Jack Phillips, the stubborn Christian baker who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, is being sued again, this time because he refused to make a custom cake celebrating a clients’ gender transition. In 2012, the baker refused to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding and was accused of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 for Phillips overturning the decision of the Commission on the grounds that it was obviously biased against him as well as devout Christians. One commissioner even compared Phillips’s invocation of his Christian beliefs to justify rejecting the cake design to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. Yeah, I remember that the Nazis were really unreasonable about cakes. SCOTUS never reached the constitutional question of whether the government can compel people to create speech or artistic expressions they object to on religious grounds or otherwise.
If a custom cake design is art, then I think the answer to this is easy: no. Similarly wedding photographs, though if you used what we got from our wedding photographer, calling them “art” is a stretch.
With a conservative Supreme Court, the baker wins. And yet…
The first time around, after finally getting all the facts, I held that both Phillips and the gay couple who obviously targeted him to bend him to their will were being jerks. My position hasn’t changed a bit. I wrote here,
“Either side’s victory creates a slippery slope, but the real harm of discrimination and reducing classes of citizens into those with lesser or greater rights is far worse than the symbolic harm of having to sell a gay couple a wedding cake that nobody would regard as the baker’s endorsement of the marriage, including God, since God is presumably not an idiot. This, however, is the kind of case that spawned the old saying “Hard cases make bad law.” This one will, no matter how it comes out. That’s why it should have been resolved ethically, with compromise, responsible conduct, kindness, and respect.”
Nah. Ethics Shmethics! We want to win! We want to rub those assholes’ noses in their bigotry! Courts have nothing better to do than to resolve contrived disputes over cake designs that could be settled with just a bit of kindness and mutual consideration!
This time, even more than last, it is clear that the baker is being targeted. Phillips won’t even make custom wedding cakes anymore, and his principles (Stubbornness?) have reportedly cost him 40% of his business. But transitioned (or transitioning) Autumn Scardina wanted a cake with blue icing on a pink cake “for the celebration of my transition from male to female.” When that was turned down she asked for a design showing Satan smoking a joint. When THAT was rejected, she complained to the good ol’ reliable Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
I wonder if Autumn was always an asshole, or if she transitioned to one…
As for Jack, would he have refused if Autumn had said a red velvet cake with pink frosting would celebrate her new gender? Purple frosting? If another client asked for pink on blue frosting because she liked the combination, would Jack have objected to that? Now he’s not just refusing to assist a client in sending a message the baker doesn’t believe in, he’s refusing to make a cake based on what the client wants it to mean, whether an objective person would see it that way or not. Jack doesn’t get jerk points for refusing to depict Satan: that’s clearly intended as a slap at his religious beliefs. But pink on blue frosting?
In a sign of hope, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and attorneys representing Phillips announced that they had mutually agreed to end two legal actions, including a federal lawsuit Phillips filed accusing the state of waging a “crusade to crush” him by pursuing a civil rights complaint over the gender transition cake.
But Autumn still may file a lawsuit.
Just make the damn cake, Jack.
35 thoughts on “Just Bake The Damn Cake, Jack!”
Lawyers aren’t obligated to work for clients they find odious. I don’t see why the same can’t apply to a baker.
Basic civil rights law. Business owners found blacks “odious.” Society won’t work like that.
Hey you want a free country or a ‘fair’ one?
When you have been targeted by the left, acquiescence is interpreted as surrender. This is how the cancel culture establishes dominance.
Why did the customer disclose the nature of the celebration. The only reason to do so would be to have artistic lettering adorning it. A pink and blue cake with nothing written on it is just a cake but when decorations are added it becomes art.
I suggest it was to provoke. I say the niggardly principle should apply. If a baker is known to be unwilling to bake cakes for a particular reason there is no reason to patronize that baker. People have choices.
If I walk into a black owned business wearing blackface makeup and they throw me out, that’s what I deserved.
Agreed. This was another gotcha scenario.
Agreed. The Baker Hasan ethical obligation to tell provocateurs to go jump in a lake. Standing on principle with these people is an ethical value. We used to admire tge ACLU for doing just that.
If cardboard boxes on a floor is considered art (it’s a real thing look it up) then baking a cake certainly is. It’s certainly much closer to the traditional concept of art than pretty much all of modern art. Even if that weren’t the case, if you’re being deliberately targeted by ill intentioned ass holes then I think you have an ethical obligation to be stubborn. The damage done by allowing bullying tactics to succeed is far more broadly harmful and far more likely than the alternative case where transgender people are made into second class citizens by society. Dont ever make the cake Jack.
“A cleaning woman at an Italian gallery accidentally threw away thousands of dollars of art by New York modernist Paul Branca when she mistook his crumpled newspaper, cardboard, and cookie installation scattered across the floor for garden-variety trash.”
“According to the BBC, this is not the first time modern art has been mistaken for trash and tossed — a museum guard mistakenly tidied up Tracy Emin’s trash-filled “My Bed” exhibit in 1999; a 2001 Damien Hirst installation of beer bottles, coffee cups and cigarettes was mistakenly trashed; and, a Tate Britain employee accidentally threw away a bag of paper and cardboard by German artist Gustav Metzger in 2004.”
If trash on the floor is considered art by the art industry experts, then they have absolutely zero authority to say that cakes aren’t art.
“this is not the first time modern art has been mistaken for trash”
Nor, dare I say, the last!!!
Hey Autumn… why didn’t you target a Muslim bakery?
She wants to antagonize someone who won’t retaliate by killing her.
If this was a first time thing, yes, he should bake the cake.
But it is not. The bakery is being targeted and forced to bend the knee. This is a pure show of power, and giving in at this point will only encourage the totalitarians. Not baking the cake is an act of resistance to a culture that wants to engrave even it’s most minute and irrational details in everyone’s thoughts. Resisting this thought control is ethical, brave, and just.
Do NOT bake the cake!
Agreed. He has a duty to confront or resist, which in this case is to push back against the bullies on the Left.
You know, making this stand about a two color frosting stops looking like genuine religious belief and begins looking like bigotry.
No. At this point it is no longer just about religion, cakes, or baking. These people are targeting him to destroy him. He said this is hill to die on. Her us an ethics hero in my book. He is pushing back against the fascist Left. That is honorable, admirable, and ethical.
He’s proving himself a bigot, John! If you’ll make a pink and blue cake for x but not for Y because she’s a transexual, then you’re discriminating against transexuals. What else would you call it? It’s none of a baker’s business what a cake is for, why a customer wants it, or what a customer’s genes are.
It’s not much of an attack when all he has to do is put pink and blue frosting on a cake. Arguing that is an offense to god is a long way from a principled stand against gay marriage.
The Bible doesn’t say a word about transexuals, pro or con, and DNA and genes were unknown. At some point, you have to doubt the guy’s sincerity.
So, he bakes a pink and blue cake. Then what? At what point does accommodation become capitulation?
A long while after baking a cake with pink and blue frosting. I mean really: the Horror.
That again, assumes it was about the cake. Was it?
If he baked it I’d bet dollars to donuts that the customer would make a big deal of it and that some big D organization would help promote it: “See, the previous lawsuit worked and now this guy is forced to bake whatever we ask of him.”
Why should the owner subject himself to this? Better to say no and sidestep the issue.
How does a defense attorney handle something like this when the client admits guilt to the attorney but it is going to be an easy job to get a not guilty verdict?
Can the attorney back out of the representation?
What is the attorney’s ethical obligation?
Perhaps, but it also looks like the transsexual picked Masterpiece Bakers to provoke. Have you considered that the aggrieved customer was looking for a law suit payday and an means to advance the victimization agenda.
I believe Alex above is correct. If this were a first time event – bake the cake. But it is not. Phillips made national news and his fight regarding religious liberty was on trial. This customer had to know or should have known this and sought him out to provoke him and possibly cash in.
I will not assign victim status to people that choose to become victims voluntarily to gain attention and money. Milton Friedman said it best, people that discriminate in commerce only hurt themselves through lost sales. Phillips chose to reduce his income and the customer can choose to go elsewhere. In every economic transaction their are explicit and implicit costs which are weighed against the expected benefits to be received. This customer weighed the cost and benefits with far more market information than the gay couple who took him to court originally.
In my estimation the cake was merely a means to project power over another. I call that oppression. Choosing not to be bullied is an ethical choice.
Phillips chose to make it that. It was nothing if he treated it was nothing, and as it was nothing, he should have. I’d bet SCOTUS would say that his cakes are art, and he can refuse to make one just because he doesn’t like the customer’s face. There’s a right to be a dick. It’s nothing to encourage or be proud of.
And I would hope that the basic principle that someone else being a dick isn’t justification to treat them as a dick would have sunk in here.
Except it wasn’t nothing. Prior to this he had established himself as a strict Christian who would not do things outside of his beliefs. He also declined to make any kind of cake for Halloween, which he considered a pagan celebration. Presumably, anyone who wanted a Halloween cake for Halloween party would have to look elsewhere. No one ever raised an issue about that. It was well known that he would not let his services to gay weddings which he considered sinful. If you know that, then there really is no reason to approach him in the first place for something you know he doesn’t want to get involved in other than that you want to force him to get involved in that something.
Maybe it’s to advance the victim agenda, maybe it’s looking for a lawsuit that you can get to pay off. Either way, it’s not about a cake. It also stopped being about a cake as soon as the geniuses on the Colorado Civil Rights commission decided to compare religion to Nazism.
Now the stakes have become much higher, now it’s about whether anyone anywhere give up their rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech the moment they put an open for business sign on the door. If they do, then the First amendment has just had a big chunk taken out of it. However, that bothers people on the left less and less with each passing day. A lot of them would like nothing better than to be able to silence those they disagree with. They don’t want america. They want a new East Germany where a few bossy ideologues get to tell everyone else what to think, what to say, and what to do. if anyone chooses to deviate from this, they want to be able to put him out of business and ultimately put him in jail.
It didn’t have to come to this. the folks who wanted the cake could have just sought out someone who would happily bake them whatever damn cake they wanted. Being a dick cuts both ways. I have no interest in demanding service from people who I know can’t stand me and who I can’t stand. I am not interested in patronizing the Irish pub that has photos of Robert Emmett and Michael Collins and all the rest of those terrorists on the walls together with a big sign that reads England get out of Ireland. I am not interested in patronizing the bookstore that has a huge rainbow flag outside and clerks that talk in smarmy lisps, making disgusting sexual jokes or jokes about Donald Trump or Sarah Palin that are out of date. I am not interested in patronizing the coffee and tea place with a huge star and crescent on the door, where brown skinned baristas greet you with salaam. I’m a patriotic conservative, and I don’t belong in any of those places. The converse also applies.
America needs to do business with the people that supports and who will support them, and it needs to leave the ones that won’t alone. I frankly think that’s the best approach in this day of half this nation hating the other half and the other half hating the first half right back.
Steve, Chris, Alex, and A.M. are correct. This baker was targeted by a specific community that knew fully well what he was going to do. They did it the intent to force him to capitulate. He has every right to decline to provide that service.
As I said, again and again, he has that RIGHT, assuming that a custom cake shop isn’t a public accommodation. But it’s not right. It’s being a bigot. he doesn’t like transgender people, and it is impossible to argue otherwise. He’s not employing the Golden Rule, he’s not being kind, he’s not being reasonable. An you keep saying, “But the women wasn’t being reasonable!”
That’s not a valid ethics argument. It costs him nothing to bake the cake.
Give me the ethics argument, without nicking any rationalizations, why Phillips’ conduct here is ethical, or shows fealty to any religious position. I don’t see one.
Clearly the two plant-based dyes will mix not only in the cake but again in the tummy which will be as defiled as the vineyard. He cannot actively pollute a woman’s body like that since the body is a temple and defiling a temple is an offense against THE LORD.
Drat, WordPress doesn’t like that text formatting tag, small /small should have formatted those two words to look more like the typeset in a bible.
Simple. Free will, freedom of association, and the right to run one’s own business as he sees fit. He doesn’t want to get involved in this work. Full stop. What he’s doing is no different than the hippie chick crunchy granola baker who refuses to bake an American flag cake, the atheist baker who refuses to bake for a First Communion, or the black baker who refuses to bake a cake for a police academy graduation. Go find someone who wants your business, don’t create trouble for someone who doesn’t. It’s just that a group that’s a darling of the left is being refused.
No, go to hell, would be my response. Go find someone who’ll do for you. Stop trying to force me to bend the knee before political correctness.
Wow! Jack must bake the BEST damned cake north, south, east AND west of the Pecos!
I will write this.
If Jack had advertised his shop as a platform where people can custom design their own cakes, then the legal and ethical analysis would be far different.
Was there not another Jack who created a platform and advertised it as a place where people can share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions?
The cake is a lie.
LOL! I’m surprised it took this long for someone to bring that one up. 🙂