Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ryan T. Anderson's salad of rotten apples and oranges

Ryan T. Anderson
According to Ryan T. Anderson, in LifesiteNews on Wednesday, “If it wasn’t for double standards, some liberals would have none at all.” Anderson is trying to defend anti-LGBT laws in Mississippi and North Carolina because Anderson has a problem. In reality he has more than one problem, including the probability that he is a closeted gay man lecturing on hypocrisy, but what drives Anderson in all things is his Catholic orthodoxy. Anderson is a defender of the faith. According to Ryan T:
At issue are a Mississippi law that narrowly and carefully protects the rights of religious charities, small businesses, and select public servants and a North Carolina law that reasonably protects privacy and safety in public restrooms, while leaving private institutions free to set their own bathroom policies.

Anderson trys to redefine the controversy. The Mississippi law is anything but narrowly applicable. And those public restrooms in North Carolina include those in public schools (which was the point of the Charlotte ordinance). Also, Mr. Anderson conveniently ignores the fact that the state nullified numerous municipal nondiscrimination ordinances in North Carolina's largest urban areas. Thus “at issue” are laws that officially make LGBT people second-class citizens. It is a new flavor of Jim Crow.
Liberals decry the influence of big business and big money in politics. They denounce, as a direct threat to democracy, the ability of corporations to engage in issue advocacy. They argue that politicians must answer to the people, not the highest corporate bidder.
Mr. Anderson would put words in our mouths. Liberals do not like the fact that big money in politics influences elections and that the sources of that money expect (and receive) consideration in return. Those considerations, including massive tax breaks, are often adverse to our national interests.
Or at least that’s what they used to say. Liberals are now cheering Apple, PayPal, Salesforce, and countless other giant corporations threatening legislators and governors with boycotts if they pass popular laws that the left disapproves of.

These corporate elites didn’t win an argument about good public policy. Instead, they threatened to boycott and transfer jobs out of states if the politicians didn’t do as they insisted.

This economic coercion is a form of cronyism—cultural cronyism. Big businesses use their outsized market share to pressure government to do their bidding at the expense of the will of the people and the common good. And, hypocritically, the left cheers it on.
I can easily turn this around by noting that the right, including Anderson's employer (Heritage Foundation), are all for dark money to influence elections but now they are upset when corporations use their influence to alter social policy. I could but that would be sophomoric. It is also overlooks the flaw in the logic. A false equivalency is at work here. It is the comparison of things like tax breaks to legal discrimination. Equality and fairness are at the cultural core of who we are as Americans. When the state fosters, condones and even encourages discrimination it changes the American conscience.  Furthermore, we can reverse tax breaks and regulatory largess but reversing discrimination leaves a scar that can take a very long time to heal. The state has officially told a fragile minority that they are less than other Americans. What do you tell a gay kid?

There is another false equivalence in the form of disclosure. What these companies are doing with regard to discrimination is out in the open. Contrast that with political dark money. We have no idea who is “investing” what on behalf of which politician for what compensatory return.

I also think that Mr. Anderson should be consistent when it comes to “the will of the people and the common good.” Nondiscrimination laws that Anderson finds so objectionable are passed by the people's elected representatives and enacted by the people's elected executive. Presumably they reflect the will of, and common good for, the people. And on that note:
Many of us think that what these corporate giants are doing is bad for representative democracy and self-government. But they have a right to do it. And yet, they want to deny the rights of bakers, florists, photographers, adoption agencies, and marriage counselors who only want the same liberty to follow their conscience.
The bakers and florist etc that Anderson is referring to have violated valid, enforceable nondiscrimination laws that have withstood the legal challenges of the same florist and bakers and photographer etc. No one is forcing these people to operate public accommodations and we all pay for the fire and police that protect their businesses and the roads that bring people to their doors.

The simpler fact is that there are a very few people who have chosen to deny service. It is limited to a small number because denying service is not necessary for the integrity of personal religious belief. As a society we have determined that the bakers and florist and photographer do not have a right to discriminate against others. We passed laws over 50 years ago that prohibit this kind of discrimination based upon race and religion (yeah, it used to be real important to refuse service to Jews). We are only a couple of election cycles away from including LGBT citizens in that law. At that time Mr. Anderson can assume an impossible anatomical position.

Refusing service is nothing more than a means of displaying disapproval. Attaching religious significance is an effort to legitimize discrimination.
Take the cases of Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. They said their consciences require them to deny their artistic gifts and talents to citizens of states that have enacted policy they disagreed with. And, of course, they have that right.

Adams wrote: “I cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights.”

He’s wrong about the laws—they don’t deny anyone civil rights. Instead, they protect civil rights. They protect religious freedom, which, as the liberal American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) once acknowledged, is a civil liberty.
Those laws enacted in Mississippi and North Carolina protect the right to discriminate. Religious freedom does not require that license. Richard Bosson, a former justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, in his opinion upholding the state's nondiscrimination law, explains it very well (the Huguenins are the photographers Anderson is referring to — emphasis added):
The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. The sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world.
According to Anderson:
So Springsteen and Adams are exercising their freedom of conscience by boycotting states that sought to protect the consciences of adoption agencies, religious schools, bakers, and florists. Do they not see the hypocrisy?
Hypocrisy? Could the false equivalence not be more obvious? According to Anderson's logic the state discriminates when it prevents people from discriminating. But he gets worse:
Finally, if these boycotts are really a matter of principle—and not just grandstanding—then why do so many of these same companies do business in foreign countries with terrible records on human rights in general, and for LGBT people in particular?

The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, pointed out this hypocrisy. After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a travel ban for state employees to North Carolina, Gov. McCrory asked how it was consistent with Gov. Cuomo’s trip to Cuba—with state business leaders—to promote trade with that country.
Another false equivalence. Anderson thinks that he is oh-so-clever. Concern for the affairs of foreign countries and concern for your own country's public policy are two entirely different things. These are American businesses headquartered in the United States. Discrimination is bad for business.
Missouri is likely the next state to move a religious freedom bill, and we can expect the same cast of characters to come out in opposition. But this time, the left and big business are entering the debate with one big disadvantage—they’ve been beaten. Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina have stood up to the bullies and shattered their aura of invincibility.
Anderson's world is we and them (although “we” preferably shares his faith). The law in ippississiM changed nothing since there are no LGBT protections in the state. McCrory has already demonstrated that he has had some second thoughts. Both states will suffer the economic consequences of bigotry. Seems to me that Anderson supports those who say “we don't serve your kind here.” So who are the bullies? Aside from the false equivalencies, Anderson's apples are worm invested and his oranges are unripe. Neither is palatable.

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