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Are Flower Arrangements Protected Free Speech? Cato Argues Yes.

Institute files brief in support of florist fined for refusing gay wedding.

But is it art?Credit: Muffet / photo on flickrThe Cato Institute is wading into the State of Washington's case against Arlene's Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman. Stutzman has been charged with violating the state's public accommodation laws by declining to provide floral arrangements for a gay couple's wedding. She felt that doing so would compromise her Christian beliefs.

Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber have composed an amicus brief in support of Stutzman's position and against the state of Washington's contention that she cannot refuse to serve a gay couple. She was fined $1,000 by the state and is appealing. The argument Cato is presenting is not solely to defend freedom of association. Apologies to any libertarians out there who were hoping for a full defense that Stutzman should be able serve whomever she wants. But this is an amicus brief for a court case relying on existing precedents.

Rather, they are arguing that what florists provide counts as an "expressive art" and therefore requiring Stutzman to provide her services in contradiction to her religious beliefs constitutes "compelled speech," and that's a big no-no. Shaprio explains:

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that the First Amendment protects artistic as well as verbal expression, and that protection should likewise extend to floristry—even if it's not ideological and even if it's done for commercial purposes. The Supreme Court declared more than 70 years ago that "[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). And the Court ruled in Wooley v. Maynard—the 1977 "Live Free or Die" license-plate case out of New Hampshire—that forcing people to speak is just as unconstitutional as preventing or censoring speech.

The First Amendment "includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all" and the Supreme Court has never held that the compelled-speech doctrine is only applicable when an individual is forced to serve as a courier for the message of another (as in Wooley). Instead, the justices have said repeatedly that what the First Amendment protects is a "freedom of the individual mind," which the government violates whenever it tells a person what she must or must not say.

Forcing a florist to create a unique piece of art violates that freedom of mind. Moreover, unlike true cases of public accommodation, there are abundant opportunities to choose other florists in the same area.

You can read their full brief here.

So the challenge will be convincing the courts that what florists do is a form of expression, and that might be a fight. In the cases against bakers that refused to provide wedding cakes to gay couples, we've seen courts reject arguments that a cake itself is a form of expression. Any messages on cakes can separately be seen as speech, and thus we've seen court cases where bakers cannot be compelled to write things they find offensive. But the cake itself is not considered speech (Read here for further analysis).

Even if the court decides that flowers are a form of expression, don't necessarily count on a ruling supporting Stutzman. Most of us recognize photography as a protected form of free speech and expression, but New Mexico's Supreme Court upheld a decision that a photography studio couldn't refuse to shoot a lesbian couple's wedding under the state's public accommodation laws. The Supreme Court, in 2014, declined to take up the case. Shapiro expects that whoever loses the Stutzman case will also be petitioning the Supreme Court for review.

Photo Credit: Muffet / photo on flickr

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  • UnCivilServant||

    Did the cake cases ever make it to the supremes?

  • Ted S.||

    Someone left my cake out in the rain. :-(

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Ironic.

  • Rich||

    So the challenge will be convincing the courts that what florists do is a form of expression, and that might be a fight.

    Paging Sandi ….

  • Mongo||

    Good argument, Cato. I agree fully.

  • Mongo||

    If this case happened 20 years ago, Cato's argument would've had buzzwords like 'sodomites' and 'faeries' and 'dope-smokers' and other panicky terms. They seem to have pulled their nerd heads out of their crusty asses over the years.

  • Robert||

    Does that mean the 20 yrs. preceding that, they put their heads in? Because 40 YA they sure weren't that way.

  • Mongo||

    They were too neocon-ish for me up until around 2k.

  • Robert||

    Seriously? Even in the 1970s? Or early 1980s?

  • Mongo||

    They weren't on my radar until the late 80s, Robert. They were a bit goofy in the 90s, probably cuz of Slick Willie.

    A few of my friends who followed politics razzed me because of the association between libertarians and Cato back then.

  • Robert||

    Then I can assure you that before they were on your radar, they weren't like that at all. The accus'n from libertarians then was that Cato was going overboard to appeal to the "left".

  • R C Dean||

    I hope they win, and I get it that free association is a dead letter in our courts.

    I'm curious why this couldn't have gone off under a different clause of the 1A, namely, the Free Exercise Clause.

  • Zeb||

    Well, if you open the door to the free exercise argument there are all kinds of things you can't force people to do or punish them for.
    If refusing to sell flowers to homos counts as religious practice, then, say, snorting coke off a hookers ass could be too. I think that would be ideal, but I don't think the courts want to go down that road. Real free exercise of religion is just as dead as free association.

    I also think that free association is the way to go because it is a broader right that applies to everyone and doesn't get into trying to figure out what counts as religious practice, which is just a mess and means courts are in the business of defining people's religions for them.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Or, as Cosmopolitan put it, "Farm That Refused to Host a Lesbian Wedding Fined $13,000
    People, people, people. It does not pay to discriminate, OK?"

    The court is now fining the farm $13,000, saying they can express their religious beliefs all they want, but they have to allow same-sex couples to marry there if they're going to allow opposite-sex couples to do so.

    Not surprisingly, the Giffords' attorney Caleb Dalton said on the website for the Alliance Defending Freedom that they would attempt to appeal it again.

    Which I guess is easier than, oh I don't know, not discriminating against a couple who wants to give you a ton of money to get married on your farm.


    So socially liberal, much freedoms

  • Mongo||

    Man, why would anyone want to patronize a place where they're unwelcome.

  • ||

    It isnt about that, it is about punishing people who don't have the right views.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Because all these clowns are of the mind that thinks passing a law solves the problem. It doesn't even have to be written well, because good intentions are what matter. The actual passage and signing is just ceremonial.

    I am serious. They really think that once the court decision is made, the farm, baker, florist, photographer will gracefully accept the wisdom of their betters, and all will be sweetness and light. They simply cannot put themselves in the other person's shoes. If you could get their attention long enough to ask them how gracefully they accepted, oh, say, Citizen United, they would be apoplectic with rage, because you are not one of their betters.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Well they're right that discrimination costs money. Even absent the fines, they're turning down money by refusing gay couples. Indeed, part of the libertarian argument against anti-discrimination laws is that peoples' greed will overcome their antiquated superstitions.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    You're definitely right if the goal is to make sure gays are generally provided for -- but the goal is apparently to make sure any other viewpoint is verboten. In that case, simply letting the market work won't do much to further that goal.

  • Zeb||

    It won't completely accomplish the goal, but I think it does get you a lot closer to it.

    But You are right. Many people want anti-gay bigotry to itself be a crime.

  • This Machine||

    Which I guess is easier than, oh I don't know, not discriminating against a couple who wants to give you a ton of money to get married on your farm.

    It's pretty telling that they don't seem to understand that, believe it or not, there are some things you can't pay people enough to do. Or rather, that some people's convictions can't be bought out.

  • ||

    Do we really need more than one kind of marriage? For that matter, do we really need more than one form of fucking? Folks are just blowing all their libido and wasting energy that is owed to the collective as investment in the payments promised by the social contract they signed as weenlings. Human action needs to be rigidly limitted to the minimal necessary to achieve the maximum felicifical calculus of the homogenised collective.

    I'm reminded of a really brutal fourth grade teacher under whose protection I briefly served. During class, one could hear her screaming obscenities through the walls into the adjacent classrooms, and she loved to go round patrolling during recess and cuss people out or send them in for whippings or what have you. Anyway, one of her stereotypical approaches was to demand if whatever a student was doing at the time were necessary. And if you couldn't say "Yes, it is," and defend the position, she treated it as proof that punishment were called for. Ne way, my mother got to observe this and rather emphaticly expressed her view that that was an outrageously absurd basis for restricting any behavior. Something about, "Who cares if it's necessary?"

  • Bubba Jones||

    What happens if that farm posts a sign denouncing gay marriage for all the guests to see? Vandalism?

  • Ship of Theseus||

    I want to know the answer to this so bad...

  • Foo_dd||

    the extremes on this issue are so stupid. i can see freedom to refuse participation. ministers, venue owners, heck, even the photographer and catering (they have to be there). it is absolutely nuts to expect someone uncomfortable with gay marriage to allow the services to happen on their property. I've let family members stay at my house in the past, several times... it does not mean i should be compelled to take in a meth head. if you are a service provider of services that require your direct participation in the services, they you absolutely should be free to refuse

    but how can anyone seriously argue for someone refusing to sell a generic product? where is the line before this becomes obviously wrong? can a tire shop refuse to install new tires on the car they might drive away in? can a liquor store refuse to sell them champagne? department store refuse to sell towels and toasters being bought as gifts? yes, i know, freedom of association, and freedom to do business with who you want... but at what point does it become obvious discrimination, and at what point does the "religious objections" argument get the bullshit flag thrown?

    i think it is right, in principle, that they have the right to refuse, but at what point does the reason they are refusing become indefensible?

  • Ymmarta||

    Libertarians only care about non-aggression. No one has a constitutional right to be sold a product, no matter how reasonable or ridiculous the reason for discrimination.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Apologies to any libertarians out there who were hoping for a full defense that Stutzman should be able serve whomever she wants.

    That's not even close to a winning argument anyway.

  • John||

    Sadly it is not. But hey, these people don't matter much. How many people really have a religious objection to a gay wedding? I am sure things will settle down and the progs won't move on to stepping on anyone else' rights.

  • BearOdinson||

    And cue outrage towards Cato from Nikki......

  • This Machine||

    Those bakers are suppressing cultural choices, Bear! It's unlibertarian!

  • pan fried wylie||

    the State of Washington's case against Arlene's Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman.

    "The bitches name ain't even 'Arlene', your Honor!"

  • Rich||

    LOL

  • Rich||

    Serious question: Has anybody asked required a gay baker to provide a "Sodomy Is Sin" cake, or something like that?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    There was a story, if I recall, about someone who wanted an anti abortion message from a business that wasn't comfortable with such chicanery. Don't remember the outcome.

  • Scott S.||

    Somebody has kind of tried that. The thing is, as I explained, courts have determined that text or images on cakes can count as speech, but the cakes themselves are not. So you can't make a baker say "Sodomy is sin" on a cake, but you apparently can make them sell wedding cakes to protected classes (if they make wedding cakes).

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The baking of the cake is of course labor. And we have a word right there on the dictionary for labor forced from someone.

  • Curt||

    Not forced labor... they always have the choice of going out of business.

  • John||

    Serving a black person is "labor" too. The CRA was an extreme measure taken in response to an extreme set of circumstances. Even if you support the CRA, anyone who is honest has to admit that it is a total violation of people's freedom of association. Sadly, it is not seen that way. It is now seen as just what government does.

    The CRA would not be so bad if it were seen as a one time necessary infringement on freedom of association. Instead, it is seen as a unalloyed good because somehow freedom of association doesn't exist in the context of running a business. And that is a really bad thing.

  • Robert||

    Pretty much, it's a consequence of the psychology coming from the fact that businesses are typically 1-to-many: many customers, many employees, just 1 firm or owner. So it's easy to sacrifice the choice of the 1 to the choices of the many. Plus employees typically work for 1 boss at a time.

  • ||

    'Pretty much, it's a consequence of the psychology coming from the fact that businesses are typically 1-to-many: many customers, many employees, just 1 firm or owner. So it's easy to sacrifice the choice of the 1 to the choices of the many. Plus employees typically work for 1 boss at a time.'

    I don't see how that follows. By that reasoning, if one guy in town has an original Dürer sketch and five people in town want it, they should easily get it, since it's easy to sacrifice the property of the one to the seizin of the many. You can't even make a fucking Marxist argument here, as a caker's means of production is pretty much avaible to anybody who wants it in this country. It's not like the cakermaker's guild is going to come down on you for keeping a baking dish and a jar of mayonnaise without permission. If anything, others should be beholden to the business owner as he allowing them the choice of making cakes without having to fiddle with all the managerial and property issues. If he wasn't providing value, nobody would work there.

  • Jerryskids||

    It's not like the cakermaker's guild is going to come down on you for keeping a baking dish and a jar of mayonnaise without permission.

    WTF kind of cakes are you making with mayonnaise? And why isn't the cakemaker's guild coming down on you for making them?

  • Robert||

    People are more sympathetic to the many than the one perceived to wield the money. People don't look at it as providing choice any more than they look at the landlord of relieving them of the headaches of ownership.

    So why do you think these laws are applied to employers & vendors, but not employees or customers?

  • ||

    "Even if you support the CRA, anyone who is honest has to admit that it is a total violation of people's freedom of association."

    So is restricting a citizen's freedom to contract as he pleases with lawless immigrants.

  • John||

    Sure, except that that right isn't protected by the constitution and the right to free association is. If you don't like immigration laws, change the constitution. And enjoy the short time you get with your new Constitution before the immigrants you have invited in change it to something that suits their tastes.

  • ||

    Freedom to contract with persons of one's choice is entirely within the realm of freedom of association. And in a free country, I would be free to chuse which immigrants, if any, I would like to associate with. If the kind came round that none of us wanted around, we could chuse not to do business with them. Furthermore, simply allowing citizens to contract with aliens would not grant aliens any special powers to influence the government. The problem would follow, however, on any offsprings they engendered here, but that sort of goes for the offsprings of citizens as well. I also think it's a bit of a stretch to argue that the constitutional controls on citizenship grant the state broader authority to interfere with the freedom of movement and association, not that it's entirely impossible, however.

  • ||

    For what it's worth, I agree that many of the cultures that send their people to USA are naturally inimical to freedom, but liberty can not be safeguarded by means of practices that nullifies it.

  • Zeb||

    liberty can not be safeguarded by means of practices that nullifies it

    Well said.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    That's akin to arguing that self-defense is murder. When a group of people express their desire to limit my freedoms am I not allowed to limit their freedom to do so? Especially if they are not presently citizens?

  • Jickerson||

    When a group of people express their desire to limit my freedoms am I not allowed to limit their freedom to do so?

    If they take actions that harm you, or try to, then you can defend yourself. Expressing a desire is perfectly fine.

    If someone advocates censorship, should they be censored? I don't think so.

  • Zeb||

    Groups don't have desires. Individuals do. So, yes, limiting the rights of a group because of the desires of some of its members is wrong. A whole fuckload of US citizens want to limit our freedoms too. Are you also calling for laws to shut up Bernie Sanders supporters?

  • Oshtur||

    And in this case the inviting the public to do business is willingly associating with that same public and the business relationship is considered to start there, i.e. the business has used it freedom of association by advertising to the public.

    This is in contrast to the two business models that aren't covered by civil rights, private clubs and non-profits. Both use their 'freedom of association' to find a subset of the public and once identified make just them the invitation of sale.

    Everyone knows what qualities are considered civil rights where their business operates. If the owner's 'conscience' won't let them associate with the general public and respect their civil rights then then need to run a private club, non-profit, or just not bother to sell the 'conscience'-burdening thing. What they can't do is advertise to everyone and then have an illegal civil rights 'test' the customer must pass for them to actually take them up on their freely given invitation of sale.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Forced labor is beside the point.

    Free speech protects stupid speech.

    The First Amendment protects stupid speech, and it protects stupid religious beliefs, too.

    The government should not be able to compel people to violate their religious convictions. We don't make the Amish send their children to school past the eighth grade because of that. Going back to World War II, we've let draftees refuse to carry a gun and serve in the military as conscientious objectors because of their religious convictions.

    Why are gay weddings so important that suddenly people's religious convictions don't matter anymore?

  • John||

    Why are gay weddings so important that suddenly people's religious convictions don't matter anymore?

    Because gay marriage was never the point. The point was to use gay marriage as legal club to effectively make certain religious beliefs impossible to hold in public.

    And reason jump in and helped them do that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    That wasn't why I supported gay marriage. I just didn't want the government arbitrarily discriminating against people.

    I think it's true that there is a certain amount of vindictiveness to this.

    I suspect gay activists are going around targeting businesses that are overtly Christian in some way--just so they can bring suits like this against them. And I think it is meant to intimidate Christians into shutting up about their Christianity in public.

    There's a very fine line in the gay rights community. They have a tradition of things like gay pride parades that many participants use to express outright defiance of traditional Christian morals. Many of them may have grown up in Christian households and Christian churches, where they were taught to despise themselves because of their orientation. I'm sure some of them really do see Christianity as the enemy--and maybe they're right!

    So what?

    The legitimate purpose of the courts is to protect our rights. It's supposed to protect the rights of gays from the Christians who would violate their rights, and it's supposed to protect the rights of Christians from attacks by gays, too. Instead, the courts are becoming the instrument by which gays violate the rights of Christians--and that isn't going to stop until the courts stand up and do their job in protecting Christians' rights.

  • John||

    That wasn't why I supported gay marriage. I just didn't want the government arbitrarily discriminating against people.

    That is nice Ken. But since you didn't put your support for gay marriage contingent on some assurance this kind of thing would not happen, you helped those who did see it as a way to ban religious expression accomplish their goal.

    And the gays as a group hate the Christians and are happy to stomp on them. I hope they enjoy their time in the sun because it won't last forever. At some point they will no longer be useful to the Prog cause and will go back to being the tiny despised minority they always have been.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Since you didn't put your support for gay marriage contingent on some assurance this kind of thing would not happen, you helped those who did see it as a way to ban religious expression accomplish their goal."

    Does opposing anti-miscegenation laws mean I support accommodation, too?

    I don't think so.

    "At some point they will no longer be useful to the Prog cause and will go back to being the tiny despised minority they always have been."

    They aren't like other minorities that can breed themselves into a geographic area and dominate by sheer numbers. They have to come out of the closet.

    So the continued protection for their rights in a democracy depends on their willingness to continue to stand up for their rights. This encourages militancy. The more we neglect protecting their rights, the more militant we should expect them to become. . . . more so than with other minorities.

    If you want to marginalize gay rights activists completely, completely stand up for their rights.

  • John||

    Does opposing anti-miscegenation laws mean I support accommodation, too?

    No. it means you view taking away the right to freely associate as a regrettable but acceptable price to end miscegenation laws.

    The bottom line is you like gays and hate these people and while you would like to protect both groups' rights, you are willing to walk on one to give the other their government marriage pony.

    Spare me your faux concern. However much you care about this issue, you care about gay marriage more.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You've gone way too far--and you're pushing a false dichotomy.

    I maintain that the First Amendment supersedes the equal protection of the Fourteenth. In fact, that the Fourteenth is a conduit for our First Amendment rights.

    If I maintain that the Fourteenth Amendment really holds that everyone's First Amendment's rights should be protected equally, then how can I be accused of favoring Fourteenth equal protection over First Amendment religious freedom?

    Regardless, opposing government discrimination against gay people doesn't mean I support discrimination against Christians--and one of the reasons I know this is because I oppose the government discriminating against individuals in both groups for the same reasons.

    False dichotomy.

  • John||

    It is not a false dichotomy Ken. I am not saying you don't support both. I am saying reality forced you to choose one or the other. The choice wasn't to have both. It was have no gay marriage and preserve religious freedom or have gay marriage and lose it. Everyone on this issue was forced to make a choice which they considered more important. You made you choice, Live with it and stop telling yourself bullshit about how you didn't want this to happen. So fucking what? You knew this was going to happen and supported gay arraignment anyway. So have the moral honesty to admit that when given a choice you took gay marriage over religious liberty and spare me your post hoc rationalizations about how you wish the world were different than it is.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The choice wasn't to have both. It was have no gay marriage and preserve religious freedom or have gay marriage and lose it."

    I did not choose for the courts to disregard the rights of Christians.

    Ever.

    "You knew this was going to happen and supported gay arraignment anyway."

    There was no reason to believe that having equal protection for gays on the list--along with protection for creed--would mean that orientation superseded religion.

    Do you or don't you believe that the courts are getting this wrong? I think they're getting it wrong by forcing fundamentalist bakers to cater gay weddings in defiance of the baker's religious convictions, and me not thinking the courts would get it wrong certainly doesn't mean I wanted them to protect the rights of gay people at the expense of Christians.

    Furthermore, even if I was wrong to think the courts would get it right, that doesn't mean I wanted the courts to get it wrong either.

    You're going off the rails.

  • John||

    There was no reason to believe that having equal protection for gays on the list--along with protection for creed--would mean that orientation superseded religion.

    No reason, just people like me and RC Dean and a lot of other people telling everyone who would listen this is what was going to happen. I spent way too much time on here warning people about this result was inevitable. And I was called a bigot for my troubles.

    So forgive me if I am now in no mood to listen to your's or anyone else protestations that you had no idea this would be the result. You were warned and didn't listen.

    And I am not saying you wanted it. I am saying you made a choice and that choice has consequences.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I am saying you made a choice and that choice has consequences."

    These choices were made without my vote.

    Ultimately, the choice was made by the court.

    I did not support the government discriminating against gay people--verbally. No one on the court called me up and asked me to break any ties.

    Meanwhile, I have never supported violating the rights of Christians.

    And the idea that in order to protect the rights of Christians, the government has to discriminate against gay people is absurd. The courts could have gotten it right--and they still might. We'll have to wait and see--and blab, like we always do, on Hit & Run while we're waiting.

    P.S. I come from a background that was so strict, the Baptists in our area used to point at our church and say, "Those people take the Bible too literally". I come from a long line of ministers. My cousins, uncles, grandfather, great grandfather--all ministers. I was supposed to be a minister, but I was rebellious. I discovered rock and roll and girls early, and it ruined me forever.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp4339EbVn8

    But the idea that I would support violating the rights of Christians is so far out there, it's ridiculous.

  • Jerryskids||

    John is unhinged on the gays.

    Supporting gay marriage was a proposition that Christians should stop bashing the gays and John warned us that if we stopped the Christians from bashing the gays the gays would then start bashing the Christians. And he was right. But so what? Now we're supporting the proposition that the gays should stop bashing the Christians. Had we held to John's position, we would have supported the very real gay-bashing in the name of preventing the hypothetical Christian bashing instead of supporting the proposition that nobody should be bashing anybody.

  • Zeb||

    These choices were made without my vote.

    Ultimately, the choice was made by the court.

    Exactly. I don't know why John thinks that what you or I say about gay marriage has any influence on the current state of the law.

  • Oshtur||

    There was no Christian discrimination - if the business owner's religion won't let them sell wedding floral services as the law requires she need not offer them for sale. Same as you can't force an Amish owned store to sell cell phones. But if either business does offer these things for sale they can be purchased by anyone, even someone who thinks same sex couples can marry and even the Amish customer who wants to buy a cell phone.

    Once the product is out there, they can't religiously discriminate against the customer no matter what their the business owner's opinions are of their beliefs. The first amendment protects the business from offering something for sale, and it protects the customer that wants to buy what has been offered for sale.

  • Zeb||

    But since you didn't put your support for gay marriage contingent on some assurance this kind of thing would not happen, you helped those who did see it as a way to ban religious expression accomplish their goal.

    OK. Why do you think it matters? What would have happened differently if Ken had done that?

  • John||

    i am not saying he should be punished. I am just saying the people on here need to stop kidding themselves and thinking they care about religious liberty. They don't. They only care about it as long as doing so doesn't require any sacrifice or balancing of any of concern. Religious liberty is the lowest priority for people like Ken and Jersey kids and they need to just be honest and stop pretending otherwise

  • Ken Shultz||

    How do you feel about the religious rights of Muslims, John?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Forced labor might not be a problem for you, but it might be for others.

    Sure, it's all sufficiently divorced from the concept of slavery as most people think about it, because they compensated them in dollars instead of a shack on the back 40 and a salt ration. The moment you decide that you have an inherent right to receive a service from another human being, it's not complicated.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I agree to a point . . .

    When the government "forces" someone to abide by the terms of a contract they willingly signed, "force" isn't the right word. How can the government really force you to do something you willingly agreed to do in a contract?

    When the government "forces" someone to go to jail, it isn't really the government that does it. A jury of your peers means specifically that it wasn't the government that sent you to jail. And one of the things the jury is supposed to find before they send you there is that you had mens rea--that when you violated someone's rights, it was an intentional act. Even criminal negligence generally means that you willfully chose to not do something that ultimately violated someone'a rights. I would argue that the real job of a jury is to determine whether the defendant willingly forfeited his or her rights.

    Accommodation laws aren't like that. They're basically saying that you have been forced into a contract and terms to which you never agreed.

    I'm not sure that's the same as forced labor, but it's definitely an injustice--if you define injustice as when the government violates someone's rights.

  • Zeb||

    There was more to slavery than that. Force could be used to stop slaves from escaping for a start.

    This is like slavery in some ways, but it's not the same thing as slavery.

  • ||

    "The government should not be able to compel people to violate their religious convictions. We don't make the Amish send their children to school past the eighth grade because of that."

    But up till the eighth grade, compulsory education is somehow not a violation? That makes no sense. It either is or isn't. There's no magical transformation that occurs there, except, from my experience, school gets to be TOTALLY pointless after the eighth grade, even at decent schools. Also, I think there's some fundamental fuckup in the modern, chiefly, I think, progressist, conceit of "education". For one thing, it doesn't seem like anybody that uses the term actually means anything palpable by it. Another, it seems to be paired with the belief that nobody ever learns anything unless forced under threat of violence and under instruction by a professional "educator", whose entire raison d'être is pure education.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "But up till the eighth grade, compulsory education is somehow not a violation? That makes no sense. It either is or isn't."

    Well, whether it's compulsory depends on the religious beliefs of the Amish, doesn't it?

    The question at the time was whether the government should remove Amish children from their parents if their parents don't send them to school past the eighth grade.

    Whether compulsory education is a good idea or not, I'll leave to another thread. My point was that the Court has protected rights like that based solely on religion. There are plenty of people who would argue that Amish children are harmed by not being educated past the eighth grade. The courts in their wisdom realized that protecting people's rights is better than whatever was to be gained by violating them--it was principles over principals*.

    What makes gay marriage so special that suddenly Christians rights aren't to be respected?

    The first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor fought in World War II. He was an Adventist and wouldn't kill for that reason. Not even fighting World War II made us stop respecting the religious rights of draftees!

    Respecting religious rights was more important than fighting World War II? Respecting religious rights was more important than whether children got an education?

    What makes gay marriage so much more special than that--and it's now okay to disregard the rights of Christians?

    *credit to sarcasmic

  • John||

    It is all about who is and who is not a protected class. Political views are not a "protected class". It is perfectly legal for a business to discriminate against people based on their political views. So a business can say "no I don't serve people who are pro choice" just like they can say "we don't serve Cowboys' fans". Discrimination is only actionable if it is discrimination based on membership in a protected class.

    I can't tell you the amount of ink I have spilled trying to explain that to people on here, especially as it relates to equal protection. I still can't understand why people find that such a hard concept to grasp.

  • ||

    True, but it's also an outrageous infringement and not really supportable.

  • R C Dean||

    I can't tell you the amount of ink I have spilled trying to explain that to people on here, especially as it relates to equal protection. I still can't understand why people find that such a hard concept to grasp.

    Its because many cling to the formal, logical distinction between gay marriage and protected classes, and refuse to admit that, in our current legal and political system, going to the courts under the Equal Protection Clause to win your battle is practically and functionally intertwined with becoming a protected class that also will have the privilege of forcing people to "accommodate" them.

    No matter how many times you point out that this is playing out exactly as we predicted based on that practical and functional reality, they simple cling to legalistic formality.

  • kbolino||

    No matter how many times you point out that this is playing out exactly as we predicted based on that practical and functional reality, they simple cling to legalistic formality.

    So, X and Y are correlated. How have you disproved that another factor Z caused both X and Y?

    Protected-class status and gay marriage at the mainstream cultural level are both expressions of the same cultural phenomenon. The first anti-discrimination laws to include gays were passed in the 1970s before anyone was even talking about gay marriage.

    Something can play out exactly as you predicted and yet not for the reasons you thought.

  • R C Dean||

    True enough. Possible that a 50 state legislative fix would also have broght protected class laws. We'll never know.

  • Rich||

    text or images on cakes can count as speech, but the cakes themselves are not.

    Bullshit.

  • Ken Shultz||

    What he's saying is that a gay baker might object to what is written on the cake or even, as in your linked examples, the form of the cake. But that's different from refusing to bake a cake at all for someone--because that person is a Christian.

    The baker can say, "I'm not comfortable with writing that on a cake". The baker can say, "I'm not comfortable with making a cake that looks like that".

    The baker can't say, "I refuse to bake any cake saying anything or in any form--because you're a Christian".

  • Rich||

    What if the baker says, "Sure, I'll bake that cake--but it'll set you back $600K"?

  • Ken Shultz||

    That's another court case--about whether charging some customers an impossible price is the same thing as refusing to accommodate.

    I was just trying to get you to see that there is a difference between refusing to write something specific or bake a cake in a certain form--on the one hand--and refusing to do it at all--on the other--specifically because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sex, or orientation of the customer.

    They're trying to rule on the one thing without implying anything about the other, though--and I think that's bogus. If they want to say something about free expression, they should do it on a case where the main reason the baker refuses to bake the cake isn't her religious convictions.

  • R C Dean||

    The real test won't be asking a gay baker to bake a cake with anti-gay words, etc.

    It will be asking the gay baker to cater a anti-gay event.

    Which, because being anti-gay isn't a protected class, xe will be free to refuse.

    See? Fairness and justice.

  • Trshmnstr, terror of the trash||

    The baker can say, "I'm not comfortable with writing that on a cake". The baker can say, "I'm not comfortable with making a cake that looks like that".

    The baker can't say, "I refuse to bake any cake saying anything or in any form--because you're a Christian".

    I'm still waiting for somebody to request a cake from the gay bakery for their celebration that they prayed the gay away.

    "Hello Mr. Gay Baker, I just want a plain cake that says 'Congratulations!' My son just finished going through a gay reversion therapy. We prayed the gay away!"

  • ||

    Wot a bunch of dopes those fags that wrote the cocksucking constitution. How could they fail to anticipate the need for an explicitly named freedom of action? The only explanation is that they didn't intend for it to be protected and only believed in a right to press, religion, and speech, and carrying a big knife round town, but not in freedom of action anywhere else in life.

  • Bubba Jones||

    What happens if I drop the cake in the parking lot of the reception?

  • Ken Shultz||

    FWIW, it seems unlikely that a gay baker would object to making a "Sodomy Is Sin" cake on religious grounds. To me, that would be a much better case for free expression--rather than freedom of religion. The objection isn't likely to be that the gay baker refuses on the grounds that writing "Sodomy Is Sin" violates the baker's religious convictions. Chances are, the baker will be willing to write something else--he probably doesn't object to making a cake for anti-gay Christians because they're Christians.

    The objection of the Christian baker is that she doesn't want to provide a cake at all. Her objection isn't to what's written on the cake. There isn't an equal protection law stating that you can't refuse to accommodate people because of what they say.

    There aren't accommodation laws saying that you must accommodate Nazis because they're Nazis.

    However, there are laws saying you can't refuse to accommodate gay people for being gay.

  • Rich||

    Religion is sure confusing.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Protecting people's rights is a pain in the ass.

    Messy business.

    Like real life.

    Totalitarianism is easy.

    You tell people what to do. They either do it or get tortured to death.

    Bury the dissenters in big mass graves or dump their bodies in the middle of the ocean.

    No mess.

  • ||

    Freedom is only difficult because of the lack of ethics.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'd argue that it's the presence of ethics that makes freedom difficult.

    And so be it.

    Totalitarianism isn't difficult at all. No hand-wringing, certainly. No ethics to contend with.

  • Deep Lurker||

    The NRA has occasionally tried to buy ads in the New York Times, and the New York Times refused to sell them ad space.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Apologies to any libertarians out there who were hoping for a full defense that Stutzman should be able serve whomever she wants. But this is an amicus brief for a court case relying on existing precedents."

    No apologies necessary. I just don't get why these angles need to be pursued when the government is fining someone because of her religious beliefs--in violation of both First Amendment establishment and free exercise rights.

    Is it because the courts don't want to say that the equal protection clause overrides the First Amendment?

    Visa versa?

    If they rule on this without addressing that question, won't their decision be cited by others as evidence that First Amendment rights don't enter into these fines?

    Are our First Amendment religious rights only relevant if they involve free speech somehow?

  • ||

    I would suggest that it's because freedom of religion is formulated almost entirely in such a way as to be uselessly narrow. Sure, it might be a valid argument in this case, but there's no hope of really broadening it to any extent that makes a big difference in things, whereas freedom of speech has actually be conveyed very broadly at times and there is some chance of getting it extended to a much wider range of activities, thereby making a bigger difference.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't think it's useless or narrow.

    It came out of the Peace of Westphalia. It's just the idea 1) That people should be free to choose their own religion regardless of the religion of their rulers and 2) They should be free to practice their religion without interference from the government.

    Much of the problem in the ongoing wars in the Middle East are over this very issue. The Shia are fighting as if their religious freedom depends on who wins--and the Sunnis are fighting likewise. If they had developed the Peace of Westphalia out of the tumultuous wars coming out of the Reformation, a lot of the impetus for these wars would disappear.

    I think establishment and free exercise are written exactly as they should be. I think the way they're written into the Constitution closely approximates our natural rights as they've been discovered and refined through real life experience in the aftermath of the Reformation, etc. You want peace and a lack of religious strife? Then you need two aspects to freedom of religion. 1) Everyone picks their own religion regardless of the religion of the government (freedom from establishment) 2) Everyone gets to practice their own religion (free exercise). I really don't see how the First Amendment could be improved or written any better than it is.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I have big complaints about the way it's being interpreted, but I don't know what we're supposed to do about SC justices who won't call it like it is for fear of the consequences of getting this shit right. Certainly, rewriting it won't solve that problem. If regulating "interstate commerce" means you can't grow wheat on your own property for your own use, then anything can mean anything they can imagine.

  • Old Mexican Mighty Aggressor||

    Forcing a florist to create a unique piece of art violates that freedom of mind. Moreover, unlike true cases of public accommodation, there are abundant opportunities to choose other florists in the same area.


    That's a quaint argument. The problem is that it does not address the fundamental issue which is that daring to sell something to the public means ipso facto people are entitled to it because public necessity and public accommodation or some collectivist shit like that. So you can stick your artistic freedom argument up your ass. Do you understand, you anarchists?

    Just what is it about "Your Property Belongs To Us" don't you understand?

    /Marxian, from planet Marx.

  • John||

    See my post above. The problem isn't so much the CRA. If the courts had affirmed the CRA and said "yes people have a right to do business and associate with anyone they want but the government can in some really compelling instances infringe on that right", the CRA would not have been the unmitigated disaster for freedom that it has turned out to be. Instead, the court didn't even consider that issue and just assumed no one operating a business open to the public has any right to free association.

  • Inigo Montoya, Micro-Aggressor||

    "Just what is it about 'Your Property Belongs To Us' don't you understand?"

    Well, for starters, I thought the phrase was "All your bases are belong to us."

    I'm okay with that, because I don't own any bases and don't know any private individual who owns a base. But tyhe idea that my private property actually belongs to someone else I do have a problem with. It's not so much a lack of understanding the idea as it is a rejection of it because it is an asinine idea.

  • ||

    I own a whole set of bases. I'm touching them right now.

  • ||

    'Just what is it about "Your Property Belongs To Us" don't you understand?'

    But they using the inclusive "us".

  • R C Dean||

    Moreover, unlike true cases of public accommodation,there are abundant opportunities to choose other florists in the same area

    That makes it sound like my rights are dependent on whether you have alternatives to me. I don't like that approach, at all.

    Those of us who do a lot of contracting and employment work are aware of how easy it is for any one person's services to be viewed as unique and non-substitutable. And, really, if someone stops coming in to work themselves, and sends a substitute, you don't just keep paying the guy who isn't coming in, even if the work is getting done.

    Once you accept that any person's work is unique, you have admitted there are no real opportunities to find a substitute, and you have stripped them of their free association rights.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    Clearly a ruse to throw true liberty lovers off the scent. The cosmos at Cato aren't fooling us. Punishing Christian florists is exactly what they wanted!

    Good luck to them. I'm not sure they'll be wholly successful in classifying flowers as artistic expression, but that may be the best option to win.

  • John||

    No it is not what they wanted. But foreseeable consequences are effectively not unintended.

    Do they want this? Of course not. But it is in CATO's mind a regrettable but necessary price to get the greater good of gay marriage. They will do their best to reverse this, sure. They would never have conditioned their support of gay marriage on any kind of guarantee or precaution against this happening, however. So while they don't like it, they have always been willing to let these people pay a price to get gay marriage if that was what it took.

    I am sure they are real sorry and all. But in the end, the CATO and reason view is "well that is just too damn bad."

  • ||

    They just suffer that weird disconect I see in a certain subset of libertarians that fails to see the qualitative difference between something like gay marriage and having your ears bored out with a hot poker because you weren't paying attention at government church. John Ringo wrote an empassioned exposition about this, saying it much better than me, somewhere, in one of those stupid commentaries he likes to force down the throats of people who want him to tell the damned story and shut up with his right wing polemics.

  • ||

    I'm hard pressed to think of a real job that should't qualify as an artistic expression by an honest observer. Fuck, my father did construction, chiefly. Buildings early on. Last I saw, there was a couple of his designs in the state capital. Later he got more into road construction and big landscaping projects, especially the ones where somebody wants to turn an impossible scrap of nearly vertical mountainside into a livable environment but doesn't want it to be apparent that it was ever actually altered by the minds of men. Just digging a hole was almost mesmerising, to watch him. He was definitely engaged in artistic expression. And there were jobs he turned down on æsthetic bases. Many times. It was doable. The client would pay. But it just wasn't compatible with his ethos. Meanwhile, the painter of pictures (actually, the same picture over and over and over, with slight variations in colour and size) that I worked for, if it was an artistic expression, then it was the art of routinising and thorough kitschischising a work of art. But we sure as fuck don't want to rely on a bunch of old white men in black dresses to determine what is art and what isn't. Look how great that's worked out in the past. I don't know what it is, but, I can tell it if I see it!

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The noxious propensity of the religious to legislate their versions of morality on society will naturally be balanced by contrasting ideologies reacting with similar intent.

    The trampled cripple under the boots of those ramming about in the perpetual battles of the offended and dismayed is the open and free society which really needs to fucking stop being layered with one iron harness after the fucking other in the shape of rigid laws demanding security, tolerance, fairness, and all that steaming crap painted to appear like a goddamn earthly paradise of unblemished social promenades glistening under the warm dreams of setting suns.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    The noxious propensity of the religious to legislate their versions of morality on society will naturally be balanced by contrasting ideologies reacting with similar intent


    Naturally. The Christian version seemed to do a hell of a lot better over the course of some ~1600 years than secularism has over 100 -- pretty pathetic to think that a crucified Jew and his illiterate followers are beating the hell out of The Greatest Minds Of The Secular Enlightenment on which social ethos works better, but here we are.

  • ||

    yeah but they could never agree on dick. It's not an honest comparison. Xtianity is one minority religion with a lot of really uncommon features, wheras the illumináti were an extremely broad and divers group that pretty much just recycled old shit from other philosophers in history. Meanwhile, orthodoxtianity has been almost unbelievably consistent and united in their mythology for centuries. So much so that the great schisms and conflicts amongst them are on points so fine that even educated theologians can only see them if they squint reallly hard and shake the rice paper. If you read the writings of Athanasius, you'll find that very little of substance and nothing in disagreement was taught amongst the xtians for most of subsequent history. In fact, I'm rather of the mind that people shouldn't bother with the others unless they're doing some kind of serious study, since he laid out everything of importance and said it all very clearly (particularly in the Greek), and reading the rehashes by later teachers can only add muddiness to the waters, since they don't generally say anything new and whatever they do say, he already said it and said it better. That's theology, though. When it comes to mysticism, it's a lot harder, since there are many approaches and each one's got to follow his own path. For what it's worth, I think the Philokalia covers most of that end of things.

  • ||

    Like in Maximo's four hundred lessons of love, the metaphors using cows and other rustic props resonate very strongly to me, but probably they are useless to most people. Greek is definitely the language for mystics. It can express a lot of depth in philosophy, but it ignites the likelihood of all sorts of disputes and arguments about æthereal crap that probably has no existence outside of that of an artefact of the language structure. Its liberality and potency are great strengths but also its greatest impediment. Even African shitgreek like Athanasius used or that Lebanese cranberry merchants' patois generally treated as the original language of the gospels, though they're somewhat more robust than the classical variants.

  • ||

    AC-- you should bear in mind when posting that, whenever you post in a thread I have to do, then I'm able to put in for hazard pay.

  • FreeRadical||

    These things just make me sick to my stomach. I didn't realize a photographer was forced to do a lesbian wedding. That seems even worse than being forced to make a cake.

    What if that photographer was disgusted by the proceedings? Or what if she just felt uncomfortable being there? It makes me so sad to know that we are to the point where the state can force her to do this as a condition of remaining in business.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "It makes me so sad to know that we are to the point where the state can force her..."

    Why so sad, bro? She's perfectly comfortable forcing all sorts of her moral bullshit down your throat utilizing the legislative and enforcement power of the government. These lesbian fucks are simply her draconian equal from another angle.

  • FreeRadical||

    And how do you know that she's "comfortable forcing all sorts of her moral bullshit down your throat.."?

    Is there something specific about her you've read, or do you simply think that that is what all Christians do?

  • Agile Cyborg||

    I've read her bible a time or two and realize a great deal about Christian history and its blindingly obvious relationship with government. She is likely no different than the morality-crusading ideology she is faithful to.

  • FreeRadical||

    So, yeah, you are a collectivist bigot.

    Is that all? Is that all that animates your thinking? You think she believes in a bullshit theology so therefore to hell with her rights as an individual human being.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Yes, she believes in bullshit theology and, yes, she has every fucking right to practice her goddamn faith in any avenue of her choosing including not producing items for shit she doesn't believe in.

    I fail to see how calling out the proven tendencies of almost all religions, including Christianity, to legislate draconian moral rules on society supports devious gays who resort to fucking with religious freedoms through antagonistic thuggery and state-based bullying.

    Free and open society cannot be fucking held hostage through the demands of those who continuously call for specialized protections that rely on state violence to be enforced- whether gay or religious.

    Minimizing the state requires both gays and the religious to stop fucking utilizing it for their protection rackets.

  • FreeRadical||

    Wow, all of a sudden, I agree with most of what you wrote.

    Earlier, you sure seemed like you were justifying what happened to the photographer.

    I just wish you didn't have such blind hatred of whole groups of people like Christians. I'm a Christian. I have never once advocated for "legislat[ing] draconian moral rules on society".

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "I'm a Christian. I have never once advocated for "legislat[ing] draconian moral rules on society"."

    Hello, .001 percent open-minded fucking cool Christian.

    Fact is, your type is found wandering these halls and tends to be the brightest and least interventionist among the religious masses. Unfortunately, you guys also tend to assume you represent a common strain of Christian adherents and this just simply is not the case.

  • FreeRadical||

    Wow, you know a lot about Christianity. Evidently you know so much about it that you can make absolutely declarative statements about adherents you don't know: "She's perfectly comfortable forcing all sorts of her moral bullshit down your throat". Amazing! How have you acquired such knowledge?

  • Trshmnstr, terror of the trash||

    Fact is, your type is found wandering these halls and tends to be the brightest and least interventionist among the religious masses.

    You can say the same about the "enlightened" atheists. People are, by and large, collectivists, no matter what excuse they use to justify their collectivism.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    You can say the same about the "enlightened" atheists. People are, by and large, collectivists, no matter what excuse they use to justify their collectivism.

    This. Can't be repeated enough. This isn't a Christianity problem, AG, this is a human problem.

  • ||

    "Yes, she believes in bullshit theology and, yes, she has every fucking right to practice her goddamn faith in any avenue of her choosing including not producing items for shit she doesn't believe in."

    Well, isn't that mighty fucking white of you? Ought to change your name to VENERABLE Arsehole Cyborg.

  • ||

    "So, yeah, you are a collectivist bigot."

    And also totally ignorant about the history of the religion. But, it's part where he's looking for it. He shouldn't be fiddling with the Bible. He needs to go back and read the fucking œcumenical councils and the church doctors. People also seem to have trouble, it seems, with understanding a religion whose first principle is that all men are liars, one in which it is taken as a certainty that no one will succeed at abiding by the moral code that it preaches. The moral failings of men are evidence in favour of the truth of xtian premises. If Christian Men weren't for the most part a gang of brutish villains, it would stand as evidence that xtianity was wrong. But folks tend to skip the part about all men being liars and thieves and zoom in on "Ne occídes" and the fact that Christendom was ruled by gangs of professional murderers for centuries and claim an inconsistency, when in honesty, cæteris páribus, it only strengthens the xtian argument. Traditional Christianity never claimed to offer a political system capable of perfecting human society and bringing in a new golden age of Marxian apocalypsis.

  • Trshmnstr, terror of the trash||

    And also totally ignorant about the history of the religion. But, it's part where he's looking for it. He shouldn't be fiddling with the Bible. He needs to go back and read the fucking œcumenical councils and the church doctors

    To be fair, 99% of the Christians I know are no less ignorant of the history. Some are even more so. (I hate the Social Gospel movement and the havoc it wrought on Western Christianity)

  • Bubba Jones||

    You must have a different version than I do. The version I have has several references to organized religion being a sucker's game. Something about money changers and temples and whatnot.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    Bingo.

  • John||

    And since when does her rights depend on your moral judgement of her?

    Who cares if she would? She still has the same rights. Go fuck yourself. Seriously, go fuck yourself and join the Prog movement if you think rights are in anyway dependent on someone's moral worth.

  • FreeRadical||

    Exactly. Tit-for-tat is a guiding moral principle for progressives.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Of course, she fucking has rights, dummy. Why the fuck would I argue with you over something so puerile?

    I defend neither the offended religious nut here or the mean prick lesbians in this situation because they both fucking deserve each other. And the worst institution at the top of the mean pile is the goddamn state.

    Quit pretending the vast majority of Christians have no interest in the establishment of a moral society through the means of force. Not recognizing this reality reveals your lopsided approach to the topic.

    Clearly, devious gays utilizing the dangerous power of the state to bully those who hold a faith that negates a personal taste for homosexuality does nothing to further a free society.

    I posit that both seekers of special freedoms are screwing society up the ass.

  • John||

    You can still go fuck yourself. Quit pretending you don't think their rights depend on your judgement of them. If you didn't think that, you wouldn't be on here talking about how awful you think they are. IF you admit it doesn't have anything to do with their rights, why are you talking about it?

    You hate these people's guts and like most reasonites are happy to see them get stepped on. Good luck with that. i am sure no one will step on you someday.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    You can't stop fucking whining long enough to realize that your entire post is unadulterated streaming bullshit. Fact is, I actually don't HATE your people, dummy.

    Christianity is replete with historical atrocity and violent government intervention in the personal lives and bedrooms of millions of citizens but it has also slowly become a modern venue with some values important to the function of a free society. How the fuck do I hate your people then?

  • LynchPin1477||

    Be careful John. It's one thing to use your psychic powers to delve into the secret desires of us mere mortals, but to look into the mind of Agile Cyborg is to court madness. Mere men were not made to comprehend its beauty, or its horror.

  • FreeRadical||

    Gay individuals, right now, are making people to associate with them "through the means of force".

    And Christian individuals are using force... to do what exactly?

  • Jerryskids||

    Up until about last year, they were using force to keep them from getting married if they're gay. Yesterday they kept me from buying a beer because it's Sunday. The day before that, they kept my mother from making $20 by giving a sailor a blowjob. Oh, sure, those weren't "Christians" doing those things, it was just the state coincidentally enforcing Christian-type morals laws on everybody. (But it was still the Christians.)

  • FreeRadical||

    The government not offering access to a set of government benefits is not the same as using force against someone.

    Sunday blue laws are an old hold over from prior cultural norms that were probably influenced by Christianity. But I suspect that a majority of Christians today would support getting rid of those laws. There are many old culture norms hanging around.

    The current horror at blowjobs for money comes as much from the progressive SJWs as it does from Christians.

  • Trshmnstr, terror of the trash||

    But I suspect that a majority of Christians today would support getting rid of those laws.

    I think you'd be surprised. I have to roll my eyes at my "christian" brethren who would outlaw half the New Testament if they could.

  • FreeRadical||

    Jesus' first miracle was a beer (wine) run.

  • ||

    Well, I think they call them "rights" for a reason, the reason being that you only get them if you use them the right way.

  • Ymmarta||

    Perhaps you can produce some examples of Christians suing to force service from a gay business owner.

  • Robert||

    That was the point: to make her disgusted & uncomfortable. They wouldn't've hired her if she were comfortable w it.

  • FreeRadical||

    Yes, and that makes them evil disgusting people.

  • ||

    That makes me very sad. It's very disappointing how it coming out how more and more people are really strongly inclined toward evil, disgusting acts of violence. Not to say there are more than there used to be, but that it gets harder these days to keep up one's illusions about the godliness of his neighbours. Or maybe it's just something went wrong in the vats where me and my sister were stewed up, since at times it seems like we're the only people I know that really don't want to hurt anybody. Heck, I am reluctant to employ force in defense of property except for the unpleasant necessity of doing so as a matter of principle.

  • Trshmnstr, terror of the trash||

    It's very disappointing how it coming out how more and more people are really strongly inclined toward evil, disgusting acts of violence.

    It's dehumanization. People are tribal, and the only way to gin up hatred for the other tribes, you have to convince yourself that they are subhuman savages. History is replete with examples where "we" are against "them" because they are something less than human.

  • Robert||

    Their hope is that by making people uncomfortable w not liking them, they'll make them comfortable w liking them. Not individually, but en masse. In other words, if people don't see other people snubbing certain people, they won't learn that it's OK or even good to snub them. "If people do business w them, then the people they're doing biz w must be good people."

  • Bubba Jones||

    Sorry, my car broke down. It's in the shop now.

  • ||

    Have these sorts of laws ever been challenged on freedom of association grounds? It would seem to me that since it's not exactly controversial that freedom of religion is understood to include freedom from religion, that it's a pretty straightforward jump to arguing to freedom of association includes the freedom to not associate with people with whom you don't want to associate.

  • FreeRadical||

    You know, it seems so simple that even a progressive would understand.

  • ant1sthenes||

    The ability of progressives to understand a concept is more related to convenient/inconvenient than simple/complex

  • ||

    It's even in the same amendment as freedom of religion!

  • coloraDOOM||

    If you were the owner of a festival space, would you serve the kkk or a neo Nazi group?

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Sure. Other than avoiding bullshit associated with human sacrifice and cannibalistic rituals if the group paid in full, respected the property leaving it in the same condition it was entered, and avoided disturbing the peace of those neighboring I would even rent the space to the goddamn cops.

  • coloraDOOM||

    I love you AC

  • Robert||

    Seems the argument that it's artistic expression is easily overcome: Would the flowers be differently arranged if it were someone else's wedding? No? Then your artistic freedom is unimpaired, it's just a matter of who gets to buy your artwork.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The flowers would be differently arranged if it were an event other than a wedding.

  • Robert||

    That's interesting. I could see that argument carrying. But I could see a counter-argument too: These people didn't affect your choice of the type of event you do the flower arrangement for.

  • ||

    The flowers are never arranged the same. There are protocols, but there is an art to applying them. If she would in fact arrange the flowers precisely the same for wedding number 82 (or whatever) regardless sex of the clients, then you may be right, but it would also mean she's a shit florist. Even barely competent flowering requires the florist to take in and ruminate a totality of features in a milieu. Heck, last time I visitted a florist it was to get some cheap, last minute arrangement to stick on the grave of some jerk I can't even remember for memorial day. It was some hayseed varmintborne hole in the wall between the feed shop and the bar, and even that stupid bitch took a moment to take it all in and made something that was right for it, that was clearly not exactly the same one she would have given some other client who come in for an arrangement for memorial day. Then, the idiots in Washington have probably lost touch with all reality and make flowers in careful compliance with the dictums of the board of flower arrangers police.

  • Oshtur||

    You have been seduced by a false premise - that this individual is being forced to do anything. Arlene's Flowers LLC had other employees that would have gladly used their talents to fulfill this order but Ms Stutzman, as the business owner, ordered them to NOT obey the law and to NOT use those talents in the customer's service.

    Sorry that is illegal in Washington state in more than one way.

    Ms Stutzman could have taken a cruise the week of the offending wedding using not a whit of her 'artistic talent' in the accomplishment of this advertised service. The obligation to obey the law is the business's.

  • ||

    Well, there's the fact that many philosophies promote an ideal in which all action is art, and there's a few predominant philosophies which promote a ideal in which all action is prayer. That any action could be compelled seems like it would be quite obviously wrong. Isn't it the definition of enslavement? Or does compensation change this? So we can say the Negro bondsmen in the South were not slaves because they got compensation.

  • Zeb||

    It's not compensation that makes the difference. Slaves couldn't choose to do something different. I think that's an important distinction. Comparing public accommodation laws ignores the whole held in captivity and compelled to do specific work part of slavery.
    It would be utterly wrong to force someone to give up their business over something like this, but they do have that choice.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Weaksauce. It isn't compelled speech, it's compelled association.

  • R C Dean||

    Its compelled association and a violation of her right to exercise her religion, and only incidentally, at best, compelled speech.

    Unfortunately, freedom of association is a dead letter. Free exercise has been hemmed in to what happens behind church/mosque/synangogue/temple doors.

    For great (social) justice!

  • ant1sthenes||

    Social justice, the true state religion.

  • widget||

    I don't suppose it would help to claim that my body is the Flying Spaghetti Monster's temple.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I can't believe that not a single judge has said, "Are you fucking kidding me? You can't find a gay baker or florist?"

  • JPyrate||

    Really ???

    Gays, and Christians are a bunch of pussies.

  • JPyrate||

    Wheres my Shotgun ????

  • SilentCal||

    If you're arguing about whether something "counts" as free speech then there is no free speech.

    Seriously the question of whether flowers are "art" would be meaningless if we lived in a sane society, the only thing that matters is that they are "not yours" and no one should be forced to give them to you.

  • SilentCal||

    This is similar to when you have cases of whether rap is "art" and should be protected or if it isn't and we're allowed to go full facist on it (albeit that example lacks the issue of property rights and freedom of association that makes the flower shop thing even more clean cut).

    Something doesn't need to be artistic to be expression, there's no material difference between me saying "fuck the cops" and me singing "fuck the cops" while another guy plays the guitar behind me. The only way either of these things should be in any way prohibited or punishable, is if they represent an actual credible threat on the cops, in which case you are still punishing the act of threatening someone, not the speech itself.

    Shit like this really makes my blood boil, because of how much ground we are ceding to them by simply accepting the premise that speech needs to fall in a certain category to be protected.

  • Trshmnstr, terror of the trash||

    It's a similar fight to "religious liberty" v. freedom of association. Our rights have been so ground down that we have to grab the few handholds of liberty we have left.

    Studying constitutional law has made me so freakin cynical. "Rule of law" is a joke.

  • SilentCal||

    Yeah that's another part of it that I hate, how everything must be "religious liberty." If I hate gays and don't want to make them cake, it shouldn't make any fucking different whether or not this hatred is based on what I learned in Church or is something I just stumbled upon. By defining certain beliefs as "religious" and worthy of protection, you are simultaneously establishing a state religion as well as trampling any notion of actual freedom (you can only do things that the state decides are religious and okay).

    To be fair, Christians themselves are some of the worst offenders of this principle, they use "religious liberty" as a get out of jail free card because for some reason freedom doesn't matter unless people want to do what their pastor told them to do.

  • Oshtur||

    Considering there were other employees that could have filled this order the 'artistic talent' excuse is laughable. It is the business that has the obligation, not any particular employees.

  • SilentCal||

    An obligation to do what exactly?

  • JPyrate||

    To bow, scrape, beg, and kotow to whatever unreasonable, political demand that the customer wants.
    This is the obligation.

  • JPyrate||

    *demands

  • Oshtur||

    To obey the law. To respect the civil rights of the customer in all public offers to have 'full access to all services' without discrimination because of a civil right quality.

  • JPyrate||

    Fuck your law.

  • JPyrate||

    I feed the hungry. I sell a service. I do not withhold that service for political reasons. I expect to get paid, unless I am working for a Charity.

  • JPyrate||

    FUCK OFF SLAVER !!!

  • Oshtur||

    Don't play the fool. This business freely offered wedding floral services to the public - for pay - and knew they couldn't legally refuse a customer because of their creed, sex, or sexual orientation.

    Arlene's Flowers LLC had employees that would have obeyed the law and taken care of this order from counter to completion, gladly using their artistic talent for that purpose. It was the owner -?who need not contribute to this order at all - that ordered the staff to break the law, one of the reasons she is in the pickle she's in.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "This business freely offered wedding floral services to the public - for pay"

    You act like you were just describing something sinister and underhanded.

  • Oshtur||

    Not at all - they are the ones tossing around terms like 'slavery'. If you invite the public to buy something from you and there are rules about how you must treat these paying customers there's nothing 'sinister' about it - that's business.

    Every business in Washington knows what the civil rights statutes are, that they must give customers responding to a public invitation of sale 'full enjoyment of all services' and respect their civil rights in the process.

    The 'sinister' is in thinking its ok to illegally discriminate against a customer willing to pay.

  • SilentCal||

    Because the public is just one faceless entity that I offer something to? I don't provide services to individual customers? Sound legit, and could in no way be the type of thinking that leads to totalitarian bullshit.

    There were rules about how black people had to behave in public in the South for a while, doesn't mean that segregation was right.

  • SilentCal||

    "The sinister thing is thinking it's ok to discriminate against a customer willing to pay."

    If I said I was willing to pay you your current salary to come work for my company, should that mean you are legally required to come work for me?

  • Oshtur||

    Did I invite you to come and make me an offer like a business? No? Then of course I don't have to just like you can't wander up to some random door and ask the person to make you a wedding floral arrangement.

  • Oshtur||

    And that is why both private clubs and non-profits are allowed to not comply with civil rights laws.

    You offer to the general public you are stating a willingness to associate with them.

    You find the 'right' people first for your private club, or define the target population of your non-profit to a subset of the general public then you can make the offer of sale just to them.

    But you understand this on some level since your last statement is just what this is saying - you have to identify your 'association' group first, and THEN make the offer, not the other way around - make an offer to everyone then you've chosen to associate with them.

    Again the need to discriminate is the individuals, its up to them to do it legally and there are ways to do just that, they only have to bother to do it.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    In addition to filing amicus briefs in court, Cato should be having a word with David Boaz, its own executive vice President.

    Boaz wrote a few months back that the *real* problem is that conservatives are using exaggerated rhetoric in describing the situation: "Today’s unjust but hopefully temporary wave of fines against small business owners pales in comparison" to the persecution of gays in the Bad Old Days.

    So we have Cato making the effort to defend the rights of religious conscientious objectors, while one of their key officials goes around saying that the fundamentalists should stop whining because gays had it worse.

  • John||

    The brief is terrible anyway. Apparently CATO thinks your ability to opt out of a gay wedding is dependent upon your artistic freedom not your freedom of religion.

    CATo is worthless and values Liberty only in so far as it is approved by the Prog cultural overlords. They are just pathetic. What have the ever done but suck up to profs and collect a paycheck?

  • Oshtur||

    Freedom of religion is what protects the customer. Everyone has a right to NOT share Southern Baptist beliefs about marriage and weddings and still accept public invitations of sale and services.

    Washington state constitution specifically says that Liberty of (religious) conscience does not excuse acting without regard for the rights of others, specifically the customer's civil rights.

    Either the business is willing to sell wedding floral services to the public regardless of their creed, sexes, or sexual orientation or they shouldn't be offering them to the public at all. Feel a need to illegally discriminate, run a private club or non-profit.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Look, you homophobe, what kind of hater are you that you would permit some so-called "non-profit" to discriminate against your exploited LGBTQ brothers and cis-ters?

  • Oshtur||

    Don't play the fool. Non-profits are allowed to target the populations they serve. A Catholic non-profit can serve only catholics, an AIDS treatment organization can target only gays, a black poverty group can target only poor blacks. All of these and private clubs involve finding the target population FIRST, and then making only them the offer of sale.

    What you can't do is make a general invitation of sale to the public, with their legal and acknowledged civil rights, and then apply illegal qualification tests after the fact. Everyone has a right to NOT share the Southern Baptist views about weddings and marriages and still become their customer if they make public offers.

    Everyone in Washington has a civil right to accept an invitation of sale regardless of their creed (even those that accept marriage regardless of sex), their sexes, or their sexual orientations and all legal actions closely associated with same. Every business owner knows this and any offer made can be assumed to be a legal one that is offered with these truths in mind.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "Non-profits are allowed to target the populations they serve."

    And profit-making businesses *shouldn't* be "allowed" to do the same?

    What about targeting wealthy customers? Is that discriminatory against poorer customers?

    Should a Prius dealer be required to sell some used low-end cars also, so that paying, but poor, customers will have the "right" to shop at the dealer's?

  • Oshtur||

    Profit-making businesses are regulated by civil rights laws, laws enacted both constitutionally and legally.

    And since wealth isn't a civil right your question reveals a basic misunderstanding of the processes in play.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    Appealing to laws to promote laws is rather weak.

  • Oshtur||

    These are laws that identify civil rights and how civil rights are to be addressed by law, and the states are allowed to do just that according to the federal constitution.

    The Washington state constitution is even clearer having the 'Liberty of Conscience' clause that other states have used since 1777 forward. Liberty of (religious) conscience is not an excuse to act without regard for ethics, law or the rights of others.

    And, like it or not, in Washington state:
    "The right to be free from discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability is recognized as and declared to be a civil right."

    And what does that mean regarding businesses making offers to the public?
    The right to the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges

    Sorry, this is game-set-match, particularly with the hot mess of a brief Arlene's Flowers LLC lawyers just filed, even trying to to say this a religious discrimination case where the business is admitting they are doing just that in contradiction to the state constitution and these statutes.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    You clearly believe that the State can pass whatever laws it wants, and those laws are the end of the story. You're a Statist asshat, and debating you is pointless.

  • Oshtur||

    I believe that the people can pass any constitutional law they want, that's why we have a constitutionally based democratic republic. Civil rights laws are constitutional, state recognition of civil rights is allowed by the federal constitution, and I get the feeling you just don't like laws you don't like and we should all just not discuss it any further.

    Yes, I agree debating that the citizens have the right to pass constitutional laws is pointless - if we don't agree on that there isn't really anything to 'debate'.

  • SilentCal||

    You don't have any rights to my labor, nor do I have any rights to yours, this is called "a free society."

    Get the fuck out of her your facist little fuck.

  • SilentCal||

    *here

  • Oshtur||

    A business won't have invited to buy the service if they weren't doing so according to the law. Its been illegal to require a customer to pass a religious test to buy something in Washington for almost 70 years. Everyone has a civil right to NOT share this owner's southern Baptist religious views and still accept their invitation of sale.

  • SilentCal||

    Yeah, if the guy invites them to buy it, that's the fucking point. This is an instance where that invitation was clearly not extended.

    To think that just because I am willing to do something for one person or most people, that I have to be forced to do it for everyone is fucking absurd and immoral. If I shovel the snow out of my own driveway as well as the old lady across the street, does that mean I have to do the whole neighborhood if they ask?

    What they did quite possibly illegal (although I'm not that familiar with Washington law so I couldn't tell you), but that's not really the point, we're discussing the validity of that law. It's illegal to sell weed, does that mean it's okay if someone goes to jail for 20 years for doing it? If your base of morality is simply what's legal or illegal, you should probably rethink a lot of your beleifs.

  • Oshtur||

    The business invited the general public to come in and buy it and that same public, by constitutional and legal means, has said such invitations are regulated - a business can't reject a responding customer because of their membership in a civil rights class, that they have a civil right to 'full enjoyment of all services' the business invites the public to buy.

    Yes, this business did invite them.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    You don't get it at all. Every sale in a mini-contract, where two parties agree to exchange goods or services (or other compensation). There is no such thing as a broad invitation to all, unless it's explicit. Clearly, the florist never intended to serve everyone.

    This is the government holding a gun to the head of this business and forcing them to sign on the dotted line against their will.

  • Oshtur||

    Sorry Theseus, you are mistaken. Consumer Protection law hinges on the idea that the invitation to the public is the start of the business relationship and, like to or not, that relationship is regulated particularly in how responding customers can be dealt with regarding their civil rights.

    if the owner only wants to market to a subset of the public she can run as a private club or as a non-profit, both types of businesses that are not subject to civil rights laws. All she has to do is get off her lazy rear and bother to do so.

    An no, no gun. It has been illegal for a business to religiously discriminate in a public offer since almost before Barronelle was born (amusingly her lackluster legal team just tried to make that argument in their latest brief). When Barronelle had the business offer wedding floral services she knew that customers had a civil right to buy them whether they shared her Southern Baptist beliefs about weddings and marriages or not.

    Again, don't offer something for sale you aren't going to sell legally or you might get caught and punished - same situation your local crack dealer has on them.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    "Consumer Protection" is a bullshit racket. Just because the State does something doesn't make it intrinsically right, you nitwit.

    You Statist pukes really are pathetic. Your entire political reality amounts to appealing to laws and the government, rather than principles.

    I believe in freedom. What do you believe?

  • Ship of Theseus||

    "Consumer Protection" is a bullshit racket. Just because the State does something doesn't make it intrinsically right, you nitwit.

    You Statist pukes really are pathetic. Your entire political reality amounts to appealing to laws and the government, rather than principles.

    I believe in freedom. What do you believe?

  • Ship of Theseus||

    I also believe in squirrels.

  • Oshtur||

    Hmm these are laws passed by the people, not the 'state'.

  • ||

    Pray tell, what is the substantive difference between artistic freedom and freedom of religion?

    What is it about the sky fairy being involved that make those particular thoughts more worthy of protection ?
    Or those without sky faries being involved LESS worthy?

  • SilentCal||

    Fucking this.

  • John||

    Libertarians don't give a fuck about religious liberty

  • SilentCal||

    Religious liberty is a joke, it should just be called "liberty". I should be able to do whatever the fuck I want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others, that's a pretty core tenet of libertarianism. If something meets this standard, you should be able to do it, if not, then you shouldn't, but either way, your religious beliefs shouldn't matter either way when making this determination. A transgendered Puero Rican atheist has the same right to refuse service to gays that a Chistian does.

    Furthermore, my religion should be whatever the hell I want it to be, but for a state to recognize certain practices as "religious liberty", it would need to be defining certain beliefs as "religious" and others as "non-religious". If you can't see the problem inherent in that, then you aren't even in the ballpark of being a libertarian.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    It's right there in the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

    What does "religion" mean in that text?

  • SilentCal||

    Religious liberty in that context was meant to protect religion from the government. The founders believed people should be able to beleive whatever they wanted and worship as they pleased, without the state telling them what they should beleive.

    The historical context for this was that our founders were roughly the intellectual descendants of the Levelers in the English Civil War. One of the key points in that conflict was that the Anglican Church in England decided that Christianity represented only a certain set of beliefs, and forced Scottish Protestants to use special prayer books that did not coincide with their beleifs.

    This was an instance of the state establishing what a religion believes (collectivising everyone who is at all associated with it), which is exactly what would be necessary to decide certain actions count as "religious freedom".

  • SilentCal||

    Basically what the founders meant by religious liberty was that we take the government out of it and let people worship however they felt like it, instead of deciding people could only follow narrow schools of thought as was common at the time (i.e. the French had to be Catholic, certain places in Germany were strictly Lutheran, even being a place with "religious freedom" meant that you let people be either Catholic or Calvinsit or Lutheran, but still only through state approved churches and only a limited number of approved sects).

    As far as actions go, the founders didn't necessarily mean for religious liberty to have any bearing on the legality of certain acts. For instance, I have exactly the same right to not eat pork as a Muslim does, even though my faith doesn't actually stop me from doing so. In the instance of the flower shop, they have the right to refuse service not because they are Christian, but because they are human fucking beings.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    The American tradition in which the Founders were operating also included militia laws, which generally provided exemptions for conscientious objectors.

  • Oshtur||

    No, in Washington state public invitations of commerce are regulated by constitutional state law. The state's citizen's initiative process is ridiculously easy and civil rights legislation has been contested virtually every time a part of it has changed or recognized, every time it has been approved by the voters just as marriage equality was.

    Don't invite the public to buy something you won't sell legally is the lesson here.

  • ||

    And why only refusing service to gays? Anyone should have the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason.
    What the fuck does gayness have to do with anything? A transgendered Puerto Rican atheist should have the same right to refuse service to Christians, or Mexicans, or Donald Trump supporters that anyone else does.
    But according to John, somehow the right to discriminate against gays is so fucking special (because religion!) that we're supposed to go so far out of our way to protect it, so we can't tolerate letting gays get married.

  • SilentCal||

    Absolutely, if it looked like I was implying that gays should be singled out, it wasn't intentional.

  • Ahmedrokba||

    I love flower so much

    wedding rings

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