99

    During the stabbings, the women would later tell detectives, they saw the children’s eyes turn black and a black cloud over at least one of the children. At one point, they said, the spirits jumped inside of Sanford — and Sanford had to be attacked.

    The women appear to have washed the bodies of the youngest two children before wrapping them in blankets, believing that they needed to be clean when they reached heaven and saw God, McCarthy said. He added that both women claimed to be part of a four-person group called the “Demon Assassins,” with Avery having the title of “commander” and Sanford “sergeant.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/women-called-themselves-demon-assassins-prosecutor/2014/01/21/01b60f54-82aa-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html

    • The other woman charged in the killings, Monifa Sanford, made similar statements about evil spirits during questioning, police said. The two women had been living together at the house in recent months.

      Jones said the women are believed to have met each other at a church, which he identified as Exousia Ministries in Germantown.

      According to Jones, while worshiping at the church, Avery was part of a dance troupe and started calling herself a demon assassin, but the moniker did not raise any concerns because she never talked about violence.

      ‘She was basically saying that her job — as of lover of Christ — was that she was going to keep demons away from her,’ Jones said. ‘That was part of her and Ms. Sanford’s goal.’

      Jones added that when Darryl Joyce, senior pastor at Exousia Ministries, was asked about Avery’s ‘Demon Assassins’ group, the clergyman described it as ‘a little bit eccentric, a little bit over the top.’

      Joyce has since issued a statement to the station MyFox DC saying the women were no longer members of his congregation at the time of the killing.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2544739/Revealed-Mother-accused-stabbing-two-toddlers-death-exorcism-commander-church-group-called-Demon-Assassins.html#ixzz2ufxEvP7s

  10. “The intent of my bill is to directly protect clergy, churches, man or woman of the cloth, to protect them from doing marriage ceremonies that go against their faith,” Montenegro said.

    He could not provide an example of a clergy member in Arizona who has been forced to act against his or her beliefs in marrying individuals. Marriage is defined in the state Constitution as only between a man and a woman.

    Montenegro said lawmakers will be “careful,” deliberative and sensitive as they consider the legislation. It is unclear when or if the bill will be heard by the full House.

    The bill has drawn little interest or criticism.

    The Anti-Defamation League has spoken against a provision that would extend the right to refuse to conduct ceremonies to judges, justices of the peace and clerks who perform them.

    Religious officials are already exempt from lawsuits filed by people who feel they were wrongly denied marriage services, said Tracey Stewart, assistant regional director for the Anti- Defamation League.

    But judges and other civil servants are not men of the cloth, she said.

    “Those are usually individuals who are employed by government,” Stewart said.

    Part of their public service as a government official extends to performing civil, not religious, marriage ceremonies, she said.

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20140227arizona-spotlight-swings-new-bill.html

  11. These first two paragraphs lay out my point of view, and it’s probably not going to be popular, but if I’m wrong it will be very hard for me to correct myself unless I share my perspective. Full disclosure: I see religion as a primitive and inferior prototype of science, philosophy, and ethics, created to describe the observable world, ascribe meaning to existence, and prescribe behaviors. Religion seemed to work well enough at the time, but it had (and has) little real understanding and therefore produces many detrimental side-effects. Eventually science managed to win the “describe the observable world” role, for the most part, by being visibly superior in predicting physical phenomena and accomplishing reliable feats of wonder. Philosophy is having a harder time because it has no such flashy demonstrable powers, and people think philosophy means reading about the idle musings of a bunch of old men in centuries past. However, as a philosopher I am determined to triumph over intellectual laziness and complacency. Ethics is also having a hard time winnings its rightful place in the world, as everyone here knows, because it takes not only critical thought but also strength of character, both of which are currently very lacking in this world. Personally, I think that allowing people to continue on their current path of inheriting arbitrary “deeply held beliefs” without critical thought is unethical. For the record, I lean fairly libertarian on most issues: socially liberal, fiscally conservative, also known as “classical liberal.” I’m not that into political labels, though.

    Important note: I don’t intend to ostracize religious people. This matter is simply one of different skill sets, or different good character traits, if you prefer. I see the situation thusly: I am grateful for my critical thinking skills from which I derive, among other things, my atheism. I am also grateful to other people, most of them probably religious, for the excellent things they provide society (and by inclusion me) through the skills they have that I don’t; skills they developed through hard work and sacrifice, and important good character traits that they have that I am still struggling to develop. I want to improve the world by sharing my skills with them in turn, just as they share their skills with me. I hope to share with them my insights into the nature of reality, so that they can be empowered by their awareness of the true nature the systems around them. There are some important good character traits that most religious people lack, that I wish to share with them. The hard part is that people with my skill set get very little respect for it from people that don’t have it, because the benefits are less tangible or immediately visible. I hope you understand what I mean, fellow ethicists and grammatically literate people.

    That being said, when did “freedom of religion” go from “we won’t arrest you for believing silly things that are different from our silly things” to “we will let you economically quarantine an entire demographic because you’ve always done it or you claim an energy being told you to do so”? Since when was the government unable to interfere with people’s behavior because it was based on “sincerely held beliefs”? Governments are inherently ideological in nature. They enforce rules that are based on concepts that people believe will make life better for everyone. Thus there is no way to have a government that is ideologically neutral, and so we must make sure its ideals are good and its methods are practical and effective. I don’t trust our current government to judge the correctness of worldviews, but I do know that it’s possible to have worldviews that result in behaviors that should be outlawed. I now wonder why nobody tried the “freedom of religion” gag during the American Civil Rights Movement? I know there were racists who claimed biblical vindication.

    Whether or not the government should make a law against any particular socially harmful act is a matter of practicality, and I’m open to arguments for or against outlawing various acts of discrimination against any group. However, I will say that making laws specifically protecting behavior simply because it’s religiously motivated seems to me to be a very bad idea. You can justify literally anything with “it’s tradition” or “it’s my religion” and an excuse that justifies anything justifies nothing (because it can be used to justify contradictory actions). It is in this manner that we get people who request religious exemptions from vaccination, clamor for “creation science” to be taught in schools, and refuse to do business with non-heterosexuals, all because they think an energy being told them to. I wouldn’t particularly object to laws against any of those practices. I think there are cultural institutions that perpetuate dangerous ignorance, such as many religions, and if I trusted the government to identify them correctly I’d advocate outlawing them. The only reason the government doesn’t have laws “differentiating good and bad people” as Steve-O-in-NJ put it is because humans as yet haven’t been capable of having intelligent discussions with reasonable conclusions on what constitutes “good” and “bad”. Instead, they agreed to a truce in which the government isn’t allowed to discriminate against people with no critical thinking skills and the humans get to continue indoctrinating their children and each other. I’m not advocating a government of indoctrination; that would solve nothing. I’m advocating a government which recognizes and halts indoctrination by mandating critical-thinking education, and which outlaws destructive behaviors no matter how traditional they are. I think the only obviously bad thing is not having the philosophical acumen to determine what’s good and what’s not. To answer texagg04’s concerns, I think that some people’s consciences are calibrated in a way that is objectively wrong (i.e. based on an inaccurate picture of reality) and I would not object to the government making laws against their behavior if it did so ethically and pragmatically.

    On another note, you don’t even need a religious freedom law to protect the ministers who don’t wish to perform a gay marriage. “Marriage” in the legal, government-defined sense must be provided equally, but nobody can reasonably expect “marriage” as a cultural ceremony to be fair and equal, because it’s something that people do for those within their own culture. If you’re not part of the same culture, you don’t get the ceremony. If you are part of the same culture, then you accept that the ceremony is only for certain people. For many Christians, the cultural definition of marriage is between a male and a female, and they may or may not think that sex is evil but necessary. (Leave it to our wise and powerful energy being to create something that feels good, has health benefits, and is necessary for the survival of our species, but is also evil—but I digress.) People who think that sex is evil wouldn’t want any unnecessary sex going on, including homosexual sex, which doesn’t serve to propagate the species (or isn’t in the energy being’s plan, or what have you). If your cultural definition of marriage is different, then good for you; you can find someone who agrees with you to perform your ceremony. I have no right to expect a rabbi to perform a bar mitzvah for me, since it’s a cultural ceremony for a culture of which I am not a part. However, I would consider it slightly socially unhealthy (but acceptable) for a Jewish photographer to categorically refuse to do non-Jewish weddings. It may be that the issue just never comes up (advertising yourself as “Jewish photographer” would tend to attract more Jewish people than gentiles), but to outright refuse seems rather insular to me, and I think cultural insularity is unhealthy. I would consider it downright unethical for a Jewish store owner to refuse to do business with gentiles. I’ll stop here before I somehow derive the anti-Godwin’s Law. This post is very long as it is. I hope it’s been worth the read.

  12. What the deviants and their enablers call (loudly) “hate” is nothing of the sort. It’s an upholding of the natural law and self-evident biological realities of human life. Of course, the additional factor in these times is the realization of the danger to our lives and liberty that is inherent in the deviant agenda. Once they were little more than a health hazard, as the law restrained them from such public activities that threatened the republic and the children. Those protections are no longer in play. Thus, the danger they represent has become acute.

      • Yes. I really do think its a fair analogy, if a loaded one that suggests malice. The citizens who really believed God didn’t intend the races to mix were no more hateful or bigoted (necessarily) than those who currently believe God declared homosexuality a sin and an outrage. But at a certain point, and with gays, I don’t think it is fair to say we are at the point, we have to call de facto hate and bigotry actual hate and bigotry, particularly where ignorance isn’t involved.

        • But at a certain point, and with gays, I don’t think it is fair to say we are at the point, we have to call de facto hate and bigotry actual hate and bigotry, particularly where ignorance isn’t involved.In the general case, no, we’re not at that point. I don’t think we’re at that point regarding race either, not universally, but that’s neither here nor there.
          But in either context, race or sex, when we have words such as this:

          Of course, the additional factor in these times is the realization of the danger to our lives and liberty that is inherent in the deviant agenda. Once they were little more than a health hazard, as the law restrained them from such public activities that threatened the republic and the children. Those protections are no longer in play. Thus, the danger they represent has become acute.

          Then I think we went past that point some time ago. If we didn’t, where does such a point exist?

          • I think my point was plain. “Gay liberation” is a false assertion on the face of it. It’s gone beyond some movement that was aimed at legitimizing deranged behavior. In the process, it’s become an integral part of a leftist agenda whose goal is dominance over all aspects of human life and the eradication of natural moral concepts. The deviants’ price for their bloc vote has been dictates that force the acceptance of their condition on all others PLUS the legalization of unnatural wedlock. The latter, as I’ve mentioned, is of particular importance, as it allows such “couples” to adopt children and thus assure a steady or expanded level of numbers into the future. That is also the facet that makes the deviant movement the most inherently criminal factor of our times.

            • That is also the facet that makes the deviant movement the most inherently criminal factor of our times.

              As was said, and continues to be said by the Muslim Brotherhood, about the Jews.

              We’ve heard it all before, this argument. Only the group that’s the target changes, the same justifications are used. In every other case they were bogus, were they not? Whether applied to Freemasons, Jews, Blacks, Irish, or Patagonians

              Feel free to continue to express your opinions. That’s the great thing about Freedom of Speech. It enables everyone to see that people who hold opinions such as yours – or mine, for that matter – exist. It enables them to evaluate what each of us are saying, what arguments and evidence (or lack thereof) we adduce, and to judge credibility accordingly.

              If my writings exhibit irrationality, bigotry, or hatred – no need to say that I’m insane, or a bigot, or obnoxious. It will be obvious from my words, and to engage in insults like that diminishes credibility, it could be (incorrectly) seen as mere mudslinging to obscure the fact that I have no good arguments.

              That applies to us all. So please, keep on expressing your views.

        • Where’d you get the idea that sex is “fundamental?” I agree that physiological and mental sex differences are more pronounced than racial differences, but I still think that the person’s consciousness and character are the only things to which judgment may appropriately be applied, and everything else is either subordinate or irrelevant, depending on the issue. That is, one need not always ignore sex or race, but the ultimate role that they play is that they affect a person’s experiences, and a person’s experiences are very important for providing context with which to judge their character.

          Sex may correlate with character traits and personality traits, but if there are any conflicts I prioritize the person’s character and desires over the material world. To clarify my use of these phrases: Character traits describe how well a person can deal with matters of ethics. Personality traits describe a person’s non-ethical habits, or “style.”

          Long story short: People are all people, and their character traits such as mindsets, mental hangups, and the concepts they embody are their principal features. I use other information about people, including their physiology and cultural background, to help lead them to feel good, but I prioritize the health of their character. I am a Humanist, based on my understanding of the term.

        • Race is superficial; sex is fundamental.

          Interesting assertion. I’d say that both are socially constructed, based on objective facts. The meanings and the consequences of those facts are interpreted differently from place to place and time to time though.

          For example, when state anti-miscegenation laws were enforced – they’re still on the books in some states – the same person could be designated as “Black”,so forbidden from marrying s “White” in one state (e.g. Virginia’s “one drop” rule), but “White” and forbidden from marrying a “Black” in another state (e.g .North Carolina required 1/8 Black ancestry).

          Compare with this from Littleton v. Prange (9 S.W.3d 223 (Tex. App. 1999), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 872 (2000))

          “Taking this situation to its logical conclusion, Mrs. Littleton, while in San Antonio, Tex., is a male and has a void marriage; as she travels to Houston, Tex., and enters federal property, she is female and a widow; upon traveling to Kentucky she is female and a widow; but, upon entering Ohio, she is once again male and prohibited from marriage; entering Connecticut, she is again female and may marry; if her travel takes her north to Vermont, she is male and may marry a female; if instead she travels south to New Jersey, she may marry a male.”

          Since then, both Vermont and Kentucky have reversed their previous positions.

              • Genetics is immutable from conception.

                Nope. Demonstrably factually incorrect.
                Bone marrow-derived cells from male donors can compose endometrial glands in female transplant recipients by Ikoma et al in Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;201(6):608.e1-8 & Transplanted human bone marrow cells generate new brain cells by Crain BJ, Tran SD, Mezey E. in J Neurol Sci. 2005 Jun 15;233(1-2):121-3 :
                These show that a bone-marrow transplant recipient’s bodies gradually become genetically identical to that of the donor due to cell turnover. Even the brain. Even the reproductive glands.

                There are a number of rare medical syndromes causing the same kind of thing, mosaics and chimerae become less so with age for example when one of the genotypes has an advantage over the others. Call it Evolution in action.

                Not that genetics determines sex, either. It biases the odds a lot though. Only half a million men in the USA don’t have “male chromosomes”, they’re not 46,XY.

                • Let me guess… you didn’t know that people can have more than one genome, right? Not often, true, but it only takes one counterexample to refute any universal assertion.

  13. So… by some researcher’s say-so, the entire basis of biology is now overturned? X and Y chromasomes mean nothing? You can receive bone marrow from me… and then begin to grow a pair?? Is this what you’re trying to claim? I knew the wildlife in Australia was pretty exotic, but I wasn’t aware that it was extraterrestrial!

    • Strawman argument.

      Chromosomes strongly bias the odds of one sex or another developing in the womb, down to the cellular level. But they’re not definitive, no.

      If I received a bonemarrow transplant from you, I’d still have the same female structures. But those structures would be composed of cells that had your DNA, I would be genetically identical to you.

      If you had a bonemarrow transplant from a 46,XX woman, your “meat and two veg” would become “genetically female”, as would your brain. You’d still be a guy though.

      So… by some researcher’s say-so, the entire basis of biology is now overturned?

      No, just your misapprehended view of biology. It’s more complex than you were taught at grade school. And not just “one researcher”, the whole modern science of skin grafts that slough away after providing an environmental template for granulation tissue to conform to is based on this.

      Stem Cells are inchoate – they will change their nature depending on the environment they find themselves in. If amongst nerve cells, they become nerve cells. If amongst long-strand muscle tissue, they become long-strand muscle tissue cells.

      How do you think healing occurs? And when there aren’t enough local “cues” for them to follow, you get scar tissue forming instead.

        • I would advise you not to use misunderstood science to scoff at others’ positions and then dismiss them when they correct you. Also, do not draw people away from the subject and then admonish them to stick to it. If you are not interested in the science of genetics, then what is your concern with this topic? I ask in earnest, for I wish to address your concerns in this matter.

          Also: “I knew the wildlife in Australia was pretty exotic, but I wasn’t aware that it was extraterrestrial!” One layer of disparate rhetoric, submitted for your consideration.

          Your vociferous and vacuous style of communication seems aptly described by the criticisms you attempt to apply to others. I would very much like for us to avoid that kind of communication in the future, as it inhibits coherent and mature discussion, which is my top priority in this setting. I take rational discussion very seriously, and I get a bit edgy when it seems to me that others do not. If too much of said edginess seeps through into this post, I apologize.

          To summarize, can we please tone down the sarcasm, insults, and disrespect in general? It’s antagonistic and counterproductive.

          • My apologies.Thanks for reminding me what I should be doing.

            “To Err is human, to forgive – not policy”.

            • Much appreciated, and you’re welcome. Just to make sure I’m not misunderstood, though, for the record I was addressing Steven with my comment. Your response just now caught me off-guard a bit.

              To me, forgiveness implies that a person is now in an acceptable state of being compared to the one that led them to do something bad. As opposed to a (good) excuse, which implies that the person’s state of being is already satisfactory.

              • I prefer to deal in physical realities, not half-baked theories bereft of a basis in reality and forwarded with a political goal in mind. I’ve just seen too much of that to grant it a whole lot of patience.

                • “I prefer to deal in physical realities, not half-baked theories bereft of a basis in reality and forwarded with a political goal in mind.”

                  I think we are of much the same attitude in regards to the half-baked theories. With that in mind, I’d appreciate it if you stopped making unsupported normative statements about those physical realities, and I’d appreciate it further if you stopped dismissing attempts to criticize the support you do provide, which is tenuous at best.

                  A while back in the “Texas Republicans Forfeit All Claims to Respect” article, Chris and I had some issues with your concept of “natural law” that were never addressed. I’d like to know from whence your conclusions regarding the inherent merit of homosexual sex originate, since they are not so obvious to the rest of us. In particular, I’d like to know how natural law makes sense as a system of ethics.

                  If no attempt is made to address this issue, and instead we hear the same unsupported vitriol, I may start to think you are a manifestation of Poe’s Law (i.e. a Devil’s Advocate troll). Devil’s Advocate or genuine believer, I don’t mind either way, but I’d like to be walked through the reasoning process. Hit and run debate is not something I consider useful for getting us on the same page.

              • I’m imperfect – to state the bleedin obvious.

                What others do is less important to me than the fact that I fail sometimes to match my own standards of behaviour.

                I sometimes have to rely on good friends to call me out on that. So my thanks once more, because looking at my posts, there was an element of snark and mocking sarcasm that wasn’t necessary, and wasn’t helpful. Not much perhaps – but some.My comments would have been better without that.

          • I’d advise you take another look at that “misunderstood” science, Poddy. The reality of the human condition is blatantly obvious and science is the study of reality. Pseudo-science occurs when one tries to alter findings to reflect either a pre-conceived notion or to please one’s benefactors. There’s a lot of that going around these days.

            • It’s obvious the Earth is flat too.
              Scence is indeed the study of reality. But when someone says something like “Genetics is immutable from conception. ” – something known to be false – and continues to insist it’s true despite evidence, they’re not doing science, they’re doing ideology.

              • I would respectfully suggest that it is you who are “doing ideology”, Zoe. I never said the earth is flat. Every educated person on Earth has known this wasn’t the case since the 6th Century B.C. Nor did I ever say that genetics are immutable after conception. Mutations occur, as we all know. You’re obviously attempting to put forth the notion that something as basic to life as sexuality can be easily overturned on a genetic basis, which is pure pseudo-science.

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