Jul 13, 2015

Politically Incorrect Meme Exposes Liberal Hypocrisy on Tolerance

By on Monday, July 13, 2015

The Federalist reports:
Tolerance has disappeared, and the message to opponents of gay marriage is: we will use government force to crush you.
Since this kind of progress has brought us so far, you’d think we could stick with the better ideas and more attractive visions. But no, we’ve got to get out the guns. We’re doing it indirectly and in a genteel way, of course, because we want to pretend we’re not barbarians.
But it’s still the unmistakable stomping boot of coercion. Consider the case of the Christian bakers who refused to cater a gay wedding in Oregon.

The family has not only been hit with an enormous, six-figure fine, they’ve been required to pay it out of personal funds so as to ensure their financial ruin, they’ve been subjected to a gag order that prevents them from expressing defiance of the new orthodoxy, and all of this is being applied retroactively to the former owners of a business that has already been wiped out of existence.
All of this seems to be legally sound under existing anti-discrimination laws in many states. But rather than justifying the persecution of Christians, this calls into question the legitimacy of anti-discrimination laws as such.
If you say this, as I just did, you can expect to be accused of being a bigot and basically a defender of segregation and Jim Crow.
This is because the gay rights movement long ago declared itself to be the successor to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s—complete with the idea that its opponents are just as evil and deserve to be treated with exactly as little tolerance.
This was always an overblown comparison. The original context for anti-discrimination laws was the need to tear down a comprehensive system of legally enforced exclusion and inferiority. It was not just about white people refusing to bake a cake for a black couple’s wedding. They were required to refuse blacks a whole range of services as a matter of law.
Shelby Steele has written about taking family road trips as a kid, and how they couldn’t just pull into a new town and go straight to the nearest restaurant or hotel. Instead, they would drive around until they saw another black person, then ask for directions to the places that would serve people of their color. That’s how all-pervasive the system was.
This explains why the need to break down segregation was considered a special justification for drastic measures. There was some grumbling around the edges, but it was less about the basic principle than it was about the arbitrary application of anti-discrimination laws—for example, the use of statistics about “disparate impact” to punish people who clearly had no intent to discriminate.
We all pretty much agreed to drop any debate about the laws against racial discrimination, and even those who objected in theory, on principled libertarian grounds, just weren’t willing to die on that particular hill. Who wants to defend bigots and risk being labeled a bigot?
But it’s a basic rule that once a new government power is established, it will be expanded to its logical limit, and usually beyond.

From the beginning, anti-discrimination laws were an infringement on the right of free association, and we’re now starting to appreciate the damage they did to that principle. What we’re discovering is that, when they are applied broadly and with full logical consistency, anti-discrimination laws are incompatible with free association, free speech, and religious freedom.
They interfere with the individual’s right to decide who he will do business with, how he can express his views on current political controversies, and whether he can live according to his deepest religious convictions.
In the case of gay marriage, it’s about whether Christians can state and act on something that has been an unquestioned tenet of their religion from its founding up until a few years ago. You could hardly come up with a more cut-and-dried violation of religious freedom.


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