There are fundamental principles that are being addressed by this Memories Pizza event, one that is primary, but ignored, is that of Freedom of Association. Anti-Discrimination laws are a carve-out of this principle, and as such must always be balanced with this primary essential part of a free society. Anti-discrimination laws are recent, first with Brown v. Board which mandated that public schools must be inclusive, then broader laws mostly justified by the history of slavery that had created a caste that a consensus evolved to combat.
An example of the concept of Freedom of Association is not too far away , as you are looking at right now. The justification of banning those who are trolls, whose purpose is antithetical to the stated identity of this liberal web site rests on this principle. Those whose goal is to disrupt what transpires here may be banned, banished --- discriminated against, based on their beliefs. "Discrimination" first meaning was originally neutral, the recognition of differences, while now the invidious meaning has superseded it.
It's sad that this word is now used with the same emotion as if it meant lynching the outsider, as was a reality in some dark corners of the American South only a brief time in the past. Yet, the reaction, the rage of what is expressed by many on this web site has taken on the tone, and this hurts me to say, not only of contempt for those who joined the lynch crowd, but of the lynch mob itself towards the object of contempt.
The owner of Memories Pizza does not share our views, yet what did he do to arouse such calumny. He never insulted anyone, but refused to be a part of a ceremony that he did not believe was right. It could have been the marriage of an elderly wealthy man to a 16 year old girl that he felt was wrong, or anything else. He is not an emergency physician who is withholding life-saving treatment. In fact he made a distinction between serving gays, which he would gladly do and catering their wedding. Reported here
O'Connor (the owner) wants to clear up one thing: He says he would never deny service to gay people in his restaurant. However, due to his religious beliefs, he does not believe in gay marriage ... and that's why he wouldn't service one.
Memories Pizza -- the first Indiana business to declare it would refuse LGBT business -- got blasted on the Internet and by phone, but the owner says there's been a huge misunderstanding ... sorta.
Kevin O’Connor tells TMZ he's had to temporarily close his business after he told a reporter he would refuse to cater a gay wedding under Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. O'Connor says he was immediately flooded by threatening phone calls, and social media postings.
I understand the passion that has been aroused by the passage of state versions of "Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
" which I happened to have criticized when first proposed by two staunch liberals, Ted Kennedy and Representative Charles Schumer. Most decision of the recent Supreme Courts can seen as Liberal against Conservative with one or at most two wild cards. Yet this was the breakdown of the key decision
that overruled this law:
Majority Kennedy, joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, Scalia (all but part III-A-1), Thomas, Ginsburg
Concurrence Scalia, joined by Stevens
Dissent O'Connor, joined by Breyer (except a portion of part I)
I'm not going to even attempt an analysis of this law, except to say that I condemned it, and remember Justice Stevens reasoning for his dissent, which was to the effect, "do not atheists have rights of conscience that this court must recognize." So, I begin with my antipathy towards this law in 1993 when no one could have even conceived it being used to oppose something not even on the horizon. I oppose this law intrinsically, not that it is used to deny gays personal services. Most outrageous to me was it being against the spirit of our secular constitution, yet was supported by the liberal party that I identify with. For reasoning too complex for me to follow, much less explain, this was allowed if states pass the law, but not to apply to states when passed by congress.
Now what has occurred in the last few weeks is not an aberration of this law, but follows from it. Where is the anger at the Democrats who promoted this original law, and an Illinois Senator named Barack Obama who voted for the state version of it. The rage of this website is focused on one aspect, that it is being used as a weapon against gay rights,yet it is elevation of those of religion over secularists that should have anticipated such excesses.
This diary is written about this political-legal issue of discrimination and freedom of association, but it is also about this web site. That's it. In a world that seems to thrive on contention lets see how this turns out.
Addendum on personal services exception to anti-discrimination laws.
Here's one example. While the law does not allow a pharmacist to refuse to provide birth control pills, there is no law that I know of that requires a physician to provide an abortion. Catering a wedding has elements of both, purveying a fungible good and providing a personal service -- which in this case, the primary principle of freedom of association should prevail, in my view.
Here's another example, Elton John performing at Rush Limbaugh's wedding a few years back.
John chose to do so; but consider this different scenario: What if Limbaugh had contacted someone like him anonymously, both agreeing to a fee, and then Limbaugh sent the contract for confirmation. And then John, or anyone else, perhaps someone on this site, realized who he would be entertaining, and said, "Hell no, I'm not going to interact with this man, to sing songs that would not be sincere, which if possible at all, would be a travesty of the words and music that I have written."
Do those here accuse my hypothetical entertainer of invidious discrimination that trumps his right of free association?
Let's consider that instead of a wedding this was for a Super Bowl party, and imagine a caterer is disgusted with a sport that causes so much brain damage, and simply refuses to provide his services to celebration of such an event. I say, he has this right, with no religious belief needed.
We live in a world of increasing contention, where consideration of commonly held principles are subordinated to gut emotion, mainly hatred at political opponents. I would like to think that Dailykos is better than this, that it welcomes being challenged and engaging in discussions even with those they disagree with.
I think I'm about to find out.