Indiana Governor Mike Pence Illustrates American Liberty's Demise And Ted Cruz's Distinction
I like Mike Pence. He was a favorite of mine when he was in Congress, and I’ve said I could consider him as a presidential candidate. I still like him, but could consider him no more. Believe me, I understand the hurricane of pressure that came to him. I know it looked like a matter of social and political survival for him. I sorely regret that it’s come to that. Totally expectedly, George Stephanopoulos hounded Pence on Sunday as to whether it should be legal for someone to deny their services for a gay couple, or their wedding. Pence correctly pointed out that the law was not about that, but about allowing a religious person to take their case to court if they feel society is imposing on their religious convictions. He was right about that, but Pence would never respond to the hypothetical question. On the radio Monday, Sean Hannity also asked him essentially the same question, more than once. But again, no direct response; only claiming that the law had been mischaracterized, and that he “abhors” discrimination.
Now I know the term “discrimination” is popularly connoted as having a negative emotional reaction and not considering someone as “equal” to other people. But literally, “discrimination” is just telling things apart. What is being discriminated in the high-profile cases is whether participation in events is voluntary. In this case, whether one’s religion approves or condones it. But such discrimination is not only “religious,” even as that term is contemporarily misconstrued. A “religion” is merely a code based on metaphysically affirmed axioms, and everyone has metaphysical assumptions, whether they involve God or not. It is quite simple to propose a string of things that so-called “progressive” individuals or organizations might not agree to participate in, based on their own metaphysical moral or practical presumptions or personal preferences. Can a lawyer or organization of them be forced to represent a client on behalf of an effort that they oppose? Can a black caterer be forced to cater a KKK rally? How about a speaker or musician being forced to entertain a group that he or she opposes or detests? Ann Coulter asked if a Jew must be consider for a position as a Catholic priest. Signs on some facilities used to say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Is that even legal any longer? Or higher dress codes for expensive restaurants?
The founders were very specific about the freedom to practice one’s religion in The First Amendment of The Bill Of Rights. But not too long ago, it was entirely uncontroversial that commerce was engaged FREELY by voluntary parties. That in fact, was at the essence of American society. Coercing someone into such a transaction is definitively and staggeringly un-American. But I’m afraid that is the pass at which we have arrived. Except emphatically in a few but not rationally distinguishable matters, the left is instinctively tyrannical. It’s rather an irony in this case, that the tyrannical urge is usually what the left ascribes to religion, but in America, religions have never forced anyone to conform to their practices or confessions. In fact, a forced participation in ordinary Jewish or Christian practice is oxymoronic. A forced participation is not a participation at all. It used to be commonly said in America: It’s a free country. You can say or do as you like.” Well actually, now you can’t, or people might say, “I disagree with what you are (saying or doing), but I’ll fight to my death for your right to (say or do) it.” Those people are getting fewer and somewhat scarce. Whatever their number, the tyrants are certainly louder and more aggressive and want to use rules or law to suppress or sanction you. The Left won’t tolerate disagreement, and your ostensible allies will usually not lift a finger to defend you; either capitulating to the storm or hiding in the shadows.
This is not your father’s America (for young people, that’s a paraphrase of an old car commercial). Most of us know of the publicized cases; one of the 70 year old woman in Washington state who declined to provide the floral arrangement for a gay wedding. She was charged with violating a state anti-discrimination law, and subsequently refused the Attorney General of the state’s settlement offer to pay a $2,000 fine and agree to provide service to gay weddings. She says she will not submit to what she believes would be wrong for her to do. Will Washington put her in jail and/or shut her business down? And there have also been cases in Oregon and Colorado of baker’s who declined to supply wedding cake to gay weddings. One of them shut down after the story hurt business. I think she has a right to her values in her own private sphere. But at least market pressures are a fair and legitimate avenue, unlike legal ones. And in the other case, a man says he will get out of the business rather than defy his conscience, after he was told he had to comply with the request. Personally, I would do as the florist did and serve any walk-in customers, but I would not participate in the gay wedding that defied my ideals. I would not pay a fine. They would have to shut me down and/or put me in jail.
But that isn't the essential point, which is that any service should be the choice of the business owner. A few years back when he was a Senate candidate, Rand Paul was induced by Rachel Maddow to say he supported most of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that imposed constitutional equal recognition on government agencies, but he might have quibbled with federal legal enforcement upon private businesses. Of course, that set Maddow off with indignation. I would have agreed that private business should be none of the federal government’s business. However, I would hope that local governments would frown on racially discriminatory service in places open to the public, which now of course seems absurd. In the historical context, you couldn't leave local governments to address the problem when most of the law was about rectifying the unconstitutional legal structures of those very governments. Government and culture are now beyond that, and physical and financial mobility would literally starve it in the hypothetical event that it should reappear.
To confront Stephanopoulos’ question directly: Should it be legal for a business to decline to service a homosexual wedding? OF COURSE, and not just a homosexual wedding. Businesses should serve whom or whatever or whoever they want. Whether their choices are right or wrong or wise or foolish is for the proprietor to determine and for the market to sanction. I don’t affirm homosexual marriage, but I would protest, picket and boycott a business that refused to admit or sell to homosexuals: another largely fanciful hypothetical. Again, personal and commercial freedom were assumed not long ago. As to how freedom is exercised, legality is not approval. It is left-wing dogma to conflate the two and mission to confiscate liberty.
But Pence buckled to the pressure, and it sounds today like Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will also, with respect to their new similar law. Both are calling for legal clarification or modification that forbids private “discrimination.” Most all politicians will not carry and defend valid principle in the face of this sort of popular culture pressure, and probably are not able. That highlights the distinction of Ted Cruz, who is constitutionally dedicated, and willing and able. That’s why he is despised on the left and disdained on the right. He’s either dangerous or impractical, you see. But only his type of courage will cut into the popular culture fog that obscures liberty.
As I said, such controls on private business will not be clearly, evenly and fairly applied. Like all unnecessary and unwise legal adventures, it will mostly bring mountains of cost in time and money of litigation and accommodation; a lawyers’ goldmine and an entrepreneur’s nightmare that will make doing business prohibitive for the average individual. The American principle of liberty that made the most productive and prosperous society of opportunity and progress in human history, is comatose after cardiac arrest. Unless Cruz can resuscitate it, RIP…