Friday, April 4, 2014

Get Over It

It's a misnomer to call America the "Land of the Free".  It implies that somehow you are free to do what ever you want.  It just isn't true.  You can't, for example, physically harm someone,  or damage their property, or publish lies about them.   That's the price you pay for living in a society.  There are rules you must abide.  And if you own a business one of those rules is that you can not discriminate against someone because of the color of their skin, the faith of their choice, or the lifestyle of their preference.

Does this limit your freedom.  Absolutely.  Because it means that you will have to occasionally render service to someone whose choices you feel are reprehensible and while you are free to think as you wish you are not free to refuse service.   That is a choice we made as a country long ago when we decided a restaurant didn't get to decide if someone got a cup of coffee based on skin color.  Sure it was "their restaurant" but the restaurant was in America, in a society that decided we didn't believe in that sort of discrimination.  Believe me those restaurant owners felt serving a black man was just as repugnant as two gay men getting married but their personal belief didn't give them to freedom to discriminate in their very public business.

It requires sacrifice occasionally but letting personal belief dictate who our business will or won't serve will take us down a slippery slope and I don't think anyone will be happy with what is waiting for us at the bottom.  It protects you, it protects me, it protects us all.

Many years ago I worked at a short lived and ill fated Internet Provider Company.  One day a co-worker introduced me to one of our clients.  My hand was already shaking his when I learned his name.   I knew at that moment no amount of washing would ever remove that feeling of slime from my hand.  The man made a fortune running pornography sites off the very internet we provided.  If you've know me very long you probably know the deep and abiding hatred I have for pornography of any type.

What this man did for a living repulsed me to the core of my very being and my company sold him the service he needed to do it.  But as much as I hated what he did I had to acknowledge that he had the right to do it.   Trust me when I tell you I was in no position to go running to the company president and demand this client be dropped but even if I did have that kind of power did I really have the right to let my personal belief dictate who we would provide internet for?  What if people of color offended me should we drop those clients too?  Or what if someone's religion offended me, maybe we should refuse service to them as well.

For some people I know the thought of gay marriage is just as offensive (though I honestly wonder how many of those people have enjoyed my former clients services).  But you live in America, and in America you are not free to discriminate.  If you want to discriminate against gay weddings then perhaps Russia is the country for you.  But I think you will soon find that sword swings both ways and then making a cake for two men wanting to live together as husband and husband won't seem so oppressive.

And for heaven's sake it's a cake.  A CAKE.  I fail to see how making a cake, just as you make all the other cakes could be so abhorrent.  Do images of homosexual behavior plague you while you are mixing the batter? Are you unable to control the image of the client burning in hell as you frost it?

I understand that for some types of business, such as photography or catering you do have to be more personally involved.  If you are sickened by two men embracing, or disgusted by two women kissing (yeah, right.) no one says YOU personally have to do the work.  Subcontract the job out.  I'm quite positive there will be someone in your area who will be more than happy for the work.  You don't even have to keep any of the funds so your hands stay clean.

Altogether, it seems like a small price to pay for living in America so just let it go and make the cake.

But I have one more thing to add.

I have heard it said that some gay people are deliberatly taking their business to "Christians" (and I use that term loosely)  for the purpose of forcing them to participate in something they are uncomfortable with.   IF this is indeed the case such behavior is petty and malicious and in no way is furthering your cause.  Forcing someone to do something you know they find morally objectionable under the cloak of liberty is no better than refusing service to someone under the cloak of religious freedom.

And for this point I have another little story for you.

When I was planning my wedding many many years ago I heard of a lovely site to have a reception.  It was a hall that had a beautiful open courtyard.  I called the business and began to discuss renting this particular site from a lovely sounding and friendly woman.  She asked me if I would be getting married there.  I explained that I was getting in married in a Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and only wanted the hall for my reception.  The other end of the phone went as cold as an arctic blast.  Suddenly this reception hall was not available and the called ended quickly.

I don't have definite proof but I'm pretty sure the reason that hall was unavailable was because of my personal religious belief.  It made me feel pretty crummy to be honest with you.  Did this business have a right to discriminate against me because I was a Mormon?  No, they did not.

But you know what, I let it go.  Maybe I should have pursued it.  Maybe doing so would have furthered the cause for Mormons everywhere.  Maybe Mitt Romeny would have even won the white house. (Ok, for that reason I'm sorta glad I didn't do it.)  But I don't think so.  I believed then and believe now there is a better way to show people who you are and what your about, and that's part of being in America too.

(And as it was I found an even BETTER place to have my reception at a much more affordable price.  So there Lady who doesn't like Mormons.)

So everyone, just calm down and let it go.  Make the cake, or find someone else to make the cake and be grateful you live in a country that although we do have to compromise from time to time is a country that is....well, that is America.  And that is something  I'm not willing to let go.