Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Gary Johnson Defends Wedding Cake Fascism?

 
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In a Facebook post, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson appears to explain why the State should be allowed to force bakers and florists to participate in gay weddings even if such participation goes against their religious beliefs:

[A]nti-discrimination laws do not, and cannot, abridge fundamental First Amendment rights. I know of no one who reasonably disagrees. In the highly unlikely event that a Nazi would demand that a Jewish baker decorate a cake with a Nazi symbol, the courts, common sense, and common decency — not to mention the First Amendment — all combine to protect that baker from having to do so. It’s not an issue, except when distorted for purposes of gotcha politics.

Does a public bakery have to sell a cake to a Nazi? Probably so. Does that bakery have to draw a swastika on it? Absolutely not. And that’s the way it should be.

Of course, we all know that this conversation is really “code” for the current, and far more real, conversation about society’s treatment of LGBT individuals. I have even heard some talk of a “right to discriminate.” And of course, we have states and municipalities today trying to create a real right to discriminate against the LGBT community on religious grounds — the same kinds of “religious” grounds that were used to defend racial segregation, forbid interracial marriages and, yes, defend discrimination against Jews by businesses. That is not a slope Libertarians want to go down.

Once again, my belief that discrimination on the basis of religion should not be allowed has been distorted by some to suggest that a legitimate church or its clergy should be “forced” to perform a same-sex marriage. That is absurd. The various ballot initiatives I supported across the country to repeal bans on same-sex marriage all had one provision in common: A specific provision making clear that no religious organization, priest or pastor could be required to perform any rite contrary to that organization’s or individual’s faith. That protection was supported almost universally by the LGBT community — even though most legal scholars agreed that such a protection already exists in the Constitution. We just wanted to leave no doubt.

If I recall correctly, public accommodation laws arose from the necessity to protect travelers from harm way back when being denied a room in an inn could be a matter of life or death. I would agree that the state can and should intervene when there is systemic discrimination that results in physical or economic harm to a class of persons. I would argue that getting one’s feelings hurt because someone doesn’t cheer one’s lifestyle does not rise to the level of harm that warrants state involvement.

If a bakery (or a florist, or a photographer) doesn’t want to participate in your wedding, there is a simple solution that doesn’t involve the heavy hand of the State: Go to another baker. Someone else will be gladly accept the business.

His assertion that the law trumps individual conscience is an odd one for someone who claims to be a libertarian; the same defense could have been made of Jim Crow laws forced merchants to discriminate even if it went against their conscience, because “It’s the law.”

Forcing those who religiously object to gay marriage to participate in gay marriage ceremonies is an act of forced political speech in a way that just selling a generic cake to a gay customer is not. It’s disheartening that Johnson cannot distinguish the difference. However, since his opinion on the matter is no different than Hillary’s or Trump’s, it isn’t a deal-breaker.

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  1. I Walton Member

    Perhaps it’s time to revisit the public accommodation law. We won. It’s over. There aren’t separate bathrooms, drinking fountains, restaurants or motel rooms for blacks and there won’t be. That’s what it was about. Nothing else.

    • #1
    • May 23, 2016, at 4:43 AM PDT
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  2. Pony Convertible Member

    The difference is between serving everything and making everything (or providing every service).

    Assume I bake wedding cakes, for traditional couples. If a gay couple asks me to make a cake for their wedding, that is not a product I make. I am not refusing to serve them, I am refusing to make the product they ask for. That is the difference.

    • #2
    • May 23, 2016, at 4:50 AM PDT
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  3. Penfold Member

    What the heck is a public bakery? Some would call it a private concern. Strange talk for a libertarian candidate, no?

    • #3
    • May 23, 2016, at 4:53 AM PDT
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  4. GrannyDude Member

    Johnson’s Facebook post evokes my fantasy (for such it turned out to be) of what the presidential election was going to be this year. Imagine if we had presidential candidates offering reasoned— though not passionless—articulations of applied principle?

    Johnson:
    I responded to that question in the legal context of whether a public business has the right to refuse to serve a member of the public, as distasteful as it might be. The simple answer to that question is, whether all like it or not, U.S. law has recognized the principle of public accommodation for more than 100 years: The principle that, when a business opens its doors to the public, that business enters into an implied contract to serve ALL of the public. Further, when that business voluntarily opens its doors, the owners voluntarily agree to adhere to applicable laws and regulations — whether they like those laws or not.

    V the K: I would agree that the state can and should intervene when there is systemic discrimination that results in physical or economic harm to a class of persons. I would argue that getting one’s feelings hurt because someone doesn’t cheer one’s lifestyle does not rise to the level of harm that warrants state involvement.

    I may spend the rest of the morning sadly pondering what might have been…

    • #4
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:05 AM PDT
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  5. Joe P Member

    Penfold:What the heck is a public bakery? Some would call it a private concern. Strange talk for a libertarian candidate, no?

    I was confused as well. When I first read that, I thought he was describing some sort of hypothetical state-run bakery, to set up a contrast with how a privately owned bakery should operate. Arguments like that are very typical from libertarians.

    I might give Johnson the benefit of the doubt if he said this off-the-cuff, but the fact that this argument was prepared in advance and yet remains this muddled is very suspicious.

    • #5
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:06 AM PDT
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  6. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    This is the strangest statement I’ve ever read.

    On the one hand, Johnson acknowledges the difference between serving the public and participating in speech. This is an important distinction and — if I’m remembering right — none of the bakers/florists/photographers objected to serving gay clients, only to actions that they believe to make them complicit in gay weddings. Even if you don’t like public accommodations laws in principle, this is an significant difference.

    But then, Johnson goes on to describe what appears to be RFRA laws as being anti-gay and giving people the right to discriminate against gays qua gays. I don’t like RFRA, but this is stupid.

    And, amazingly, nowhere does Johnson actually say that the Christian baker/photographer/florist shouldn’t be required to participate.

    This is infuriating.

    • #6
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:11 AM PDT
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  7. Fred Cole Member

    Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    • #7
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:11 AM PDT
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  8. Joe P Member

    Note that, when you strip out the fluff, it becomes obvious that Johnson deliberately pivots away from the point of the question, to talk about something else that sounds similar but isn’t:

    Does a public bakery have to sell a cake to a Nazi? Probably so. Does that bakery have to draw a swastika on it? Absolutely not. And that’s the way it should be.

    Once again, my belief that discrimination on the basis of religion should not be allowed has been distorted by some to suggest that a legitimate church or its clergy should be “forced” to perform a same-sex marriage.

    We go from Nazi cakes to gay weddings, skipping over gay wedding cakes. “Gay wedding cakes” meaning cakes that depict two members of the same gender getting married on them, not wedding cakes for a customer who is gay.

    • #8
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:16 AM PDT
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  9. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    There goes any hope of voting for Gary Johnson instead of Trump or Clinton. How a Libertarian candidate promote forced speech is beyond me. buy any generic cake from me that you wish but don’t make me decorate it or write on it or express myself with it for a cause which violates my conscious. How can a photographer express themselves artistically when being force to promote something they dislike and find immoral. Foolishness. If Gary Johnson can’t understand these things he is not ready to president of anything.

    • #9
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:22 AM PDT
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  10. Lily Bart Inactive

    It’s time for Gary Johnson to hand in his “Libertarian” card.

    His statement and position on this issue may be many things, but libertarian it ain’t.

    • #10
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:24 AM PDT
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  11. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    This whole issue is Scalia’s fault. Bill Clintion did his part to fix it, but now it’s all broken to pieces again.

    • #11
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:25 AM PDT
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  12. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo

    Kate Braestrup:Johnson’s Facebook post evokes my fantasy (for such it turned out to be) of what the presidential election was going to be this year. Imagine if we had presidential candidates offering reasoned— though not passionless—articulations of applied principle?

    Yeah, well, unfortunately, our last couple of elections were decided by low information voters who find reasoned articulations of principle boring and too long too read.

    Sadly, if Trump throws a chair at Hillary during the debate, he’s got the election in the bag.

    • #12
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:26 AM PDT
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  13. Joe P Member

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    It would be one thing if he were merely wrong or confused. His statement is very carefully and deliberately worded to avoid actually discussing the issue in question. One should at least wonder why that is.

    I don’t like Trump, but I am 90% certain that he absolutely does not care about making people bake gay wedding cakes, so maybe 2/3 of those things you mention would be better under him than Johnson.

    • #13
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:26 AM PDT
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  14. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    If a Libertarian can’t get religious liberty and freedom of association right what good are they? A Libertarian starts off wrong on so many things if they can’t get what they are supposed to be really good on right why vote for them?

    This does not mean that you can’t make an excellent case that you should vote for Johnson over Clinton or Trump but as a conservative I think you would need to hold your nose nearly as hard on a Johnson vote as on a vote for Trump.

    • #14
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:27 AM PDT
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  15. A-Squared Inactive

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    Agreed.

    I think Trump is fine with forcing religious people to bake a cake for a gay marriage. Has he made any statements either way?

    • #15
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:31 AM PDT
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  16. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. DouglasJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Brian Wolf:

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    If a Libertarian can’t get religious liberty and freedom of association right what good are they? A Libertarian starts off wrong on so many things if they can’t get what they are supposed to be really good on right why vote for them?

    This does not mean that you can’t make an excellent case that you should vote for Johnson over Clinton or Trump but as a conservative I think you would need to hold your nose nearly as hard on a Johnson vote as on a vote for Trump.

    That’s where I am. This is pretty fundamental, and makes me wonder. This isn’t making him a good option, in my opinion.

    • #16
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:32 AM PDT
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  17. Fred Cole Member

    If Trumpo made such a statement, is there any reason at all to give it any credence?

    • #17
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:34 AM PDT
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  18. A-Squared Inactive

    Fred Cole:If Trumpo made such a statement, is there any reason at all to give it any credence?

    No. I was asking out of curiosity more than anything else.

    • #18
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:36 AM PDT
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  19. Tenacious D Inactive

    Gary Johnson: a legitimate church

    What’s that? Is there a list? Who decides which churches are legitimate?

    • #19
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:38 AM PDT
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  20. Joe P Member

    A-Squared:

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    Agreed.

    I think Trump is fine with forcing religious people to bake a cake for a gay marriage. Has he made any statements either way?

    I don’t think he cares. Which may actually be better than Johnson’s position. With Trump, we know whatever is said about topics he doesn’t care much about is merely expedient at the moment, and not actually indicative of any real plan or intent to do anything. If he has said anything, he’s probably flopped all over the place on it.

    In this post, Johnson will not answer this relatively simple question of what to do with the gay wedding cake. He goes out of his way to avoid saying anything about it. That suggests that he holds a view which is anti-Liberty, is fully aware of it, and chooses not to say something that could be later used as evidence of lying.

    • #20
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:39 AM PDT
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  21. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    Tenacious D:

    Gary Johnson: a legitimate church

    What’s that? Is there a list? Who decides which churches are legitimate?

    The IRS, believe it or not…

    • #21
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:39 AM PDT
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  22. Tenacious D Inactive

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    Obviously he doesn’t look so bad in comparison. I find his position unfortunate strategically, though, because this election should have been a perfect opportunity for libertarians to appeal to SoCons (at least as a protest vote, but better through persuading some of them that they won’t win the culture wars and a live-and-let-live approach that maximizes freedom of conscience is the best way forward).

    • #22
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:46 AM PDT
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  23. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. DouglasJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    With the looming darkness of Trump and Hillary on the horizon, the liberty-minded religious social conservative has been asking, “Where do I go now?” For a while it seems the Libertarians have been courting him, but every so often something like this happens. It gives him pause. Though much of what Libertarians stand for seem intelligent, there’s a large number of a-religious Libertarians and for our conservative voter here, he worries that they just don’t see religion as particularly concerning or important to defend with any energy of any sort. Then a candidate like Gary Johnson speaks up and more or less seems to confirm these suspicions.

    For many conservatives of religious bent, there is concern that when push comes to shove, Libertarians will freely stand by issues of social liberty, but won’t care enough to push religious liberty. If they really want our votes, they’re going to have to convince us otherwise.

    • #23
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:52 AM PDT
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  24. Profile Photo Member

    Tenacious D:

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about…one thing, so … write him off completely. …

    … this election should have been a perfect opportunity for libertarians to appeal to SoCons (… through persuading …them that they won’t win the culture wars and a live-and-let-live approach that maximizes freedom of conscience is the best way forward).

    Exactly, I took some time to look at these guys, and they just don’t understand that you have to convince people that you are doing something worthwhile, and that there are no easy solutions.

    I was really considering not only voting Libertarian this cycle but trying to convince people to move that direction. Johnson seems fundamentally unserious about that which should be easy for a Libertarian, if I don’t have liberty of conscience what do I have!

    I continue to feel that they don’t want to do the hard work of making liberty happen via politics in the real world, and/or they don’t want to admit that liberty has problems in implementation that require compromise and difficulties to be adjudicated as they balance out individual’s competing interests. When libertarians do this, and do it honestly, and then try to sell their ideas, and build a grass-roots local party that can win local and state elections, as well as always going for the national prize, they might actually go someplace in our political system.

    They actually ran a challenger in our congressional district…pathetic.

    • #24
    • May 23, 2016, at 5:57 AM PDT
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  25. Lily Bart Inactive

    .

    • #25
    • May 23, 2016, at 6:01 AM PDT
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  26. Lily Bart Inactive

    Pony Convertible:The difference is between serving everything and making everything (or providing every service).

    Assume I bake wedding cakes, for traditional couples. If a gay couple asks me to make a cake for their wedding, that is not a product I make. I am not refusing to serve them, I am refusing to make the product they ask for. That is the difference.

    The ‘law’ doesn’t see the difference. The left is in the business of forcing their own morality on you – and the modern judicial system is geared to support them in this effort.

    We are no longer a free people – and our Constitutional protections are failing now.

    • #26
    • May 23, 2016, at 6:08 AM PDT
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  27. Man With the Axe Member

    V the K: (Quoting Gary Johnson): Does a public bakery have to sell a cake to a Nazi? Probably so.

    I don’t think this is correct as a legal proposition. The civil rights act covers discrimination in public accommodations based on race, religion, national origin, but not on the basis of political affiliation. I don’t think a Jewish baker is obligated to sell a cake of any kind to a Nazi.

    But a Nazi baker must sell to a Jewish customer. How’s that for irony?

    • #27
    • May 23, 2016, at 6:10 AM PDT
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  28. Guruforhire Member

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    Toss up.

    • #28
    • May 23, 2016, at 6:11 AM PDT
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  29. KCrary Inactive

    I can understand voting for someone bad, as the lesser of two evils. I can also understand lodging a protest vote, when the major party candidates are both bad. But lodging a protest vote for the lesser of three evils makes no sense to me. After this statement, Gary Johnson is out.

    On another note, I think it’s interesting that if Sanders somehow pulls it out, we’ll have a Republican candidate who is not a Republican, a Democratic candidate who is not a Democrat, and a Libertarian candidate who is not a libertarian.

    • #29
    • May 23, 2016, at 6:12 AM PDT
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  30. Spin Inactive
    SpinJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fred Cole:Well, Gary Johnson is wrong about this one thing, so should definitely write him off completely. Religious liberty, freedom of association, and limited government will definitely be better off in the hands of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump.

    Get with the program, Fred. This is what we do. One little spot, and they get hen-pecked.

    • #30
    • May 23, 2016, at 6:14 AM PDT
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