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Let us run a thought experiment to clarify a position that Mr. Linker espouses that, appears to me, to justify discrimination against the LGBT community

Relatively recently a new group of immigrants have come to North America and settled in the United States. These people, known as the Inbonis, have lived for thousands of years in the Amazon jungle never interacting with the outside world. They have a well established religion that dates back centuries and is encapsulated in the Sacred Text - a book that lays out the laws brought to them through revelation to legendary Inbonis figures by their all powerful monotheistic deity which roughly translates into English as "God."

The Inbonis are a pleasant and generally reasonable people. They have many similar prohibitions against murder, rape, theft and fraud in their culture that other cultures do. They believe in fair dealing, treating others with respect, and only using violence as a last resort.

They seek to live by their Sacred Text as best they can and consider perfection and beauty to be achieved when fully embracing the rules and principles detailed in the Sacred Text which primarily focus on being compassionate and performing good works while alive. After death the Inbonis believe they live on after being judged by God for their faith and conduct while alive. If they are judged to have lived a good life, as enumerated by the laws in the Sacred Text, their souls may live on in eternity with God and their loved ones in paradise.

But the Inbonis also have one somewhat unique prohibition - it is forbidden to be left handed.

Being left handed is explicitly banned in the Sacred Text. Examples: "For if one wants to be a child of God, they must praise him with their right hand high." "To sit by God's right hand in his great house in the after-life his people shall favor their right hands for labor and worship." "No child of light shall favor the left hand, that is the way to darkness." "And if a man favor his left hand, as with his right, he shall have committed abomination: he shall surely be put to death." There is little doubt left handedness is forbidden.

It is said that at one time someone showing favor for their left hand, even once, would receive a death sentence among the Inbonis. But relatively recently in their long history a majority of Inbonis, including those in their clergy, emphasize other parts of the Sacred Text that highlight God's instructions to forgive those who have made mistakes and committed wrongs.

Therefore, the common cultural practice among the Inbonis today is to merely banish those who refuse to renounce the practice of favoring their left hands. The Inbonis clergy reasonably point out that it is possible for those who favor their left hand to live and work favoring their right hand even though it may not be their natural preference. Inbonis caught favoring their left hands are given numerous opportunities to be forgiven if they atone for their immoral behavior and promise to become right handed.

After the Inbonis immigrated to North America and decided to settle in the United States they promised to follow all laws and be good American citizens. By all accounts they have been - serving their communities with charitable acts, protecting freedom in the armed forces, and finding no difficulty in following most laws and customs in America - except for one, the open and horrifying toleration for left handedness.

The sight of the left handed living and working in and around their communities has caused disgust and distress among the Inbonis. The open display of left handedness on television and the internet creates havoc in Inbonis homes as faithful Inbonis parents agonize over preventing their children from seeing images of the left handed. The seemingly endless assault on their religion and culture has led the Inbonis to flee to more insulated communities where the mainstream American culture of pervasive toleration of left handedness can not poison their children's minds and jeopardize their eternal souls.

The Inbonis community worry that if Inbonis children are exposed to a culture that says being left handed is acceptable more Inbonis may become left handed and lose their opportunity to live within the Ibonis community as well as join God in the afterlife. Not only might families break apart, but otherwise good men and women will lose their chance to pass judgement by God and live forever in paradise.

The stakes could not be higher.

So today the Inbonis are going on the offensive to save their faith, community and families. They are now the majority of the population in the state of Wyoming. The majority of legislators and the governor of the state have been elected running on Inbonis values especially the threat of left handedness. The "Raise Your Right Hand" slate swept the polls last election cycle and has now passed a law to restrict the left handed.

The new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve the left handed if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Private employers can continue to fire left handed employees on account of their being left handed. Stores may deny the left handed goods and services because they are left handed. Hotels can eject the left handed or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations—movie theaters, restaurants—can turn away the left handed at the door. And if someone who is left handed sues for discrimination, they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees.
While some in the Inbonis community believe the law goes too far many do agree on general principle that the Inbonis have the right to protect their "religious liberty" and not be forced to accept the left handed into their community against their will.

After all, the Sacred Text could not be clearer that being left handed is wrong and not to be tolerated by all faithful Inbonis people. This is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and is integral to the culture and history of the Inbonis people.

So, one might ask Mr. Linker, why shouldn't the Inbonis be able to discriminate against the left handed?

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Comment Preferences

  •  This would be funny if it wasn't almost true (7+ / 0-)

    My mother was 'left-handed', but was forced to write with her right hand by nuns in the Catholic school she attended some 80 years ago.

    It seemed being left-handed was the curse of the devil.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 09:55:53 AM PST

    •  Wow. I thought I picked a benign example (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Calamity Jean

      so the issue could be viewed more objectively, I guess not.

      Thanks for the info.

      •  For more on the topic: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DSWright, Cassandra Waites, kyril, Ahianne

        ". . . left-handed people have frequently been subjected to deliberate discrimination and disparagement. In many societies, they are considered unlucky or even malicious by the right-handed majority. Many languages use references to left-handedness to convey awkwardness, dishonesty, stupidity, or other undesirable qualities. Even in relatively "modern" societies, left-handed people historically have been—and in some places still are—forced from childhood to use their right hands for tasks which they would naturally perform with the left, such as eating and writing."

        "In many religions, including Christianity, the right hand of God is the favored hand. For example, Jesus sits at God's right side. God's left hand, however, is the hand of judgement. The Archangel Gabriel is sometimes called "God's left hand", sits at God's left side, and is one of six angels of death. Those who fall from favor with God are sent to left, as described in Matthew 25: 32–33, in which sheep represent the righteous and goats represent the fallen: "And he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left." In 19th-century Europe, homosexuals were referred to as "left-handed" whilst in Protestant nations, Roman Catholics were called "left-footers". Black magic is sometimes referred to as the "left-hand path", which is strongly associated with Satanism."

        “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

        by ahumbleopinion on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 10:19:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There are no benign examples (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        People like Linker don't care how about the size or rationality of a difference, only that it can be leveraged to obtain power.

        Any difference is acceptable material for these types.

        People have been called heretics for "miscounting" the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 10:59:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well the Law Specifically Says Gender Issues (3+ / 0-)

    so while you've hit the right level of absurdity, you'd have to tie it to a spousal relationship somehow. Wives cannot be left handed maybe.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 10:02:52 AM PST

  •  The problems with debates on twitter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSWright, Cassandra Waites, kyril

    Is that I feel as though I'm reading braille and I don't know the language.   So much of it just hits me as gibberish and I can't keep track of who is arguing for or against what with the mixed in RT: and @this and @that

    I guess if I was doing the debating, I'd get it, but as an outsider.. I have no idea who's on what side of which argument.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 10:23:04 AM PST

  •  No one has a right not to be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    discriminated against by other private citizens.  So, in your hypothetical, there is no constitutional problem with individuals discriminating against other individuals.  The Constitution only prohibits government from discriminating, not individuals.  Not only that, the First Amendment gives individuals a constitutional right to hold religious beliefs that you belief are bigoted, and also gives them a constitutional right (the free exercise clause) to act on religious beliefs that you belief are bigoted.  No one - not you, and not me -- has some kind of inherent right not to be discriminated against by an other individual based on some religious view we think is bigoted.

    Not only that, because of the First Amendment, government cannot pass laws if the primary purpose of that law is a statement by government that a religious belief is bigoted or wrong.  Government constitutionally cannot pass laws that are intended to be a rejection of any particular religious belief.  Government can pass laws that have another justification -- other than a statement that a person should not be able to act on his religious beliefs -- that have an effect on a religious belief, if that is not the main purpose of the laws.

    When it comes to commerce, it's more difficult.  In most states, places of pubic accommodation like stores or restaurants are treated differently under the civil rights laws.   And the justification for that is NOT some statement by the government that a religious beliefs is wrong.  In fact, in one SCOTUS case that upheld the Civil Rights Laws -- Heart of Atlanta Motel -- made clear that it was constitutional to ban discrimination in a place of public accommodation because Congress relied on evidence it had that that segregation in motels had a detrimental affect on interstate commerce:  

    6. The Basis of Congressional Action.
    While the Act, as adopted, carried no congressional findings, the record of its passage through each house is replete with evidence of the burdens that discrimination by race or color places upon interstate commerce. See Hearings before Senate Committee on Commerce on S. 1732, 88th Cong., 1st Sess.; S.Rep. No. 872, supra; Hearings before Senate Committee on the Judiciary on S. 1731, 88th Cong., 1st Sess.; Hearings before House Subcommittee No. 5 of the Committee on the Judiciary on miscellaneous proposals regarding Civil Rights, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., ser. 4; H.R.Rep. No. 914, supra. This testimony included the fact that our people have become increasingly mobile, with millions of people of all races traveling from State to State; that Negroes in particular have been the subject of discrimination in transient accommodations, having to travel great distances [p253] to secure the same; that often they have been unable to obtain accommodations, and have had to call upon friends to put them up overnight, S.Rep. No. 872, supra, at 14-22, and that these conditions had become so acute as to require the listing of available lodging for Negroes in a special guidebook which was itself "dramatic testimony to the difficulties" Negroes encounter in travel. Senate Commerce Committee Hearings, supra, at 692-694. These exclusionary practices were found to be nationwide, the Under Secretary of Commerce testifying that there is "no question that this discrimination in the North still exists to a large degree" and in the West and Midwest as well. Id. at 735, 744. This testimony indicated a qualitative, as well as quantitative, effect on interstate travel by Negroes. The former was the obvious impairment of the Negro traveler's pleasure and convenience that resulted when he continually was uncertain of finding lodging. As for the latter, there was evidence that this uncertainty stemming from racial discrimination had the effect of discouraging travel on the part of a substantial portion of the Negro community. Id. at 744. This was the conclusion not only of the Under Secretary of Commerce, but also of the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, who wrote the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee that it was his
    belief that air commerce is adversely affected by the denial to a substantial segment of the traveling public of adequate and desegregated public accommodations
    In other words, Congress had evidence that such practices often resulted in people being unable to find lodging at all and thus unable to travel.

    In fact, the parties in that case argued that Congress was legislating morality through the Civil Rights laws, and that it was impermissible Constitutionally for Congress to force certain moral views on its citizens.  The Court acknowledged that it was true that Congress also thought that segregation was not moral, but that could NOT be the legal justification for the law.  In essence, the law was constitutional despite (not because of) the fact that Congress was also imposing a certain morality on individuals that disagreed with that morality:  

    That Congress was legislating against moral wrongs in many of these areas rendered its enactments no less valid. In framing Title II of this Act, Congress was also dealing with what it considered a moral problem. But that fact does not detract from the overwhelming evidence of the disruptive effect that racial discrimination has had on commercial intercourse. It was this burden which empowered Congress to enact appropriate legislation, and, given this basis for the exercise of its power, Congress was not restricted by the fact that the particular obstruction to interstate commerce with which it was dealing was also deemed a moral and social wrong. [p258]
    So, in your hypothetical, if government has a lot of evidence that left-handed people can't find stores that will accommodate them and can't find restaurants that will serve them, then yes, they can pass a law outlawing discrimination in those places of public accommodation.  They can't outlaw discrimination in places of public accommodation if the main justification is a statement of disapproval of a religious belief.  

    And there's even less of a governmental justification for outlawing discrimination by individuals in situations where there is commerce, but no place of public accommodation, like, for example, an individual photographer who contracts with individuals on a one-on-one basis.

    •  Two issues (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Cassandra Waites, RockyMtnLib

      One would be the legal points you raise and I'm honestly not sure that the Kansas law doesn't pass that threshold of, as you say, "can't find restaurants that will serve them, then yes, they can pass a law outlawing discrimination in those places of public accommodation."

      How many people in Kansas have homophobic attitudes and will, in a given area, make it impossible for gay couples to find public accommodation? I don't know, but it seems like it is possible that in certain parts of the state gay couples will be denied public accommodation.

      Two is the larger argument about "religious liberty" in a secular society. Should we give so much deference to people's prejudices because "There's a book" that justifies it?

      I say no.

      •  Two responses, based on the Constitution. (0+ / 0-)


        One would be the legal points you raise and I'm honestly not sure that the Kansas law doesn't pass that threshold of, as you say, "can't find restaurants that will serve them, then yes, they can pass a law outlawing discrimination in those places of public accommodation."

        How many people in Kansas have homophobic attitudes and will, in a given area, make it impossible for gay couples to find public accommodation? I don't know, but it seems like it is possible that in certain parts of the state gay couples will be denied public accommodation.

        "It seems like it is possible" is not the standard Congress used in justifying the Civil Rights laws.  If you read that case, Congress had actual evidence, in the Congressional record, of things like how far, in some places, you had to travel before you found a motel that was not "whites only."  Passing a law based on "it seems possible" may be seen as a PRETEXT for an underlying intent to pass a law just to stop the exercise of a particular religious belief that government does not like.  Passing a law primarily because government don't want people to act on a religious belief that government doesn't like would be a clear violation of the Free Exercise Clause.  Government just can't do that under the First Amendment.  


        Two is the larger argument about "religious liberty" in a secular society. Should we give so much deference to people's prejudices because "There's a book" that justifies it?

        I say no.

        If you "say no," then you are against the First Amendment.  Because the First Amendment does even more than "give so much deference to" beliefs you find bigoted.  It gives those beliefs constitutional protection.  Now, you can't just one day say that you have a "religious belief that, for example, short people are the devil; The SCOTUS has, over the years, developed a test for determining what qualifies as a sincerely held religious belief deserving of protection.  Much of that was developed in conjunction with people who had religious objection to being drafted during the Vietnam War.  But if it meets that test, government constitutionally CANNOT pass a law that is primarily for the purpose of discouraging the Free Exercise of a religious belief, no matter how much government disapproves of that religious belief.  

        If you don't think that religious beliefs (or the lack of a religious belief, which is also protected)  should NOT be given constitutional protection, then you need to start a movement for a Constitutional amendment repealing that part of the First Amendment.  

        Good luck with that.  

        •  That's the Rand Paul argument (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites, RockyMtnLib

          Which was private businesses could discriminate if they wanted to. The Civil Rights Act changed that.

          Though yes there will likely have to be an actual case proving the discrimination first before Kansas' law can be challenged legally.

          In terms of "religious liberty" no the First Amendment does not give people more of a right to deny public accommodation than if one were doing so for any other bigoted reason such as racism.

          •  No, you misunderstand what I am saying. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            What I am saying is that, to be Constitutional under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, government needs a justification OTHER THAN "WE DON'T LIKE THAT BELIEF" in order to pass a law that forces people to violate a religious belief.  

            Here's another example.  I'm a woman, and I find certain Muslim religious beliefs that women have to have their heads covered -- or even more covering than that - -in public to be offensive and demeaning to women.  So, let's suppose Congress agreed, and passed a law saying "it is impermissible to wear a burqua in public."  Now, if the only justification for that law is "Burquas are demeaning and offensive to women," that law would be unconstitutional.  On the other hand, if Congress had some actual evidence that, for example, burquas interfered with interstate commerce, or posed a safety hazard to other people not wearing them, or SOMETHING that justified the law OTHER THAN the fact that they don't like the religious belief, then it may pass Constitutional muster.  That other basis for the law has to be legitimate and rationally-based at the very least (there's even a higher standard to meet under RFRA) but that other reason has to be legitimate and rational on its own merits - not a pretext for a law that Congress is passing primarily because they don't like the belief.  

            No matter how offensive you find a religious belief to be, that is not justification for passing a law discouraging the free exercise of that religious belief.  That's precisely the point of the First Amendment -- so government cannot ban, or even discourage, religious beliefs because they don't like the belief.  that's the whole point of the Free Exercise Clause.  That's why it's in there.  

            If Congress has another justification separate and apart from their dislike of the religious belief for passing the law, the law may be constitutional on that OTHER basis.  That's what that SCOTUS case says.  The Civil Rights laws were found constitutional NOT because Congress didn't like people's bigoted beliefs, but because Congress had evidence of a burden on interstate commerce.  

            It is not constitutional for government to pass a law primarily for the purpose of discouraging or stifling a belief that Congress doesn't like.   If they pass the law for another legitimate reason that is not based on Congress' dislike of the belief, then it can be constitutional even if it has the effect of discouraging or stifling the belief -- because discouraging or stifling a belief is not the purpose of the law.  

            These rules apply across the board -- no matter how much you or I like, or dislike, certain religious beliefs.  That's the whole point of the First Amendment.  

            •  Where are people trying to (0+ / 0-)

              justify those laws based on "we don't like your religious beliefs"?

              liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

              by RockyMtnLib on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 11:35:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That depends. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                What's the justification for a law that an individual photographer cannot turn down a job photographing a same-sex wedding because participating in a same-sex wedding violates his religious beliefs?  

                Is there empirical evidence that, absent such a law, same-sex couples couldn't find photographers?  

                •  It certainly wasn't (0+ / 0-)

                  "Your religious beliefs suck."

                  liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

                  by RockyMtnLib on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 12:47:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If there is no other overt justification (0+ / 0-)

                    then a Court just might assume it's not "your religious beliefs suck" (your words, not mine).  Instead, a Court might assume "we don't think you should be able to act on your religious beliefs, because your religious beliefs constitute discrimination."  If the justification for the law, that could well be unconstitutional, because the overt purpose of the law would be to discourage the free exercise of that particular religious view -- i.e., the government was discouraging the free exercise of a religious view that the government found undesirable.    That would be unconstitutional.

                    If someone shows that a law burdens, or discourages, the free exercise of their religious belief, the  burden would be on the government to provide the independent justification for the law -- a justification separate and apart from the burden on the religious belief.  

      •  This claim (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DSWright, RockyMtnLib

        that individuals are free to do whatever they like "Because First Amendment!!" is ridiculous. The First Amendment does not, and has never, granted a "right to discriminate".

        If a person opens a public bakery, they cannot refuse to serve gays. Settled law. No 1st amendment conflict.

        If a person runs a public bus service, they cannot make blacks sit in the back of the bus. Settled law. No 1st amendment conflict.

        This "bigotry is freedumb!" argument is just as wrong now, just as repugnant now, as when Rand Paul tried it.

        Arguing for empowering racists are vile.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 11:13:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are just wrong. (0+ / 0-)

          and you haven't even read my other comments, apparently.

          Yes, I do have a First Amendment right to discriminate.  I can (hypothetically) have a block party at my house and invite the whole neighborhood except the Asian family next door, and even tell them how bigoted I am against Asians.  That's my First Amendment right.  Government cannot outlaw my beliefs because it doesn't like my beliefs.  That is even more true when you are talking about religious beliefs, which are constitutionally protected.  

          What those cases say is that government CAN do things that in essence outlaw my beliefs in certain circumstances IF there is another purpose for the law -- a purpose that is not based on a dislike for my religious beliefs.  If government passes a law for a legitimate reason not related to a dislike for my religious beliefs, and that law has the incidental effect of discouraging the exercise of my religious beliefs, that's probably constitutional.  

          It is the Civil Rights laws, not the Constitution, that provide those limits you mention, like a bakery or a bus service (places of public accommodation.)  But as to the "settled law" on those, the issue is WHY they are constitutional.  Read those cases.  The Civil Rights laws were upheld on the basis that segregation caused a burden on interstate commerce -- with specific evidence of that burden on interstate commerce in the Congressional Record.  The Court said that the fact that Congress also thought segregation was morally wrong did not make the law unconstitutional.  But making a statement that certain beliefs are morally wrong, if that is the ONLY or PRIMARY justification for the law, would be unconstitutional.  

          In the absence of the civil rights laws, and housing and employment laws, justified based on eliminating a burden on interstate commerce, you have every right in the world to discriminate.  You can form a private club and discriminate all you want.  You can admit only Asians if you are bigoted against all other races.  You can admit only Jews if you are bigoted against all other religions.  You absolutely DO have a First Amendment right to discriminate.  Congress can enact laws justified on other grounds that have the effect of burdening your First Amendment right to discriminate, but Congress cannot pass laws that have a primary purpose and justification of burdening your First Amendment Right.

          And there's a difference between arguing for First Amendment rights of vile people, and supporting those vile people.  I abhor the stuff said and done by the Westboro Baptist Church.  But I support their First Amendment Right to say and do those things.  And if Congress decided they didn't like what those vile people were saying, and in order to shut them up, passed a law saying it was illegal to stand outside of a military funeral with a sign that said "God hates __" (as they do), I would oppose that law, NOT because I support the horrid Westboro Baptist Church, but because I support the First Amendment and, based on the First Amendment, I oppose government passing laws directed at silencing speech or religious views, no matter how vile I find that speech or view.

          If you don't support the First Amendment rights of the worst people in our society, then you can't complain when your own First Amendment rights are taken away.  

  •  Raggedy Andy (3+ / 0-)

    is left handed and they tried to switch him to right handed in first grade.  He developed an ulcer - at 6 years old.  It's not okay to fuck with people just because you don't accept them for who they are.  Oh, yeah, this applies to everything.

    If you acknowledge it, you can change it.

    by Raggedy Ann on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 10:49:09 AM PST

  •  so, I walk into a bakery (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSWright, Calamity Jean

    and I want to order a wedding cake.

    How does the baker know what my sexual orientation is?  What if I am ordering the cake for my son or daughter?  Does my child have to come in and sign an affidavit affirming their sexual orientation?

    Or, I am dining out with another woman.  Is she my co-worker, neighbor, cousin, sister, friend, insurance agent?  

    This proposed law is nuts.

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