Go and Learn What this Means: “Cognitive Dissonance”

So, you know all this brouhaha, all these hysterics about how bakers, and photographers, and other service-providers who routinely work for gay clientele (but draw a line at serving gay weddings because they feel it imperils their souls) are horrible people?

And you know the whole “if you think that way, then you’re a bigot,” thing, because governments and pundits have taken it into their heads that it is their job to define “sin” to another person?

And you know that whole, “refusing to serve someone because they think differently than you is all Jim Crow-y and immoral?”

Yeah, well…so much for that.

A gay stylist in Santa Fe refused to cut New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez’s hair due to her stance on same-sex marriage. KOB-TV’s Stuart Dyson reports.

A Santa Fe hairdresser is waging his own boycott of sorts: He is denying service to the governor of New Mexico because she opposes gay marriage.

Antonio Darden, who has been with his partner for 15 years, said he made his views clear the last time Gov. Susana Martinez’s office called to make an appointment.

“The governor’s aides called not too long ago wanting another appointment to come in,” Darden told KOB.com. “Because of her stances and her views on this, I told her aides, ‘no.’ They called the next day asking if I’d changed my mind about taking the governor in, and I said ‘no’ again.”

Martinez has said marriage should be between a man and a woman. Darden, who said he has cut the governor’s hair three times, said he won’t serve her unless she changes her mind about gay marriage.

Darden apparently feels that it would go against his own personal moral code — his individual conscience — to cut the governor’s hair. He does not see this decision as an act of “intolerance.” In his mind, he believes that to cut her hair would be to co-operate with evil — a kind of sin, if not against God, then against his own reason and beliefs. He may fear that serving to the governor could be misconstrued as an affirmation of her views.

And no one in the press is arguing differently on the governor’s behalf. No one is suggesting that, by refusing to cut the hair of a person whose position is in alignment with the law, Mr. Darden is denying her a basic civil-right. Quite the opposite; many on social media are saying he is within his rights to refuse her.

I concur. If he is, though, then so are the Christians refusing to serve gay weddings. You can’t have it both ways.

Were Darden smart — and had he really wished to heap hot coals on the heads of every Christian who annoys him — he’d have served up his own “WWJD” moment. He’d have given Governor Martinez the haircut of her life and then pronounced for the cameras, “and that, friends and neighbors, is called turning the other cheek, and walking the extra mile. Her views are abhorrent to me, but the whole person is more than her views on this one issue, and so I gave her my best service.”

If you don’t think that would have been a signal moment of evangelization for his own beliefs, you’re wrong. It would have been staggeringly powerful, the way a punch to the solar plexus buckles the knees.

But he couldn’t bring himself to do that, you see, because he couldn’t violate his own conscience.

It’s worth noting that the governor, upon hearing that Darden would not cut her hair, did not go to a lawyer and file a suit against him, to compel his tolerance. She just found another stylist.

Because that’s actually what people who respect other people’s right to their opinions do. They tolerate that person’s opinion, shake the dust off their feet, and find someone else to cut their hair or bake their cake. Life goes on.

So, all the fuss and botheration of the past few weeks, all the high drama that has pitted some Christians against other Christians and has encouraged this sort of egregious overreach? That’s that’s been a giant waste of time. Seems the people on whose behalf so much ink was spilt, don’t really believe that business owners have no right to refuse service to anyone, after all.

Rebecca Hamilton has more thoughts

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Adam Frey

    “Seems the people on whose behalf so much ink was spilt, don’t really believe that business owners have no right to refuse service to anyone, after all.”

    Or it could be one gay person out of a thousand who believes this. Or maybe it’s one in ten, or one in two. I don’t know. Out of my many frustrations with the media, one of my biggest is to ascribe a behavior to an entire group based on the prominent actions of a few. A few weeks ago, Slate was touting some “Conservatives believe X” headlines because a few conservative columnists had written something-or-other about some issue. I can never decide if I’m conservative or just a really Catholic libertarian, but I remember thinking “Well, gee, that doesn’t apply to me.”

    I have no doubt many are hypocritically supporting Darden’s position, but we have no way of knowing whether it represents the whole of gay-marriage supporters or just a few, plus the media.

  • Nan

    That’s not true; they believe that gay business owners have the right to refuse service to those who disagree with them but that Christian business owners are homophobic bigots with no rights. Do you see the difference?

  • Mike

    This guy is 100% correct: no one should have to violate their deepest held beliefs without a very very good pressing reason. Whatever happened to American values of tolerance and live and let live?

  • Bud Stupple

    I don’t think it matters much who’s right or wrong on this issue….or who win’s or loses. People on both sides are disgusted that it’s an issue. People should eat less cake. If we won’t or can’t go to Gay hair cutters there will be nothing left but bad hair. Everybody might be happier if they just had more sex and talked about it less. I don’t see how Gay marriage hurts anyone but if some people don’t like it I guess that’s their business. Bankers, lawyers and serial killers are allowed the comfort of the church, so Gay people receiving the sacraments or singing in the choir shouldn’t be an issue, no matter how you personally feel about it.

  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    One can only have a cognitive dissonance if one accepts that there is such a thing as truth. In Marxism, along with its fellow travelers socialism and American liberalism, there’s no such thing as truth, only power. Therefore, there’s no such thing as a contradiction, only what furthers their power. That’s why liberals are fine with a gay hairdresser refusing to do the hair of an anti-homosexualist governor, because it furthers their power, and being against a photographer refusing to do a gay wedding, because otherwise their power would be eroded. To liberals there is no contradiction here, much less a cognitive dissonance, as both positions further their power.

  • Michael Boggs

    Thank you for confirming by actual example what is already widely believed, known and experienced: tolerance is a one way street. Be tolerant anyway but remember that admonishing someone in danger about the danger they are in is a spiritual work of mercy

  • Sara

    This whole brouhaha makes me think of Seinfeld. Remember the Soup Nazi? No one liked being refused service, but I don’t recall Jerry, who is Jewish, suing him for racial discrimination. The country has changed a lot in just a few years!

  • guest

    All along it’s been clear that the “tolerant left” only tolerates that which it agrees with. It isn’t surprising they also apply completely different standards of behavior for those thet agree with and those they don’t. I imagine the apologists for the gay movement who regularly show up here will weigh in and explain to the rest of us why this is different and ok. ;)

  • The original Mr. X

    All I can say in reply to that is that, if the majority of gay marriage supporters have a problem with either a baker being forced to bake a cake or a hairdresser refusing to cut an ideological opponent’s hair, they’re doing a very good job of hiding it.

  • The original Mr. X

    Actually I think there’s a strong argument to be made that the hairstylist’s actions are less defensible, because he’s seemingly refusing to serve somebody on the basis of a category they belong to (gay marriage opponents) rather than refusing to take part in an individual activity he thinks is wrong.

  • dicentra

    I am happy to donate these 123 characters to the cause, which anyone can use without crediting me:

    So no printer gets to tell the West. Bap. “Church” to GET LOST when
    they ask for a fresh batch of “God Hates Fags” signs?

    Nobody on the left would take that gig and neither would anyone on the right. UNITY!

  • dicentra

    The whole point of pushing SSM was to find a Rubicon that Christians cannot cross and then to use that as a bludgeon to make us either submit or be expelled from society as Worse Than The Klan.

    None of the discussions about What Marriage Is or fairness or homosexuality come close to addressing the true impetus, which is why the debate is so out of control: we are roiled in the peripherals instead of attacking the real reasons for this.

    Ignore the worker bees: aim for the Queen.

  • Shelby

    I thought this was a great article and well said! But I find myself wondering……..is it possible the governor was being set up? What if she HAD sued or made this a big deal? Can you imagine how happy that would have made the camp of people who support suing (bullying) the photographer, baker, etc.? They would have screamed, “See?? THIS is why you can’t deny anyone service regardless of their beliefs. You just proved us right!” I have to wonder if this kind of tactic won’t be used in the future. I dunno.

  • TapestryGarden

    Thank you for pointing out the silly specious arguments that if someone does not wish to provide a service that is against conscience they are a H8R or a bigot or hoping Jim Crow makes a comeback. Service providers have ALWAYS been able to discriminate and decide when, how and to whom they provide a service. It’s really not even necessary to have some strong ethical or religious reason. My stylist is wonderful but she will not cut what is termed “ethnic” hair. She said she does not have the skill nor the products to work on blacks and others which this texture. She happily refers any potential clients to another stylist in the same salon who will help them. One stylist in her salon does not cut men’s hair. Using the same silly arguments used by gays and Lesbians, I guess my stylist is a racist and the other stylist is a sexist. I took a class from a photographer who would only photograph weddings and receptions in churches. He said he felt marriage was a Sacrament and the kind of weddings and receptions held in pubs and on the beach featured a lot of drinking, racy outfits, and sometimes overly sexual toasts. No one sued him when he explained the limitations of his business. They just found another photographer and the black woman found another stylist as did the man.

    We are not talking about performing critical lifesaving surgery that is only offered by one surgeon. We’re talking about baking a cake or getting a haircut or photographing an event. Gays and Lesbians…JUST FIND SOMEONE WHO APPRECIATES YOUR BUSINESS. Quit acting like a bunch of whining toddlers…but a WAAAAAAAAANT this baker I WAAAAAAAANT this photographer. Grow up people…

    BTW I heard a Muslim barber in Canada has refused to cut a Lesbian’s hair. As this wends its way through the hate crime division of their justice system, this should be interesting!

  • TapestryGarden

    The problem with your post is not that suddenly all gays/Lesbians are now suspect but that the few who have taken on these issues have sued the businesses into oblivion. We have such a situation in our state, a small bakery that happily sold products to gay and Lesbian customers refused to do a cake for a gay “commitment” ceremony. The bakery was sued, bankrupted, the owners were harassed and their property vandalized. This is just like saying well only a few Muslims blow things up so don’t worry about them. Those who DO engage in such outrageous acts do so much damage that they make their cause far less sympathetic. However in the case of the gays/Lesbians, activist judges are ignoring rights of conscience because they seem to be held hostage by a tiny minority that bases their identity on what they do with their genitals. I do not understand why this tiny behavior based group has such clout but it does. I believe we MUST push back against these clear violations of our freedoms and rights.

  • Jane the Actuary

    Yeah, really getting tired of the accusations that people declining to provide services for gay weddings for reasons of conscience are as bad as Jim Crow-era racists in the South. No gay couple is unable to find a photographer, caterer, etc., so they’re not experiencing any actual harm, nor are they likely to, which is a far different case than blacks in the pre-Civil Rights South.

    http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2014/03/why-religious-freedom-restoration-is.html

  • JezabelleDisreali

    I’m a native New Mexican, so here is my two cents. Aside from the fact that this happened years ago, let’s address some issues

    1. This is not discrimination. Governor Martinez was not turned away because of her race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, gender, genetics, or religion. But wait, Jezabelle, you say, she was discriminated against based on her faith. Actually, no she wasn’t. He turned down service because she is against marriage equality which is separate from religion. He didn’t say ‘I won’t serve this woman because she is Catholic/Evangelical/Christian/whatever the hell she is” he said ‘I won’t serve her because she believes that I am a second class citizen who shouldn’t have access to the same rights and privileges afforded other couples through a specific type of contract.’ There are homophobic atheists, religion really has no play in it. There is a big difference between, a baker saying ‘I will continue a system of oppression and brutality through tacit approval and my own actions against homosexuals despite there being empirical evidence demonstrating that it is genetic’ and a hairstylist saying ‘I will protest a person in a position of power blatantly ignoring and oppressing others”.

    2. He is under no obligation to turn the other cheek and be the higher person and serve her. Setting aside the fact that other religions aren’t mandated to ‘forgive and forget’ or to ‘turn the other cheek’; it is quite possible that he thought he was taking the high road. Will the governor get her hair styled somewhere else? Yes, probably. But has this drawn attention to her policies so that others may vote against her next time, or even vote for her? Yes, it has. Further a lot of conservatives, and for that matter Christians, seem to ignore the fact that minorities can really only take so much. Christianity is given a highly privileged place at the political table at almost every level. And while this may not be true of the readers of this blog, or even Christians at large, many minorities both religious and otherwise have suffered indignities, insults, and injuries from Christians. At some point we must say, enough is enough. I personally think when minorities push back it scares Christians in a very primal way–you (collectively) must now face the consequences of the damage that some Christians have done, and you (again collectively) fear that we may take to heart “do unto others”, because what has been done to us isn’t very pretty.

    3. Does this even matter? Other than the fact that people have seen damage done by Christianity, and that is something that I think Christians should take a very long, hard, and honest look at; and that protest against oppression is different from continuing a system of oppression; not really. The New Mexico Supreme Court said, ‘go marriage equality! grab your sweetie and get hitched’ in December of last year. This protest, important though it was, is old news.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Susana Martinez continues to impress the heck out of me. Cognitive dissonance is the term I have used for the past many years to describe same sex marriage.

  • Fleebus

    Sigh. False equivalence. Gay unions are being opposed and boycotted because of natural difference – as if they were black or Jewish (who remember the Catholic church had a fine line in self-righteous scripture-based persecution not long ago) – given this it is perfectly valid to boycott this woman as one might have South African goods back in the day.

    It is so sad to see thinking people try to justify something that is plain WRONG just because they are part of a church that says so. The same attitude would have no doubt dug up arguments in support of slavery 200 years ago.

  • Jeanette

    Hi, Lizzie! I had to have my computer taken to the original settings and lost my bookmarks. I searched for you and found you. I’m not getting your daily emails either. Please put me back on the list.

    As for your post, as a Christian I believe two people of the same sex cannot get “married” in the eyes of God.

    John 3:17 says: For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

    Jesus didn’t hang out with just the “good” people. To the contrary He deliberately hung out with those who needed to hear His message. When he ran into the prostitute who was about to be stoned, after her accusers left He said He didn’t accuse her either. Then He said, “Go and sin no more.”

    I am not the judge of the state of anyone’s soul. That duty is Jesus’ and His alone. I don’t agree with Darden’s lifestyle and if he gave me the opportunity, I would show him why. But I also don’t agree with what he thought was a cute and wise stunt.

  • vox borealis

    Governor Martinez was not turned away because of her race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, gender, genetics, or religion.

    Yet the baker who refuses to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding celebration because s/he doesnot believe in gay marriage is not descriminating anyone based on their race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, gender, genetics, or religion, either. For all the baker knows, the couple in question is straight, but getting married for some perceived financial benefit. Or maybe the customer was actually not one of the couple, but their wedding planner or a family member. That is, the baker is not refusing this one service because the customer—whoever it was, whatever his/her sexual identity—because that customer is gay. Rather, s/he is refusing the service because the cake is used in a celebration—an act—that the baker does not agree with, and indeed may find deeply problematic on theoretical, philosophical, or religious grounds.

    The situation is exactly analogous. The absolute refusal to see the profound similarity of circumstances is what inspired Elizabeth to comment on the cognative dissonance.

  • Mike

    The whole point of pushing SSM was to find a Rubicon that Christians cannot cross and then to use that as a bludgeon to make us either submit or be expelled from society as Worse Than The Klan

    This is the most succinct and insightful distillation of this entire issue i’ve ever come across! You are absolutely correct: it was from the beginning a political strategy, a brilliant strategy that has worked precisely as it was intended. The hard left knows that Christians can not bend on this issue of family and so they push and in the process Divide and Conquer.

    The real issue is what is marriage? If it is something that the state can re-define, then it is anything and nothing. If it is a biological reality that stabilizes society by tying fathers to their kids and their mothers, it can not be re-defined, just as the earth can not be made flat by decree.

  • MeanLizzie

    Jeanette, I cannot subscribe you by myself. You should be receiving an email from Patheos where you can check off whatever you want to subscribe to.

  • guest

    Sigh. People believe it is wrong because it violates God’s plan and natural law. Many people who are not Catholic do not recognize gay marriage. And, you assume that being homosexual is equivalent to being black or Jewish, which is not true. Finally, you miss the point – that gay activists are happy to claim conscience rights for themselves while they deny the same to others.

  • Joe S

    Denying service based on belief is wrong no matter who does it. The best reasoning that I have heard on this came from Rachel Held Evans who said “we’ve lost not only the culture wars, but also our Christian identity, when the “right to refuse” service has become a more sincerely-held and widely-known Christian belief than the impulse to give it.” Wage less war, wash more feet. I believe that is what the Pope is doing with amazing results.

  • Joe S

    “And, you assume that being homosexual is equivalent to being black or Jewish, which is not true.” I’m afraid that I can’t just take your word for it. Please provide evidence that this claim is “not true.”


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