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Last week, we took note of a BuzzFeed report that the same baker who recently won a Supreme Court case in which he argued that he was not legally required to sell a custom wedding cake to a gay couple - his rationale was that it conflicted with his religious beliefs, which include disapproving of same-sex marriage - is back in court, arguing that he is within his rights not to make a birthday cake for a transgender woman, and once again, he is citing religious freedom as his rationale.

I commented, in part:

I believe in religious freedom, but I do not believe that religious beliefs should be used to justify discrimination and intolerance. (And yes, I recognize that I now will be accused by some of being intolerant of religious freedom. I guess it is inevitable, especially these days, that choices have to be made, or priorities set, between civil rights and religious freedom.)

Where does the line get drawn? What if Phillips’ religious beliefs also opposed mixed-race weddings? Should he be allowed to deny them service? What if he were anti-Jewish? Or anti-Muslim? Can he deny them cakes or cookies of muffins as well?

Here’s the deal. If you are a baker, bake and sell cakes. If you don’t approve of gay marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same gender. If you don’t approve of transgender people, then don’t go through gender reassignment.


MNB reader Mark Phillips wrote:

I appreciate your vantage point on this - and other - controversial issues.

However, regarding Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cake Shop, I couldn’t disagree with your vantage point MORE.

In my business, I sell both stock and custom advertising displays to retail chain stores. You want to buy some of our stock advertising displays? Sure, no problem. You want me to print pornographic images on something custom for your Sex Shop? Sorry, I draw the line. I guess that I would be labeled “intolerant”.

The comparison is no different than Jack’s cakes. You want to go into his shop and buy an off the shelf cake? Great, go at it. But REQUIRING him to produce a custom product that CELEBRATES / ENDORSES / PROCLAIMS practices in which he disapproves, well that is simply (imo) harassment!

I’m no lawyer, but believe the 1st amendment is abundantly clear that you can’t make me do something that suppresses a) my religious freedom and b) my freedom of speech. From my limited research, Jack Phillips simply wanted to bake cakes and his Christian beliefs dictated the TYPES of cakes he would bake! To which I say, have someone else produce your pornographic advertising displays….


For the record, I don’t think there was anything pornographic about the cake. It think the request was for a cake that had a blue exterior and a pink interior. And I think the comparison, while convenient if you agree with the baker, sort of breaks down because there is no equivalency here.

From MNB reader Drew Steverson:

I think you said it best: “Here we go again.”
 
The perspective that I shared with you regarding the first cake incident applies here as well.
 
Masterpiece Cakeshop is not refusing to serve customers because of who they are. Instead, the bakery is refusing to bake cakes that celebrate things which violates their religious beliefs. In both situations the baker claims to have offered to make any other product for the customer and only declined to make creations that violate his beliefs (and I have not seen any refutation from the complainants).
 
In this situation the complainant specifically stated that the cake was to celebrate their birthday and gender transition. That means that the cake no longer simply is a birthday cake, it now has become a birthday and gender transition cake. The baker doesn’t make gender transition cakes.


MNB reader Mike Nichols wrote:

The key point to this case is that the baker, in refusing service, is demonstrating intolerance of homosexuals and transgender people. Those of us who think he should not be permitted to refuse service to homosexual and transgender people are essentially drawing a line in the sand that we will not tolerate intolerance. All of this is perfectly consistent.

The philosopher, Karl Popper, explained it as the Paradox of Tolerance (which is not really a paradox at all, but an observation about what is required to maintain a tolerant society): “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend our tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
 
There is a very simple reason why refusing service to homosexuals or transgender people or people of color is very different from refusing service to “rude, crude and violent customers.” Violence and crudeness smack of the very intolerance that we, as a tolerant society, should not feel comfortable tolerating. You cannot say the same about being homosexual or transgender. I think that may be what is driving your intuition when you correctly observe that one is just “bad behavior” while the other is “simply who these people are.”


The Paradox of Tolerance. I like it, though I had no idea that I was a nascent Popperian.

I thought that Bill Maher was pretty funny on Friday when he was talking about this story and said that he thinks it illustrates a pretty powerful business opportunity. “I’m going to move to Grand Junction, Colorado,” he said, “and open a shop called Bang Whoever You Want Cakes.”



On another subject, from an MNB reader:

About the spreading of the pot industry to beverages: The CBD drink you had as you likely know has no THC in it. CBD has many good benefits without any high.

Seems to me while I believe you are correct on the spreading of legalization on pot, the discussions on both sides are coming as it gets legalized, which is a mistake.

Is it being done “highly” for tax reasons?

How much of this tax money is going to drug education beginning in grade school?

What in heck happen to DARE programs and the just say no campaign?

Those that say it will be grown in a controlled environment note:

What is the THC limit that is acceptable? Right now you can but 99%. That clearly is not a pot high.

By comparison, what was around when we were in high school was 3-5%. Yes, I inhaled then.

Has anyone read the results to date of what has happened in Colorado on total usage increase, usage increase in children, usage increase in surrounding areas, usage increase of next level drugs?

That does not even consider the candy.

Seems like those discussions need to happening before votes.

We got mostly filtered cigarette smoking down to a small percentage of the population, now we have non filtered weed?!

How is that helping our health?

Oh, if you do not want to smoke, you can get the THC in the vape form. That is happening all over in public as it does not smell.

I strongly suggest the book by William Bennett which is called “Going to Pot.” He was the US drug czar long ago.

We are in the middle of a “heroin” crisis, and we are running without education on this topic.

I may not make many friends here, but would love to see what those educated on the subject would have to say, not just the weed smokers.

Scary situation!




Finally, from MNB reader Bryan Silbermann:

Thanks for sharing the link to David Remnick’s article on the Queen of Soul. For another inspiring look at what her music meant to so many, check out this



profound analysis by New York Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris.

I’ve been listening repeatedly to many of her finest performances for the past 24 hours and recall what an impact she had on a young band I drummed with in my native South Africa back in the late 1960s/early 70s. Four white boys, playing to white audiences in then-segregated South Africa, kept getting repeat requests for Respect and Chain of Fools. Her talent and her soul transcended race and appealed to everyone. Thank the Lord for her talent … and for YouTube which gives us access to the chills and inspiration whenever we need them.

KC's View: