From The Ethics Alarms “Stop Making Me Defend Sarah Huckabee Sanders!” Files: “The Advocate” Lies About The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if activists had integrity? Unfortunately, most of them don’t, and I only say “most” because I haven’t checked all of them. Virtually all that I have checked spin, distort facts, and lie outright, because the ends justify the means to them, and they, of course, are Right. It’s the Saint’s Excuse. Lies that advance the cause are benign.

The latest disgraceful example of wilful deception in support of a passionately felt cause came from the LGBT publication “The Advocate,” as well as many Democratic and progressive news sources. They all chose to deliberately misrepresent what the President’s spokesperson said about his position was on The Great Cake Controversy…all the better to rev up hate and fear among their readers. You see a typical example in the label to the video above. “Sarah Sanders: Trump OK with businesses hanging anti-gay signs.” She did not say that. The video proves she did not say that. She was asked if the President agreed with the Solicitor General in his oral argument before the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case when he said that it would be lawful and possible for a baker to hang a sign saying, “We don’t bake cakes for gay weddings.” She said yes. Of course yes. The government’s case is that a baker should not be forced to “participate/endorse” a ceremony that his religion declares morally wrong, and thus is not discriminating by refusing to make cakes for same sex weddings, as long as the baker does not generally discriminate in providing service on the basis of sexual orientation. If the Court agrees, then a baker such as the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop can legally follow the dictates of his faith and not make same- sex wedding cakes, and if he isn’t selling them, he not only could but should inform potential same-sex couples of that fact.

This is not, by any fair assessment, an “antigay sign.” It makes no antigay assertions at all. The statement is false. Unequivocally, intentionally false. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day #2: “Back To The Bigoted Baker: It’s Complicated…More Than I Thought”

This the second of the Comments of the Day on the post about the Great Cake Controversy; a third arrived last night, which will appear shortly. It was authored by the always provocative Mrs. Q—you can tell because she always uses ampersands. I used to turn them back into “and,” and then decided that this was a signature feature.

The three Comments of the Day on this topic are as different as they could be. I detest the Colorado baker controversy, because three people could have and should have avoided the whole thing, saved a lot of time, money, and ink, and just exhibited some empathy and proportion rather than avoiding the Golden Rule so emphatically. I detest it, but it certainly is a rich ethics subject.

Here is Mrs. Q’s  Comment of the Day on the post Back To The Bigoted Baker: It’s Complicated…More Than I Thought:

When my wife & I were looking for wedding rings we stopped at a place where the owner after talking to us went on a strange rant about some NFL player who came out gay. The owner went so far as to physically mimic kissing another guy in telling his story, and shivering with wide toothed disgust at the thought. He didn’t say he wouldn’t sell us a ring, but obviously we didn’t want one from his store & the feeling was mutual.

We could have gone on Yelp and given the store a bad review or complain to someone who could “go after” him politically, but at the end of the day our relationship didn’t (doesn’t) need others affirmation. We were certainly hurt – not by his thoughts but the manner in which he shared his thoughts. Yet we picked our proverbial battle and let it go. Why? because we too are Christian and know no one person can ever really give us what we need. Hurt feelings can be gotten over and forgiveness heals wounds far faster than enacting revenge because someone doesn’t agree with us or what we do.

We have to ask what will be next. I don’t believe suddenly we’ll see “No Homo’s Allowed” signs on shops. And ultimately that’s not what I believe this case is about. Also I’m not convinced that these bakers are bigots either. Instead I suspect what this case is ultimately about religion and thought police. Orthodox Muslims having to make non-Halal foods, Jewish deli’s selling pork, Christians making Satanic themed confections. I’d rather see a few victim-minded SJW’s get butt-hurt than force others to sign off on what are ultimately another persons *private* beliefs. Forcing business owners to think as we wish sets a dangerous precedent while walking away from a shop not being affirmed only requires one to find another place to go. And honestly it’s fairly easy to find smug leftist affirmation at businesses. Yes…even in small towns too. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day #1: “Back To The Bigoted Baker: It’s Complicated…More Than I Thought”

There were so many thoughtful and diverse comments on the post about the Great Cake Controversy that I could have justified four or five Comments of the Day. I chose two. This is the first, by the indefatigable Michael Ejercito. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post Back To The Bigoted Baker: It’s Complicated…More Than I Thought:

“Art is notoriously difficult to define. To that list, I could argue for the addition of gardeners, landscapers, bathroom floor tilers, interior designers, architects, website designers, marketing consultants, and on and on. Is a sign-maker an artist? A printer?”

This is a feature, not a fault, of the First Amendment. Courts must make findings of fact based on evidence and testimony. Courts did in fact do just that in Hurley v. Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 91995) and Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc., 547 U.S. 47 (2006).

In its amicus brief, the Department of Justice spent a total of six paragraphs detailing how public accommodations laws do not ordinarily implicate freedom of expression.

“Justice Kennedy became involved in some of this discussion about where to draw the lines — the ready-made/custom cake distinction, the speech/conduct distinction, and the distinction between selling a cake in a shop and supervising the cutting of a cake at a ceremony…”

It is a distinction that must be made.

It is a tenuous argument, at best, that the sale of sign-making supplies constitutes expression. Thus, Colorado’s laws properly apply to such, and it is unlawful to refuse to sell sign-making supplies because the purported customer is a Westboro Baptist or a militant Islamist. And religious discrimination laws must cover unpopular religions, or else it fails to achieve its own purpose. Continue reading

Back To The Bigoted Baker: It’s Complicated…More Than I Thought

The last time (in July) I dealt with the apparently thornier-than-I-thought issue of the Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, I assumed that the Supreme Court would treat this as a pure public accommodations case, and side with Colorado and the couple. I was wrong. Now it is beginning to look like baker Jack Phillips may even prevail, based on the justices’ comments during oral argument.

Then I wrote, quoting my post when this case first surfaced…

“The court’s conclusion  is impossible to rebut. The cake the baker was asked to bake for the gay wedding differed not at all from one he would normally sell a straight couple. In truth, this had nothing to do with expression. He was just refusing to serve a gay couple because of their sexual orientation. Selling them a standard cake would neither constitute, nor would it be recognized as a “message” in support of gay marriage.

The Court agreed that a wedding cake with a customized message celebrating a same-sex marriage as such might implicate First Amendment speech issues, but “we need not reach this issue,” the court said. “We note, again, that Phillips denied Craig’s and Mullins’ request without any discussion regarding the wedding cake’s design or any possible written inscriptions.”

In other words, Phillips was gratuitously and unnecessarily being a cruel jerk. An alleged Christian who is unable to detect the basic Golden Rule application in treating fellow citizens with the minimal level of respect inherent in allowing them to buy a standard wedding cake requiring no “Yay Gay!” or “Charlie and David Forever!” messages in pink frosting deserves no sympathy or quarter from the law. Could the couple have just shrugged and found another bakery? Sure, they could have. Linda Brown could also have just shrugged and found an all-black school to attend, too.

The gay couple are not the villains here. Jack Phillips broke the social contract, as well as the law.”

Recent articles about the SCOTUS appeal have added some facts that I had missed, or not given sufficient weight. For example, Continue reading

Dear Idiots: Please Stop Making Me Defend The Bigoted Baker

I am pleased that the Supreme Court will be taking the case of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple because, he said, they wanted it to be customized, and doing so would offend his faith.  His claim is based on the First Amendment, which prevents the government from making you say what you don’t want to say as much as it prevents the government from stopping you from saying what you want to.

Colorado’s courts denied that Phillips was doing anything but saying that he doesn’t like or respect gays sufficiently to make the exact same cake for them that he would make for non-gays.  I agree with their holding that his actions violated the public accommodations laws. I wrote when this case first reared its frosted head…

“The court’s conclusion  is impossible to rebut. The cake the baker was asked to bake for the gay wedding differed not at all from one he would normally sell a straight couple. In truth, this had nothing to do with expression. He was just refusing to serve a gay couple because of their sexual orientation. Selling them a standard cake would neither constitute, nor would it be recognized as a “message” in support of gay marriage.

The Court agreed that a wedding cake with a customized message celebrating a same-sex marriage as such might implicate First Amendment speech issues, but “we need not reach this issue,” the court said. “We note, again, that Phillips denied Craig’s and Mullins’ request without any discussion regarding the wedding cake’s design or any possible written inscriptions.”

In other words, Phillips was gratuitously and unnecessarily being a cruel jerk. An alleged Christian who is unable to detect the basic Golden Rule application in treating fellow citizens with the minimal level of respect inherent in allowing them to buy a standard wedding cake requiring no “Yay Gay!” or “Charlie and David Forever!” messages in pink frosting deserves no sympathy or quarter from the law. Could the couple have just shrugged and found another bakery? Sure, they could have. Linda Brown could also have just shrugged and found an all-black school to attend, too.

The gay couple are not the villains here. Jack Phillips broke the social contract, as well as the law.”

Now that SCOTUS has decided, by agreeing to review the case,  that he has perhaps a scrawny, shaky legal leg to stand on before they kick it out from under him, Phillips and his lawyer are taking a premature victory lap, as if making it quite clear that you think gays are second class citizens is something to be proud of (and, sadly, too many still think it is.) Their publicity campaign took them all the way to The View, a wise choice. After all, nothing can make an unethical position seem more persuasive than when it is being attacked by idiots, and idiots of the left-wing persuasion are pretty much what ABC’s “Six Opinionated Female B and C List Celebrities Sitting Around Slamming Conservatives”  daytime show has to offer. (To be fair, the show usually has one even dumber right-wing idiot on hand to make the left-wing idiots seem astute by comparison.) Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Annie Peguero, Defiant Breast-Feeding Mom

Ah, yet another feast from the legal/ethical divide, with seasoning from the minority/majority ethics balancing dilemma, and a side-dish of favored group arrogance and entitlement! The beverage? Why breast milk, of course!

Yum!

Annie Peguero’s 19-month-old baby became unruly during the service at the Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia, so she nursed her, right there, in the church. She was quickly asked to move the operation to a private room, but Peguero refused.The church staff told her that it does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because the activity might make members of the congregation uncomfortable.

The mother of two left the church, and soon posted a livestream video on Facebook telling viewers her side of the story and urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.

“I want you to know that breast-feeding is normal,” she said.

Is it normal without any cover in a church? That church? Peeing is normal, but I wouldn’t rely on the “normal” categorization take a whiz in a pew. Farting is normal, but if I felt a big one coming, I would excuse myself. Eating is normal, but chowing down on a huge Italian sub during the hymns would be in bad taste. Sex is normal, but…well, you get the idea. Annie doesn’t.

To complicate the matter, breast-feeding is a legally protected right in Virginia thanks to badly written 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be. Dumb law, overly broad, and probably the result of pandering to the mommy lobby while assuming that mothers wouldn’t try to stretch the law to absurd limits. But Virginia also has a Religious Freedom Preservation Act, § 57-2.02, which says,

No government entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (i) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (ii) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Do we really think that churches shouldn’t be allowed to have dress and decorum codes and policies? Continue reading

Spectacularly Incompetent Candidate Of The Month: Paul Ryan Challenger Paul Nehlen

"This is Paul. Won't you help him? Paul, like millions of other victims across the land, suffers from Constitution Ignorance Syndrome. This dread malady causes its victims to advocate fascist  policies and to sound like idiots in their public statements. But there is hope for Paul, and those like him. Please give, and give generously, To "Educate Paul." a non-profit charity. Your gift is tax-deductible, and you will have made the United States a little less stupid with every penny you contribute to this vital cause."

“This is Paul. Won’t you help him? Paul, like millions of other victims across the land, suffers from Constitution Ignorance Syndrome. This dread malady causes its victims to advocate fascist policies and to sound like idiots in their public statements. But there is hope for Paul, and those like him. Please give, and give generously, To Educate Paul a non-profit charity. Your gift is tax-deductible, and you will have made the United States a little less stupid with every penny you contribute to this vital cause.”

This was the guy that Donald Trump was supposedly going to endorse as retribution for Speaker Ryan’s negative comments? It’s comforting, isn’t it, that Trump isn’t that irrational? Ann Coulter is, but Trump isn’t. (At least in this case.)

Paul Nehlen is the arch conservative and certifiable ignoramus who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District’s Republican primary. Interviewed last week on “Chicago’s Morning Answer,” Nehlen said that he wonders why we have any Muslims in the country, and suggested that there should be a public debate about tossing Muslims out of the U.S.

Here’s a partial transcript of the relevant comments Nehlen made to hosts Amy Jacobson and Dan Croft: Continue reading

Considering the Retrograde Mississippi Freedom of Comment of the Day #2: “Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, This Shouldn’t Be Surprising At All…”

Jesus-Burdens-our-Religious-Freedom

The second Comment of the Day, also on the same post, comes from frequent COTD author Extradimensional Cephalopod. His topic is religious freedom. Here it is…

Human logic is so warped by truisms. Why are we discussing the competition between religious freedom and the principle of respecting others? Once we strip away the artificial distinction between religious beliefs and any other beliefs, everything becomes more obvious.

It makes no sense at all to say that people are free to believe whatever they want but that they should not impose those beliefs on others in public. Society is built on a foundation of mutual beliefs, beliefs about the best obligations we can all impose on ourselves on behalf of each other. Fundamental disagreements or paradigm mismatches about ethics and rights cannot be ignored, because they disrupt the fabric of society itself. (No, gay marriage in itself doesn’t disrupt the fabric of society; the fact that only a small percentage of the population can discuss it respectfully and intelligently indicates the fabric has been looking for an excuse to unravel.)

“Religious freedom” is an excuse to avoid difficult conversations and careful thought, and just sweep the differences under the rug. The only reason that’s possible is because (most) people decided they would prefer to ignore each other rather than kill each other, but that doesn’t make the underlying misunderstandings go away. They show up in politics because the law of the land is the only place where people have no alternative but to deal with each other’s beliefs about right and wrong (or leave the country). If we face our disagreements head on, but with the goal of learning, there is no reason “tolerance” needs to last forever.

I would never tell a person who believes that gay marriage is an offense against a magical energy being that they should keep that belief to themselves, any more than I would ask it of someone who believes that evolution is a more accurate and useful concept than creationism. People who keep beliefs to themselves rarely get the opportunity to learn they’re wrong. Of course, people who never shut up about their beliefs and listen to alternatives never learn either. Ideas should be sent out into the world to stand on their own. Most of them will be torn to shreds, and that’s good. The ideas that don’t survive weren’t useful, at least not by themselves.

There is no way to defend religion as a concept, let alone its exercise, because religion is an arbitrary collection of descriptive and normative beliefs with a lot of people who consider them somehow existentially important. Religion in general cannot be defended ethically or legally, because its beliefs could say literally anything. Any such defense would merely be an excuse to completely ignore skepticism and critical thinking in the name of… somehow being morally superior in a way that critical thinking and skepticism… somehow prevents. However, most (but not all) religions allow critical thinking in ways that don’t threaten their tenets, because the ones that don’t are even more horribly crippled due to their intellectual bankruptcy. Few complain because few know how to think critically, or value the practice.

Continue reading

Georgia’s Religious Liberty Bill Was An Ethics Abomination, But So Is Letting Corporations Dictate Laws In A Democracy

...and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

…and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

Ethics Abomination I: Georgia’s HB 757

Gov. Nathan Deal  vetoed the controversial  “religious liberty” bill yesterday. Well, good. HB 757 was an ugly, ignorant, unethical  law in many ways, and almost certainly unconstitutional on its face.

It began with outrageous fear-mongering, appealing to right-wing hysteria and ignorance…

[R]eligious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to provide that no individual shall be required to attend the solemnization of a marriage, performance of  rites, or administration of sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion;

Ridiculous. No law, state or national, can require a pastor or minister to perform a wedding, nor could any citizen be required to attend one. These are both unalterable First Amendment no-nos, and any legislator who doesn’t know that is too ignorant to hold office. Laws should not be sops thrown to slobbering mobs, and that’s what this part of the law is—unless it’s proof that Georgia legislature is itself a slobbering mob.

Then the law ends by greasing the wheels for outright anti-LGBT discrimination:

Except as provided by the Constitution of this state or the United States or federal law, no faith based organization shall be required to hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief as demonstrated by practice, expression, or clearly articulated tenet of faith.

A refusal by a faith based organization to hire or retain a person pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section shall not give rise to a civil claim or cause of action against such faith based organization or an employee thereof or result in any state action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against the faith based organization or employee based on such refusal.

You have to really, really hate and fear gay citizens not to reject such a bill. Continue reading

John Kasich Flunks A Competence Requirement: If You Can’t Think And Communicate Clearly, You Shouldn’t Be President

“We must be more forceful in the battle of ideas. U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate
them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. And it should focus on four critical targets: the Middle East, China, Iran, and Russia.”

Poor John Kasich. The Ohio governor is by experience, practical political views and demonstrated executive skills among the most qualified and able of all the Presidential candidates. Nonetheless, he is a lazy communicator and a clumsy one, and in a job where words and persuasion matter as much as any other tool of leadership, he repeatedly reveals himself to be untrustworthy. The above passage, from Kasich’s foreign policy speech this week, exemplifies this.

A President cannot say that he wants an agency that will promote Judeo-Christian values, because it will be heard, and fairly so, as an effort to promote some religions over others, something the United States government may not do, and may not even appear to want to do. Worse, Kasich chose the exact moment when his words were guaranteed to be interpreted in the worst light possible by Democrats and the news media, as the nation was immersed in an a debate about screening Syrian refugees that was being elevated to dueling hysterias by both the left and the right. Sure enough, I just heard CNN’s Michael Smerconish compare Kasich’s proposal to ISIS-style forced conversion.

Nice job, John. Continue reading