Monday, April 13, 2015

Logic anyone?

I posted this with a question mark in my title because something about it seemed off, if a bit cutesy. So Russ wrote a great commentary for me. See the comments, below. Thanks for your insights, Russ.

At the risk of being thoroughly discredited, I'll let my thoughts wander here:

I'm not entirely convinced it is "apples" and "oranges". Sure, selling a firearm legally to a customer is without intimate knowledge of what or how the gun will be used should not be against one's sincerely held religious beliefs. (If one has moral objections to guns, they probably wouldn't be selling them. Another question: a Buddhist works at WalMart and is asked to sell rifles in the hunting department; can he or she object to the assignment on moral grounds?)

Back to the other gun shop: What if the customer says, "I want to buy a gun to kill my wife." Now that would be an illegal act. Does the shop owner refuse to sell the gun? Call the authorities and notify them of a potential murder?

My feeling about public accommodations and public business is: If someone offers a service of any kind open to the public there should not be a moral litmus test for customers to pass; business owners should be able to refuse services if the customer is threatening, aggressive or using the business premises to conduct illegal activities, e.g. harassing other customers in a restaurant or selling drugs out of a motel room.

Otherwise, one's personal morals are none of the business owner's business. Leon and I bought the cake for our wedding at Costco. Did the Costco bakers or the Costco CEO "participate" in our wedding? (I wish they had, we might have gotten some expensive gifts!)

On the other hand, do any of us really want to spend our money or enter into a contractual agreement with a company or business that is openly and unabashedly anti-LGBT? Why would we put ourselves in such a position, unless to make a political statement?

Can atheists have "sincerely held (religious) beliefs" and if so would an atheist business refuse services to theists?

If it were not for the fact that LGBTs represent a minority, and most anti-LGBT business owners won't suffer significant financial losses by refusing services, this might not be an issue at all. Imagine if these business refused services to 90% of potential customers.

And, do these so-called christians with sincerely held religious beliefs serve customers who are divorced and celebrating a second, third or fourth marriage? Are there not biblical admonitions against such marriages?

Why are these controversies all surrounding the rights of LGBT folks to live our lives as we wish?

So much for rambling thoughts.

Perhaps John Corvino will weigh in on the topic. His logic is usually impeccable.


  1. This meme is comparing apples and oranges - not a very effective argument.

    I will say, though, that "being liberal" ought to mean having a high regard for personal freedom and individual conscience. And I'm getting disturbed about the totalitarian, Stalinist attitudes on display over cakes and petty shit like that.

    I can never forget a little boy in my sixth grade class named Noah - a Jewish kid, one of the few I ever knew here in the Deep South. I was a head taller than him, and he had clumsy metal braces on both legs, I assume from having had polio. But smart as a whip.

    At Christmas time our well-meaning old-lady teacher had us all troop outdoors and practice singing Christmas carols, I guess for some little presentation she had planned. Of course most of us were fine with that - better than the usual studying in class.

    But poor little Noah was infuriated at being made to sing Christmas songs when he was not a Christian. He protested to the teacher, but in her well-meaning, old-lady way, she just blew him off and would not excuse him from the exercise. I can still see him stamping his little braced legs in indignation and fighting back tears at this violation of his religion and his dignity.

    I suppose his parents must have had a word with the teacher or the principal, because the next time we practiced Christmas carols, she in her snarky, old-lady way made a point of loudly announcing that Noah did *not* have to participate. So justice was served.

    But to return to the main question - what the fuck does "liberal" mean if not respect for individual differences in matters of conscience? I have yet to hear anyone on the "liberal" side of things address this point clearly and without a certain smug, snarky, old-lady, I-know-what's-best-for-you attitude.

    Just sayin'.

  2. I had seen that Being Liberal post last week and it made me laugh. I began to think about it more deeply and decided it wasn't necessary, at least for me. I simply enjoyed it

  3. Frank, responding to your further thoughts: I can see the arguments on both sides. Certainly a business open to the public ought to serve everyone, as a general principal, without a moral litmus test, as you put it. Obviously, this does not extend to things that are illegal.

    Just as obviously, the rightwing foamers are complete hypocrites: the righteous bakers, florists, and caterers will gladly serve weddings of divorcees that are "adulterous" and "against Bible principles" without a second thought. It's only teh icky gayz that raise their qualms.

    And of course there is no end to "religious" objections to anything you care to name - should a Mormon waiter be allowed to refuse to serve you a Coke or a cup of coffee, for example? Should a vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventist cashier refuse to sell you a pound of hamburger? And to go a step further, should a militant atheist nonsmoker be allowed to refuse to sell you a pack of Marlboros?

    Examples like these can be multiplied ad infinitum. It is an interesting question where to draw the line between the obligation to serve the public, and the claims of conscience or moral principles - which I have no pat answer for, but I do wish could be worked out calmly and reasonably for the good of all.



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