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First, in Colorado, a woman wanted to expand her web-design business to include wedding websites, but she didn’t want to create websites for same-sex couples, as doing so would (somehow) be counter to her religious beliefs, so she sued her state and the case now sits before the SCOTUS. 

Then, in Virginia, a restaurant refused service to an organization that actively lobbies against women’s reproductive rights and LBTGQ+ rights.

And thus, predictably, many people began drawing an equivalency, leveling charges of hypocrisy and double-standards on the one side, and cheerily wagging the “What’s good for the goose . . . ” banner from the other.

Both, of course, are wrong. These are not equivalents.

I know, they seem like they are, but they aren’t. If they were, it would definitely be hypocritical to complain of the one whilst cheering for the other.

But they’re not.

Here’s the difference: The web designer wants to deny service to an entire class of people because of who they are, while the restaurant wants to deny service to a specific organization because of what they do.

The web designer wants to discriminate against a protected class of people, and that is contrary to federal and state law. She’s claiming that her personal religious beliefs trump the rights of an entire protected class. She’s not said how she would be materially damaged, were she to comply, and insofar as she hasn’t actually expanded her activities into the Wild World of Wedding Websites, she’s unable to show any damages beyond a preemptive fretfulness. 

What would we think if she wanted to deny service to another protected class, say people of color, or folks over 55? (I’m sure we could find some whackadoodle religion that looks with disdain upon interracial marriages or marriage for purposes other than procreation. What? Oh, yeah, right, we don’t have to look far, do we?) Would we be having this discussion if she wanted to turn those people away? 

The restaurant, on the other hand, has taken issue with the activities of a specific lobbying and activist organization. You might disagree with their decision to cancel the reservation, but not because lobbyists are a protected class of people (they’re not, trust me on this one). The restaurant owners aren’t turning away the group because they’re Christians, but because they’re activists who lobby against the rights and protections that many of the restaurant employees depend on (not to mention women and LGBTQ+ folks across the nation).

Now, if the restaurant said it was refusing service to all Christians, then yes, you’d have an equivalency, and I’d hold the door while you went to town on them. But they didn’t, so I won’t.

Take the case of Twitter and He-of-the-Ever-Shrinking-Moniker, KanyeWest/Kanye/Ye. Mr. West was recently suspended from Twitter (again). He wasn’t suspended because he is Black. If Twitter suspended all Black folks, there’d be riots in the streets. He wasn’t even suspended because he is an anti-semite. They didn’t even suspend him because of the anti-semitic comments he made elsewhere. They suspended him because he posted his anti-semitic trash on Twitter.

Twitter doesn’t ban anti-semites, as long as they adhere to the site’s rules of conduct. Mr. West didn’t, so he got put in a time-out. It’s the old “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule of private business.

I find it frustratingly predictable that the camp which for decades has embraced the whole “no shirt, no shoes, no service” mantra has such a massive hissy-fit when someone applies that same rule to them. I also find it supremely irritating when the self-professed “progressive” camp so encourages what they (incorrectly) see as the same bad practices of the opposition.

And so, the saga of the American public’s consistent misinterpretation of both the First and Second Amendments continues, and judging from the arguments presented to the SCOTUS (not to mention the oh-so-helpful questions posed by the conservative claque, er, justices), we will pretty soon have a precedent that will erode the entire class of civil rights, where all you have to say is that God told you to do it and you’re good to go.

I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir here (no pun intended), and that my dozen or so regular readers got the gist of things several paragraphs ago. And, sadly, I do not have a solution.

Some will chalk my opinions up to standard liberal nuance, and that’s fine with me, because I don’t think nuance is a bad thing. Life is complicated and chaotic, and we need to be kind and try to understand each other as much as we can. Nuance can help us do that, because nuance blends the black-and-white dichotomy favored by our binary brains into shades of grey, where our differences are not as distinct, and our commonalities become more apparent.

Thanks for reading.

Onward.

k

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