Liberty, Religion, and Basketball

 

Kentucky-Wildcats-vs-Wisconsin-BadgersCome with me in imagination to a place that certainly exists somewhere in this country. It’s a small food vendor — a restaurant, bakery, pizza parlor, or what you choose — that happens to be owned by a University of Kentucky graduate. Today, he’s a disappointed, even bitter Wildcat fan whose mood is not in the least improved when a nice guy with a Midwestern accent breezes through the door. In red. Whistling “On, Wisconsin!”

Now, let’s hope the guy behind the counter stays polite, but we know the Badger will get his pizza or ice cream; it would be outrageously unthinkable that — even at his bitterest — the Kentucky grad would deny service to someone just because he’s from Wisconsin.

But suppose the customer isn’t after a slice of pizza. He’s planning a big party to watch Wisconsin take Duke down on Monday. Maybe he even wants a cake that says “Go Badgers!”

Can the Kentucky grad say no? That’s an absurd situation, but we all know people who are deadly serious about their sports.  If the Kentucky grad doesn’t want to do it, can he be coerced? Or is he free to offer only the services he wants to offer?

It is perhaps easier to illustrate than to explain the difference between denying service to certain people and an unwillingness to offer specific services or participate in specific events. And yet it is a critical distinction, though not always a precise one.  The first is generally understood to be unacceptable in the marketplace; the second is a vital component of religious liberty, and perhaps of liberty in general.

It is not clear to me why there should be so much coercion as to require a religious exemption in the first place. Especially when it involves any form of artistic expression, surely “I’m not comfortable with that, let me refer you to someone else” should be sufficient. Even if the discomfort is trivial. You can’t stand their wedding colors. You’re sick of “Let it Go” and don’t want to do another Frozen-themed birthday party again, ever. If you can afford the loss of business, aren’t you free to make that call?  And do we really want the government trying to evaluate your motives?

Most people would agree what our Wisconsinite should do. There are other places to go, and winners should be generous, so — when he picks up on the bitter Kentucky mood — he makes a cheerful comment and heads out to find friendlier ground. Crisis averted. Because it’s not nice to destroy someone for not doing what you want. That’s not quite the Founders’ understanding of liberty of conscience, but it’s still the basic American view. And that’s why this fight for hearts and minds is still utterly winnable.

 

There are 29 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    • #1
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    What’s that got to do with it?

    Really, though, I very much doubt my theoretical fan could sincerely, in his heart, make himself wish for a Duke victory.

    • #2
  3. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Everything to do with it. There are repercussions to Our decisions.

    Yer Wisconsin fan, wearing team colors and whistling the team “fight” song, walking in a Kentucky fan’s establishment just shouldn’t be surprised if His welcome is less than stellar.

    There are places I know that do not appreciate Dallas Cowboy Fans, so I don’t patronize Their establishments; and I certainly wouldn’t be sporting My Chris Jones jersey if I did.

    Yer whistling Wisconsin fan is instigating trouble. Typical.

    • #3
  4. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Jimmy Carter:Everything to do with it. There are repercussions to Our decisions.

    Yer Wisconsin fan, wearing team colors and whistling the team “fight” song, walking in a Kentucky fan’s establishment just shouldn’t be surprised if His welcome is less than stellar.

    There are places I know that do not appreciate Dallas Cowboy Fans, so I don’t patronize Their establishments; and I certainly wouldn’t be sporting My Chris Jones jersey if I did.

    Yer whistling Wisconsin fan is instigating trouble. Typical.

    Only if he knows he’s walking into Kentucky territory.  I’m imagining this whole scenario playing out in a neutral state and the Wisconsinite as an innocent out-of-towner.  Maybe I should’ve been specific about that, but you’ll notice he clears out when he figures out how things stand.  But my point is that the bitter Kentuckian has rights, even if his only reason is team loyalty and personal feeling.

    • #4
  5. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    no it isn’t.

    • #5
  6. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    I don’t personally know anyone who cares too much about college basketball, but I can tell you this.  I have known Minnesota Vikings fans who would rather spend a weekend in jail than make a green and gold cake that said “Go Packers!” on it.  Or if they did make a cake for Packers fans, I would definitely not want to eat a piece because it might be poisoned.

    • #6
  7. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Argh… forgot that editing messes up the Member Feed.  Sorry.

    Randy Weivoda:I don’t personally know anyone who cares too much about college basketball, but I can tell you this. I have known Minnesota Vikings fans who would rather spend a weekend in jail than make a green and gold cake that said “Go Packers!” on it. Or if they did make a cake for Packers fans, I would definitely not want to eat a piece because it might be poisoned.

    This is believable.  And does anyone really think society would be healthier for trying to coerce them into it?

    • #7
  8. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Our desires are often not under our control. But our actions certainly should be.

    • #8
  9. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Leigh,

    It depends which group you are in.

    1. It is not fair to be refused service for something that is not against the law and you feel is perfectly normal. From your perspective the service provider is showing bigotry or prejudice.
    2. It is not fair for you to have to give up strong beliefs to do your job. This makes your job anti-(your beliefs) and a hostile work environment for you.

    This was left vague because any group could be on the outs.

    In the old Soviet Union Christians were denied educational opportunities if they didn’t do certain things. Catholics were denied the right to vote or sit in Parliament in the UK for many years.

    Should a kosher deli be forced to sell ham sandwiches? Should a medical provider be forced to do an elective abortion? Should an actor be forced to do a scene to keep the job? Coercion is not pretty.

    • #9
  10. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    10 cents:Should a kosher deli be forced to sell ham sandwiches? Should a medical provider be forced to do an elective abortion? Should an actor be forced to do a scene to keep the job? Coercion is not pretty.

    That thought occurred to me when I was reading about various celebrities saying everyone should boycott Indiana.  I thought it would be amusing if a legislature announced that entertainers would now be covered under public accommodation laws.  If a Tea Party group wants to hire Barbra Streisand to sing at their rally and they are willing to pay the going rate, she should be forced to perform even though she detests them.  They should also be able to make her sing the songs of their choosing, not the ones she wants to sing.  If someone with deep pockets wants to make an anti-gay movie and wants to hire Nick Offerman to act in it, the state should compel him to take the job even though he finds the project morally offensive.

    • #10
  11. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Since Wisconsin is involved I’ll put you on to a bit of historical information: UW replaced grass with turf at Camp Randall to keep the cheerleaders from grazing.

    • #11
  12. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Generally, a shopkeeper should be free to unjustly turn away potential customers for any reason. Civil rights era lawmakers forced justice in a way that has led to many injustices in the modern era. They might have only sped up change, at too high a cost, that would have occurred anyway.

    But occasionally practical concerns must limit one person’s freedom to preserve another’s. For example, if a gas station refused service, that could leave a person stranded without reasonable alternatives. There should be no legal right ensuring that a person always has access to cupcakes or fur coats, but we might with caution designate some products and services (like gasoline) as necessary to achieve a common standard of freedom.

    Steyn wrote something this morning that seems relevant:

    The land of self-regulation has been encroached on remorselessly, to the point where we increasingly accept that everything is either legal or illegal, and therefore to render any judgment of our own upon the merits of this or that would be presumptuous.

    In other words, too frequent and heavy-handed uses of law to force moral decisions have resulted in a gradual conflation of morality and law. It encourages citizens to think less in terms of right-and-wrong than in terms of legal-or-illegal. As a result, moral authority is shifting from individual consciences to judges and politicians.

    • #12
  13. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Leigh:It is perhaps easier to illustrate than to explain the difference between denying service to certain people and an unwillingness to offer specific services or participate in specific events. And yet it is a critical distinction, though not always a precise one. The first is generally understood to be unacceptable in the marketplace; the second is a vital component of religious liberty, and perhaps of liberty in general.

    It is not clear to me why there should be so much coercion as to require a religious exemption in the first place. Especially when it involves any form of artistic expression, surely “I’m not comfortable with that, let me refer you to someone else” should be sufficient. Even if the discomfort is trivial. You can’t stand their wedding colors. You’re sick of “Let it Go” and don’t want to do another Frozen-themed birthday party again, ever. If you can afford the loss of business, aren’t you free to make that call? And do we really want the government trying to evaluate your motives?

    Yes!

    There are a lot of lessons to learn from this episode — the maliciousness of the gay left and their allies, the hopelessness of legacy media to report things accurately, etc. — but I hope it also helps people see just how injurious public accommodations laws can be to liberty in general and how RFRA merely attempts to patch the problem rather than fix it.

    Americans should have the right to refuse service to anyone for whatever reason, be it convenience, conscience, or whatever. That right should only be abridged under extreme circumstances, such as the racist ones against blacks a half century ago, and — perhaps — in a few isolated circumstances elsewhere. Otherwise, leave people and markets alone to solve these matters peaceably and honestly.

    • #13
  14. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    Not really.  You obviously weren’t raised there.  [Redacted for CoC] Bucky!

    • #14
  15. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Randy Weivoda:I don’t personally know anyone who cares too much about college basketball, but I can tell you this. I have known Minnesota Vikings fans who would rather spend a weekend in jail than make a green and gold cake that said “Go Packers!” on it. Or if they did make a cake for Packers fans, I would definitely not want to eat a piece because it might be poisoned.

    Agreed.  I know Packer fans who would rather be drawn and quartered than make a Vikings cake too.

    • #15
  16. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Leigh:Argh… forgot that editing messes up the Member Feed. Sorry.

    Randy Weivoda:I don’t personally know anyone who cares too much about college basketball, but I can tell you this. I have known Minnesota Vikings fans who would rather spend a weekend in jail than make a green and gold cake that said “Go Packers!” on it. Or if they did make a cake for Packers fans, I would definitely not want to eat a piece because it might be poisoned.

    This is believable. And does anyone really think society would be healthier for trying to coerce them into it?

    No.

    • #16
  17. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    donald todd:Since Wisconsin is involved I’ll put you on to a bit of historical information: UW replaced grass with turf at Camp Randall to keep the cheerleaders from grazing.

    I always reckoned that people viewed a herd mentality among cheerleaders to be a feature, not a bug.

    But help me understand better: are you suggesting the lovely ladies are lambs, or fillies?

    • #17
  18. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I once had a handyman in the Boulder area tell me he didn’t like to work out in East County where the poorer people lived.  He didn’t add the poorer people part, but I figured it out.  I was annoyed, but I just called somebody else.

    • #18
  19. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Merina Smith:I once had a handyman in the Boulder area tell me he didn’t like to work out in East County where the poorer people lived. He didn’t add the poorer people part, but I figured it out. I was annoyed, but I just called somebody else.

    Well, I do know roofers who add several thousand to their estimates for otherwise essentially identical jobs based on the location of the house.

    • #19
  20. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    You are implying being Gay is not a choice which is an anti-science position. Its an addiction and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming at proving that point.

    • #20
  21. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    iWe:

    donald todd:Since Wisconsin is involved I’ll put you on to a bit of historical information: UW replaced grass with turf at Camp Randall to keep the cheerleaders from grazing.

    I always reckoned that people viewed a herd mentality among cheerleaders to be a feature, not a bug.

    But help me understand better: are you suggesting the lovely ladies are lambs, or fillies?

    Fillies, I’d say…nice conformation.

    • #21
  22. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Brian Clendinen:

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    You are implying being Gay is not a choice which is an anti-science position. Its an addiction and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming at proving that point.

    Oy vey!  Brian, you are wrong, but having just had this argument at length over on MJ’s endless thread, I will refer you to that.  It starts somewhere in the 600s I believe.

    • #22
  23. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    iWe:

    donald todd:Since Wisconsin is involved I’ll put you on to a bit of historical information: UW replaced grass with turf at Camp Randall to keep the cheerleaders from grazing.

    I always reckoned that people viewed a herd mentality among cheerleaders to be a feature, not a bug.

    “But help me understand better: are you suggesting the lovely ladies are lambs, or fillies?”

    Merely that they grazed.

    • #23
  24. user_1032405 Coolidge
    user_1032405
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Brian Clendinen:

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    You are implying being Gay is not a choice which is an anti-science position. Its an addiction and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming at proving that point.

    Brian – I expect the “gay is a genetic trait, the same as race” advocates to jump in quickly to disagree with you on this, but I would also welcome any citations you have to the scholarly research that supports your statement.

    • #24
  25. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    CLARK SUMMERS:

    Brian Clendinen:

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    You are implying being Gay is not a choice which is an anti-science position. Its an addiction and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming at proving that point.

    Brian – I expect the “gay is a genetic trait, the same as race” advocates to jump in quickly to disagree with you on this, but I would also welcome any citations you have to the scholarly research that supports your statement.

    I jumped in and said it’s not a choice — do I get obstreperousness points for that?  I don’t know about genetic.  That’s a much harder question.  But it’s clearly not a choice.

    • #25
  26. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Leigh:I
    It is not clear to me why there should be so much coercion as to require a religious exemption in the first place. Especially when it involves any form of artistic expression, surely “I’m not comfortable with that, let me refer you to someone else” should be sufficient. Even if the discomfort is trivial. You can’t stand their wedding colors. You’re sick of “Let it Go” and don’t want to do another Frozen-themed birthday party again, ever. If you can afford the loss of business, aren’t you free to make that call? And do we really want the government trying to evaluate your motives?

    Yes!

    There are a lot of lessons to learn from this episode — the maliciousness of the gay left and their allies, the hopelessness of legacy media to report things accurately, etc. — but I hope it also helps people see just how injurious public accommodations laws can be to liberty in general and how RFRA merely attempts to patch the problem rather than fix it.

    Americans should have the right to refuse service to anyone for whatever reason, be it convenience, conscience, or whatever. That right should only be abridged under extreme circumstances, such as the racist ones against blacks a half century ago, and — perhaps — in a few isolated circumstances elsewhere. Otherwise, leave people and markets alone to solve these matters peaceably and honestly.

    Maybe.  But it seems — because of that history — that argument is going essentially nowhere right now.

    I’m not talking only about what is (or should be) legal, but about what is understood to be culturally acceptable.  No one close to the mainstream really wants anyone told they can’t buy a gallon of milk or gas or a slice of pizza, for virtually any reason, even if you happen to think it should be legal to deny it. (It’s OK for the business to require something in return — i.e. wearing a shirt.)

    But there are lots of easily understood legitimate reasons why someone might want to refuse to offer a specific service or be involved in a particular event, and not all of them involve moral condemnation of that event.  The Left is attempting to argue that the second is equivalent to the first, and using that as a cudgel against those with religious convictions.  But the equivalence is false, and it’s worth pushing back.

    • #26
  27. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Cato Rand:

    CLARK SUMMERS:

    Brian Clendinen:

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    You are implying being Gay is not a choice which is an anti-science position. Its an addiction and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming at proving that point.

    Brian – I expect the “gay is a genetic trait, the same as race” advocates to jump in quickly to disagree with you on this, but I would also welcome any citations you have to the scholarly research that supports your statement.

    I jumped in and said it’s not a choice — do I get obstreperousness points for that? I don’t know about genetic. That’s a much harder question. But it’s clearly not a choice.

    It may be a choice for some people might it not?  Isn’t that what the Q is LGBQT stands for – Questioning which way you want to go?

    • #27
  28. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Miffed White Male:

    Cato Rand:

    CLARK SUMMERS:

    Brian Clendinen:

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    You are implying being Gay is not a choice which is an anti-science position. Its an addiction and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming at proving that point.

    Brian – I expect the “gay is a genetic trait, the same as race” advocates to jump in quickly to disagree with you on this, but I would also welcome any citations you have to the scholarly research that supports your statement.

    I jumped in and said it’s not a choice — do I get obstreperousness points for that? I don’t know about genetic. That’s a much harder question. But it’s clearly not a choice.

    It may be a choice for some people might it not? Isn’t that what the Q is LGBQT stands for – Questioning which way you want to go?

    To most people it stands for “Queer”

    • #28
  29. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Cato Rand:

    Miffed White Male:

    Cato Rand:

    CLARK SUMMERS:

    Brian Clendinen:

    Jimmy Carter:Being a Wisconsin fan is a choice.

    You are implying being Gay is not a choice which is an anti-science position. Its an addiction and the scientific evidence is pretty overwhelming at proving that point.

    Brian – I expect the “gay is a genetic trait, the same as race” advocates to jump in quickly to disagree with you on this, but I would also welcome any citations you have to the scholarly research that supports your statement.

    I jumped in and said it’s not a choice — do I get obstreperousness points for that? I don’t know about genetic. That’s a much harder question. But it’s clearly not a choice.

    It may be a choice for some people might it not? Isn’t that what the Q is LGBQT stands for – Questioning which way you want to go?

    To most people it stands for “Queer”

    “Most” seems to be an overstatement, at least according to these people:

    http://www.thewelcomingproject.org/lgbtq-community.php

    • #29
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.