Can We Agree to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable?

Today #HB1523 is trending on Twitter. Reactions range from “this is legalized discrimination” to “thanks for standing up for the First Amendment”. Of course, this is just another battle in a misguided war. I gave a quick treatment to this topic a couple of years ago. The argument hasn’t changed much, but that’s never stopped me from talking.

There is a key point, which opponents of HB1523 don’t seem to grasp: there can be no absence of discrimination in this debate. Opponents are quick to point out that Christians are discriminating against the LGBT community by refusing to bake cakes for them; however, they aren’t as quick to acknowledge that to force the Christian to bake a cake is also a form of discrimination. Gay couples are purposely targeting Christians in order to force them to provide services against their conscience. While you can argue all day long about the finer points of this dilemma, the argument is unnecessary because the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Or so you thought…

By this point it seems clear that the LGBT community found a loophole that the Founders did not anticipate. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law…” because they didn’t anticipate that the time would come when the Executive and Judicial branches of government would be writing the laws. Pretty sneaky, Sis!

As I mentioned in my previous treatment of this topic, the LGBT cause is a religion. This is what Merriam-Webster gives as the definition of “religion”:

  • the belief in a god or in a group of gods

  • an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods

  • an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group

The LGBT Movement fits well under any definition of the word. Their god is the LGBT cause. By forcing others to make cakes, take pictures, etc. they are forcing their beliefs on others. In this sense, they are committing the greater sin. The Christian businesses simply declined to provide a service, but they never forced their beliefs on the customer.

The cake is a red herring, though. The real concern is about churches being forced to perform gay marriages. If a Christian can be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding then why can’t a church be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for a gay couple? The answer is obvious: there is no reason. It’s all part of the same argument.

The Mississippi law frustrates me because it feels like an acknowledgement that the First Amendment doesn’t actually provide these protections, which is, of course, false. On the other hand, what choice do states have when the courts have run amok? The courts clearly feel they have the right to deny civil rights to one group in the name of securing rights for another. It becomes all the more frustrating because there are plenty of bakeries and photographers that would be happy to provide services for gay weddings. The LGBT community has decided to target Christian businesses for no reason other than to force their religion on them.

Many of the people screaming on Twitter are outraged by the hate surrounding HB1523. While I’ll agree that the hate is unhinged, I’ll disagree with where it’s coming from. I’ll include just a couple of messages from the top of the list. You can look it up yourself if you want more:

C'mon, guys, what do you expect.These inbred #Mississippi retards haven't even changed their racist flag yet.#HB1523

— imfabulous (@imfabulous13) April 5, 2016

If you can't remember how to spell Mississippi, remember it's:
D-U-M-B-A-S-S-H-O-L-E-S #HB1523

— Benjamin Siemon (@BenjaminJS) April 5, 2016

The solution is obvious, but is certainly unpopular in today’s climate. First, the Constitution guarantees religious liberty. It does not guarantee cakes or wedding photography. The Bill of Rights places restrictions on the government, but does not guarantee services. Phrases such as “shall make no law”, “shall not be infringed” and “shall not be violated” indicate that the Founders intended for limitations to be placed on government, not the people.

There is another side to this coin, though. Gay couples, Constitutionally speaking, should have the right to be married. As should any other combination or quantity of adults. Churches can teach against it and they can refuse to perform these marriages, but people can leave and go find another church that will perform the marriage (there are plenty).

There is no scenario where at least some form of discrimination does not exist. This does not mean hate. It does not mean bigotry. It just means people with different ideas will choose not to do business with each other. If we acknowledge this we can have a peaceful, loving world. By constantly suing and destroying the businesses of those with whom the LGBT community disagrees, they are only perpetuating and exacerbating the problem. They are creating wedges and division and fostering the kind of world they claim to deride.

GOP Debates (America’s Plague)

Against my better judgement, I sat and watched most of the GOP debate tonight. Then, in an act of masochism, I followed along on Twitter as ABC tortured America. It seemed a bit duplicitous to badger the candidates with questions about waterboarding while subjecting viewers to this spectacle.

My discomfort started with the GOP tweeters who were just there to support their candidate and demean all the others. Even Kasich had people tweeting about his knockdown punches. Yeah, I was wondering what they were talking about, too.

Later in the debate – during the discussion on abortion, specifically – the Democrats tweeters suddenly came alive. The two most common comments were that “no one supports abortion at 9 months” and “my body, my choice”. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be comical. These progressive intellectuals proudly standing up for black lives and civilian lives in Libya and the sacred lives of cop-killers and terrorist lives in Guantanamo and the lives of dehydrated border-crossers suddenly forget what they’re about when you talk about truly innocent lives. Then it’s not a life, it’s a choice.

I think I get where they’re coming from. I vehemently disagree, but I try to understand. I’m curious if these so-called pro-choice advocates are capable of understanding the pro-life argument.

Hillary Clinton has made the following comment: “When it comes to women’s health, there are two kinds of experts: women and their doctors.” I imagine a setting with three people sitting in a room – me, my mom and a doctor. My mom and the doctor are deciding whether or not I should be killed. I’m not allowed to say anything; I just have to sit there and accept whatever choice they make. After all, it’s my mom’s choice. If she decides I should die, then I must simply accept it. I wouldn’t want to inconvenience her by continuing to live, even though she brought me into the world.

This scenario seems ridiculous, but it’s exactly what happens when a woman chooses to abort her child. Are pro-choicers capable of seeing abortion this way? I don’t think they are; otherwise, they wouldn’t be so flippant and crass when discussing the issue. Regardless of how you feel about abortion, don’t matters of life and death deserve respect when discussing?

Contrary to their most fundamental beliefs, even the libertarians like to jump on this bus. Apparently, natural rights don’t take effect until an arbitrary future date, which is determined by the government they claim to hate.

How do people come together for a common good? How do we temper the rhetoric? How do we find enough common ground to move forward?

Gay marriage is an example of something we can solve together. One side says gay couples should be able to marry. The other side says they don’t want churches forced to perform gay marriages. The solution? Get the government out of the marriage business. Churches can perform gay marriages or not. You can get a civil contract in order to obtain benefits if necessary. Everyone wins, right? Wrong! Now you have to bake me a cake.

We have an acceptable solution right in front of us, but one side refuses to accept it. Both sides, to some extent. How do we overcome this? Is there any hope?

I’m asking seriously, because I don’t know. A lot of my confusion is caused by my changing beliefs (a subject for a future episode). I thought America was on the same ride as me when the Tea Party appeared. I thought we were in it together to restore America to her former glory! In 2010, we rocked the politicians on both sides as an answer to the establishment collusion on Obamacare. Now, we seem to be falling back asleep. When candidates talk about repealing Obamacare it mostly elicits a golf clap or two.

On the Democrat side, half their party is willing to overlook the felonious actions of their front-runner. On the Republican side, they say they must defeat Hillary at any cost! Even if it means electing a candidate who doesn’t share our values and beliefs (even Hitler would be better than Hillary!).

We’re better than this. I think the Republicans just need to pop a caffeine pill and make sure they’re awake and on task a little bit longer. Hopefully, the Democrats will have their own Tea Party-style awakening and will begin to reject their establishment. When they do, we all need to be ready to come together. I think the old phrase “united we stand, divided we fall” is particularly true for our time. Washington calculates ways to drive a wedge between people and for too long we’ve fallen for it.

Now that we know their game, it’s up to us to rewrite the rules…