Monday, March 30, 2015

Around The Web On #RFRA

I don't normally get especially incensed over political stuff anymore but the ludicrous response to my home state of Indiana passing a law that is substantially the same as an existing Federal law and some 30 odd state laws, including one supported by then State Senator Barack Obama who has predictably changed his tune after testing the political winds, has me feeling compelled to keep putting out decent responses to the inane responses from people who largely don't live in Indiana and wouldn't be caught dead here.

The first point to make is that when you get a coalition of academic pseudo-intellectuals, "social justice Christians", guilty leftist business leaders, the Obama administration and a mishmash of Hollywood liberals who feel qualified to speak on an issue because of a talent for pretending to be someone else, all opposing what you have done, it is a sure sign that it was the right thing to do. I am not super-interested in fighting the culture wars mostly because they have been largely counter-productive, a huge waste of resources and lead increasingly to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. I am even less interested in being scolded by people who a) haven't read the bill and/or b) couldn't find Indiana on a map with both hands. The professional class of people in this country that are offended and aggrieved over something new every day, creating ridiculous notions like "micro-aggressions" to turn any and every casual human interaction into a cause to be rallied to and a wrong to be scolded about, are a cancer in our culture. I don't use that word lightly but I do use it unapologetically and intentionally.

The uproar over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act can be linked to the social media prompting of George Takei and that is the reason, the only reason, that this law which is essentially the same as the laws on the books of 60% of the states as well as the Federal government is getting so much attention. There is nothing quite like social media to inflame the passions of the willfully ignorant. This backlash, while predictable in retrospect, has taken the Right in this country off-guard, at least initially. Very few voices stood against the ironically labelled forces of "tolerance". Thankfully in spite of the slow start that has changed. I wanted to highlight a few for your reading pleasure.

The Daily Signal has a brief article, The True Facts About Religious Freedom Laws, that is noteworthy for a helpful graphic. It isn't an in-depth look at the issue but in this day and age a clear graphic is a useful tool in responding to the forces of religious bigotry that depend on sound-bytes and memes to make their point.

The National Review has several good articles, Is Indiana Protecting Discrimination? as well as Liberals against Religious Liberty in Indiana and The White House Doesn’t Like Indiana’s Religious-Liberty Law, but Won’t Say Why It’s Different from the One Obama Supported. It is typical that the media is completely giving a pass to Obama for yet another flip-flop. It is almost like they have an agenda or something....

Matt Walsh has a decidedly snarky essay but one worth reading, Sorry Gays, You Don’t Have The Right To Be Free From Discrimination. All businesses discriminate by virtue of price, product line-up, location, etc. Victoria's Secret discriminates in favor of women. Heck it used to be considered a virtue to be discriminating. Now the real virtue is to have no opinion or preference about anything other than what the government says or the marketers tell you.

Rod Dreher, writing for the American Conservative has a very comprehensive piece, Indiana: A Religious Liberty Bellwether.
It seems to me that the media/elite freakout over the Indiana law is a moral panic analogous to the freakout over the UVA rape case. People rushed like lemmings to endorse as true something that turned out to be a hoax because it confirmed their prejudices about Bad Classes of People. This is why so many in the media are making no pretense to be fair in their reporting and commentary on the Indiana law. As Mollie Hemingway avers, the most interesting — and most worrying — aspect of all this is that religious liberty is not considered to be important at all to very many people in this country, especially the most powerful people.
Notre Dame’s Pat Deneen wrote this weekend on Facebook that law school friends tell him of plans underway now by progressive law profs to “Bob Jones” churches and religious institutions that have policies they consider discriminatory against LGBT people. That is, they want to campaign to take away tax exempt status from all religious entities that have traditional views and practices related to homosexuality. This is the next frontier. Many churches and religious entities operate so close to the margins, budget-wise, that they will not be able to survive this.
Set aside the reality of church operating at the budget margins, a worthy topic for another day, and concentrate on the words above. The media is paying so much attention to this issue because it allows them to bash the Bad People and like so many other issues like the noted UVA "rape" farce, the "hands up, don't shoot" farce, the "bombing" of the NAACP offices in Colorado farce, etc., what is important here is the agenda driving narrative, not the truth. Let's be honest, the "media" in this country is mostly designed to push an agenda. This is a charge regularly lobbed at the evil Fox News by the left but it is at least as true for the NBC/ABC/CBS cabal along with CNN, MSNBC and NPR/PBS. What changed with the advent of Fox News and talk radio, etc., is that the monopolistic stranglehold of the leftist media was broken and they cannot forgive that. Also of note is this tweet from the Dreher article:
That is exactly on the mark. This is very much the government at the state level attempting to put into place protections for religious small businesses to exercise their religious beliefs as a defense against the elites of our society in academia, entertainment, government and business. The groups he lists have a lot in common, namely that they want nothing to rock the boat and interfere with the money flow that is the lifeblood of the government, the academy, the entertainment world and the massive corporations. Ironically the American Left has placed itself firmly on the side of the most privileged and white organizations in the world.

The attempt to muzzle religious expression, and make no mistake that while evangelical Christianity is the primary target here this same law will extend to Roman Catholicism, Muslims, Jews, really anyone with any religious convictions. As many of the articles point out , these laws do not provide blanket amnesty to discriminate, they simply provide a legal framework for litigation if it arises. Of course lost in this entire discussion is that many of the existing cases across the country are pretty clearly activists intentionally trying to force a business to cater to them to make a political point.

Anyway, it is just really important that the reality of this issue gets circulated because it is turning into a witch hunt with the wealthy elites trying to one-up each other over who is more outraged.


Brian said...

Good post!!! (enter clapping)

Curt Day said...

A couple of comments here. Way too many people misuse the 'left' or 'leftist' labels. Left stands for anti-Capitalism with an emphasis on worker control of the workplace. Now how many "Leftist" business leaders are there in America?

Considering the past and even present treatment those in the LGBT community have had to endure in this country, I don't think that the reaction against Indiana's new RFRA law is unreasonable. For whether that law is as bad as people say it is or not is not necessarily found in the letter of the law, but in the spirit of those who want to employ it. And considering the following statement from this blogpost:

The attempt to muzzle religious expression, and make no mistake that while evangelical Christianity is the primary target here this same law will extend to Roman Catholicism, Muslims, Jews, really anyone with any religious convictions.

one must ask what religious expression is actually being muzzled here? Can someone be specific?

Arthur Sido said...

Curt I would say that your definition of the left in this country is far too narrow in our contemporary setting. Very few on the political left care about controlling the means of production these days, they are more concerned with controlling thought.

Past treatment, real and imagined aside, the response has been hysteria and threats of coercion and violence. I think the real motivation of this law and those that support it is liberty, not discrimination.

There are ample court cases involved here and the issue is not so much religious expression as it is freedom of association. I have more to write on this at a later date.

Curt Day said...

Some of what you describe as left is really liberal. And those of us who are leftists see liberals as being more like conservatives than like us.

So my point is that 'left' in this country is often, at worst, a pejorative while, at best, is very imprecise.