26 Aug Freedom in the Grip of a Fake Machine
The wheels of the law may grind infinitely slow yet infinitely fine, as the saying goes, but its machinery is never more dangerous to fundamental freedoms than when it operates on vaporous ideas that resemble a now-famous hoax. Here is how I see it.
Early this month the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld Soviet-style penalties (regular reporting to the state and forced sensitivity training of employees) against a Christian cake baker under that state’s public accommodations law. The baker had been asked to design and decorate a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The baker said he would be glad to sell any regular baked goods for the couple, but could not, consistent with his faith, create a cake that pronounces a marital message that directly collides with his religion. In the case, Mullins v. Masterpiece Cake Shop, the court ruled: (1) that the established free speech principal that says that citizens may not be coerced by the law to espouse a message that they disagree with, did not apply to the Christians at Masterpiece (even though the Supreme Court has held that Jehovah’s Witnesses may not be forced to endorse the Pledge of Allegiance) and that cake-designing is not sufficiently expressive to gain free speech protection (even though draft-card burning and flag desecration is protected); and (2) the religious freedoms of the baker really weren’t constitutionally burdened.
Where is the “hoax?” When courts impose penalties on Americans on the basis of trendy new anti-bias laws that, in the process, ignore governing first principals of the Constitution in the process, it is a little like the celebrated “perpetual motion machine” that was paraded out to the amazement of audiences in 1812. The concept of such a machine, under normal earth-bound conditions, is impossible of course, due to, among other things, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (entropy), as I was reminded recently by an issue of Popular Mechanics. It was later discovered, by the way, that the apparent “perpetual motion” activity of the machine of 1812 was actually being produced by an old man cranking it secretly from another room; literally being run by the “guy behind the curtain.”
But then, the bedazzled audience members of 1812 must be given a pass, given the fact that the principles of thermodynamics were not firmly established until 48 years later. But not so the judges and equal rights tribunals that are grinding up fundamental rights today in the new, judicial version of the perpetual motion machine. The governing principals of Free Speech and Religious Liberty in our Bill of Rights have been around since 1791, and were based on concepts that were around in the English Common Law and in Magna Carta hundreds of years before that.
The Masterpiece Cake Shop case does not stand alone. The New Mexico Supreme Court decided a similar case against a faith-based photographer, with one of the concurring justices adding, that giving up your religious rights is just the “price of citizenship,” a result that more than 80% of Americans would have decided the other way according to a study just out by former Democrat pollster Pat Cadell. Tribunals in Oregon and Washington State have ruled similarly to Colorado and New Mexico. The trendy new anti-bias brigade is still hard at work. I have read legal briefs by atheists now asking for similar legal protections that will further diminish free speech and religious rights so they can gain hyper protection.
Freedom in our Republic can no more run on a studious avoidance of governing constitutional principals than can a machine run by defying the governing principals of physics. Though, as between the two hoaxes, it seems to me that one is considerably more dangerous to our nation than the other.