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When I taught high school English, I used to give my students a "common sense quiz" at the beginning of every school year, to gauge their general approach to school and determine which ones might have personality disorders that could hinder their ability to succeed. One of the questions went something like this:

You are late to class if

a. you arrive after the late bell, without a good excuse.
b. you arrive after the late bell, at least five minutes into the period.
c. you arrive after the late bell, on purpose.
d. you arrive after the late bell.

The correct answer, obviously, is (d), although as I've worded it here "all of the above" would also be technically correct. However, a lot of students answered either (a) or (c). To their teenaged minds, you are only "late" if you're somehow at fault for being late; if you have a good excuse, have permission, or can't help it, then you are not, in fact, late. But you are, in fact, late. The condition of being "late" implies nothing more or less than arrival after a designated point in time. The condition of being blameworthy is separate, distinct and unrelated to the condition of being, objectively, late.

The responses are understandable, to a degree; schoolkids associate tardiness with discipline, in the sense that it's something they can be punished for, so the word "late" takes on a connotation in that context that it otherwise does not have, a connotation of blameworthiness that adolescents try very hard to avoid. What happens as a result is that the contrapositive, i.e., you are not late if you are not blameworthy, takes hold, and the meaning of the the word "late," and the fact of the actual conduct, is lost. More broadly, the idea is that even if I did in fact commit the act, but I had a good reason or it wasn't my fault, then in fact I did not commit the act in the first instance.

The more I think about these bills popping up in Kansas, Arizona and elsewhere that would enable discrimination by commercial actors on the basis of those actors' purported "religious freedom," the more I realize that this is the crux of the disagreement about this issue.

Take this hypothetical: Nathan Lane and RuPaul walk into Ted Nugent's Bridal Boutique and Firearms Emporium. They walk past the Uzis and Glock 9's over to the cake section, where they pick out a tastefully-decorated vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest. They walk up to the register and Nathan says to Ted, "Yes, hello, I'd like to purchase the vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest that's sitting on the shelf over there." Ted says, "I'm sorry; your sexual orientation and associated lifestyle offends me, because of my sincerely-held religious belief that it is sinful and wrong. Moreover, I believe that you intend to purchase the vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest for use in connection with a same-sex marriage ceremony and/or celebration, wheareas such events are also offensive to me and inconsistent with my sincerely-held religious beliefs. Therefore, I will not sell you the vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest, and I ask that you please leave my Bridal Boutique and Firearms Emporium at this time and not return at any time in the future, as your presence on these premises is offensive to, and incompatible with, my sincerely-held religious beliefs. Thank you, and have a pleasant day."

The question is, setting statutory laws aside for the moment, has Ted mistreated Nathan and Ru?

I think most people, even religious people, would agree that "religious freedom," "religious liberty," "religious exercise" and "religious practice" do not include the mistreatment, abuse, harm, or violation of the rights of, other people. At least, not to the extent they are protected by law and by the Constitution. To use the most extreme and obvious example, they don't include killing infidels or burning women at the stake.

The issue, then, is whether what Ted did to Nathan and Ru constitutes mistreatment, abuse, harm, or a violation of their rights. Whether it is excused, permitted or justified by "religious freedom" or "sincerely-held religious beliefs" is a separate, distinct, and unrelated question.

When you open a business that is a public accommodation, such as a store, restaurant or hotel, you are making an open, unconditional, universal offer to the general public of goods and services for sale. Anyone and everyone is entitled to come in, through your open and unlocked doors, and accept that offer on the same terms as everyone else, by requesting and paying for those goods and services. (This is unlike a private home, or even an office, where one would have to knock, ring the doorbell, make an appointment, &c., in order to get special permission to enter.)

The Civil Rights Act essentially declared that a business person cannot modify or withdraw that open, unconditional, universal offer from one particular customer based on nothing more than some characteristic of that customer by which the business person is subjectively bothered, where he would keep that offer open on the same terms for anyone without that characteristic. To do so is to mistreat that customer, violate his rights, and cause him harm.

That's where the disagreement lies, both in terms of these "religious freedom bills" and discrimination more generally. Supporters of the former would argue that this is not mistreatment, abuse, or a violation of the customer's rights, that no harm occurs, or even perhaps that it is not discrimination. Nathan and Ru are free to go somewhere else to get a tastefully-designed vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest, and if no other place in town has one, well, that's too bad for them, because Ted has a right to "exercise" and "practice" his "beliefs" that trumps Nathan and Ru's right to purchase a tastefully-designed vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest.

Ted would not agree that he has mistreated, abused or harmed Nathan and Ru not because they can go somewhere else, but because he has permission to deny them the purchase of the vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest. Regardless of whether he thinks he was given permission by the law, by the pastor of his church, by his imaginary friend, or by himself, in his mind he can justify what he's doing, he has a "good excuse," therefore he did not actually do any wrong thing. It is not discrimination, it is not mistreatment, it is not abuse, it is not harmful, it is not an offense, it is not a violation of Nathan's and Ru's rights. Just as a high school student is "not late" to class, even though she walked in ten minutes after the bell, because she "has a good excuse," "has permission," or it's "not her fault."

As I stated in a previous diary, I think anyone in Nathan and Ru's shoes would regard this as mistreatment; anyone who wouldn't has probably never been, and knows (s)he never would be, in Nathan and Ru's shoes.

The only way to win this argument is to focus on the fact that "religious freedom" is being invoked, wrongly in my view, as a good reason, a "good excuse," or permission for what must be considered discrimination, mistreatment, abuse, harm, and a violation of other people's rights. More specifically, that it is mistreatment, abuse, harm and a violation of others' rights to treat them the way Ted treated Nathan and Ru, regardless of whether you think you have a good excuse, a good reason, or permission to do it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well argued (9+ / 0-)

    The fact is that the religious right believe the practice of their religion extends everywhere.  That they do not accord this same privilege to other religions (i.e., Islam, Sikh etc.) doesn't even cause them to hesitate in the slightest.  Religion to them means Christianity, or specifically their version of it.  The free exercise of religion to them means that (1) government cannot do anything that would impinge on their belief system, regardless of context (i.e., from holding religious services to allowing them to deny the rights of others who are not members of that belief system), and (2) government is obligated to promote their religion, whether through placing religious symbols of their faith on its buildings, allowing school systems to force student to pray to their God, and/or expressly prohibiting practices that they find abhorrent, sinful  and/or blasphemous.  That is, No abortions.  Contraception illegal.  Arrest and punishment for engaging in homosexual acts.  The worst of them would impose "Biblical law" (whatever they mean by that)  on the rest of us.

    In short, they want the United States government to operate like the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:33:36 AM PST

  •  really (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    funningforrest

    all four of those answers are correct. It'd just that (D) is the most broadly correct.

    •  (d) is the BEST answer. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, Catte Nappe

      I went through a great many iterations of this question over the years and I still vary it every time I reproduce it. There was another question on the quiz that clarified the issue.

      Even if you think in terms of "right/wrong" as opposed to "best answer," (a) (b) and (c) can't be correct because if one is, then the other two would have to be wrong. Meaning, if you answer (a), that means you're late if you arrive late without a good excuse, but you're not late if you're more than five minutes late or do it on purpose, which makes no sense. The only reasonable answer, absent an "all of the above" option, is (d).

    •  "obviously" the correct answer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      wasn't obvious to me at all, unless the question had been prefaced with something like "choose the most correct answer".

      I had to wrangle such nebulous test questions often during my Navy days in more than one training school class.  Made me want to find the writer and strangle her/him.

      That said, the real issue to me is the frightening notion held by religious zealots (of any stripe) that some "higher law" ultimately trumps any civil law, and that it is acceptable for the individual to determine what that law is.  I think this is one of the greatest dangers blind adherence to religious faith holds in store.  This allows any behavior whatsoever in the name of "sincerely held religious belief".  No ultimate accountability to civil authority, accountable only to some deity, with the convenience that such accountability only comes into play after the believer has slipped the surly bonds of this mortal life.

      Taking responsibility for one's own actions in the here and now is easily evaded when one can claim exclusion on the grounds of devotion to one's religious faith.  Pretty good recipe for anarchy.

      •  As a Catholic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        funningforrest

        it would depend on the law. To take an extreme case, the Nazi's had lots of bad laws that i hope i would have ignored/violated.

        Here at home, i would like to think that i would have helped slaves with escaping the South in violation of the civil law of the time.

        The Founding Fathers violated English law when they declared independence.

        Perhaps one should not have blind adhereance to either religious or civil law...

        •  Good point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bromine

          Lots of civil law has been extremely bad, especially in this country, e.g. law supporting religious discrimination, racial discrimination, anti-science.

          The difference is civil law can, in principle, be changed and is held distinct from religious law (in many countries), and doesn't necessarily require revolution to effect change.

          Religious law, on the other hand, is almost always a very non-democratic process, almost always considered immutable once laid down, and all too often carries draconian penalties for transgression.  I am glad that the Catholic church has somewhat progressed with the times, changing its own canon (is that the right word?), but it's not exactly a bastion of progressive thought.  That said, I think I'd choose a Catholic to go out and enjoy a beer with rather than a Scientologist.  Those folks just give me the creeps.

        •  Civil Disobedience (0+ / 0-)

          But when we practice civil disobedience, we expect to be arrested.  Rosa Parks knew she would be arrested.

          If the fundamentalist baker wants to do civil disobedience and face the penalty, fine.

  •  i think it goes a step further (0+ / 0-)
    Regardless of whether he thinks he was given permission by the law, by the pastor of his church, by his imaginary friend, or by himself, in his mind he can justify what he's doing, he has a "good excuse," therefore he did not actually do any wrong thing.
    I don't think he'd even think in terms of permission. As a free man he would think that he is at liberty to do business with whom he chooses. And to not do business with who he chooses.

    He would reject the idea of needing permission from some 3rd party.

    So if i owned a print shop and the Klan stopped by and wanted me to print up some hateful literature that they wanted to distribute, i have no option but to be of assistance to them?

    •  Immediately assuming a victim's posture is no way (3+ / 0-)

      to properly understand this issue.

      The question is not whether you would "have no option but to be of assistance to them."

      The question is, if you decline to assist them because you hate who they are and for no other reason, are you mistreating them?

      Whether that mistreatment (if it is mistreatment) is excusable, justifiable, or permitted, is a separate, distinct, and unrelated question.

      •  so (0+ / 0-)

        was that a yes or a no? I think it was a yes...that i must take their business.

        The question is, if you decline to assist them because you hate who they are and for no other reason, are you mistreating them?
        i could care less if they felt mistreated. I think i'd prefer if they did.

        I seem to recall stories of the Superbowl not taking advertising from entities because they had some issue with the content of the ad. Could the network refuse to run a Klan advertisement?

        •  If you can't get past your desire to feel (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Batya the Toon

          victimized or assume a victim's role, we cannot have this conversation.

          What I said was,the question of whether you mistreat a customer by denying him goods or services that you freely, openly, universally and unconditionally offer to anyone and everyone else, is separate from the question of whether doing so is excusable, justifiable, or permissible.

          I did not say, or suggest, that in the boilerplate persecution-fantasy hypothetical you presented, the answer to these questions is, must be, and can only be, yes and no, respectively.

          Generally, the answer to the latter question is no if the denial is based on some immutable characteristic of the customer that he can't simply walk out of the store, change or get rid of, and walk back in without. The answer to the latter question may be yes if the denial is based on something, such as voluntary membership in a private club, that he can walk out, change, and come back without.

          But the answer to the former question is yes, regardless of the answer to the latter question.

          Moreover, the Super Bowl ad analogy fails, because it is not the same kind of open, unconditional, universal offer to the general public of goods and services for sale that is made by a shop or restaurant. For one thing, inter alia, there are a limited number of ad slots available; not only can the NFL and the TV network discriminate, they have to. But that's beside the point.

          •  i'm really missing this (0+ / 0-)

            victim thing. I'm just asking about my legal options.

            So he could quit the Klan. But i'd still not want to print that, not based on who the person was, but on the nature of the material itself.

            The network has the advertising time. At some point it is all sold out and then they cannot sell more. If i'm first in line for the space, why can they deny it it me? On what basis can they choose someone else over me that is not discriminatory.

            Or i say OK, they superbowl is sold out, i'll take time at the pro-bowl or the olympics or whenever you like. Over time there are an unlimited numer of ad slots available.

            Can Ted deny the cake sale because he thinks that later that day someone else who he likes better will show up to buy it?

            •  Doesn't work that way. (0+ / 0-)
              The network has the advertising time. At some point it is all sold out and then they cannot sell more. If i'm first in line for the space, why can they deny it it me?
              The way it works is, they solicit bids (offers) to advertise in a limited number of time slots. Once the bids are in and the deadline for bidding passes, then they select which ones to accept. It's not "first-come, first-served," like a deli counter.
              Over time there are an unlimited numer of ad slots available.
              Even if that's true (it's not), that's beside the point. The TV-ad business simply doesn't work the way you're imagining, let alone the way a print shop or Ted's Bridal Boutique works.
              Can Ted deny the cake sale because he thinks that later that day someone else who he likes better will show up to buy it?
              Sure. Doesn't mean he's not mistreating Nathan and Ru.
            •  The "victim thing" is you using first-person (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Batya the Toon

              pronouns and victimhood situations (you being "denied" this or you "must" to do that or you having "no option" and so forth), as the sole means of conceptualizing, explaining, discussing, analogizing, testing, debating, and understanding this issue.

              Not to mention running immediately and as fast as you can to the most offensive thing you can think of (the ubiquitous "Klan" which is practically a cliché at this point) to flavor the persecution analogy.

              •  I like to use (0+ / 0-)

                an extreme example to see if a principle has a limit. If you say that we must serve everyone, then i find it useful to see if a person is willing to go to the hard case.

                It's easy to say that 'someone else' must be made to interact with someone you find sympathetic, it can be harder to say that 'You' must serve someone you find odious.

                but principles have consequences you need to see clearly.

                •  On the other hand, (0+ / 0-)
                  If you say that we must serve everyone, then i find it useful to see if a person is willing to go to the hard case.
                  ...if I did not say that "we must serve everyone," and in fact used no coercion language whatsoever, it is not the least bit useful to pretend that I did and proceed from there. Starting with a faulty premise invalidates whatever follows.
                  •  i toook this (0+ / 0-)
                    More specifically, that it is mistreatment, abuse, harm and a violation of others' rights to treat them the way Ted treated Nathan and Ru, regardless of whether you think you have a good excuse, a good reason, or permission to do it.
                    to mean that it should not be permitted, as it would be a violation of their rights. To me that seemed to be this implication of this conclusion.

                    That Ted violated their rights, which we do not allow in America. If i am mistaken, then what remedy is there to the violation of their rights?

                    •  In some states, a civil lawsuit. (0+ / 0-)

                      In others, and under federal law, currently none.

                      •  did i draw the correct conclusion (0+ / 0-)

                        'that it should not be permitted'? or did i misunderstand you?

                        •  You misunderstood me. (0+ / 0-)

                          My point was that the question of whether Ted's treatment of Nathan and Ru constitutes mistreatment, is separate, distinct and unrelated to the question of whether that [mis]treatment is excusable, justifiable, or permissible.

                          As you've pointed out elsewhere, putting someone in prison is mistreatment; it's a deprivation of liberty, a bad thing to do to a person, and it harms him. If that person has been convicted of a crime, then that mistreatment is justifiable and permissible. But it's still mistreatment.

                          Those who would excuse, permit or justify what Ted did can never be won over unless and until they first recognize and acknowledge that he did mistreat Nathan and Ru.

                          •  no, I did not say all jailing is mistreatment (0+ / 0-)

                            Putting people in jail for murder is NOT mistreatment.
                            Putting people in jail for being Jewish IS mistreatment.

                            Putting a killer in jail is the proper treatment. The trouble could be that the word mistreatment has more than one meaning.

                            mistreat

                            To treat roughly or wrongly

                            To imprision someone can be rough, but it is not wrong. Mistreatment can imply a moral component. I think you are using the former sense and i am using the latter semse (abuse).
                            More broadly, the idea is that even if I did in fact commit the act, but I had a good reason or it wasn't my fault, then in fact I did not commit the act in the first instance.
                            A followup thought. So if Ted does not sell them the cake, then he has mistreated them. What if the cake is no longer offered for sale in his store?

                            He does not sell them the cake, but he has a good reason. Has he still mistreated them?

                          •  The last hypo makes no sense. (0+ / 0-)

                            Obviously it's not "mistreatment" if he refuses to sell them something he doesn't have, that doesn't exist. The mistreatment lies in refusing to sell them something which at the same time he freely, openly and unconditionally offers for sale to everyone else.

                            Putting a killer in jail is the proper treatment.
                            No. Putting a killer in jail is the proper mistreatment.

                            Your point is well-taken, though, in the sense that a distinction can be made between the word "mistreatment" including the justification/excuse/permission component, and not.

                            What I'm suggesting is that the word does not, or at least should not, contain that component. If it does, then it can allow us to let ourselves off the hook for appalling and immoral behavior. (Take the high school student's conviction that "I'm not late" even though she came in halfway through class to the Nth degree.) By way of example, it is better for us as a society to regard prison and other sorts of criminal punishments as mistreatment of human beings, independent of whether it's justifiable and permissible, because it makes us more careful with and respectful of the rights of the accused.

                            The word itself is not really the issue anyway. Ted has done something to Nate and Ru, no matter what word you use to characterize it, but he's not capable of seeing it that way. In his mind, he's done nothing to them, merely refused to do something for them. He's wrong.

                            My concern is that we equate "I did bad things for a good reason" with "I did not do bad things." The former requires a conscience. The latter does not.

                          •  that he doesn't have it for sale (0+ / 0-)

                            is his 'good reason' as you put it. Heck, it's a great reason. But he's a baker so even though he doesn't sell it now, but did sell it a week ago, he 'could' go out of his way to make it for them anyway. He just chooses not to go out of his way. A matter of how much burden you will put up with.

                            Likewise a liquor store will not sell beer to a 15 year old because it has a good reason. Of course it will sell the same product to a 25 year old 30 seconds later.

                            The store owner commited the act, but he had a good reason, so did he mistreat the teen?

                            A person is in a burning building screaming to be saved. The fire cheif decides it is too risky to send a rescue team in and the person dies in the fire. The job of the fireman is to serve his customers, so was the dead person mistreated by the refusal of service? I would say no because the burden placed on the firefighter was too high (probable death).

                            We can say yes to some customers and no to others because the burden of the same act can vary.

                            I hope you're enjoying this too

                          •  More non-analogous analogies. (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm not enjoying this at all, because I'm trying to explain what the point was and you're deliberately trying to miss it, misunderstand it, distort it, and distract yourself from it by coming up with these bizarre scenarios, making less and less sense each time, for reasons I can't fathom at this point.

                            Understanding why different scenarios call for different outcomes is more important than simply knowing, or saying, what the outcome in any given scenario should be. If your only means of discussing and understanding this issue is to make up more and more absurd scenarios, hysterically insisting that the issues and analysis must be precisely and in all respects the same and that either the outcome must be the precisely the same or I'm wrong; i.e., if you can't figure out these distinctions for yourself, then I'm afraid I can't help you.

                          •  than i'll call it a day (0+ / 0-)
        •  Try it this way: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GrafZeppelin127

          (A) Yes, you are mistreating them, and your mistreatment is wholly justified.

          As opposed to: (B) No, you are not mistreating them, because your treatment of them is wholly justified.

          Which of these is a more accurate statement?

          •  mistreating (0+ / 0-)

            is a pretty vague word for making this call. If i don't give my wife a birthday card, that's mistreatment. Japanese soldiers beating POWS in WWII was also mistreatment.

            So my choice of A or B would depend on how expansively i thought of mistreatment.

            •  Actually, it doesn't need to. (0+ / 0-)

              The focus of the diary (as I see it; please correct me if I'm wrong, GrafZeppelin) is not what behavior constitutes mistreatment, but whether any given behavior that does constitute mistreatment ceases to be classifiable as mistreatment if there is justification for it.

              •  I think that there'd be (0+ / 0-)

                a sliding scale. The greater the level of mistreatment (as in my examples above), the more difficult to find a justification.

                The ticking timebomb terrorist torture dilemma.

                •  You're still missing the central question. (0+ / 0-)

                  It's not "Can you find a justification?"

                  It's "Once you have found a justification, does your behavior cease to be classifiable as mistreatment?"

                  •  ahh (0+ / 0-)

                    i think i've been missing this since i didn't find that question of importance. It didn't seem central to me.

                    i think sometimes yes.

                    I can spank my own child, but i cannot spank a random child. I only have a justification for the former and so that is not mistreatment.

                    Or we waterboard our own troops to preapre them for capture. But we don't waterboard people for stealing a car. The latter would be mistreatment.

                    Putting people in jail for murder is not mistreatment. Putting people in jail for being Jewish is mistreatment.

  •  Logical argument, well written... (4+ / 0-)

    ....and therein lies the problem. The people it needs to be directed to will not understand the argument.

    There is too much emotion involved, too much hate and fear. They cannot process logical thought. Besides, they KNOW they are right and we are prosecuting Christians.

    Also, I could hit you with a wet noodle. This: tastefully-designed vanilla-frosted orange marzipan cake with Crème de Menthe and lime zest is going to be in my head forever.

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:48:08 AM PST

  •  But this country was founded for men to treat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, Matt Z

    Many other people badly. It's a very long tradition that the evil RW radical monsters want to bring back. The fact that we the people is more inclusive than the evil framers envisioned or that these "people" envision is besides the point. We means we or it means nobody.

    Clearly "the people" who want these laws have NOT been mistreated in this fashion. It's reminds me that they want permission to be mean nasty & selfish.

    Tired of this crap & that evil is winning.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:52:41 AM PST

  •  Well, the difference is that with religion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, VClib

    It's not a "good excuse." Instead, even if others think it's a very very bad excuse, it is nonetheless a "constitutionally-protected" excuse.  

    The First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion -- even those religious beliefs that many others find wrong or bigoted.  The 14th Amendment protects us against government discrimination.  We have no constitutional right to be free from discrimination by individuals.  None.  If my next door neighbor wants to have a block party and exclude the Asian family in the block and even tell them his bigoted views were the basis for their exclusion, he has a First Amendment right to do that. If a church has a religious belief against women and excludes me from even setting foot on their property because of that, that's their constitutionally-protected right.  

    The government cannot make illegal the constitutionally-protected religious beliefs the government believes are wrong or bigoted.  To do that would be unconstitutional. To pass a law for the primary purpose of burdening the free exercise of a constitutionally-protected religious belief -- even one that most people find bigoted or wrong -- would be a violation of the First Amendment.  Suppressing bigoted or wrong religious beliefs is not a legitimate government interest.

    The Civil Rights laws, by the way, were justified NOT on the basis that Congress was making a moral statement against discrimination by private individuals.  The Civil Rights laws were justified on the basis of the extensive record before Congress that segregation kept African Americans out of commerce -- the Civil Rights laws were an exercise of Commerce Clause powers by Congress. The laws were found Constitutional by the SCOTUS despite, not because of, the fact that they were also a moral statement.  See the SCOTUS case here.

    I completely understand that many here find certain religious views bigoted.  And I completely agree that GOVERNMENT has no business telling consenting adults who they can, and cannot, contract with (civil marriage is a contract).  But on the other hand, I think many here forget that the free exercise of religious views, even ones that others find bigoted, is a constitutionally-protected right.  

    For that reason, I tend to think that, while government can make laws with respect to places of public accommodation (like stores or restaurants), it has no business telling individuals who they can, and cannot, contract with as a matter of commerce.  If a misogynistic man comes to my office to see about engaging a lawyer, and he sees that I'm a woman, and says, "Sorry, my religious beliefs are that women shouldn't work outside the home, so I'm going to go find a male lawyer" -- that's his constitutional right.  I have no right to have government tell him that he can't use his religion to discriminate against me.  

    •  Does the "free exercise" or "practice" of one's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      luckylizard, Witgren

      "religion" or "beliefs" include the mistreatment or abuse of other people, including (but not limited to) causing them harm or violating their civil rights?

      The government cannot make illegal the constitutionally-protected religious beliefs the government believes are wrong or bigoted.
      I am aware of no law in any U.S. jurisdiction that makes any belief illegal. Laws only proscribe, compel or permit conduct, not thoughts. "Beliefs" are thoughts, not conduct.
      To pass a law for the primary purpose of burdening the free exercise of a constitutionally-protected religious belief -- even one that most people find bigoted or wrong -- would be a violation of the First Amendment.
      What if the "constitutionally-protected religious belief" whose "free exercise" is being "burdened" is the "belief" that infidels must be killed or that adulterous women must be stoned to death?  Sure, these are extreme examples, but they are "constitutionally-protected religious beliefs" that "most people find bigoted or wrong" which, you say, cannot be "burdened" without violating the First Amendment.
      Suppressing bigoted or wrong religious beliefs is not a legitimate government interest.
      Including the "bigoted or wrong religious beliefs" cited above?

      Again, "religious beliefs" are thoughts, not conduct. Are you saying that no conduct may be proscribed, compelled or permitted by law if doing so would "suppress" such thoughts?

      •  Your examples conflate 2 rights (0+ / 0-)

        As we also have a right to life. So in that case a choice must be made as to which right trumps the other. And i expect the court would say that you religious liberty rights do not go so far as to trump my right to be alive.

        •  But according to coffeetalk, "religious liberty (0+ / 0-)

          rights" can't be "trumped" by anything, because doing so would "violate the First Amendment." If my "religious belief" is that you must die and I must kill you, "the government" cannot "pass laws" that "suppress" that "belief." Your "right to life" is not a "legitimate government interest" that justifies the "suppression" of that "belief."

      •  A couple of points. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, VClib

        The First Amendment protects the Free Exercise of Religion,  That means ACTING on your beliefs.  

        Government has no legitimate interest in suppressing the Free Exercise of Religious beliefs.  Government DOES have a legitimate interest in protecting people from physical or financial harm from others.  That is what would justify laws against stoning women -- protection of people against physical harm from others.  A law that burdens the Free Exercise of a Religious belief must be based on a legitimate government interest OTHER THAN a statement by the government that the religious belief is wrong or bigoted.  If the law is based on some other legitimate government interest, and a side effect is that it burdens a religious belief, it may be constitutional based on that other government interest.  

        Even in the case of the New Mexico photographer who, under NM law, had to offer the same services to same-sex couples, the NM Supreme Court recognized that the photographer had every right to make clear his religious beliefs.  He could post a sign, for example, in his place of business making clear exactly what his religious beliefs about same-sex marriage were, followed by a statement that he obeys laws.  (They have asked the SCOTUS to review that case.)  

        It makes a difference whether the law is for the purpose of suppressing the free exercise of a religious belief that the government finds objectionable (unconstitutional) or whether the law is for the purpose of some other, unrelated legitimate government interest (like interstate commerce) and has the incidental effect of burdening a religious belief (probably constitutional).  

        •  Can you identify one law that has ever been passed (0+ / 0-)

          by any legislature in any U.S. jurisdiction anywhere, ever, that contained "a statement by the government that [a particular] religious belief is wrong or bigoted"? If so, please provide a link to the statute or legislative document containing that statement.

          Can you identify one law that has ever been passed by any legislature in any U.S. jurisdiction anywhere, ever, that was expressly "for the purpose of suppressing the free exercise of a religious belief that the government finds objectionable"? If so, please provide a link to the statute or legislative document evidencing that express and exclusive purpose.

          •  The closest recent case is Romer v. Evans. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            There, the Supreme Court held that a constitutional amendment based solely on animus toward a particular group did not pass the "rational basis" test.  The Court struck down that constitutional amendment because there was no legitimate government interest underlying it (that is what the "rational basis" test is about -- do you have a "rational basis" for the law other than expressing your disapproval of the constitutionally-protected actions or beliefs of others).  

            In a similar way, a law passed solely because of animus to the religious beliefs of a certain group would be unconstitutional.  

              •  Of course it is. What made the law unconstitional (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib

                was that it lacked a rational relationship to a legitimate government interest.   Animus to a particular group is not a legitimate government purpose -- even if that group is fundamentalist Christians who believe that same-sex marriage is against their religion.  

                From the decision:

                A second and related point is that laws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected. "[I]f the constitutional conception of `equal protection of the laws' means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest." Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528, 534 (1973). Even laws enacted for broad and ambitious purposes often can be explained by reference to legitimate public policies which justify the incidental disadvantages they impose on certain persons. Amendment 2, however, in making a general announcement that gays and lesbians shall not have any particular protections from the law, inflicts on them immediate, continuing, and real injuries that outrun and belie any legitimate justifications that may be claimed for it. We conclude that, in addition to the far reaching deficiencies of Amendment 2 that we have noted, the principles it offends, in another sense, are conventional and venerable; a law must bear a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose, Kadrmas v. Dickinson Public Schools, 487 U.S. 450, 462 (1988), and Amendment 2 does not.
                •  Your words: (0+ / 0-)

                  "A law that burdens the Free Exercise of a Religious belief must [not] be based on ... a statement by the government that the religious belief is wrong or bigoted."

                  Show me one that does, and is.

                  •  Exactly. The law has to be based on something (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib

                    other than a statement by the government that the religious belief is wrong or bigoted.

                    Government denouncing a particular religious belief is not a legitimate interest.  Government has no business saying whether religious beliefs are right or wrong. That's not a legitimate government interest.

                    Instead, there ARE legitimate government interests out there, like protecting individuals from physical or financial harm, like promoting interstate commerce, defending the country, etc.  If a law is based on a legitimate government interest, and it ALSO burdens someone's free exercise as sort of a side effect, then it's probably constitutional.  

                    In other words, if you instituted a draft because you have evidence that it is necessary to adequately protect the country, that's constitutional because that's a legitimate government interest.  If you institute a draft because you are aware of certain religions that oppose being in the military, and you want to make clear that religious belief is wrong, and that's the primary justification, that's probably not constitutional.  

                    That's what the SCOTUS said in the case I linked to.  The legitimate government interest there was evidence that African Americans couldn't engage in interstate commerce, for example, because of the lack of hotels that would house them when they tried to travel.  That was the legitimate government interest that justified that law -- regulation of interstate commerce, which is delegated to Congress under the Constitution.  

                    •  Strike two. (0+ / 0-)

                      "A law that burdens the Free Exercise of a Religious belief must [not] be based on ... a statement by the government that the religious belief is wrong or bigoted."

                      Show me one that does, and is.

                      Or one that did, and was.

                      The one struck down by the Court in Romer didn't, and wasn't.

                      No more hornbook bromides, please. One actual example. Thank you.

                      •  I did show you one. But here's another. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        VClib

                        Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah

                        There the Court struck down a law that was directed toward suppressing the free exercise of a religious belief -- animal sacrifice.

                        The opinion begins this way:

                        The principle that government may not enact laws that suppress religious belief or practice is so well understood that few violations are recorded in our opinions. Cf. McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618 (1978); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953). Concerned that this fundamental nonpersecution principle of the First Amendment was implicated here, however, we granted certiorari. 503 U.S. _ (1992).

                        Our review confirms that the laws in question were enacted by officials who did not understand, failed to perceive, or chose to ignore the fact that their official actions violated the Nation's essential commitment to religious freedom. The challenged laws had an impermissible object; and in all events, the principle of general applicability was violated because the secular ends asserted in defense of the laws were pursued only with respect to conduct motivated by religious beliefs. We invalidate the challenged enactments, and reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

                        The Court then discussed the legislative history of the law to show that it was targeted to stop that particular religious practice, because they disapproved of the religious practice.  And then this, pretty much exactly what I've been saying:
                        In our Establishment Clause cases, we have often stated the principle that the First Amendment forbids an official purpose to disapprove of a particular religion or of religion in general. See, e.g., Board of Ed. of Westside Community Schools (Dist. 66) v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 248 (1990) (plurality opinion); Grand Rapids School Dist. v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373, 389 (1985); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 56 (1985); Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 106-107 (1968); School Dist. of Abington v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225 (1963); Everson v. Board of Ed. of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1, 15-16 (1947). These cases, however, for the most part, have addressed governmental efforts to benefit religion or particular religions, and so have dealt with a question different, at least in its formulation and emphasis, from the issue here. Petitioners allege an attempt to disfavor their religion because of the religious ceremonies it commands, and the Free Exercise Clause is dispositive in our analysis.

                        At a minimum, the protections of the Free Exercise Clause pertain if the law at issue discriminates against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons. See, e.g., Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599, 607 (1961) (plurality opinion); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69-70 (1953). Indeed, it was "historical instances of religious persecution and intolerance that gave concern to those who drafted the Free Exercise Clause." Bowen v. Roy, 476 U.S. 693, 703 (1986) (opinion of Burger, C.J.). See J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States §§ 991-992 (abridged ed. 1833) (reprint 1987); T. Cooley, Constitutional Limitations 467 (1868) (reprint 1972); McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 464, and n. 2 (1961) (opinion of Frankfurter, J.); Douglas v. Jeannette, 319 U.S. 157, 179 (1943) (Jackson, J., concurring in result); Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333, 342 (1890). These principles, though not often at issue in our Free Exercise Clause cases, have played a role in some. In McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618 (1978), for example, we invalidated a State law that disqualified members of the clergy from holding certain public offices, because it "impose[d] special disabilities on the basis of . . . religious status," Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. at 877. On the same principle, in Fowler v. Rhode Island, supra, we found that a municipal ordinance was applied in an unconstitutional manner when interpreted to prohibit preaching in a public park by a Jehovah's Witness, but to permit preaching during the course of a Catholic mass or Protestant church service. See also Niemotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268, 272-273 (1951). Cf. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228 (1982) (state statute that treated some religious denominations more favorably than others violated the Establishment Clause).

                        1
                        Although a law targeting religious beliefs as such is never permissible, McDaniel v. Paty, supra, 435 U.S. at 626 (plurality opinion); Cantwell v. Connecticut, supra, 310 U.S. at 303-304, if the object of a law is to infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation, the law is not neutral, see Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, supra, 494 U.S. at 878-879, and it is invalid unless it is justified by a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest. There are, of course, many ways of demonstrating that the object or purpose of a law is the suppression of religion or religious conduct. To determine the object of a law, we must begin with its text, for the minimum requirement of neutrality is that a law not discriminate on its face. A law lacks facial neutrality if it refers to a religious practice without a secular meaning discernable from the language or context. Petitioners contend that three of the ordinances fail this test of facial neutrality because they use the words "sacrifice" and "ritual," words with strong religious connotations. Brief for Petitioners 16-17. We agree that these words are consistent with the claim of facial discrimination, but the argument is not conclusive. The words "sacrifice" and "ritual" have a religious origin, but current use admits also of secular meanings. See Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1961, 1996 (1971). See also 12 The Encyclopedia of Religion, at 556 ("[T]he word sacrifice ultimately became very much a secular term in common usage"). The ordinances, furthermore, define "sacrifice" in secular terms, without referring to religious practices.

                        We reject the contention advanced by the city, see Brief for Respondent 15, that our inquiry must end with the text of the laws at issue. Facial neutrality is not determinative. The Free Exercise Clause, like the Establishment Clause, extends beyond facial discrimination. The Clause "forbids subtle departures from neutrality," Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437, 452 (1971), and "covert suppression of particular religious beliefs," Bowen v. Roy, supra, 476 U.S. at 703 (opinion of Burger, C.J.). Official action that targets religious conduct for distinctive treatment cannot be shielded by mere compliance with the requirement of facial neutrality. The Free Exercise Clause protects against governmental hostility which is masked, as well as overt.

                        The Court must survey meticulously the circumstances of governmental categories to eliminate, as it were, religious gerrymanders.

                        Walz v. Tax Comm'n of New York City, 397 U.S. 664, 696 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring).

                        The record in this case compels the conclusion that suppression of the central element of the Santeria worship service was the object of the ordinances.

                        And then goes on to say why they reached that conclusion.  

                        So, there's a very clear example of an ordinance specifically designed to target the free exercise of a disfavored religious belief, and a unanimous SCOTUS striking down the law for that reason.

                        •  Where is the "statement by the government that (0+ / 0-)

                          the religious belief is wrong or bigoted"? The ordinances at issue referred to "practices which are inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety," 508 U.S. at 526 (emphasis added), and with "any and all acts ... which are inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety," id. (emphasis added), not any "beliefs which are wrong or bigoted."

                          There was no "statement by the government that [any] religious belief is wrong or bigoted" in the Hialeah ordinance at issue in the Lukumi Babalu Aye case, nor in the argument made before the court in support thereof. (If anything, the ordinance's defenders denied such sentiments and motivations. See id. at 543 ("Respondent claims that Ordinances 87-40, 87-52, and 87-71 advance two interests: protecting the public health and preventing cruelty to animals.")) That the Court inferred that intention does not change the fact that "the government" made no such "statement," neither in the legislature nor in court.

                          And the law struck down in Romer, again, was not a "law that burden[ed] the Free Exercise of a Religious belief," nor did it contain "a statement by the government that [any] religious belief [was] wrong or bigoted."

                          Strike three. You're out.

                          So ... what does any of this have to do with the topic and content of the diary?

                          •  Apparently you have difficulty reading (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            The Supreme Court specifically said that the ordinance was passed to suppress a religious belief.  See that last sentence?  "The record in this case demonstrates" that the ordinance was targeted at a religious belief? I gave you the Court's conclusion so as not to have to quote the whole case.  But here's some of the record that convinced the Court that the purpose of the ordinance was to stop a religious practice they disapproved of.  

                            The city council desired to undertake further legislative action, but Florida law prohibited a municipality from enacting legislation relating to animal cruelty that conflicted with state law. § 828.27(4). To obtain clarification, Hialeah's city attorney requested an opinion from the attorney general of Florida as to whether § 828.12 prohibited "a religious group from sacrificing an animal in a religious ritual or practice," and whether the city could enact ordinances "making religious animal sacrifice unlawful." The attorney general responded in mid-July. He concluded that the "ritual sacrifice of animals for purposes other than food consumption" was not a "necessary" killing, and so was prohibited by § 828.12. Fla.Op.Atty.Gen. 87-56, Annual Report of the Atty.Gen. 146, 147, 149 (1988). The attorney general appeared to define "unnecessary" as done without any useful motive, in a spirit of wanton cruelty or for the mere pleasure of destruction without being in any sense beneficial or useful to the person killing the animal.

                            Id. at 149, n. 11. He advised that religious animal sacrifice was against state law, so that a city ordinance prohibiting it would not be in conflict. Id. at 151.

                            The city council responded at first with a hortatory enactment, Resolution 87-90, that noted its residents' "great concern regarding the possibility of public ritualistic animal sacrifices" and the state law prohibition. The resolution declared the city policy "to oppose the ritual sacrifices of animals" within Hialeah, and announced that any person or organization practicing animal sacrifice "will be prosecuted."

                            In September, 1987, the city council adopted three substantive ordinances addressing the issue of religious animal sacrifice. Ordinance 87-52 defined "sacrifice" as

                            to unnecessarily kill, torment, torture, or mutilate an animal in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption,

                            and prohibited owning or possessing an animal "intending to use such animal for food purposes." It restricted application of this prohibition, however, to any individual or group that

                            kills, slaughters or sacrifices animals for any type of ritual, regardless of whether or not the flesh or blood of the animal is to be consumed.

                          •  If either of us is having difficulty reading, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil

                            I assure you it is not I.

                            Let me repeat: There was no "statement by the government," which in this case is the City of Hialeah, "that the religious belief is wrong or bigoted."

                            The Supreme Court specifically said that the ordinance was passed to suppress a religious belief. ... "The record in this case demonstrates" that the ordinance was targeted at a religious belief[.]
                            Yes, the Court did infer that intention from the record. But that does not prove the existence of a "statement by the [City of Hialeah] that [the Santeria's] religious belief is wrong or bigoted." The ordinances themselves contained no such statement, nor did the City of Hialeah make any such statement in its briefs or oral arguments before the Court. The Court's opinion neither references nor evidences any such "statement" made at any time by the City of Hialeah. The ordinances at issue clearly and explicitly addressed "practices" and "acts," not beliefs or any particular belief.

                            Practices and acts are not beliefs. Beliefs are thoughts. Thoughts are not acts.

                            So ... what does any of this have to do with the topic and content of the diary?

                          •  Ah, so you are hung up on wrong definition of (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            VClib

                            that word.  Here's the deal.  When I said a law was a "statement" of something, I was using this definition of the word "statement":  

                            an opinion, attitude, etc., that you express through the things you do, the way you dress, etc. . . .

                            "The boycott was intended as a political statement."

                            That's the definition of "statement" that I was using.  As the SCOTUS held in that case, the ordinance was a statement [using that definition] of disapproval of the religious practice of animal sacrifice.

                            You apparently are fixated on another definition of "statement" -- to state expressly in words.  

                          •  Even by that definition, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Tonedevil
                            ...the ordinance was a statement ... of disapproval of the religious PRACTICE of animal sacrifice.
                            (emphasis added).

                            Practice. Not belief.

                            So ... what does any of this have to do with the topic and content of the diary?

                          •  Do you REALLY not get it? (0+ / 0-)

                            Or are you just purposefully being obtuse?

                            Because I cannot, not for the life of me, understand what is confusing you here!

                          •  Nothing is confusing me. (0+ / 0-)

                            What is it you think I don't "get"?

                          •  Look at your last question (0+ / 0-)

                            It's pretty clear what the previous comments had to do with the subject of the diary.

                            You didn't get it. You don't know what the stuff being talked about had to do with the diary - that is what was confusing you. That's what you typed.

                          •  Just because I asked a question doesn't mean (0+ / 0-)

                            I was confused. Or that I didn't already know the answer.

                •  ... (0+ / 0-)

                  The one struck down by the Court in Romer didn't, and wasn't.

    •  So, what happens when a (0+ / 0-)

      seriously injured child is borught to the ER and the parents inform the only doctor on duty that the injury took place in a car accident coming home after a cheeseburger happy meal at McDonalds, and the doctor, being Hindu, finds the consumption of beef offensive and refuses to treat the child?

      •  In that case, the government has a legitimate (0+ / 0-)

        interest in protecting the lives of people.  So, government can say, "for the purpose of saving lives, you must treat any patient that comes into the emergency room."  (Which is exactly what the law is.)  Religious beliefs are not a justification for violating that law, because the law is based on a compelling government interest -- protecting lives -- and incidentally may burden the free exercise of a religious belief.  Preventing people from the free exercise of their religious belief is not the justification or purpose of the law.    

        The basis for the law really matters.  A law that compels people to violate sincerely held religious beliefs (and the SCOTUS has a test for that, developed in conjunction with those who objected to the draft during the Viet Nam war) based on some statement by the government that the religious belief is wrong is almost per se constitutional.  A law that may incidentally burden the free exercise of religious beliefs, but is justified by some OTHER government interest may be constitutional.  

        •  The government has a legitimate interest in (0+ / 0-)

          preventing discrimination, right?  You have the right to exercise your religion provided that exercise does not discriminate against me.  Given that sexual orientation is an inherent characteristic, refusing to serve a gay person is the same thing as refusing to serve a black person.  Segregationists tried to pull the religion card too, if I recall correctly.  Lots of quoting the Bible about keeping the races separate.

        •  What about the flip side? (0+ / 0-)

          If the intention behind a law is theological, the political driving force behind the law's passage, even if it is not theological on it's face, does that law violate the Establishment clause?  Since there is so much talk of religion driving these same sex marriage bans, or the contraception ban in Griswold, how hard could it be to prove a theocratic purpose?

          I don't think "compelling govt interest" is an adequate standard for avoiding social disorder.  Not every law meets the "compelling" test, but a person can believe anything spiritually and therefore refuse to obey any law.  A clear definition of "exercise" would get around the need for constant potluck balancing tests by judges.

          I also don't like the idea of a spiritual belief taking priority over a non-spiritual belief.  E.g., "It's got nothing to do with the Bible, I just don't like gays."  Why does the religious claimant outrank the bigot?  I think "free exercise of religion" should be redundant to "free speech", and the Establishment clause is the real key to religious freedom in the First.

    •  What exactly does "exercise" mean? (0+ / 0-)

      "... GOVERNMENT has no business telling consenting adults who they can, and cannot, contract with ..."

      That's your belief, but that's not a constitutional argument.  The elected Congress can pass any law it wants that doesn't violate the Constitution.  With the Civil Rights Act, as I'm sure you know, the constitutional issue was federal jurisdiction.

      The question is what constitutes "exercise" of religion, and more specifically, the prohibition of that exercise.  We know what prohibition means historically -- banning the teaching, writing, or speaking of a particular theology, jailing or killing people who attend churches, participate in rituals, or exhibit symbols of a given theology.  The establishment clause requires that religious freedom not be limited to established churches, which means religious "belief" can be defined  as anything by anybody.  (Personally, I worship the ocean.  I believe the universe is alive and the living universe is God.)  But the open-ended definition of "belief" in turn means the "exercise" of religion, for purposes of being free of state regulation, has to be limited by common sense: "exercise of religion" means going to the church of your choice, reading, teaching, sharing, or declaring your spiritual beliefs.   One may define their religion as a whole way of life, but once that way of life touches other people, it can be regulated.  Otherwise, free exercise of religion becomes a black hole that cancels out our system of laws.  This is just a mask for this whole anti-government anarchy craze the Tea Party is on about.  The Constitution cannot be interpreted to cancel itself out.  Our engagements with other people in society are governed by civil law; they fall outside the "exercise" of religion for 1st Amendment purposes.

      You may well have "no right to have government tell him that he can't use his religion to discriminate ..."  But Congress can pass such a law.  The only question is whether that law is constitutional, and it is not unconstitutional on 1st Amendment grounds.

  •  In Aggregate vs Individual (0+ / 0-)

    I think most people, especially here, would argue that the government has a compelling interest in preventing wholesale discrimination and oppression of a class of individuals, especially based on arbitrary criteria: society, as a whole, benefits from having broad experience and perspectives, and our concept as a nation is to allow individuals equality of opportunity regardless of race or other factors.

    Many people also think that, while the government has a duty to prevent oppression in aggregate (across the whole of society), it is an individual's right to deny services or working with someone for pretty much any reason.  The offended party, after all, can always go somewhere else and receive the same or even better service, so there's no real detriment to society.

    Except that is flawed.  It's a form of "NIMBY"ism, a statement that it's okay for someone else to have to do it, but not for me.  If everyone says the same thing, "I don't want to, make someone else," then no one does it, and what started as an individual exercise of freedom becomes oppression in aggregate.

    The only way for the government to stop broader oppression in aggregate is to have the authority to limit individual freedom to oppress.  Literally - without that authority, there is no way to counter oppression.  We as a society have decided that it is worth it to give up that individual freedom for the betterment of society as a whole.

  •  I am not convinced that your assumption here (0+ / 0-)

    is correct:

    I think most people, even religious people, would agree that "religious freedom," "religious liberty," "religious exercise" and "religious practice" do not include the mistreatment, abuse, harm, or violation of the rights of, other people.
    In fact, I strongly suspect that most people, regardless of their religion, feel, hold or believe that there are persons or classes of persons who are worthy of punishment as well as are persons or classes of persons who are worthy of ostracism. In addition they hold that some need to be constrained or restrained from performing various acts.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 03:57:14 PM PST

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