Friday, July 10, 2015

We're better than this

One of the reasons I do not identify as a leftist or a progressive is the lock-step rigidity and political correctness that pervades the left.

For example, the Brendan Eich case was a purge of political correctness.  For those who don't remember, Eich was the presumptive head of Mozilla, who was hounded out of office because he gave a donation to Prop8 back in 2008.

Now, I fought damn' hard against Prop8, and I don't like that people supported it.  But 6, 8 years later, we need to realize that we've moved on.   I believe hounding Eich out of office is no different than when the Romney campaign firing an employee (Richard Grenell) because he was gay. Eich did not act against the law.  He did not change policies of his company.  He made a legal political donation to a cause years before he was hired, as a private citizen.  Truly, if Eich could be fired for that, why couldn't a conservative firm fire me for making a donation to the other side?  Should a boss who supports Hilary be able to fire someone whose car sports a Jeb! bumper sticker? 

 I also have a problem when the left surges around calling for boycotts of celebrities who stay stupid stuff.  Stop watching their TV shows, if you want, but let their declining ratings be a reason to take them down, and not an employer-enforced political correctness.  Regrettable though it is ,some people do have a religious objection to marriage equality and they are entitled to that viewpoint even if it is offensive.  We would do better to try to persuade them by example, to encourage them to evolve.  And so I'm uncomfortable about the left's litmus tests. It's wrong to say that people on the opposite side of the political spectrum shouldn't be employable because of their personal beliefs, all other things being equal.

However, all other things are NOT equal when you are a government employee.  And you don't get to use your religious beliefs to interfere with the civil rights of others, when you have sworn to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution.  It wasn't allowable for inter-racial marriage, and it's not allowable now.
Multiple federal courts have decided that, for example, law-enforcement officials don’t get to decide which people they serve and protect, which means they are not entitled to opt out of assignments to patrol abortion clinics, protect casinos or investigate pacifist groups because of religious objections. Under similar logic, marriage clerks don’t have the right to choose not to serve gay men and lesbians, just as they also can’t refuse to serve interracial couples (something that a Louisiana public official, citing matters of “conscience,” attempted as recently as 2009; he was forced to resign).

Incidentally, the courts also say private businesses can't use religious excuses:
In other cases where people tried to exempt themselves from otherwise generally applicable laws on the grounds of religious belief, the courts said no dice, at least when there was third-party harm. In perhaps the most awesomely named Supreme Court case of all time, Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises , the court affirmed the principle that a barbecue chain could not refuse to serve African American customers because the owner sincerely believed that the Bible mandated segregation of the races. The owner’s free exercise of religion did not get to trample the civil rights of others.
(Oh, and remember the bakers in Oregon?  They were found in violation of the state's non-discrimination ordinance.  That's not the same thing as having an opinion;  they can have all the opinion they want, but they can't actively discriminate.   Note, though, that they weren't fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake.   They were fined $135,000 in damages for publicizing the names and address of the lesbian couple such that the couple got death threats and could have lost their foster children. )

So, meanwhile, there are a number of county clerks around the country who are refusing to provide marriage licenses to gay couples.  (It's not clear they also refuse licenses to the previously divorced.... ;-P ), on the grounds of religious freedom. But as government employees, they don't get to do that.

As the New York Times says,

However they justify these tactics, their conduct is illegal and they must stop.
Even after Loving v. Virginia, it still took court cases to get the antimiscegenation laws fully overturned. 
Mopping up over the next few years required federal court intervention regarding the obtaining of marriage licenses in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, as well as a state court ruling in Florida 
So, back to where I started about the left's lockstep.  One of the clerks in question is a woman in Kentucky whose religiously-based refusal of a marriage license to two men went viral.  In a bit of delicious hypocrisy, she's reportedly been married 4 times.

She's being excoriated by the left wing, including cruel attacks on her looks.

The couple she refused is not pleased about this.
David Moore and David Ermold are denouncing the attacks on Davis, saying their fight isn't about her marriages, but their right to get married.

"I don't like that," Ermold says on camera with Moore agreeing. "That is not what this is about, at all. We just want a marriage license, that's what we want."

They add their county is filled with "good people, all around."

Especially David Moore and David Ermold, who, despite being denied their constitutional right to marry, are big enough and honorable enough to not want the one person standing in the way of their right to marry, to be subjected to attacks.
The nature of the attacks against this woman simply fuels the religious right's meme that they are being oppressed. It hardens hearts all the way around.   Surely, surely, we are bigger and better than this.  If we want people to evolve on this issue and move ahead, we have to provide a civil way to share our communal space.

Otherwise, we are just as bad as they are.

1 comment:

JCF said...

I'm not sure it's a Left-Right (or even Center) thing. Frankly, I think it has something to do w/ whether has (I was going to say "Christian" ;-/) moral values that center on empathy. If you harp on someone's looks, you clearly don't empathize w/ a person. How much more so, if you mock their tragedy? [E.g., there was a LOT of unbecoming ugliness among LGBT/allies when Rick Warren's son committed suicide. :-( ]

I don't think the Left has much empathy, it's just that it's usually STRIKINGLY absent on the Right (esp. by those who *ostensibly* follow "Do unto others" yada-yada). We ALL have room for improvement, however.

[FWIW, I still disagree w/ you re Brendan Eich---we may just come from this w/ different POVs on workers/management, though. Mozilla employees wanted him gone, and I defer to workers over management, almost always.]