Friday, November 18, 2016
Washington Florist Case Goes Before the State Supreme Court
The Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the case of a 72-year-old florist who is facing fines after declining to make flower arrangements for a gay couple’s wedding.
During the hearing, lawyers for the florist, Barronelle Stutzman, were asked to explain how declining to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding is different from discrimination based on race.
“A Muslim graphics designer shouldn’t be compelled to create designs promoting a Jewish Friends of Israel group,” said Kristen Waggoner, Stutzman’s lawyer in her opening statement. “A gay public relations manager shouldn’t be forced to promote the Westboro Baptist Church. And a Christian floral designer shouldn’t be forced to create custom wedding designs for a wedding that is not between one man and one woman.”
The case surrounds Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, a small flower shop in Richland, Washington. A mother and grandmother, she has been in the industry for over 40 years.
In March 2013, Stutzman was asked to make custom floral arrangements for a gay couple’s wedding. Citing her Christian beliefs about marriage, Stutzman told the client, Rob Ingersoll, she could not create flower arrangements for his wedding.
The first question asked by the justices concerned how this case was different from a hotel owner refusing to accommodate someone because of his race.
“This claim involves expression, and providing basic lodging and necessities does not involve expression,” Waggoner said. And furthermore, she added that the court must ask the question: “Is the objection based on the protected class status, or on the message? Because if it’s based on the protected class status, that’s very different.”
According to court documents, Stutzman had served Ingersoll on many occasions in the past, and even considered him a close friend. Because of that, Waggoner claims, it’s clear Stutzman wasn’t declining to serve the client based on his sexual orientation.
Rather, she maintains, Stutzman declined to create a custom floral arrangement because she believed it would portray a message that went against her sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.
The court justices appeared hesitant to accept the notion that creating floral arrangements qualifies as creative expression.
“If we even get to the point where we might acknowledge that making floral arrangements is creative expression, what’s the limiting principle? Is it the landscape, architect, is it the bartender?” one of the justices asked.
“First of all,” Waggoner replied, “it only applies in the public accommodations context, and the business owner would have to have an objection to the expression, not to the person, but to the actual expression itself.”
Bob Ferguson, attorney general for the state of Washington—which is suing Stutzman—agreed that creating custom flower arrangements qualified as some form of public expression. But if a business is open to the public, he argued, it must serve everyone.
“A business can absolutely have a policy as long as they apply that policy equally and do not discriminate or refuse service or say we do not serve your kind when we come into your business,” he said.
Justice Charles Wiggins asked how far the state’s anti-discrimination law actually reaches, and whether it would apply to written or spoken sentiments. He provided the hypothetical example of an actor who objects to lending his voice for a political ad for a candidate who’s against same-sex marriage.
“Would that trigger free speech concerns?” Wiggins asked.
“A key question there is, is it a public accommodation,” replied Ferguson.
Even if the court finds that imposing the state’s anti-discrimination law on Stutzman in this context is a substantial burden on her religion, Ferguson added, the state has a compelling interest. He said:
“There is a difference, your honor, between the freedom to believe and a freedom to act. Ms. Stutzman or her religious expression, is free to believe what she wishes. But when she engages in public accommodations, and avails herself of the protections and the benefits that come with being a business, there are of course responsibilities that flow from that.”
Oral arguments were held in an usual setting: Instead of a courtroom, the nine justices went on the road and heard the case at Bellevue College as part of a learning opportunity for its students.
According to a spokesman for Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit representing Stutzman, this is the fifth time the Washington Supreme Court has gone on the road this year, and roughly 20 percent of cases are heard away from the court.
Stutzman faces a fine of up to $2,000 for violating Washington’s anti-discrimination law and a separate fine of $7.91 (which Ingersoll says is the cost of driving to find a new florist). According to her lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom, Stutzman’s legal fees are estimated to be seven figures.
During the hearing, another one of Stutzman’s attorneys called the personal liabilities imposed “both punitive and unwarranted.”
This is the second case of its kind to reach a state Supreme Court. In Aug. 2013, the Supreme Court of New Mexico heard a similar case about a photographer who declined to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony because of her Christian beliefs.
In that case, the court ruled that the First Amendment did not protect the photographer’s right to decline service. Ferguson cited the New Mexico case during oral arguments, reminding the justices of the unanimous ruling.
Obsession With Race Is Stretching Beyond Reason
Some recent headlines:
“The Electoral College is an instrument of white supremacy — and sexism,” exclaimed Slate magazine.
CNN: “Math is racist: How data is driving inequality.”
From the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma: “‘To be white is to be racist,’ Norman student offended by teacher’s lecture.”
Wow, things are bad here in America. Maybe I should move to Canada? Uh oh, from Heat Street: “Canoes reek of genocide, theft and white privilege, says Canadian professor.”
Is there no place safe from white supremacy? Let me check the Huffington Post. “North Korea proves your white male privilege is not universal.”
In other words, going by the headlines, you’d think everything is about race. Or, as the Harvard Crimson put it, “Everything is about race.”
You might say this is a cheap technique. Headlines are supposed to be provocative, particularly in the age of clickbaiting that passes for much of what we call journalism. Let us look to the academy, where cool reason rules.
(Hey, stop laughing. I haven’t even gotten to the punch line yet).
Over at the Journal of Applied Philosophy, we’re told that condemning racism is — wait for it — racist.
“The moralization of racism that often permeates philosophical scholarship reproduces colorblind logics, which provide individualistic explanations for structural problems, thereby sustaining white dominance,” writes Marzia Milazzo in an article titled “On white ignorance, white shame and other pitfalls in critical philosophy of race.”
Milazzo’s claim is hardly controversial in the hothouse alternative universe of higher education. What Milazzo calls “colorblind logics” hold everybody to equal standards of fact and reason. This wacky notion is the wellspring from which we got the scientific revolution, the Enlightenment, the rule of law, doctrines of universal human rights, the abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women, the civil rights movement, the concept of free speech and unprecedented material prosperity.
Reason is the tool that brings us consensus, appeals to our conscience and keeps us from returning to the jungle.
It all reminds me of that great scene from “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” where a revolutionary asks, “What has the Roman Empire ever done for us?” A comrade lists a bunch of things, and the man replies, “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
Activists today are clear-cutting vast swaths of civil society to make room for reason-free zones where feelings outrank facts — they call them “safe spaces.” And if they had their druthers, the entirety of the continent, if not the globe, would be one giant beanbag chair-strewn realm of hugging and unapologetic whining.
Seemingly every day there’s another story of a college campus caving into the notion that free speech and unhappy facts are racist.
The election of Donald Trump, a man I could not have been more critical of, has turned the safe spaces into kinds of internal refugee camps where the weeping delicate flowers can wilt in terror.
I did not like how Trump talked about issues of race. Some of his most ardent supporters have views on race that I find abhorrent. But they constitute a tiny minority of his coalition. Just consider that if you subtracted from Trump’s column all of the voters who had also previously voted for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton surely would have won.
If you think everything you don’t like is racist, then of course the election of a president you don’t like has to be racist.
Here’s some free advice for all the liberals insisting that Trump was elected by racists: The more you say that, the more you help Trump.
I can understand why this is confusing. There’s a certain breed of guilty white liberal who actually enjoy being called racist, confessing their racial sins and denouncing less advanced white people. The hot new term for this is “virtue signaling” — a way of communicating how enlightened you are.
But there are a lot more white people out there who are not racist and therefore do not like being called racist or being berated about how their country is racist. They also sense that the “everything is about race” crowd is using race as a cudgel to silence critics and have their way.
That sort of thing begs for a backlash. You can call it racist if you want — some people do with everything else — but it won’t play well outside the safe spaces.
Catholics for Trump
Among major voting blocs, one of the most amazing turnarounds can be found in the Catholic population.
On November 2, the Catholic Jesuit publication America was reporting that Clinton was leading Trump in the polls thanks to the Catholic vote. Citing a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, Clinton was getting support from 51 percent of Catholics, compared to 40 percent for Donald Trump.
This is what liberal Catholics wanted to believe and encourage. Hillary's campaign chairman John Podesta was a liberal Catholic who got a job as professor at Catholic Jesuit Georgetown University. He had communicated with other campaign officials about a scheme to force the church even further to the left.
Elizabeth Yore's article at The Remnant explained the relationship between George Soros, the Clinton campaign and the Jesuit-led Vatican.
However, exit polls show that Trump won the Catholic vote by a margin of 52 to 45 percent. What happened?
One answer is that Catholics are bypassing the liberal media and turning to alternative sources of news and information, such as The Remnant. Another such source is Boston Catholic Insider, which argued in an article, "Why Catholics Should Vote for Trump," that Hillary had a "monstrous" position on abortion that justified the gruesome procedure up to and including the time of birth.
Another growing source of news and information for Catholics and non-Catholics is LifeSite. Its post-election stories include "Liberal media in meltdown over Trump election" and "America rejects Planned Parenthood and its party."
Another important development was the airing of the film "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" by the EWTN Catholic cable channel. As we noted in a previous column, the film examined how Marxists have subverted the church from within by recruiting clergy into revolutionary socialist activities that divide people and cause conflict. The film was described as "a lens into America's cultural Marxism euphemistically called ‘progressivism.'"
As long as the members of the liberal media continue in their old and discredited ways, without major changes in the journalism business, the alternative sources of news and information will continue to grow in power and influence. The new conservative network CRTV has just announced that Steven Crowder, from the popular show "Louder with Crowder," is joining the new media venture.
The painfully obvious reason Christians voted for Trump (that liberals just don't understand)
Since the election of Donald Trump, the level of meltdown on the Left has now reached proportions rivalling Chernobyl. University students at Cornell hosted a cry-in, meeting together to weep at the fall of Hillary Clinton. As per usual, more hate crimes were faked, and every bit of potentially racist graffiti was pounced on as evidence that Trump's election would result in vicious race wars. Actual violence and rioting done by angry progressives has been almost completely ignored. And then, the one theme that keeps recurring on talks shows across the nation: fear. As the result of Donald Trump's election, many people, apparently, feel as if the leadership of the country is now fundamentally opposed to them in some way, and they are scared.
Which is exactly how Christians have felt under Barack Obama for the past eight years.
Many of my non-Christian and liberal friends find it bewildering that both evangelicals and Catholics voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, a thrice-married casino operator infamous for his vulgar trash talk. I want to take a moment to explain to them directly why most Christians voted for him anyways. It's simple, really: Christians voted for Donald Trump because they felt that the threat a de facto third Obama term posed to Christian communities was an existential one.
The attacks on Christians from the highest levels of government have been relentless now for nearly a decade. Obama wants to force Christian churches and schools to accept the most radical and most recent version of gender ideology, and he is willing to issue executive decrees on the issue to force the less enlightened to get in line. Christian concerns are dismissed out of hand as "transphobia."
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton informed one audience that Christians would have to change their beliefs on some issues. And now Christians are having conversations around the dinner table about what do if the government forces curricula on them that they cannot accept, because their own government is increasingly indicating that Christian parents are too homophobic and too hateful to teach their own children. Can you understand how terrified mothers and fathers are at the prospect that those in power want to actively prevent them from passing their beliefs on to their own children?
I can understand why those from some immigrant communities might be worried about how a Trump presidency could affect them personally--but as for the largely white liberal university students throwing a temper tantrum--what do you have to freak out about? No one is saying that you can't pass your values on to your children. No one is saying you're a bigoted, fascistic hater of minorities simply because you happen to have a different belief system. But they are saying that about Christians--and you were, too. And they mean it. The students weeping in fear at a Trump administration have nothing to worry about. No one's going to cancel their Women's Studies program or shut down their LBGTQ2etc Collective. Get over it.
And then there was the rapid rise of rainbow fascism. Christian bakers are under attack. Christian photographers. Christian pastors. Real people are losing real businesses that they had labored for years to build. Their way of life is being destroyed. In some cases, Christian business owners saw the wages they needed to feed their families dry up because they were targeted by gay activists and labeled hateful, homophobic bigots simply for declining to assist in celebrating a gay union. That's all. They just wanted to live their lives in accordance with their own beliefs, and because of that, activists came gunning for them. It wasn't good enough to go down the street to any number of photographers or bakers who would be more than happy to help celebrate a gay wedding. They needed to see those little family businesses destroyed, even if it meant that the baker and his family ended up on the street. Dissenters must be crushed.
These things happened, and are happening, and many of you shrugged your shoulders and thought to yourselves that the homophobes got what they deserved. You didn't care about these people, and you didn't respect their right to live out their beliefs because you thought there was something fundamentally wrong with those beliefs.
And then there was the fact that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wanted to force Christians to fund the abortion industry, something many of you support because everyone babbles on about "reproductive rights" without ever talking about what abortion actually is. Abortion. Google it. I'm challenging you in all seriousness. That's how I ended up involved in the pro-life movement: by Googling it and realizing what abortion was. Take a second, and actually look at pictures of the dead babies, and then remember that Barack Obama even voted against protecting those children who survived abortion, and that Hillary Clinton defended abortion even in the latest stages of pregnancy.
Is it really so hard for you to understand that those who fight tirelessly to protect these babies might be willing to gamble on the support of a brash billionaire rather than cast their vote for someone who thinks the youngest members of the human family are nothing more than soulless trash? I've seen an aborted baby before. I've held a butchered little boy in my hands. Maybe if you did, too, you could understand why we don't think Hillary Clinton is a good person. We think her political positions directly result in dead children, because that's the truth.
This is not even to get into the fact that the Democratic war on religious liberty was so malicious it had them going to court to force nuns--a group called "Little Sisters of the Poor"--to fund birth control. Dissenters must be crushed, after all.
The simple fact is that Christians voted in self-defence. They voted to put the brakes on the relentless, eight-year-long assault not just on their values, but on their ability to live their lives unmolested without having radical progressives attempt to force some newly invented ideology down their throat or hang some new "phobia" label around their necks or garnish their wages to pay for medical exterminators to suction tiny human beings into bloody slurry. Most of these Christians are not activists. Most of them simply want to be left alone. But for eight long years, they weren't left alone. And so this time around, they voted to give Obama and his progressive minions the hugest shove they could.
Donald Trump may well prove to be destructive force. Time will tell. But for many people, he is currently destroying all the right things. Michael Moore wasn't wrong to refer to Trump as a "legal Molotov cocktail" that the voters threw right through the front window of the elites. Secular progressives have been using political correctness to strangle the life out of Christians, calling them every name in the book and treating them like seething, hateful gay-bashers. Now, the media saddled a man with every label they could possibly come up with--and he won anyways. Progressives created a system that would convict Christians every single time, replete with ever-shifting speech codes that informed any number of bewildered men and women that the hate they didn't feel towards anyone was obviously there, anyways. And then a sledgehammer named Donald Trump showed up, and the harried and henpecked voters decided to use it to smash a system created specifically to marginalize and label them.
What you have to understand is that Christians hear the media much differently than the rest of you.
They hear themselves being mocked and ridiculed by men like John Oliver, who believes that a man with a penis can simultaneously be a woman. They hear themselves being cursed as awful people by Samantha Bee, who thinks that it's perfectly okay to stab a baby in the skull in the third trimester of pregnancy. They hear themselves being called hateful bigots by Bill Maher, who claims to value diversity. And they may chuckle painfully, but they also know that they are loathed by those who are now demanding to know how they could possibly have voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, a woman who would have taken her own sledgehammer to religious liberty at the very earliest opportunity.
We'll have to see how a Trump presidency progresses. With men like Mike Pence around him, he may prove to be an ally to the Christians who cast their ballots for him last Tuesday. But even if he isn't, Christians are simply relieved that he isn't Hillary Clinton. As I pointed out prior to Election Day, most of us are quite aware that Donald Trump doesn't care about abortion or religious liberty. But on the other hand, Hillary Clinton is passionate about abortion, and she is passionate about furthering her party's radical social agenda. Even if Donald Trump does nothing for Christians, at least he'll leave them alone. After eight years of Barack Obama, that would be a tremendous relief.
That's why so many Christians voted for Donald J. Trump.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.