TOUGH TIMES FOR DISSENTING BAKERS IN ORWELL-EGON
by Todd Hartley
Last week, if you’ll recall, we were discussing marriage equality, and I was expressing my disdain for county clerks who refuse to issue wedding licenses to same-sex couples. This week, I’d like to discuss the flip side of that issue, because if there’s anything I abhor nearly as much as bigotry and hate, it’s the thought police.
If you’re wondering what I mean by “thought police,” here’s the top definition from an Internet search: “A group of people who aim or are seen as aiming to suppress ideas that deviate from the way of thinking that they believe to be correct.”
Read it again. Absorb it. Own it. Because it’s going on right now, and you may be part of the problem.
By now, you may have heard about the lesbian couple in Oregon who were politely turned down when they asked a bakery owned by a Christian couple to make them a wedding cake. If you haven’t heard that one, the punch line is that they sued the bakery and were awarded $135,000 for their “pain and suffering,” which will likely force the bakery to go out of business.
I want to talk about this one a little, because if that doesn’t scare you, then you’re not paying attention.
First of all, I think it’s idiotic and anti-capitalist, if you’re a business, to deny yourself business because of how you feel about how someone else feels about something that has nothing to do with you.
If you’re a baker, and every cake is so personal to you that you won’t write “Congratulations, Olivia and Sophia” on it because being a jerk to a couple of women is more important to you, then you’re probably not the kind of baker that most people will want to deal with anyway.
As a result of your bigotry, Olivia and Sophia are now free to go tell all their friends and neighbors about how mean you were. They can organize a boycott or stage a rally, and everyone can, and should, take their business elsewhere, and you may one day get your just deserts and go out of business. It serves you right.
But in no way, shape or form does that entitle poor Olivia and Sophia, who are free to take their business to whomever they choose, to $135,000, nor does it give the state of Oregon free rein to drive private-sector businesses out of business. That’s absurd.
Think about it this way: Let’s say that I’m a gay friend of Olivia’s who is about to get married myself. You know what I would do? I would look all over the state for Christian bakeries, florists and caterers, and then I’d shop around until I found one that turned me down, and then I’d sue and have the owners of the establishment pay for my wedding and a down payment on my new house.
This is a very slippery and one-sided slope we’re on here, people. The First Amendment is getting trampled on. Nobody likes a jerk, but in America, that amendment gives you the right to be one. Or at least it used to.
Here’s a story you may not have heard, because it didn’t get a lot of press: Last year, a Christian man called 13 pro-gay bakeries in a row and asked to have a cake made with the words “Gay Marriage Is Wrong” written on it for his pro-traditional-marriage event. Not one of the bakeries would do it, and many of them called the man hateful just for asking.
Well, guess what, pro-gay bakeries: Now you have to make that cake. You can’t have it both ways. This is the way you wanted things, so this is the way things are going to be.
Legally, there’s nothing to stop a Christian from coming into your bakery and forcing you to write those very words on a cake right now. And if you refuse, that will hurt that Christian’s feelings, and that will entitle that Christian to sue you and win a boatload of money from you — well, in Oregon anyway.
I actually want to see that situation come up. I want to see some Christian guy get turned down by a pro-gay business in Portland because the business owner disagreed with the Christian’s beliefs. Then I want that Christian to sue the business just to see if the Oregon courts have the integrity to treat people of all viewpoints equally. I’d be willing to bet they don’t.
Todd Hartley invented the clapping game “Paddy Wagon, Paddy Wagon, Baker Man.”