The End of Civility


As written, this post gives the impression the SCOTUS decision gives legal permission for discrimination. It does not. While I find the decision problematic, the real issue is that the body politic believes it’s given them permission to discriminate. For an article on the limitations of the SCOTUS decision, please read the article my friend Jamison links to in the comments. To see why the SCOTUS decision isn’t covered under that decision, and for information on the lack of laws against ideological discrimination, check out the second article linked to in this post (it had been broken, but that issue is now fixed).

The Post

Several weeks ago the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a baker who did not want to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. At the time religious conservatives celebrated this as a defense of the freedom of religion. Those opposed to the ruling decried it as the freedom to discriminate.

The day after the decision I posed a question to religious conservatives what they would do should an atheist baker refuse to bake a baptism cake , on the grounds that they find religion immoral. I received several of replies, both of which said, “I’ll say that’s their right and go somewhere else.” I had no reason to doubt this is what any of the people who thus responded would do, but I also harbored concerns the majority of Americans would be unable to respond to such discrimination with such calm rationality. I thought the Supreme Court’s decision marked neither the protection of the freedom of religion nor the institution of a freedom to discriminate. Instead, it hailed the end of civility. While there are few states which prohibit refusal of service based on someone’s political or philosophical beliefs, the Supreme court has now given its permission for such behavior. There is no need to serve anyone with whom we disagree, a reality being demonstrated in the whirlwind surrounding a small cafe in Lexington, Virginia.

On Friday night Sarah Huckabee Sanders sat down for a dinner with family at the Red Hen Cafe, a restaurant with significant progressive leanings and with a number of homosexual employees. Both the owner and employees are opposed to the Trump Administration, and are angry over what they see as Huckabee Sanders’ continued support of the President’s lies. In the end, the owner asked the family to leave because she didn’t want to make her employees wait on someone they found to be incompatible with their morality. In an ironic twist, this is precisely the type of discrimination opponents of the Supreme Court’s decision said would happen.

And all American’s recognized this decision as the right of the Ren Hen Cafe’s owner and everyone went their separate ways.

Not a chance.

Instead conservatives and progressives decided they’d use the cafe’s Yelp reviews and Facebook page to wage an ideological fight – with conservatives calling the cafe bigoted, and progressives supporting their decision to not have anything to do with a member of the administration. This is such a twist of irony it even makes my cynical head spin in confusion – each of the political extremes flipped their opinion, because each found themselves on the other side of the argument.

And now, because of an unwise ideological decision on the part of the Supreme Court, this is the type of ideological discrimination which may very well wind up as the norm in the country. I weep for us all.



  1. larosa217 says:

    Sounds like the new Jim Crow

    1. wezlo says:

      From every direction. If I though the body politic was capable of rational thought I’d hope everyone would see how insane this is and realize how inhuman we are all becoming. But everyone is still trying g to “win.”

  2. Jamison says:

    Actually, you need to read the ruling. It’s not nearly as broad as people are making it out to be. It specifically addressed how the baker was treated by the Colorado’s commission. It made no judgement about if he was right or wrong. Here’s a quote from the opinion: “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,”

    The question about what is considered acceptable expression of religion and other viewpoints is still an open question.

    1. wezlo says:

      The one post I link to does explain this – the problem is what people are taking FROM it, which I could have explained better. But given how people are taking this as permission, and the lack of laws against ideological discrimination, I don’t feel good about the future.

    2. Jamison says:

      Actually, the post that you link to is from last year and explains the position of the Justice Department, and their rationale for not defending the plaintiff. The ruling is detailed in more recent articles.

  3. jimgetz says:

    I don’t see any flipping. One side says you should be judged by who you are (e.g. gender, skin colour, sexual orientation), the other side says you should be judged by what you do (e.g. being a nazi).

    1. wezlo says:

      I understand the distinction, I disagree that this isn’t flipping.

Comments are closed.