Michael Maiello's picture

    Tolerance Doesn't Cut It

    This week, Ross Douthat and his mentor David Brooks both wrote pieces cautioning the “victors” of the battle for civil rights for gay people to be “gracious” in their ascendance.  Both have made this argument before.  First, they say, that the civil rights proponents could very easily go too far in an essentially conservative culture and second, they say, they owe a nod to tolerance of dissent by the religious.

    This is a classic pose of the social conservative -- stand athwart history and yell “stop!” no matter who history happens to be hurting.  We then get the classic bait and switch so that the people being hurt are not members of the group who have made some imperfect civil rights gains but the members of the group who were oppressing them in the first place.  There’s a book about this, called Blowing Smoke by Michael Wolraich (the title is much longer than that, but I don’t have all night).

    The argument is, really, that the civil rights activists are unfairly limiting people’s freedoms to limit their freedoms.  One could imagine a southern plantation owner claiming, “It’s not that I’m pro-slavery, it’s that I don’t want the federal government telling me how to run my farm.”

    Today, owners of an Indiana pizza purveyor came out as a business that would no deliver pizzas to a same sex wedding, were such an order ever placed.  Apparently, they were harassed on Yelp, their website was hacked “Call us to cater your gay wedding!” and the owners felt the need to temporarily shut down in the face of vehement opposition.  I’m sure they’ll be on Fox, playing the victim, by the time I wake up tomorrow.

    But let’s grant the right an objection.  It is not fair for the government to force individuals to make pizzas for each other.  The federal government cannot force me, right now, to make a pizza for my neighbor.  I don’t even have to give a reason why I don’t want to.

    Of course, I don’t run a pizza business and you likely don’t either.  For the owner of a pizza business, the deal changes.  You own a business and you get certain protections from society.   The police come if your store is robbed.  The fire department will save your shop from a blaze.  You use publicly funded streets and even public transportation to make deliveries.  You might even be receiving tax incentives of some (you are a job creator as well as a pie preparer).  If you want to say that you’ll do business but not on behalf of gay people, that sounds like your right to a stupid opinion.  But only if the town asks gay people first before the cops come up deal with a hold up at the register or the fire department responds to billows of smoke.  Sorry, but there’s a social contract at work.

    What if it’s a religious belief?  Well, you can have whatever belief you want and you can express it all you want in your church, which is a tax exempt organization (perversely subsidized by non-believing tax payers and believing taxpayers alike) but that doesn’t exempt you from the social contract.

    The proponents of these religious freedom laws worry that people with religious objections to other people’s lifestyles will be shunned, harassed and sued by a society increasingly accepting of what they consider taboo.  Well, okay.  In my experience, antisocial behavior has always been shunned.

    A business that wants to participate in every benefit of society while shaming some of its members is an antisocial business.  Its owners can’t expect a friendly reaction to that.

    As for Brooks and Douthat, their calls for restraint amount to nothing more than, “Shush, they’re tolerating you, what more do you want?”  Civil rights activists are best of ignoring two men who will never give them more than tolerance.  Tolerance is not the ask.  When my kid acts up in a restaurant I ask for tolerance from the neighboring diners and am grateful to get it.  These activists want full recognition of their citizenship.  Tolerance will just not cut it. 



    But what if my pizza store catches on fire, all flames and flamey and inflamed and what not, and some gay fireman shows up, waving his big ole hose around, like they do, and suddenly he wants to spray his stuff everywhere, all over MY equipment, like he's the boss or something, and I don't want him doing that, because usually I'M the one that gets to put on the toppings, and then suddenly he's so big, and so gay, and his inroads can't be stopped, and I'm being overwhelmed by this BIG. GAY. FIREMAN. with his shooty-shoot hose (OMG) and well, 

    where are MY rights?


    where are they?

    Where are the POLICE? Well, what if they're all part of BIG GAY, and they all just come BURSTING in too, into my tight little shop, in their uniforms and such, with their big ole gay GUNS out, going shooty shoot, and they won't stop, and them and the big gay FIREMANS with their hoses are just havin' a party, and I'm just flat flat flat as my pies, all defunct, and I can't keep it up against this TOTAL GAY ONSLAUGHT, and they're just rolling over me, and I BARELY had time to get some olive oil on, but again, too late, it wasn't supposed to be this way, cause it's BIG GAY PUTTING ON ALL THE TOPPINGS.

    And I'm so mad.

    Where are my rights?

    Where are my drawers?

    And I guess my question to you, Michael, is.... do you know any gay fireman, like, with hoses and all DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO JUST SAY NO TO BIG GAY FIREMANS?

    Now I'm happy.

    Here is one.  You should live in a warmer climate. Florida has it all. 

    A church in Panama City, Fla., that hosted naked paint parties and slumber parties with the “sexiest ladies on the beach” has lost its tax-exempt status after authorities were alerted to its activities.


    Why did they lose their tax exempt status?  That is basically my religion, though I'm a terrible painter.

    Florida is like living in the "Twilight Zone."  You just never know. 

    They can practice their religion in a public space as long as it don't infringe on others.  Be as homophobic you want inside the church walls and at home.  But in public spaces which includes your business that serves the public you can't impose your beliefs on the public. Even with a law on the books saying you can.  So if you can't abide by the public's social norms, then you shouldn't try to have a business that serves the public.  You need to go into some other line of work away from the public like selling your pizzas frozen to stores. 

    When I was in basic training they explained that you can be right but you can be also dead right. You can end up dead right when you correct an officer that his insignias are not on his uniform correctly. Of course you are right but you will end up dead right in some cases because that officer now has it out for you because you embarrassed him.  The pizza shop owner may feel he is right but he should of kept his mouth shut because now he is dead right.  The public now has got it in for him. The public, just like that officer, your career will depend on their attitude towards you. Step on their toes the wrong way and you won't have enough customers to stay in business. 

    I agree with everything here but I am torn on one question: Should an individual business owner be required to attend an event, such as a wedding, with which she disagrees.  A restaurant that delivers food does not enter into the private premise or residence so it should be precluded from refusing service for any discriminatory reason, including the sexual preference of the customer, in my view.  But what about a wedding planner, should his business license be revoked if he refuses to work Jill and Jane's wedding in their house?

    "Should an individual business owner be required to attend an event, such as a wedding, with which she disagrees..."

    I think the problem is how you're framing the question.  Nobody is required to work an event where they "disagree."  If I hire a caterer for my "Tax The Rich To Solve Wealth Inequality" and fat cat libertarian caterer David Koch says, "Take your business elsewhere, commie," I don't think we have an issue.  Or if a caterer doesn't want to work at an art gallery that displays works they find offensive, there's no issue.  You just find another caterer.

    Jill and Jane's wedding, for this purpose, is not a political or artistic statement, it's an act of being.  You can object to their existence as a private citizen and you can object to their having civil rights if you want, but you can't discriminate them while doing business with the public.

    I could actually see a space for refusing to work "My Big Gay Wedding and John Kerry 2016 Fundraiser-Palooza" because, seriously... John Kerry?

    If you can't discriminate against them based on their sexual preference and you're the wedding planner in your wedding planning business, then don't you have to attend the event?

    As a business owner, you can refuse to provide service to anyone. Maybe your catering calendar is full, your hotel rooms are all rented or the pizza oven's on the fritz. Happens all the time. It only gets tricky if someone files a discrimination suit against you. Assuming you didn't have a "No ____'s Allowed" sign on the front door, they would have to first show discrimination occurred. And that's a fairly high bar. If that is achieved, the next big question is the basis for it.

    The federal (and other state) RFRA laws state that no private business can be forced by a government entity to provide their services if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The Indiana law expands that by saying no private citizen may force them. The reason this is boiled down to the LGBTQ community is simple. There are strict federal laws forbidding discrimination for any reason based on race, religion, nationality, handicap or sex, among others. LGBTQ folks aren't included. So as the law currently stands in Indiana, a gay person can't force you to do business with them if you feel religiously impaired.

    The larger picture in all of this is that no protection under the law has been provided to their community. They can marry one day - and be fired over a wedding photo on their desk the next. The only true way to abolish legal bigotry is to include sexual orientation and gender equality under the umbrella of current anti-discrimination legislation.

    Well, yeah.  But, so what?  I mean, we wouldn't accept that as justification for refusing service to a mixed race couple, would we?  My point to you is that a same sex marriage isn't a political statement or a cultural statement, it's just a marriage.  If a caterer refused to work a banking industry event because they think bankers caused the financial crisis, nobody would bat an eye.

    Practically speaking, this is going to be a non-issue because nobody is going to really want a hater working their wedding.

    Extending Hal's query to the ridiculous:

    Does an MD have to attend to the diagnosis and treatment of private parts of a patient doing stuff he doesn't religiously approve of ? And then discuss the gay sexual practices impacting on recovery with both of the gay sinners? Is that what we want? (...snark)

    ...and even without pushing back on the level of extremes here, the answer really is "no."  That person does have a choice to make their way in life as something other than a doctor who depends on society's sanction.

    The implication behind this objection is that we're stealing people's choice.  But they still have a choice.  What's important to you?  To make your living as a pizza maker or to never serve a gay couple?  You have a choice.

    It's all in Sartre -- about the choices, I mean.  You can't escape freedom.

    Personally, I think there should be laws against serving pizza at a wedding reception.

    But I'm o.k. with chips and dip or buffalo wings---watching the Super Bowl or getting married, pretty much on the same level, don't you think?


    Yeah... totally with you on the cuisine choices.  I wonder if it's possible that an Indiana pizza maker tried to bank (and likely will succeed) on a hot button social issue?

    or buffalo wings....getting married, pretty much on the same level, don't you think?

    Depends on how they are prepared? 

    Might have a tortuous night and you find you cant go to sleep. 

    If you make Pizza in your home you can eat it yourself.

    If you give a slice to each of a few  friends it's OK for you not to offer one to the gay guy next door.That's personal charity.

    And if a few of them give you some money voluntarily that's still OK.

    Even if you give a slice to everyone on the street but that gay guy  that's still charity..

    But If you sell a slice to some people  to pay for some cheese that's not charity , it's capitalism.And if that gay guy wants to buy one, you must take his money and give him a slice . Otherwise you are discriminating.

    Well said.  In fact, I'd say it's the invisible hand slapping bigotry.  Adam Smith, after all, did not oppose sensible regulation and if that's the wrist that makes the hand slap, so be it.

    Good one. The invisible hand slaps bigotry doctrine.

    I can see it now,

    The gay community becomes aware, that a certain pizza man goes to a church known for believing it to be an abomination for two members of the same sex to lie down together 

    To get vindictive, against this local pizza man, who gives generously to the church  that speaks out about the obamanation of the Gays;  an enterprising member of  the Gay community spits upon one of the pizzas  and then files a lawsuit against the Pizza man and wins.

    Because the jury awards him damages, because everyone knows the Pizza man and his church associates,  has it out for the Gay community.

    So the pizza man is forced to file bankruptcy and can no longer support the church that he wanted to support and hus kids go hungry and lose the roof over their heads.

    Gay community  "Take that; you non- supporter of Gay Rights" (snark) 

    Wait, what?  Gay spit?  What?

    Resistance, I love ya, and I was going to just do a "Resistance is Futile" GIF joke but...

    Wait, what?  Gay spit?  What? Were you trying to provoke a GIF? If so, Just say so.  I'll GIFya good.

    Love ya, man.

    What!! You didn't know ? 

    A few decades back, everyone was afraid HIV scare 

    Believing ......Gay spit..... was bad shit.

    I have a better hypothetical. Why not go to the church's covered dish dinner and bite down on a 50 millimeter shell casing in the potato salad? Sue on product liability and eliminate the free exercise of religion defense. This way the whole congregation pays.  

    Better than the Lutefisk.  

    In redneck country, maybe the brass casing of the 50 mm shell is the prize of the night? BINGO

    At least you don't have to pick out all the buckshot from the peppered potatoes?  

    When I was in high school the Baptist minister who was like a father to me got food poisoning after eating at a covered dish dinner and he nearly died. That was the last time I ever partook of such a dinner.

    I have stopped using the term "redneck".

    Gi'day folks ... I've been absent by my own decision due to global developments in the neighborhood which seem to be subsiding for the moment.


    One thing I note absent from all discussions on the subject is the long-range goals of these republican state legislatures. Seems to me they're working together to create state sponsored legislation that challenges federal law ... law/current legislation Congress can't create because they have to deal with Democrat opposition. And if they can get 37 states (majority) to agree to similar state laws, chances are a compliant republican Congress would have little choice to but create federal legislation to add concrete to state legislatures demands.


    In other words, republican state legislatures are using their 10th amendment constitutional right to create state level wedge issues that whittle away at federal law and individual rights skirting Congress hoping if they get a (slim) majority of state legislatures to agree, they would set a precedent that would allow them to claim they represent the will of the majority and Congress would have little choice to oppose will of the majority.


    But I'm not current on the issues and US papers all want my money before I can read articles, so I have to get my news from other resources, like Russia and China, and filter out the propaganda, just like I would do with US publications.



    Thanks, Beetle. I think you hit on the essential point about the fundamental direction of these state laws---which is to reduce Federal power in areas such as civil rights, environmental and business regs.


    I've been thinkin' bout this religious freedom thing and I've come around to agree with the christians. Its all because I've been discriminated against because of my religion and it hurts. I've suffered.

    For thirteen years I was a buddhist and a vegetarian and I needed a job. I went down to the local steak house and while my references were good they refused to hire me. All because it was against my religion to serve steak to the patrons.

    There are laws that protect pharmacists from having to sell birth control pills to people. They can sell the cough syrup and the heart medications. They can sell the AIDS medication, if the person is a heterosexual that got it from a blood transfusion I presume. Since they can sell almost everything in the store they don't have to sell birth control pills.

    Well I was more than willing to serve the potatoes, the vegetables, the tiny little stick of parsley, the apple sauce and the cole slaw. I would happily serve everything but the steak. Why wouldn't that steak house respect my religion? Why were they so intolerant of my religious beliefs?

    These poor put upon Christians want to totally not serve anything at all to some people. I was willing to serve almost everything to everybody. Just not the steak. And the steak house wouldn't hire me. It's discrimination. They took away my freedom to practice my religion.



    Well played!

    Start your own restaurant and you can serve whatever you like and if folks don't like what your serving, or your service or your beliefs, they don't need to patronize your establishment.

    Find someone that will serve you or start your own enterprise.  

    Similar to the  idea of Freedom of Association. Individuals of like minded beliefs or ideas supporting one another  is nothing new.   

    If you want to provide a service to those of like minds, that should be your prerogative 

    The pizza maker  isn't a government agency, that is providing a necessary service ie Utilities,

    Private ownership  is unlike  government controlled monopolies, who cannot impose their beliefs, but must remain neutral. 

    Freedom of choice. Freedom to associate, Freedom to assemble.

    Freedom to start and compete in the market place with your own restaurant. 

    "Start your own restaurant and you can serve whatever you..."

    Sure.  But don't expect the people you don't like to subsidize the public services your restaurant will require in order to operate.

    Not so fast 

    The key word is PUBLIC 

    If you were a Quaker in Pennsylvania opposed to warfare  you still paid taxes to support the defense of America, for the PUBLIC good  

    Same as if you were a pizza man in Indiana or Texas,  you still pay taxes into the PUBLIC treasury for the PUBLIC Good.  

    Caesar doesn't care who or what you like; just pay your tributes (Taxes) to Caesar who is providing the Public service to all.

    Unless Caesar proclaims Pizza makers and their goods, are an essential part of the nourishment program in support of Caesars designs?  

    If you have no intentions of becoming a vendor, to supplying meals for  Government entities their are few demands the government can impose upon the private entrepreneur.

    ( Taxes, payroll,  to support Caesar and Health and welfare issues  to make sure you don't harm another tax payer or future soldier other than that; Caesar doesn't care if you eat Shite). 

    That whole Caesar unto Caesar thing, which does have some lasting wisdom to it, is part of the Bible, not our legal system.  We all don't adhere to the Bible.

    But, accepting your argument... what if same sex marriage rights are in the interests of the public?  I certainly believe that they are.  There are even people on the cultural right who agree, as marriage tends to lead to long-term family bonds and many conservatives see that as an objective good.

    Rendering unto Caesar assume we know what Caesar wants.  When, in our system, Caesar is us, that gets complicated.

    The rendering onto Caesar is not solely based upon scriptural reasons. 

    Caesar really only cares about himself and what serves his interests and  he doesn't take kindly to dissent and his subjects should and must fear the sword he wields and uses to force compliance to his will.  

    He doesn't recognize Gods authority. nor does he fear God   Pay up or suffer. 

    As Pharaoh stated and other world leaders mimic "Who is this God, so that I should fear him? " 

    As Christians, we are reminded to  render onto Caesar what is due or expected by him, in order to avoid his (Caesar's) wrath.

    Rendering unto Caesar assume we know what Caesar wants.

    Ignorance of what Caesar commands is no excuse. 

    When, in our system, Caesar is us,

    We have never been Caesar, we will always be his subjects.

    Whose subjects?

    Subjects of those who are presently in control of Earthly affairs. 

    Most folks unaware and purposely so.  

    Like a Black Hole an Unseen Influence    we cant see them but we know they exist. 

    Another Unseen Influence, Requiring a Special Tool To identify. 

    19 ......... q the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

    1 John 5:19

    When my kid acts up in a restaurant I ask for tolerance from the neighboring diners and am grateful to get it. These activists want full recognition of their citizenship. Tolerance will just not cut it. 

    Brilliant! This was very well written.

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