I haven’t written on this blog in quite some time, but the tyranny of political correctness and the blacklisting of all who sway from the proscribed cultural orthodoxy have reached the point of absurdity, and Americans who value free speech and free expression, religious or not, should be terrified of what’s happening to the first amendment.
It seemingly started with the current Administration’s insistence that all employers subsidize their employee’s sexual activities with contraception, abortions for oopsies and ED medications to get the dirty done. There was a time in America where sex wasn’t discussed with people other than your partner, but now its conversational material for dinner. Of course, government shouldn’t be in people’s bedrooms, and neither should your employer. If our sexual lives are in fact, the most intimate parts of our experiences, to be shared with select few (i.e., the people we’re having sex with), than logic demands none of us can, at the same time, insist our employers pay for it, especially if the employer is a bona fide religious enterprise, such as Little Sisters of the Poor, the University of Notre Dame—the list goes on. The federal government uses this logic in some cases- such as being the basis on which taxpayers do not fund elective abortions. It is a “personal decision” and a deeply divisive issue, as they say, so we keep public funds out of it.
Unfortunately, the cultural elite have abandoned their once-championed “live and let live” slogan and is now insisting that not only must polite society tolerate everything under the sun and hold their criticism, but they also must actively participate in activities and commerce to which they object, or else. You can no longer say, “It’s not my thing, but whatever floats your boat.” No—YOU MUST ENDORSE, PARTICIPATE, AND CELEBRATE! God help you if you’re a devout Catholic or out of agreement with current cultural mores—you’ll be branded a bigot and your life will be destroyed.
Legislation to protect people’s exercise of the first amendment to freedom from coercion in religious matters was sparked by human rights commissions across the country slapping artisans-bakers, photographers and florists-with hefty fines for refusing to use their artistic abilities to contribute to activities they morally or religiously object to. Bakers and the like can refuse to bake a cake for a Nazi or white supremacist rally, but not a same-sex wedding, even if their faith precludes them from doing so. Surely no court would force a lesbian photographer to work a wedding at the Westboro Baptist Church, or insist a certain New Mexico hairdresser cut the governor’s hair (he dropped Gov. Martinez as a client in 2012 for her opposition to same- sex marriage), but we’ll conveniently refuse to acknowledge those facts.
In Arizona, a bill was castigated as a gateway for “Jim Crow laws” for gays and lesbians, and the media frenzy convinced the public that the ill-fated proposal would lead to the corner pizza parlor refusing lunch service to homosexuals. No Arizona businesses are currently refusing to serve or do business with gays and lesbians, though it is currently legal to do so. There’s no religion that prohibits selling a slice of pizza to anybody. What the bill ACTUALLY did was allow private parties to assert a RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) defense in litigation with other private parties, if for example, a photographer refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding or the Knights of Columbus refused to rent a function hall for a same-sex wedding reception. Currently, citizens can only assert a RFRA defense in litigation to which the government is a party. The bill did not say the judge would rule in favor of the party making a RFRA defense, but no matter. Hyperbole and hysteria ruled the day and the bill was vetoed.
Or witness the recent debacle over former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich’s forced ouster just weeks after starting the job over an 8-year old donation to support California’s Proposition 8, when 52% of Californians voted to ban same-sex marriage. Eich apologized when the donation came to light, saying his personal views do not affect his commitment to the Mozilla corporate values of inclusiveness, but that wasn’t enough. Match.com and OKCupid CEO Sam Yagan recently apologized for making a campaign contribution to Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), who—you guessed it—opposes same-sex marriage. Yagan claims he was unaware of Cannon’s stance on gay rights. Uh, hello, the guy is a Mormon Republican from Utah. “I had no idea the Pope was opposed to gay marriage!” Seriously?!
Whether or not Yagan’s donation was reflective of agreement with Cannon’s approach to taxes and regulation didn’t factor into the hysteria over the latest corporate executive’s sin.
The entire premise is absurd and dangerous. To wit, until two years ago, Barack Obama was against same-sex marriage, and personally, may still be (who knows or cares?) but no one is demanding his head. In fact, he continues to say he has good friends who disagree with him on the issue and come at it from a deeply religious perspective. As noted LGBT columnist and activist Andrew Sullivan recently opined, “The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out.” In a subsequent post, he wrote, “What we have here is a social pressure to keep your beliefs deeply private for fear of retribution. We are enforcing another sort of closet on others. I can barely believe the fanaticism.”
The LGBT community rightly condemned the witch hunt led by infamous icon Anita Bryant. Here was a woman who supported laws to fire public teachers who were gay or associated with gays, simply on that basis. She had no evidence that gay schoolteachers were “recruiting” students. Forty years later, fanatics on the other side are purging dissidents from polite society, and even LGBT supporters are getting uncomfortable.
Mozilla, like A&E in respect to Phil Robertson, of course are free to operate, hire and fire in accordance with their corporate values. But digging up personal donations for use as a weapon sets a scary precedent. What if some CEO down the road is complained about because it is discovered he is a practicing Catholic and some gay employees at said company don’t like the Catholic Church’s position on the issue of homosexual activity and view the CEO’s religious affiliation as creating a hostile environment, even if he or she has never discussed the issue at work? Is the person at issue not fit for a job? What if CEO made a donation to a campaign to restrict abortion? Would he/she be branded a soldier in the fabricated, fictional “war on women” and canned? What if Jewish employees felt uncomfortable with a CEO’s donation to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel organization? At this rate, “Who did you vote for/donate to in the last presidential election?” will be appearing on an employment application near you.
In the past few years, a staffer at a Boston-area college lodged a complaint of “workplace hostility” against another staff/faculty member he’d never met because, while walking past the accused’s door, he overheard a private phone conversation in which the person in question expressed disagreement with Maine’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2005, Costco fired an Canadian employee who was a member of the Knights of Columbus for telling a lesbian co-worker that his Knights council would not rent out their hall for her wedding. The McCarthyism has become absurd-the mere knowledge of the presence of individuals with opposing opinions, regardless of whether they have ever publicly voiced them, has become grounds for “hostile environment” complaints.
On the other side of the coin-I am disabled, yet I know and have good friends who would be supportive of a decision to abort a disabled child. Are they awful people? No! I may think they’re woefully misguided and even a little ignorant on that particular issue, but I still respect them and even enjoy discussing our differences with them. Sadly, most of society has lost the ability to live and let live, to respect that some have deeply held beliefs and that’s that.
In short, what used to be a free country where people were left alone to worship and believe as they saw fit has become one big witch hunt for those who dare to hold beliefs, even privately, that challenge the cultural zeitgeist.
My views as a Catholic on the issue of same-sex marriage–which is that marriage is the union of a man and a woman united to care for any children their union produces–is irrelevant, as this isn’t a post about the merits of same-sex marriage. The facts on the ground reflect the reality that state-recognition of same-sex marriages is, legally-speaking, a foregone conclusion. I have many gay friends for whom I wish nothing but happiness. People of faith struggle with the issue-where is the balance? But if I still hold true to the tenets of Catholicism in my personal beliefs, belong to the Knights of Columbus, and, when prompted, voice my opinions, does that make me an awful person unfit to work? Will my work as a lobbyist for two Roman Catholic bishops render me unemployable?
Joe McCarthy has been dead for almost 60 years. Let’s stop the witch hunts, acknowledge that religious and political beliefs are not something people ought to be persecuted for unless it’s a bona fide qualification that affects their ability to do their job. Let’s live and let live, America. As a wise man once said, “it’s none of my business what other people think of me.”