Erick Erickson Really Isn’t Very Bright

Erick Erickson just doesn’t do that whole thinking thing very well. Honestly, I’m not sure he even tries to do so. All he tries to do is arrange words and reality in a way that fits the narrative he wants to be true. His column about that evil gaystapo is a perfect example.

We have another life targeted for destruction by the gay rights community. Barronelle Stutzman, an evangelical Christian, declined to provide flowers for the homosexual wedding of a long time customer of hers. The customer was gay and, again, a long time customer. Barronelle Stutzman is now going to lose her business, her life savings, and possibly her own home for putting her faith into practice. Both her customer and the State of Oregon are taking everything she has for not bowing at the altar of sexual sin.

And now, a word from reality. The “gay rights community” hasn’t done anything at all to this woman. She has violated the law by discriminating against her customers. And no, there is no reason for her to lose her business at all. She was offered a settlement for $2001.00 and refused it. And even after that, she faces only a $4000 fine. The plaintiffs in the case did not ask for punitive damages, they asked for less than $8 for the cost of the gas to drive to her store. That’s it. And she’s more than welcome to continue doing business as long as she doesn’t discriminate. And she could do that not by doing the flowers for gay weddings but by not doing flowers for any weddings, the business for which is a mere 3% of her revenue. So now, this is alarmist nonsense, a wild exaggeration.

Someone on twitter the other day noted that the struggle for civil rights and gay rights are not the same. You don’t need a rainbow sticker on the back of your car to let people know you’re black, the person on twitter noted. Nonetheless, gay rights activists have decided to equate their struggle for marriage with that of the civil rights movement. They are not, however, going about it peacefully or in the same way. They are not, as Martin Luther King, Jr., did, urging white Christians to be better Christians. Instead, they are using the state to ruin Christians who try to practice their faith. There will be no magnanimity and there will be no mercy. There will be no going down the street to another florist, baker, or photographer.

Sorry Erick, you flunk history. This florist is in legal trouble because she violated anti-discrimination laws — exactly the laws advocated by Martin Luther King and the entire civil rights movement. And if she had refused to provide flowers for an interracial wedding and claimed the religious freedom to do so, the result would be exactly the same. The only difference would be that Erickson would not be throwing a fit about black civil rights activist trying to destroy this poor woman, because he would know that such a claim would be wildly unpopular and that about 95% of Americans favor such anti-discrimination laws.

Erickson has it exactly backwards. He’s the one who is taking the position of the enemies of the civil rights movement, the position that someone who has a business open to the public can discriminate against potential customers. He just wants the drinking fountains and lunch counters to be straights only rather than whites only.

Oh, and of course, gay rights activists are just like Muslim terrorists, only not as deadly:

In taking life, the Islamic extremists want the public spectacle. They want not just revenge, but they also want to make others fear and second guess doing the same. They want to silence others and drive them from the town square. They use death and violence to do it.

Gay rights activists, with few exceptions like Floyd Lee Corkins and the guy in North Carolina last week, have not turned physically violent. But they are intent on destroying any who disagree with them. They will take the homes, businesses, and life savings of any who defy them. They will use the tools of the state and mob action through boycotts, fear, and intimidation to make it happen. They will not kill but they will threaten and scare.

Again, precisely the opposite of reality. The only difference between Erickson and Muslim terrorists is one of tactics. Like reactionary Muslims, Erickson wants to discriminate against gay people because his religion tells them that they are dirty sinners. He wouldn’t kill them, of course (though I bet he was railing against the Supreme Court ruling that said they could no longer be arrested and thrown in jail just for being gay in 2003), but he’s all in favor of punishing them for being gay by locking them out of societal institutions, from marriage to flower shops.

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  • John Pieret

    You don’t need a rainbow sticker on the back of your car to let people know you’re black

    You don’t need a Christian fish sticker on the back of your car to let people know you’re black, either. But if a florist or a baker open to the general public refused to provide their services for a Christian baptismal or confirmation service because they were Muslim or Jewish, would that be any less wrong?

  • JustaTech

    Ed, Erickson is even dumber than you wrote. Erickson said “Both her customer and the State of Oregon are taking everything she has for not bowing at the altar of sexual sin.” Except the florist, and the case, are in Washington, not Oregon. I mean, I know they’re kind of the same shape, but there are only three states on the (continental) West coast; would it kill him to get them right?

    The longer this story goes on, the more I think this woman wants to be a martyr. None of this would have ever happened if she hadn’t felt compelled to tell the customers *why* she wouldn’t do their wedding.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    They keep invoking MLK, and they keep doing it wrong.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Didn’t Erickson kick off the whole “Obama doesn’t love America” riff to which most US politicians and nearly all media people – including our esteemed host – are now dancing?

    If you consider EE as a propaganda provocateur (what else, a journalist?!? hoo-hah!), that by itself puts him at the top of the class – for this week.

  • alanb

    Gay rights activists, with few exceptions like Floyd Lee Corkins and the guy in North Carolina last week, have not turned physically violent.

    Presumably he is referring to Craig Hicks, the anti-theist in Chapel Hill who shot 3 Muslims. Evidently you can now become an activist by posting something on your Facebook page.

  • eric

    I think we should start a prediction game for these anti-SSM pundits. I’ll call it “Orwell, Ignore, or Apologize.” The goal is to say whether the person in 2025 will claim to have supported gay rights (Orwell), try at all costs to avoid discussing their past position on the issue (Ignore), or admit they made a mistake (Apologize).

    I’m going with Ignore for Erickson. He seems like the sort of guy who would just keep opining on the conservative cause du jour, with little thought given to the past.

  • Chiroptera

    JustaTech, #2: … but there are only three states on the (continental) West coast….

    If there is anything I learned from looking at maps the entire USA, it’s that Alaska is an island just off the coast of California.

    (Just having fun here; I know what you meant.)

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Gay rights activists, with few exceptions like Floyd Lee Corkins and the guy in North Carolina last week, have not turned physically violent.

    Is EE trying to make the man who killed the three Muslim students into a gay rights campaigner, or did I miss yet another US atrocity?

  • Chiroptera

    And I’ll say this again; you’d think this Christian was being forced to give away flower arrangements to every single gay wedding for free, instead providing her advertised services to customers as they come in and getting paid for it.

  • John Pieret

    Pierce R. Butler:

    Gays … atheists … they’re all the same!

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    I think Eugene Volokh (linked to on this very page, under “Legal Blogs”) made a pretty compelling argument that the photographer in New Mexico who refused to photograph a same-sex wedding should have been entitled to protection under the First Amendment, and not been compelled to produce an artistic work that she didn’t agree with.

    I’d think cake decorators also have a pretty good claim to being artists too. (Of course, my wife runs a bakery, so I might be biased. Although, she has no problem with doing cakes for same-sex couples and I’ve even helped deliver one.)

    Flower arranging? Maybe. There’s certainly some creative input there – more than a caterer, limo driver, or reception hall manager, for sure. That said, I also agree that the ‘persecution’ claims are a bit overblown.

  • http://cheapsignals.blogspot.com Gretchen

    Is EE trying to make the man who killed the three Muslim students into a gay rights campaigner, or did I miss yet another US atrocity?

    The inverse of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”: The friend of my enemy is my enemy.

    Or actually, in Erickson’s case: I can’t distinguish one of my enemies from another, and don’t care to anyway.

  • Matt G

    Perhaps the Erickson’s named their son Erick so he could remember his name more easily….

  • theguy

    “They will use the tools of the state”

    But when fundies try to criminalize homosexuality, dur hur it’s okay! When a state “justice” advocates executing gay people, the right wing rallies to his side.

    “and mob action through boycotts”

    Fundies like Erickson use boycotts against pro-gay businesses too. Theirs just aren’t as effective.

    “fear, and intimidation to make it happen”

    Not being allowed to discriminate =/= fear, or persecution, or violence. Get a clue!

  • karmacat

    Ray Ingles,

    Photographing a wedding or baking a cake are commercial transactions. If an artist is deciding to sell his photographs to the general public, he or she can take pictures of whatever they want. But if you are advertising that you are a wedding photographer, then you can’t discriminate because you are essentially offering a service and not just artwork. It also brings the question back to how far do you let people discriminate against certain clients. Can they refuse to do a wedding of mixed race couple, or a black couple or mixed religion couple?

  • http://www.aquaticape.org anthrosciguy

    For the “it’s artistic” claim to work, you have to be ready to accept the arguement that Benihana could legally refuse to serve to black people.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Please do read Volokh’s amicus brief, which I linked to. From a legal perspective, photography has all the protections that speech does. You can’t legally compel someone to officiate, or even speak at, a wedding, nor could you compel someone to write a wedding announcement – and Volokh makes what seems a pretty solid legal case that applies to photography, too.

    Now, to what extent other artistic endeavors would get First Amendment protection, that’s a more open question.

  • Chiroptera

    Ray Ingles, #17: From a legal perspective, photography has all the protections that speech does.

    No, Volokh is saying that in his opinion photography has all the protection that speech does, and that in his opinion this protection should extend to a professional photographer whose business engages in wedding pictures.

    Whether Volokh is correct or not is exactly what this court case is meant to determine.

    Which is why I didn’t comment on this when you first posted it; I don’t have enough legal expertise to have an opinion myself whether Volokh is right or wrong, and I don’t have enough time to do the minimal research (that is, Google it!) to develop an informed opinion.

    I certainly see a big difference between a commercial business which hires itself out as a wedding photographer vs a professional artist who takes pictures first and then allows people to come to her to buy them, but I don’t know whether the law sees the same difference I do.

  • D. C. Sessions

    If the State can compel a physician to lie (forced speech) to a patient, why can’t it compel a photographer to take the same pictures of one couple that it does of another?

  • John Pieret

    Chiroptera @ 18:

    IAAL and based on a very quick skim, Volokh makes a cogent argument but the caselaw precedent is thin on the ground. Plus the fact situations in this area are complex and difficult. I have some sympathy for wedding photographers’ complaints, because they do have to attend the wedding and “participate” to the extent of staging many pictures of the couple.

    Volokh analogizes wedding photographers to writers, actors, painters and singers, who would not obviously fit under the anti-discrimination laws, since they rarely open shops purporting to serve the public at large, while photographers often do.

    As to artists, a better example might be someone who has a booth at some attraction or tourist location offering to do caricatures or drawings of people in the crowd. If those artists refuse to perform their service for black people, would that violate such a statute? I think it might well. On the other hand, take the baker in Colorado who was asked to bake a cake in the shape of a Bible and write in icing apparently obscene and hateful things about LGBT people. The baker agreed to bake the cake and give the “customer” (it was obviously a set-up to make a point) a pastry bag and icing to write it himself, which he refused to accept. The state is presently considering the “customer’s” religious discrimination complaint.

    This whole area is likely to present thorny problems for quite some time and that is just in the area of applying existing anti-discrimination statutes. It will get even more difficult when the RFRA acts being passed in many states are challenged constitutionally.

    We lawyers thank you for your patronage. And, no, we aren’t subject to anti-discrimination laws because (the theory goes) since we have to exercise professional judgment and enthusiastically represent our clients, we should not be forced to take cases we don’t believe in or represent people we don’t like for whatever reason.

  • whheydt

    Re: John Pieret @ #20…

    We lawyers thank you for your patronage. And, no, we aren’t subject to anti-discrimination laws because (the theory goes) since we have to exercise professional judgment and enthusiastically represent our clients, we should not be forced to take cases we don’t believe in or represent people we don’t like for whatever reason.

    Don’t judges, more or less routinely, assign lawyers to defend indigent defendants? Can a lawyer in a pool the judge draws from refuse a particular client on grounds of (for example) race? Or do anti-discrimination laws constrain a lawyer in those circumstances?

  • John Pieret

    whheydt:

    Yes, not wanting to over-complicate things, I left out the instances where lawyers are (more or less … there are still ways out) required to represent people we don’t like … for the most part, when we put themselves in harms’ way by agreeing to do pro bono criminal work. The real distinction is between when somebody asks us to represent them (you can always say “no” at that point) and after you have taken them on as clients … often before you know the facts of the case. Once they are your client, they are like fly paper … it is incredibly difficult to get rid of them.

    I’m sure you feel sorry for us lawyers.

  • birgerjohansson

    Ray Ingles,

    I think the Japanese samurai regarded flower arranging to be a military art, because it required such precision. I doubt the courts would consider that relevant, but it would be a fun way to obfuscate the issue.

    Also, the samurai were often homosexual, just like the Greek warriors.

  • caseloweraz

    Erickson: Barronelle Stutzman, an evangelical Christian, declined to provide flowers for the homosexual wedding of a long time customer of hers. The customer was gay and, again, a long time customer.

    Why does Erickson emphasize this? Are we to believe the florist didn’t know this “long time customer” was gay until he tried to buy flowers for his wedding? Because if she did know, it seems to me she would have been “bowing at the altar of sexual sin” every time she sold him flowers. That would undercut her case — unless she feels the “sexual sin” is tolerable so long as it is not associated with marriage. Nope, seems like that position destroys her case as well.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    birgerjohansson – I don’t think you read what I wrote. Working backwards – I don’t wish to discriminate against LGBTetc. people, and certainly neither does my wife. Wedding cakes are a big part of her business, and she’s made them for several same-sex couples. (Though, sadly, same-sex marriage isn’t legal yet here in Michigan, so they were for personal ceremonies, not legal ones. I voted against that stupid ‘defense of marriage amendment’ back in 2004 and was genuinely pissed when it passed.)

    Secondly, I’m not obfuscating the issue – I’m pointing out real-world complications. Complications which John Pieret has acknowledged, in fact.

    Was Huguenin (of Elane Photography) kind of a jerk for refusing to photograph a same-sex wedding? Yeah, I think so. Is Stutzman being kind of a putz not to provide flowers in this case? Yeah, seems that way too. Do they have the (limited) right to be schmucks in this case? Unlike Pieret, IANAL, but what I’ve read inclines me to think that they do. Huguenin certainly, at least; Stutzman probably.

  • dingojack

    Ray – LYIANAL, but I disagree. If you want to own a bakery but discriminate about who you serve, you’d have to make it ‘by appointment only’ once you open the doors to the public you can’t pick and choose who your clients are.

    Dingo