Thou Shalt Associate…

As I’ve listened to the debate swirling around the issue of whether or not a business owner should be allowed to deny service to a gay person due to their religious convictions, I have to wonder if those supporting a policy of coerced association hold consistently to their stated principle. In other words, do they really believe a business must serve every individual who walks through the door without exception? Or do they really just oppose discrimination against those people whom they happen to like, or with whom they sympathize?

A little thought exercise will shed some light on this idea.

Imagine for a moment an Afghanistan war veteran named Sam owns a print shop. Sam happens to be gay. One day, a man walks through the door of the shop and announces he hails from the Westboro Baptist Church and plans to picket the military funeral of Sam’s former company commander. He wants Sam to print out 45 signs that read “God hates fags” for the picketers. Sam refuses and orders the Westboro member out of his shop.

So here’s the question for all of those morally outraged at those who don’t want to perform services for a gay customer: do you believe Sam should be legally forced to do business with the Westboro Baptist Church member?

If you answered no, perhaps you should rethink your support of the policy of forced association.

Let me make one thing clear up front. I do not approve of Christians refusing to do business with gay customers. If I owned a business, I would welcome gay customers with open arms. And black customers. And Native American Customers. And Hispanic customers – even if they didn’t happen to speak the best English. On the other hand, I would probably toss the piece of human debris hailing from the Westboro Baptist Church out on his ear.

But as repugnant as I find discriminating against gay customers, I find it more repugnant to put a gun to somebody’s head and demand that they serve them. And yes, before you ask, my stance on this would not change if you substitute black for gay. I fundamentally disagree with forcing people to associate.

My conscience would not allow me to print “God hates fags signs.” Most people would heartily agree with my moral stand and applaud as I tossed the Westboro Baptist Church member out on his butt. But if you support my right to refuse to do business with him, how can you oppose the right of that Christian florist to refuse to do business with a gay couple? The only difference – you agree with one moral stand and disagree with the other. Therein lies the problem. That florist believes in his principles as strongly as I believe in mine. He believes in his moral stand as much as you believe in yours. When you insist that he must violate his conscience, and force him to do so, you open the door for others to force you to violate yours.

Liberty of conscience and the right to freely associate underpin a free society. And the right to form relationships with whomever you please means you also have the right to refuse to enter into those relationships. When you utilize force to make people associate, you have obliterated a foundational pillar of liberty.

People who support the notion of forced associations come up with all kind of doomsday scenarios that will occur if they can’t bend you to their will. Most fall well outside of the realm of possibility. In this day and age, we simply won’t revert back to the Jim Crow era if businesses can serve whom they please. Keep in mind, Jim Crow was supported by the force of law and would have fallen apart without it. Forcing people NOT to associate at gunpoint is just as abhorrent as forcing them TO associate at gunpoint.

In fact, a gay couple refused service at the local florist will find a dozen that will happily take their dollars.

This leads me to something I just don’t get. Why do people want to do business with those who don’t like them? I can’t wrap my head around why a gay couple would INSIST that some homophobe take their money. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take your business elsewhere, and have all of your friends do the same? Pretty soon, a discriminating businessman will find himself hanging closed signs in his windows. But that’s not how it works in modern America. The slighted gay couple runs to the courts to FORCE this person who clearly doesn’t like them to do business with them. I find something incredibly bizarre about this scenario.

The underlying problem is that far too many people in this world want everybody else to validate them. That’s really what this boils down to. We want validation, and we’re willing to point a gun at everybody else’s head until we get it. This gay couple wants society to validate their lifestyle, so they sue a florist who refuses. Some Christians want society to validate their beliefs, so they try to get laws passed to insert prayer in schools.  Some atheists want society to validate their beliefs, so they insist there can’t be ANY prayers in school.

It’s absurd.

I am in an interracial marriage. That offends some people. Some people look at us funny. And you know what? At some point, we may even run into somebody who doesn’t want to serve us. I guarantee you this. We won’t sue. We won’t cry. We won’t go running to the press. We’ll just take our business elsewhere. We don’t need anybody else to validate our relationship. Thanks anyway.

Sadly, too many people can’t live and let live. We’ve morphed tolerance into a one-way street. You must tolerate me, because I will not tolerate your intolerance.

Living free can get messy. It requires true tolerance. That means allowing other people to live their lives as they see fit. And you know what? Sometimes that will offend you. Sometimes it will enrage you. And sometimes, it might even inconvenience you.

That’s the price of freedom.



7 Responses to “Thou Shalt Associate…”

  1. GeorgeFebruary 28, 2014 at 3:39 am #

    Spot on. I have to comment on something though.

    “The underlying problem is that far too many people in this world want everybody else to validate them.”

    Maybe people want to be validated because their conscience is bothering them.

    • GaryMarch 1, 2014 at 2:41 am #

      Good addition

  2. Doug T.February 28, 2014 at 4:35 am #

    Excellent representation of the issue and the hypocrisy of the left. You are right. Freedom IS messy. But it is also glorious. Hopefully this will make some people think long and hard about their position on all of the issues you raised here.

  3. LoranMarch 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Please put this through a grammar check before you post. You have several serious grammatical errors.

    For one, it’s ‘passed’, not ‘past’ one is to do something, the other is a time (past, present, future), ‘stand’ should be ‘stance’ stance is your position on a subject; stand is a military metaphor—when you courageously resist opposing forces, you take—or make—a stand, ‘everybody’ should be ‘everyone’, ‘you have obliterate’ should be either ‘you obliterate’ or ‘you have obliterated’, ‘…era if …’ should be ‘… era, if …’, ‘Some Christians who want society to validate their beliefs, so they try to get laws past to insert prayer in schools,” should be ‘Some Christians, who want society to validate their beliefs, try to get laws passed …’—the clause needs separation with commas and it only modifies the subject, which in this sentence is Christians, a singular group, which requires a singular verb, the use of they in this sentence is redundant because there already is a subject. If you took out the clause, it would read, “Some Christians they try…” It confuses the subject, which is it, Christians or they? “Some Christians” is not an adjective of they. Lastly, capping letters of a word to emphasize something or someone is incorrect; the word should be italicized.

    Grammar set aside, I liked the content of the article. However, I will not tolerate your poor grammar! lol

    • Michael MaharreyMarch 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      You clearly need a hobby.

  4. Jana ReaMarch 11, 2014 at 12:33 am #

    Or a job! I loved the grammar lesson. I followed every word of it.

    And yours too, Michael. Well done, moving this debate forward in our stuck thinking. The only other thing that comes to my mind besides the psychological need for validation is the more disturbing need to be a victim and to make others pay for the privilege. And to fan that fury, of course, is the very accommodating homosexual agenda that has deep roots in high places.

  5. IngraftedMarch 11, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    Nicely stated. The crux of the matter is not that all businesses should serve all customers. You will never see a gay couple sue a Muslim baker, or photographer for refusing to serve them. Neither will you see a Mosque sued for refusal of marriage rights to a gay couple. It is only Christians who are targeted. Christians are the only politically correct group of people to persecute, and mark my words, it will get much worse. Apartheid is coming to America.

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