Political parties increasingly function by ginning up panic. The Right has become a past master of this with weekly hysterias about Lattegate, Benghazi, and, most egregiously last fall, the Great Ebola Panic, which evaporated at exactly the same moment the elections ended, but which saw the most deranged in GOP leadership calling for mass executions of ebola victims and, of course, Something to Be Done about Obama, who was somehow to blame for it. The purpose of such panics is, of course, to keep the flock agitated and fearful–and then to tell the flock that unless it throws its support to the Fearmonger, nothing can save them from the horrors that await should The Other Side have its way.
It’s a method that has worked for ages, and only works better as an increasingly ignorant populace leaves off the business of thinking in terms of the common good and instead thinks only in terms of tribal loyalties. The Other becomes, in such a politics, a sort of subhuman bogeyman capable of almost any heinous evil. So during the Great Ebola Panic, the Tea Party seriously proposed that Obama was seeking an ebola epidemic on our shores. Why? Because he’s just that evil and only Our Team can save you from him. The base was well and truly ginned up by this idiotic lie because they *wanted* to believe that. The self-sustaining fusion reaction of lies and hatred worked like a charm until it was no longer needed and the Noise Machine controllers shut it down.
But, of course, the GOP isn’t the only party capable of ginning up moral panics to stampede the herd. A very successful one is under way against Indiana right now. It seems the state passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, pretty much like ones on the books in 19 other states, as well as one signed into law by the currently-fake-outraged Hillary Clinton’s husband in 1993. Indeed, not long ago, noted gay persecutor Barack Obama had no problem with such legislation.
So why the sudden moral panic that the state of Indiana is just about to march gays into theocratic concentration camps and rename itself the Republic of Gilead? Because it’s useful and because moral panics are a quick and dirty way to stampede people, rather in this vein:
The real deal is this: People in flyover country are being told the terms of their surrender. This is not about “toleration” and never has been. It’s about the attempt to force people, against their conscience, to approve of homosexual acts and gay “marriage”.
The reality is that the vast majority of the people this law means to protect are not interested in quizzing strangers about their sex lives and then punishing tthem. Nobody goes into a grocery or hardware store and gets grilled on whether they are gay and nobody wants to know. But the goal of gay lobby is to target people likely to have qualms of conscience about appearing to support gay “marriage”–people who have real issues of conscience–and use the cudgel of the state force them to give the appearance of approval to what they are regard as sin. It’s a form of bullying, something the gay lobby talks about constantly and practices skillfully.
Hence the moral panic as businesses like Apple, which have no trouble trading with Communist butchers in China (and exploiting slave labor there) or gay-murdering butchers in the U.A.E. suddenly develop a “conscience” and bravely face the applause of the Chattering Classes in the US. Here in Washington (which has an RFRA on the books) the mayor of Seattle is jumping on the moral panic bandwagon (as the shipping containers from China fill up our port). Hysterical Lefties now do their best Glenn Beck imitation and compare Christians with a tender conscience to Nazis (threatening that it “will not end well”) for them. Because if you can’t target some mom and pop Christian bakery in Bloomington, smash them with the iron rod of the state (instead of just going to the bakery down the street), and drive them into destitution, you might as well just gas everybody now. By such low tactics (from people who talk perpetually about “bullying“), the Girardian scapegoat will again be sacrificed as the community expends its fury on another in a long trail of designated Emmanuel Goldsteins in order to assure itself of its moral purity.
I find it helpful to think of this discussion in the context of two deliberately NON-PARALLEL control cases: a) racist or bigoted objections to accomodating minorities or other targets of prejudicial sentiment, and b) minority or non-racist objections to accommodating racists or others with offensive views. (Did I say NON-PARALLEL emphatically enough? Do I need to clarify that this is explicitly excludes and rejects any suggestion of moral equivalency?)
We decided in this country about half a century ago that anyone has the right to sit down at a lunch counter, or to walk into any business or other place of public accommodation, and get the same service as anyone else, regardless of prejudicial attitudes about factors like race.
Let’s agree that this principle applies to gays, and to same-sex couples, and also holds true of racists and others with offensive views. So if a skinhead or a known KKK member walks into a diner, even if it is owned and staffed by minorities or by non-racists who hold the strongest possible objections to his views, he should get the same service as anyone else.
Likewise, I can fathom no basis for saying that religious proprietors or employees of any business should be permitted (or should wish) to refuse service to gays or to same-sex couples.
On the other hand, we recognize the right of advertisers to refuse to accept advertising projects with messages they deem offensive, for instance. A KKK member has a right to the same diner service as anyone else, but he does not have the right to ask graphic designers to create a hateful message for him or ask billboard owners to display it.
Why? Because the latter involves a form of speech or expression. A graphic designer doesn’t simply provide a service, he invests his work with his creativity and energy in the cause of making a statement. It doesn’t have to be a statement he agrees with, but if it’s a statement he finds sufficiently offensive, it becomes problematic to ask him to participate in that speech. Likewise, the right of equal accommodation doesn’t mean the billboard owner owes anyone a forum to express their message.
If a racist walks into a bakery owned by blacks or Jews and asks for a cake, he should get one. If he asks for a cake decorated with a frosting swastika or a burning cross, I think it should be the right of the owners to refuse, even if they otherwise accommodate requests for decorative images.
Equally, this means I think a racist proprietor who must bake a cake for a black client should not be forced to decorate it with messaging that he finds offensive. This may impose some slight inconvenience on black patrons to find a nonracist baker willing to accommodate them, but this inconvenience seems to me a reasonable tradeoff for the sake of free speech. (And who wants a cake for their special event baked and decorated by someone with such antithetical attitudes, anyway?)