Friday, June 08, 2018

"Bad morals are still morals"?

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently added a strange new precedent to the law books. A professed Christian man who makes and sells wedding cakes with people's messages on them has been backed in the 'right' to discriminate on the basis that his writing a message on a wedding cake for a gay couple goes against his 'principles', as if writing on a cake were a legal personal document of some kind! Anyone else could come into his open to the public bakery and buy a wedding cake with a message of their liking iced upon it, but like the black kids who used to have to go to the back window of a deep south diner, to 'those' people he won't sell what he has advertised and will sell to everyone else. It's his freedom. A strange freedom, a silly freedom, but should it be made a legal precedent of any kind?

Well, we certainly don't want to force anybody to sell a cake that would violate their deeply held personal and spiritual principles! No, much better some people innocently go into a public business expecting to buy a cake like anyone else only to be judged immoral in some way and singled out for exclusion... in the land of the free. But I have a principle of my own that so far has stood the test of time and fluctuating subjective moral judgement... it is people before things. People, or a flag? Hint: choose the people. But, you say a cake maker is a person. Indeed, he may otherwise be a very nice and reasonable, well meaning, good book reading Christian. Except the gay would-be customers are just wanting a cake, they are 'doing' nothing wrong, they are just being people like anyone else buying a cake, a cake that says something like "Congratulations on your marriage Bill + Steve" (and would Belinda + Stephanie be as morally wrong to this baker?). The would-be cake seller, though offering alternative cakes, is actually 'doing' something, well, I've never heard of this before... of cakes and writing on them being the personal reflective statement of the baker/seller. Huh? In the U.S. of A., the big deal making dynamo of modern history? Since when? That ones not in the Bible, the Qur-an, the Upanishads, or any of the Buddhist meditations I breathed carefully through as a teenager.

Perhaps we should think of it as the U.S. of Amnesia as it wasn't that long ago since Mr. Sammy Davis Jr. was told the freight elevator in a hotel was just as good. So those gay people getting married are 'free' to go to another baker. Don't question why somebody who will only decorate cakes for some people but not others goes into the retail bakery business in the first place, we wouldn't want him to have to question himself, we'll get the top court to protect him in his one man extreme but mostly silly worldview about other people's marriages.

Then there's always the rubes who will say, hey, why do 'those' gay people have to marry and force their marriage on others? There are gay people who don't marry. They are probably trying to trick some poor devout Christian fellow into endorsing their union against 'his' will. Uh, yeah, because it is all about him, not cake, not people being able to go into a shop open to the public like anyone else and get the same thing offered for sale as anyone else. Some Christians seem to think their religion invented and gets to define marriages, but big news flash from the greater perspective here... there were people pairing off in monogamous couples of all kinds long before the earliest dated writing that went on to be collected into the Christian Bible. Yes, shocking I know, but Adam and Eve, or really a couple pretty similar to them way back when, did not even have books of any kind. They lived thousands and thousands of years before wedding cakes were invented, and they were married to each other. Bill + Steve, and Belinda + Stephanie are married, like an Atheist couple, or an Inuit couple, or a handicapped couple, or a multi-racial couple, or any two consenting people over the age of consent are... married. And there is nothing wrong with that. You are not married to an Inuit but it can actually be perfectly okay that someone is you know! Nobody is married to cows, or furniture, surely we really don't need to question to the point of silly extremes do we? Silly extremes like cakes normally for sale suddenly being personal statements of deep spiritualism. Polygamy may one day be legalized who knows, but at present given a history of abuse to vulnerable women and unable to consent children (and driving out excess males for someone else to take responsibility for), we haven't gone there yet and it's not legally accepted. If they wanted a cake with eight names on it however, how many people would tell them their money's no good?

You don't see 'no shirt, no shoes, no service' signs often these days, but even so... 1. The sign would appear at an entrance, in advance of any interaction. 2. Nobody is infringed by putting clothing on, and if there were some real reason they would be they could ask for accommodation. 3. It isn't a restriction based on a grouping of race or gender/expression/marital status. 4. Other patrons may have their experience effected by someone not wearing the basics of clothing of the community and should be considered.

I was so very proud of my country, Canada, when along with Holland we simply recognized different people's marriages as what they are; marriages. That and the U.S. moon landing are things I mark as positive progress for we human beings. I don't see anything extreme or wrong in gay people wanting to marry. They are doing nothing against anybody else. So why does a top court say they 'did' something to a baker who in not doing something was actually 'doing' something different than he was doing for every other customer? Already a U.S. hardware shop is hanging a sign about not selling to gay people. And does it really come into the equation if they are unpleasant in some way? Looking for trouble or 'uppity'? Devout Hindus are 'allowed' as it were to open a McDonalds type hamburger place in the west, it's a 'free' country, but the reality is that they would tell everyone they can't serve a beef hamburger and probably go out of business. It doesn't matter if they are 'uppity' or not, or of a high or low caste, we couldn't possibly 'force' them 'not' to open one. We can't 'force' bakeries not to open for business in a community to the public to sell cakes equally, but if they don't the existing laws against discrimination of people based on a grouping should apply, and if damages can be shown some form of restitution, not doubt very small as we're talking about a wedding cake, ought to potentially be on the table as with any other discrimination case. Yet supposedly what we can't do is simply and realistically say that maybe if cakes are such a strangely spiritually fraught business for them that, like a person allergic to bee stings, they should go into some less complicated endeavor. No, we'll all have to risk being subjected to sudden judgement and exclusion based on some group we are inherently a part of, lucky you if you don't happen to be part of many disapproved of groupings.

My gosh, to not turn us all into pretzels of twisted logic, because guess what, twisted logic is 'still logic'... to say, put things like cakes second to actual living breathing people in front of us... now that could lead to a Jewish person having to make a cake with swastikas festooned all over it... yes, all over it, this could really happen! Not. Well, not if you are a rational adult person of at least a little real world experience, and some of us have experienced actual discrimination too painfully often. Some of us have family histories with people murdered by populist strong men and Orwellian double-talk people's states who promise much and then seem to never leave quietly after wreaking havoc on many, but not all, in the name of a flag or high 'principle'. You thought this was just a guy doesn't want to sell a cake, big deal, so why should he? He doesn't 'have to', that would be far too mundane or rational a thing to do, but being open to equal trade is a foundation of western democracy, and also the freedom to seek damages when through no fault of your own you have been treated unequally. Take a bite on that!

Bad morals being 'still morals' is a science fiction genre writer's conceit. One of those things that can be an entertaining basis behind a story but brought into a three dimensional reality akin to a driver-less car being tested that turns out to be 'unsafe at any speed'. Obviously people are entitled to say something is personally not for them of course, or in the case of someone allergic to bee stings have that basic gravitational reality 'forced' upon them if they try to take up bee keeping. So who is making a cake maker marry another man? As for the big ineffable spirit man in the sky who nobody has ever been able to prove the existence of... well if there is a creator, and I do keep an open mind, 'he' seems to really like variety. Haven't you noticed? There are some who spend entire lifetimes studying that variety and learning, a wise person knows something about how much they still don't know, and possibly even what they can't know. I can't know what it's like to be a man in love with another man, not first-hand, so why wouldn't you take the word of those who say they do know from personal experience? Do we tell someone who hears a sound we can't that this sound doesn't exist simply because we can't hear it? Perhaps God is that sound for other people and is whispering or imparting instructions to judge and discriminate through collections of translated old writings from various times and places, but that seems a more negative possibility than two people marrying, people who we at least know from other writings existed long ago in a place called Sparta when there was no Christianity.