Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Remember when dissent was the highest form of patriotism?

Remember when freedom of conscience mattered?

Screw that pre-2008 noise; the Stalinist Left is in charge now.

//But again, legal hairsplitting is at most a pretext for the fury directed against Indiana. Here we will take the unusual step of praising the New York Times editorial board for forthrightness. In a single sentence, if a lengthy one, the paper sums up what changed: “Religious-freedom laws, which were originally intended to protect religious minorities from burdensome laws or regulations, have become increasingly invoked by conservative Christian groups as gay rights in general—and marriage equality in particular—found greater acceptance nationally.”

Narrowly speaking, that is, the left’s hatred of RFRA is about preserving the authority of the cake police—government agencies determined to coerce bakeries, photo studios, florists and other small businesses to participate in same-sex weddings even if the owners have eccentric conscientious objections.

Whether Indiana’s RFRA would protect such objectors is an open question: The law only sets forth the standard by which state judges would adjudicate their claims. Further, as the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group, notes, the Hoosier State has no state laws prohibiting private entities from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. (It does have same-sex marriage, pursuant to a federal court ruling.) There are also no such antidiscrimination laws at the federal level. Thus under current law, only certain cities and counties in Indiana even have a cake police.

What makes that Times editorial surprising is the frank admission that the editors are unwilling to apply their principles to the religious group they disfavor, namely “conservative Christian groups.” That’s not to say their candor is untarnished by bad faith. They set up a dichotomy between “religious minorities” and “conservative Christian groups.” But unless the old Moral Majority was—and still is—worthy of the latter half of its name, the dichotomy is self-evidently a false one.

It is also an invidious one, since it singles out one religious minority (or, to be precise, one category thereof, since there are many kinds of conservative Christians) and deems it unworthy of the first freedom. And that supposed unworthiness is not limited to the matter of same-sex marriage, or gay rights more generally. The Times once again rebukes the Supreme Court for having “helped the cause of Christian conservatives with its 2014 Hobby Lobby decision,” which held that RFRA limited the government’s coercive authority vis-à-vis the provision of contraceptives through employee medical benefits.

You might sum up the Times’s position as follows: Legal rights are all well and good, but they shouldn’t be extended to an enemy in wartime—at least not if it’s a culture war.//

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