Responding to Comments

When I started up this blog, I decided that I was going to try to reply to every comment I get (I’m waiting for the spam to start. I hope I get good spam.). It hasn’t been too onerous, of course, as only a few folks are reading as of yet (Thank you, by the way, to those out there included in that number.) — but this week, there’s a certain someone who replied to my last post who deserves and needs a response.

Mr. Ted Cruz of Texas.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) reiterated his support for Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law Wednesday, despite a fresh push by that state’s governor to “fix” the measure.

Speaking in a stuffy, cramped auditorium at Morningside College here, Cruz said that religious liberty is not a “fringe view.” Cruz staked his claim to the right of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the law but said he wanted to see “a fix” to the law that makes clear it does not give businesses license to deny services to customers on the basis of sexual orientation, and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R ) who asked lawmakers Wednesday to recall or amend a religious freedom bill.

“We’re seeing in the news right now a lot of noise because the state of Indiana bravely stood up and passed a law defending religious liberty. I’ll say this: I will commend the state of Indiana for doing the right thing,” Cruz said.

When asked by Tyler Brock, 41, what he would have done if he were in Pence’s shoes during the past week, Cruz refused to bite, saying that he doesn’t want to second-guess the Indiana governor.

“I admire him for standing up and signing the legislation,” Cruz said, not mentioning Pence’s request for a modification.

Before I address Mr. Cruz’s argument, let me say this: I appreciate the irony in commending the state for “doing the right thing,” while simultaneously backing away from denouncing the governor’s next action, which would, according to the statement of a second ago, be the wrong thing. Does that mean, Mr. Cruz, that you can hate the sin but love the sinner? Why does Mr. Pence get that much consideration, that you won’t throw him under the bus despite disagreeing, vocally, with his altered stance — but anyone whom your faith teaches to be wrong can become the platform on which you hope to become President?

Let me also appreciate the irony in this sentence: ‘Speaking in a stuffy, cramped auditorium at Morningside College here, Cruz said that religious liberty is not a “fringe view.”‘ Right: the crowd you gathered in that “cramped” auditorium at a college I’ve never heard of is clearly the majority view.

Now let’s get to Mr. Cruz’s comments.

Cruz’s comments on the Indiana law and his denouncement of same-sex marriage was well-received by the audience, which interrupted him with applause when he spoke about religious freedom.

The Texas Republican said that, unlike many other Republicans, he was unafraid to take on same-sex marriage and the religious freedom bill.

“A whole lot of Republican politicians are terrified of the issue,” he said. Cruz also castigated Fortune 500 companies for condemning Indiana’s passage of the bill, telling the crowd that they are “running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty.”

Cruz pined for a time when there was bipartisan consensus where people “defend the civil liberties of Americans. Even those we disagree with.” Now, he argued, the Democratic Party elevated partisanship over the issue of gay marriage.

“This is all part and parcel over the fight over gay marriage. And because of their partisan desire to mandate gay marriage everywhere in this country they also want to persecute anyone who has a good faith religious belief that marriage is a holy sacrament, the union of one man and one woman as ordained as a covenant by God,” Cruz said, to loud applause.

All right: in the bigger picture, this is actually helpful to my intention to try to understand the conservative stance. Because I want to mock the claim that the desire to mandate gay marriage is partisan (though I will mock that particular phrase: because I don’t know anyone who wants to require gay marriage; the idea is to insist on legal protection for the civil rights of citizens, not to “mandate” anything). And I want to do it by saying that what he is arguing for is actually the partisan thing; calling the fight to legalize gay marriage a partisan fight is arguing that, first, there are no Republicans who would support gay marriage, and second, that there are no Democrats who would oppose it, and that’s ridiculous.

But if there are people in both parties who are on opposite sides of the issue (and of course there are), then I shouldn’t call his argument a partisan argument, either. I can’t assume there are reasonable Republicans and then castigate the Republican party for being unreasonable. Hell, the GOP in Indiana backed away from this whole argument. So this should probably be seen, at least on the local level, as an attempt by the Indiana legislature to represent the desires of their constituents. Because if they held this view themselves, strongly enough to write and pass the law solely because they believed it as Cruz claims to, they wouldn’t back away from it. And even though serving the fickle masses is one of the things that today’s politicians do wrong, it is also part of their job: they are elected representatives of the will of the people. It seems that they wrote the law because they thought people wanted it, and then changed it to disallow discrimination because it turned out that people wanted that. Wishy-washy? Sure, but also representative of the will of the people. So I won’t castigate the Indiana legislature for doing the wrong thing, since they followed it up with the right thing, regardless of why. Forgive and forget, right?

So back to Ted Cruz.

The Texas Republican said that, unlike many other Republicans, he was unafraid to take on same-sex marriage and the religious freedom bill.

“A whole lot of Republican politicians are terrified of the issue,” he said. Cruz also castigated Fortune 500 companies for condemning Indiana’s passage of the bill, telling the crowd that they are “running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty.”

I love that you turn this into a matter of courage, sir. Because what a handy way to cover up the fact that your stance is stupid: doing a stupid thing, especially when you know it is stupid, is indeed seen as a courageous act in this country. Just ask my students about Truth or Dare. They have a thousand stories about the ridiculously foolish things they do, which they tell with pride. Of course a lot of Republican politicians are terrified of this issue; look what happened to the small(ish) and generally unobtrusive state of Indiana when they took up this issue. They got the crap knocked out of them by the public. Who all disagree with them. And why is it, may I ask, that Fortune 500 companies should be defending religious liberty? Shouldn’t they be, I don’t know, conducting business and making profits and such? How is it you think that companies should feel shame about not supporting religious political positions?

Oh, right. Because corporations are people.

Hey: if corporations are people, doesn’t that mean that a merger is like a marriage?

Do you think that two companies in the same business — like, say, Comcast and Time-Warner — would be essentially the same gender?

Does that mean that corporations are carrying out legalized gay marriage right under our noses?

“And because of their partisan desire to mandate gay marriage everywhere in this country they also want to persecute anyone who has a good faith religious belief that marriage is a holy sacrament, the union of one man and one woman as ordained as a covenant by God,” Cruz said, to loud applause.

As I said in the last post, people do not have the right to have their opinions defended by the government. By the same token, enacting laws (or in this case, opposing laws) that go against your opinion is not actually persecution. You are free to continue believing in your definition of marriage; you simply have to accept that this country has a legal definition of marriage that does not match your religious one. But since the country is not a theocracy, that’s exactly as it should be. May I also point out that in no way should it affect a devout Christian’s beliefs about marriage to sell a wedding cake to someone with a different belief. Your product, despite the marketing world’s views of branding, does not represent your ideas: selling your product does not represent an approval of the buyer. It represents a profit.

But again, I suppose that doesn’t gel with the view that corporations are people, and that their products and customers (and the specifics of employee health benefits — right, Hobby Lobby?) actually do somehow represent an adherence to the religious beliefs of those corporate persons; who you sell your products to is a function of your loyalty to your faith. In that world, your products are in fact your children, and if you hand your children over to the gays, you are allowing them to be corrupted.

My question here is: what does that say about a company that makes food, that makes wedding cakes? Are they selling their children to be eaten every time they have a customer? Is their entire continued existence as a corporate person predicated on the creation of children solely to be devoured? Jonathan Swift, move over.

“Religious liberty is not some cockamamie new theory that the Indiana legislature just figured out yesterday. It was literally among the founding principles of our nation, and we have to be able to explain that cheerfully and with a smile,” he said.

I just wonder about this one. Why do we have to be able to explain this cheerfully and with a smile? Who are “we” and who are “we” going to be explaining this to? And just as I question how the rights of another person somehow infringe on religious liberty, especially when the interaction between those people is the exchange of money for goods and services, I question how the lack of this law somehow makes it harder to explain, in this strange, hypothetical conversation, the First Amendment. How does Cruz see this conversation going?

“We have a legal protection here for people’s religious beliefs.”

“Why, are those threatened?”

“Historically, they have been, when a government uses religion to help control the masses, as in Henry VIII’s England or Catholic Spain; there is also a potential threat when a government uses religion as an identifier when persecuting a group of people, as has happened to Jews around the world.”

“What kind of legal protection do you have?”

“Our most fundamental laws include the statement ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or restricting the free exercise thereof.’ The first part is how we are protected from the creation of an American church which would impose a specific belief, and the second part is protecting us from the intentional persecution of any specific belief.”

“But what if it offends you that people you disagree with want to give you money? WHAT ABOUT THAT?!?”

“. . .”

That would, indeed, be hard to explain with a smile.

 

 

As a writer, I know that I should stop here. I’m at 2000 words or so, which means I’ve used up my readers’ attention for this topic; I have thoroughly addressed the Senator’s comments, and I found a good way to wrap it up with a joke. But the thing is, you see, when I was looking for an article to reference with this “rebuttal,” (The one I used is here, by the way) I found this other one, about an interview Mr. Cruz gave this week on this same issue. And — I just can’t let it go. So if you’ve had enough, thank you for reading, go on and have a lovely day. Come back again sometime.

If you are up for more, hold on to your butts.

 

Here’s the headline:

Ted Cruz: Banning Anti-Gay Discrimination In Public Services Like Forcing A Rabbi To Eat Pork

(source)

In an interview with Dana Loesch on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz praised Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law, which goes even further than similar measures in other states to allow businesses to discriminate against customers in providing services.

Deliberately obfuscating the history of the bipartisan federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was skewed by the Supreme Court in its Hobby Lobby decision, Cruz claimed that Democrats have recently “decided that religious liberty is disposable, that it is unnecessary” and “accordingly, we have a vilification of people who are engaging in acting out their faith.”

Cruz declared that a “partisan leftist group” is now “demonizing the state of Indiana for acting to protect religious liberty there.”

Here’s the audio from the interview:

 

Now, it’s the same argument. He uses the same phrase about the bipartisan support enjoyed by religious freedom “not too long ago,” which still makes me wonder what he’s talking about, because I don’t recall a time when religious liberty was genuinely under threat in Congress. Somehow he sees refusing to provide a service to a specific customer for a specifically religion-based bigoted reason as just people “engaging in acting out their faith.” Which I don’t understand: I’d understand if he was claiming that stoning adulterers is acting out faith, and defending that act; but I don’t believe anything in the Bible states that a company should not sell wedding cakes to heathens, nor that a company (since he talks about Hobby Lobby and that convent [And I love how he tries to spark outrage by talking about how that big mean Obama is going after nuns. NUNS. Clearly Mr. Cruz has never seen The Blues Brothers.] who also wouldn’t provide birth control to employees) should not pay for hormonal birth control for their female employees. Once again, I think the law is trying to protect people’s opinions, not their rights, and Cruz is all for that.

Here’s the good stuff.

Laws preventing businesses from discriminating against LGBT people in public services or requiring them to offer full health care coverage for female employees, he implied, are as much as an infringement on religious liberty as forcing a rabbi to eat pork.

“Nobody in their right mind would force a Catholic priest to perform a Protestant wedding. Likewise, nobody in their right mind would force a Jewish rabbi to perform a Christian wedding or, for that matter, to violate kosher and go consume pork,” he said. “We have long had a tradition from the beginning of this country of respecting religious liberty and accommodating and respecting the good-faith religious views of our citizens.”

“And it is only the intolerance of the current day of the far-left that views with which they disagree — the far-left is such a radical proponent of gay marriage that anyone whose faith teaches to the contrary, anyone whose faith teaches that marriage is a sacrament of one man and one woman, a holy union before God, the far-left views that religious view as unacceptable and they’re trying to use the machinery of the law to crush those religious views. And I think it is wrong, I think it is intolerant, and I think it is entirely inconsistent with who we are as a people,” he added.

– See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/ted-cruz-banning-anti-gay-discrimination-public-services-forcing-rabbi-eat-pork#sthash.qfdOBEJU.dpuf

Audio:

 

This is a slippery slope argument. The argument here, based on this comment that “the far-left views that religious view as unacceptable and they’re trying to use the machinery of the law to crush those religious views,” is that the opposition to a law allowing people to discriminate based on religious beliefs is only the first step (along with this war on the Catholic Church which he keeps talking about, which I suppose can only be the fight to keep abortion legal; though he might be including everything that Catholics historically haven’t liked, like divorce and contraception and evolution and Halloween and Friday night meatloaf. And Jews.), and that next the “far-left” will start banning religious holidays, and then closing down churches, and then putting Christians into concentration camps. Because apparently refusing to allow legalized discrimination is an attempt to crush religious views.

I can’t argue with that (Not that it’s right, I just can’t argue with it). There is no logic here, so pointing out the numerous flaws in the logic means nothing. This is an argument based on fear-mongering, the promotion of a paranoia that allows people to be bigoted and irrational because they believe they are defending something that is in danger, namely their faith and their right to practice it. Somehow, refusing to allow people to be intolerant is now intolerant. (“You won’t tolerate my intolerance! You toleranceist!” [There goes the meaning of THAT group of letters.]) The goalposts have been moved out from religious freedom and into the freedom to persecute others because of a religious belief, and now if we don’t allow that, we are persecuting them. Just as if we forced a rabbi to eat pork.

It is not in any way like forcing a rabbi to eat pork. Forcing a religious person to act against the specific tenets of their religion would be forcing a Catholic to have an abortion, or forcing an evangelical Christian to have homosexual sex. I don’t believe discrimination is one of the tenets of the Christian faith, therefore forcing someone not to discriminate is not forcing a rabbi to eat pork. And if discrimination is one of the tenets of the Christian faith, if in fact selling a cake to a heathen is actually banned in the Bible, then there is still a flaw in the argument: because this is a business we are talking about, and this is a customer. So the government would have to be forcing the baker to make the cake, for it to be similar to forcing a rabbi to eat pork. It’s not. It’s saying that if you offer to make someone a cake, by opening a cake-making business, you can’t turn them down when they ask you to do exactly what you said you would do, simply because you don’t like their sexual preference (or something else similarly none of your damn business.). That’s not forcing a Catholic priest to perform a Protestant wedding, or even a gay wedding; it’s asking a Catholic priest to perform a Catholic wedding. It’s asking someone for the service they specifically, intentionally, voluntarily offered. Don’t want to make cakes for certain people’s weddings? Don’t open a business providing wedding cakes to the public. Do the wedding cakes as a favor, out of your home — or maybe through your church — and sell cupcakes to anyone who walks in the door. If a customer comes asking to pay you for the service you offer, and the government doesn’t allow you to say No because of your bigoted, discriminatory opinions, that’s not forcing a rabbi to eat pork. That’s offering him a sandwich with bacon on it  — when he asks for a bite of the bacon sandwich. He can turn it down (or not ask, rather). You can refuse to provide wedding cakes if this is a problem for you. You just have to refuse to provide them for every customer. And if the government came into your bakery and required you to make wedding cakes against your will, or tried to strap you down and force you to eat bacon sandwiches, I would oppose them. Me and Ted Cruz.

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