Florist fined $1000 in Washington in same-sex refusal case


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A Washington judge has issued a $1000 fine to the florist who refused to sell flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom’s order on Friday also bars Stutzman and her Richland shop, Arlene’s Flowers, from offering goods or services to straight couples that aren’t also made available to same-sex couples, the statement said. Stutzman was also required to pay $1 in court fees.

This is is after Stutzman had already rejected a settlement offer of $2,001. Expect her to fight the smaller fine, along with the judge’s order as well.

Note also that the judge could have hit her with far greater sanctions, but did not. I suspect the political heat for this fascist prosecution is being felt by both the judge and the prosecutor who brought the case.

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48 comments

  • wodun

    Musicians regularly prevent people they have philosophical disagreements with from playing their music at public events. It seems this is similar.

  • Cotour

    A musicians material is copyrighted and they own the rights to it and who can perform it in a commercial setting. This case has to do with an individual customers right to freely purchase what they please in an open to the public venue or context in America and an individual who owns that venue refusing them service because that particular customer is for some reason personally offensive to her religious views or beliefs.

    In this case the fact that the individuals were the woman’s customer for some time but when they asked her to provide her flower arrangements for their gay wedding she refused and told them the reason why.

  • Edward

    The Washington ruling was a summary judgement decided by a single person without benefit of hearing the florist’s side (violating the intent, if not the letter, of the Fifth Amendment). The Indiana law was debated by two houses of the state’s elected legislature and its fairness checked over and balanced by an elected executive.

    The Washington ruling violates a First Amendment-protected right and supports no US Constitution-protected right. The Indiana law upholds a First Amendment-protected right and violates no US Constitution-protected right.

    Even if Washington state or the county or town in which the florist operates has a statute for non-discrimination against gay couples, the First Amendment right to freely practice religion is superior to any statute (even one passed by Congress and signed by the President) or any precedent-setting court ruling.

    The Indiana statute is also superseded by the First Amendment. Fortunately, the statute seems to uphold the First Amendment rather than contradict it.

  • Cotour

    It will be interesting to see how the Indiana law will be applied.

  • Edward

    Cotour,

    You seem to be confusing an “open to the public venue” as a place that must provide goods or services to any and all comers, as though their right to be served is absolute. Yet you have provided examples in past arguments of where you refused to provide your own businesses goods or services to people who wished them.

    The impression that you leave us with is that you believe that all other shopkeepers (other than yourself) must serve everyone in the public as they request to be served (and if they *must* be served, then the request is a disguised demand). By presenting cases in which you have denied service to your potential customers, you have left yourself as the only authority of who must be served and who may be denied service.

    You turn away someone who is inebriated — who is not violating anyone’s constitutionally-protected rights, but you insist that the florist must violate her right to freely practice her religion because someone wants her to participate in a practice that violates her religious beliefs. Had you served the inebriated customer, you would not have violated any of your rights, but by requiring participation in the wedding, the florist would have had hers violated.

    Notice that the florist does not find the customer offensive (your position is based upon a faulty understanding of the case), she finds that for her to participate in the wedding is a violation of her religion.

    It is her *PARTICIPATION* that is the problem. She has demonstrated that she would gladly sell the flowers to the customer — but her participation in the wedding goes too far for her religious belief.

    Because you do not see the difference between the florist’s participation and the practice of the people to be a distinction, you believe that your misguided opinion is reasonable; it is not. The situation is different than you perceive it.

    I believe that once you understand that it is the violation of her religious practice that is at stake, not the convenience of the customer (not having to find a florist who would not violate his own religion to participate in a gay wedding), you will see that your position should be changed to the position of the rest of us. You have insisted that rights are not absolute, but you have refused to accept that the First Amendment-protected rights are more important to protect than other rights (which you have favored as though they *are* absolute).

    The couple, in this case, retained the freedom to find another florist, but the ruling says that it would be right to require a violation of the florist’s rights. If other customers do not like the way in which the florist treated the couple, then they, too, are free to shop elsewhere. This is how free markets work.

    Free markets find the most desired services when customers are attracted to them and away from the less desired services, and if the shopkeeper does not provide the better service, then the free market should be allowed to choose that she lose business or go out of business.

    This is how freedom works. To violate these freedoms, to have the government make the choices, is to be tyrannical.

    We believe that freedom is of primary importance, that not everyone can be made happy, and that a customer should not be able require a business owner to violate his or her First Amendment rights.

    The actions of the judge in this case of the florist have been shown to be tyrannical.

    I ask you to choose freedom over the tyranny that has been demonstrated in this case.

  • Cotour

    In reality an actual flesh and blood person must make reasonable decisions related to such situations and be responsible for their actions. In some more narrow cases where a license is issued by the state specifically in order to attempt to ensure order and safety someone of responsibility must be the personification of the state and be the arbiter of when someone is acting within reason. A proprietor in general has a responsibility over and above their own personal beliefs or taboo’s to ensure such things.

    Being reasonable and acting within accepted reasonable norms related to the particular venue or context of a business is reasonable and is a sign of civilization. Being reasonable is an expectation that is reasonable, expected both by a proprietor and a customer within the venue or context that the business operates within. The operative concept here is……..being reasonable.

  • “The operative concept here is……..being reasonable.”

    Ah, but my point from the beginning on this and other similar cases is that the advocates of same-sex marriage are not being reasonable. They are being fascists, wielding the power of the state to crush anyone that dares disagree with them.

    In every case, the gay couple had plenty of other options, some of which were even suggested to them by the vendor who would not take their business. A reasonable action, in a free society, would be to respect that vendor’s choice and move on. Instead, the response was to try to destroy the vendor.

  • Cotour

    Being reasonable is fairly easy to recognize so any business operator who is in fact being reasonable in their interactions with the public and they are still put upon by anyone unreasonable is by definition unreasonable, so I would have to agree with you.

    However, I ask you to consider that the in your face and flat out rejection of certain types pf people based on the subjective opinion of a person operating a business that welcomes some of the public but not others based on their religious or personal distaste for some elements of the public is unreasonable in some cases and therefore their “rights” to do so are not absolute and flexibility many times is the better way to go instead of flat out rejection, which can be interpreted as disrespect and unreasonable, which drives such conflicts. (how’s that for a run on sentence)

    Lets remove this issue from the confines of our craniums where we can be idealists and outraged at the offence to our absolute rights to our religion and all of its particular qwirks and dogma.

    The founders did not construct their great social experiment to exclude, they designed it to include and there in lies the power of the Constitution. The people who may be using this issue as a wedge or weapon are equally unreasonable as the person that stands in front of a genuine prospective customer and tells them ” I will not serve you because you are offensive to my religion and therefore you must leave my presence and my property”.

    Strip every American of their restrictive beliefs and what is left? Individual Americans who all have their rights to participate as best as they can in the American experiment within reason.

    And yes, Edward will write 2000 or more words on how we all have our own individual rights to do just that, be unreasonable as per the Constitution. Wrong, with a reasonable explanation. The Constitution recognizes an individuals personal rights to their own opinions and beliefs within and without the confines of their own person and property but reason would require that when the context of our person changes in the form of a business being operated in the public square it might be more reasonable to be reasonable.

    I suspect that there are those among you who are reading this and are reasonable and tend to agree with me more than disagree. And this does not in any way indicate that any one of the public can go into a business and demand anything other than what is determined by the owner to offer or any other ridiculous cranium bound idea. And any thing that comes to be and seems unreasonable usually is when all of the facts are known and in those instances then let the courts deal with them, hopefully in a reasonable and fair manner.

    What say you Robert Zimmerman? Is being reasonable a component of your position?

  • I’m sorry, but we continue to disagree. You insist that this florist shouldn’t have the right to her beliefs, that she must sacrifice them to be “reasonable.” Unlike the gay couple, however, she attempted to maintain her beliefs without hurting them. I think that’s quite reasonable enough. You instead think that the only way she can be reasonable is to abandon those beliefs to make the gay couple completely happy.

    For freedom to function properly we are required to tolerate beliefs and opinions we disagree with. The gay couple seems unable to do this. As I said, they are fascists at heart. The Christian here is under no obligation in a free society to participate in their marriage. To force it upon her is the opposite of what freedom stands for.

    Once again, there were always reasonable solutions in this situation. The gay couple was offered multiple other businesses to go to. If they were tolerant and reasonable that’s what they would have done. If they were fascists, they ignore these options and use the power of government to smash in the face of anyone who disagrees with them. Guess which they are.

  • Cotour

    “You insist that this florist shouldn’t have the right to her beliefs, that she must sacrifice them to be “reasonable.”

    I have not suggested that she not personally adhere to her personal religious beliefs for one second. I only suggest that she is being unreasonable in the context of her operating her open to the public business and forcing any potential customers to meet her personal religious requirement test for service based in her subjective religious beliefs. I find that an ignorant and narrow view of doing business in the context that she is doing business.

    She has chosen to become a public figure / entity of sorts and by doing so might consider leaving her religion intact within her person and / or at home where her personal religious dogma does not infringe on another individuals reasonable expectation to be able to purchase what they please in a public venue. In modern America that is reasonable.

    Please also comment on the intent of the founders social experiment, you skipped over that. Do you really believe that their social design scheme was intended to exclude and not include based on these rights that they so carefully endeavored to define? Really?

    The new Indiana law will be an interesting test of these concepts, I have already heard that the Governor is looking for a second clarifying law in addition to the one just past, he is taking some real heat on this issue.

    This law and others like it are hot button issues that the republicans are addressing / pandering to and will be used to drag them down and also help to define them as Neanderthal and counter productive in the minds of the public.

    The solution to all of this? People being reasonable and understanding that their rights can and do become modified as they choose to interact in the world that they inhabit based on the context that they freely choose to adopt.

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote: “In reality an actual flesh and blood person must make reasonable decisions related to such situations and be responsible for their actions.”

    Yet no one holds the customer responsible for the action of insisting that a shopkeeper violate his First Amendment-protected rights. Indeed, the very governments that We the People have charged, in writing, with protecting those rights now insist upon their violation. Who holds these governments responsible for their actions? (When a state passes a law affirming those rights, you, Cotour, wonder how the law will be applied. We can only hope that it is applied to protect those rights.)

    If forcing a proprietor/vendor/businessman/shopkeeper to change or violate his religious beliefs is considered reasonable, then surly it should also be reasonable for a gay person to be forced to change or violate his sexual preferences.

    There are states where forcing a change of sexual orientation was or is standard operating procedure, and some or all states have forbidden the practice. But if it is OK, now, to violate religious beliefs, why not go back to violating sexual preference?*

    Once again, the onus is placed upon the religious person for having his beliefs, but never upon the other person for his behavior.

    Many people came to this land in order to escape tyrannies that persecuted them for their religious beliefs and to be free to practice their religions as they believed them to be, yet here we are, allowing a new tyranny to form that persecutes people for their religious beliefs. That is not progressivism, it is regressivism.

    Liberty may not be perfect, but all tyrannies are far worse. The tyranny that is forming around us has already eliminated many of the options and freedoms we enjoyed only a decade ago.

    I ask you, Cotour, to reject tyranny and join us in advocating for freedom.

    * Of course the answer is the same as for violating religious beliefs: it would be tyrannical, violating the freedom of the individual, forcing conformity where it is not desired. It does not celebrate diversity; but neither does violating someone’s religion.

  • Cotour

    PS: My position does not fully address the involvement of the government, which is more your position, my perspective is based more with the person that creates the “disturbance in the force”, the proprietor. IMO she fails to properly see her roll in the kind of commerce that she is engaged in. And that narrow mindedness to me is like I have said before, ignorant and a bit too righteous.

    I think that the Washington State governments perspective is to address the claims brought by the “injured” party but are collectively loath to really come down hard on such cases as our society is in this process and state of social evolution. Remember, to be a Democracy is by its nature to be a more liberal structure. Like it or not.

    Are there power obsessed, fascist zealots in government that salivate for an opportunity to demonstrate their power?

    (If we are to judge by the current Federal government actions I think the answer is most definetely, they are Fascists)

    Certainly, that is the nature of power and the nature of zealots. But those who abuse their power in time will be or should be rebuffed and a proper balance arrived at that includes mutual respect and reason.

    Time will sort these things out but in between being reasonable and being respectful gets everyone moving in the same general positive forward movement into the future, gets the bills paid and keeps everyone out of unnecessary court appearances.

  • Tom Billings

    While not directly applicable to this one case, a recent article describing a US Supreme Court ruling about dentists may be evidence that the tide against preserving individual freedoms may be reaching its “peak legal interference” that will be accepted. Even though the active State branch in the Washington State case was Judicial, instead of Executive, the monolith has cracks, and they grow wider by the month.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-20150329-column.html#page=1

  • Edward

    It is not reasonable to suggest that anyone forsake their religion merely because they run a business, open to the public or not. Religion is part of who a person is. Just because you insist that religious beliefs must change with a person’s geographical location does not make it so. Religious beliefs are continuous throughout space, time, and profession. That is like suggesting that a gay person stop being gay at work or school, if they walk into someone’s shop, or if they run an open to the public business. Do you think that is reasonable? Neither do I.

    You would not think it reasonable for the government to force the gay couple to stop being gay, would you? Neither would I. It is not reasonable for the customer to (mis)use the power of the government in order to force the proprietor to violate who she is.

    It *is* reasonable for the customer to do as any other customer would and find a florist who is able to serve them as they wish.

    It is unreasonable to expect all open to the public shops to run only in the manner that you would run yours, at least not in America. Such a system would not only be fascist, it would limit the diversity of goods and services that customers can find. It would eliminate the ability of entrepreneurs to innovate and find better methods of doing business, methods that customers prefer over the worse methods.

    > The founders did not construct their great social experiment to exclude

    No, they didn’t. That is why they created the Bill of Rights. They wanted to ensure that no one was excluded due to their beliefs or willingness to express them, as had happened to millions of people in other tyrannical countries. You, on the other hand, unreasonably want to exclude the florist from practicing her beliefs whenever and wherever she is.

    Come join us in advocating for freedom.

    > And yes, Edward will write 2000 or more words …

    You ask us to respond to your own wordy comments, then complain when we do? Do you really think that is reasonable?

  • Cotour

    I really try to keep it to a maximum of 5 sentences or 2 or 3 paragraphs and always seem to fail. Guilty.

    And I am not and have not said that anyone should forsake their personal religious views or beliefs for one second during this exchange. I only ask that they not penalize any random individual who happens into their shop that they have opened to serve the general public with a religious acceptability test.

    I find that and the fact that you do not have one bit of a problem with that and in addition are unable to see any wiggle room a bit too rigid and narrow. Is that how you conduct yourself in your life?

    How do you reconcile all of the things that I have commented on here that you basically agree with and this subject in particular? It seems incongruous to me.

  • wodun

    “This case has to do with an individual customers right to freely purchase”

    It also has to do with the commissioning of a work of art. How can you force someone to create art for something they philosophically disagree with? Viewing marriage as between a man and woman doesn’t mean that belief is motivated by a hatred of gay people. It just means you have differing beliefs on what marriage is, and this shouldn’t be a big deal because people have many different views on marriage.

    This is a bit like forcing people who practice heterogamy to create art for polygamous marriages.

  • wodun

    “However, I ask you to consider that the in your face and flat out rejection of certain types pf people”

    They aren’t rejecting people though, they are rejecting an idea.

    It is possible to believe in different things and not be motivated by hatred.

  • wodun

    “I only ask that they not penalize any random individual who happens into their shop ”

    But it isn’t random. They are not refusing to let gay people buy flowers. They just don’t want to create displays for gay weddings, the specific non-random reason that started this controversy.

  • Cotour

    My general argument here, everything being equal, a person opens a store open to the general public, fills it with and offers what they determine to be salable carry out items, food, flowers, balloons, hardware, etc. Random or regular customers come into the store, select what they would like, pay for it and go on their merry way. No muss, no fuss, no religious test of acceptability to pass.

    In the flower store example the woman has both regular and random customers who she is happy to sell her flowers. The general public comes into her store, chooses the flowers or arrangements, that she personally has produced, and that they would like. She personally puts them together in either an arrangement or a bouquet, wraps them up, the customer pays for them and go on their merry way. As I understand it that is the general way that the flower business in general is conducted.

    The woman I assume regularly serves gay people, straight people, people of different colors, people of different religions without questioning them or applying any religious test in order to make the purchase.

    Then in her open to the public business where she freely sells her products, and this is where this kind of particular business model varies from the originally described simple business model above, because she lays her hands and talents upon the items and “creates” her final product, a customer who she has served many times before who happens to be gay has a religious test of approval applied to them / him.

    If the woman as a regular part of her business regularly does these specialized wedding arrangements and sells them to her customers as an off the shelf type prearranged item, I would have to assume that she would have no problem with what was done with them (although she has personally produced them). But in this instance these special items are contracted for before hand and she produces them specifically for this particular event that she at the point of inquiry by her potential customer applies her religious test and that constitutes for her “participation” in something that her religion rejects as per a foundation its tenets.

    The woman who at the point of inquiry has the option of responding strategically to the inquiry by respectfully saying that she is not interested, or is all booked up, or may be on vacation at that time and does not want to commit to the job plainly says “I’m sorry but I can not sell you what you want because you are gay and my religion forbids me from doing so”. At that point she openly chooses to apply a religious test to her potential customer in her what is normally an open to the general public venue, and they fail her religious test that she is now applying to them.

    I will have to assume here that the flower arrangements are done on the custom to order basis and are either picked up or delivered to the wedding venue and not on the off the shelf basis. The woman IMO who is involved in this type of gray area service business model and knows where her personal religious line is but does not properly prepare her business strategy when the situation she will not “participate” in is presented.

    My point from the beginning is that the flower woman because she is the final arbiter of who can and can not make a purchase in her normally open to the public business venue is more equal because of that narrow “power” and therefore must be aware and more “flexible” and not as set in her religious beliefs in the context of her doing business as she would like to think that she is.

    Does this mean that she has to surrender her religious beliefs? Certainly not, she is free to personally believe as she pleases but she has created this situation and appears to have created a double standard which is not “equal” related to the public that she serves everyday.

    Because she:

    1. Personally produces and or arranges her flowers as a regular part of her everyday business model.

    2. Personally sells her personally produced products everyday to her customers.

    3. Has chosen to create a religious acceptability test for some customers.

    4. Refuses to sell her personally produced items to one customer while freely selling them to those who do pass her religious test when she determines she has to apply it.

    She in this example fails IMO to meet a reasonable burden here to be reasonable. Her Constitutional rights to freely worship as she pleases have not been interrupted by anyone other than herself.

  • Edward

    > I am not and have not said that anyone should forsake their personal religious views or beliefs for one second during this exchange.

    In order for these shopkeepers to perform as you suggest requires that they forsake their religious views. They can’t not. You have to know that, otherwise you would not understand what it is to be religious. On the other hand, such a lack of understanding would explain why you insist that they violate their very being in order to satisfy your requirement for serving the general public.

    > I find that and the fact that you do not have one bit of a problem with that and in addition are unable to see any wiggle room a bit too rigid and narrow. Is that how you conduct yourself in your life?

    Hmm. Do I allow for wiggle room in my ethics? Like forcing the pious to violate their religious beliefs? No. My ethics are well established and there just isn’t enough wiggle room to haul off and randomly violate them in order to satisfy a random customer who randomly insists upon siccing the government on them if they do not wish to violate their souls. Just because the government requires it does not make it ethical. It may be legal to force an Amish family to move house, but it is not ethical.
    http://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/wisconsin-to-evict-amish-family-from-their-home/

    > How do you reconcile all of the things that I have commented on here that you basically agree with and this subject in particular? It seems incongruous to me.

    We keep agreeing that the government should not tyrannically deprive us of our constitutionally protected rights, except in this case, in which you believe that religious rights are inferior to good business practices. The incongruity is on your side. How do you keep advocating for freedom except when someone other than you wants to run a business. How do you keep insisting that other shopkeepers violate their constitutionally protected rights because the customer must be served even at the cost of those rights, but you allow yourself to refuse to serve your customers based upon your own personal whims?

    How do you reconcile that incongruity?

    > My general argument here, everything being equal

    Not everything is equal in this case. This negates your entire argument. The rights of the customer are not absolute, yet you continually argue as though you believe that they are. This is yet another incongruity on your part.

    The inequality expands when the customer is able to (mis)use the government in order to coerce the shopkeeper into entering unwillingly into a contract. Under most circumstances, a coerced contract is null and void, but under these circumstances, the government abuses its power, ignores its directive to protect the shopkeeper’s rights, and forces the shopkeeper into a contract that violates her very being.

    Do you think that the government should likewise be used to coerce the customer into violating his sexual preference? Neither do I, because that is who he is. Yet you are willing to allow the government to require the shopkeeper to violate who she is.

    How do you reconcile that incongruity?

    > At that point she openly chooses to apply a religious test to her potential customer in her what is normally an open to the general public venue, and they fail her religious test that she is now applying to them.

    Since religion is protected by the US Constitution, she most definitely is allowed to apply her religious beliefs to the performance of her duties, open to the general public venue or not. It is not like a gay person, who can turn off who he is, like a switch, in order to conform to any situation that arises on his job.

    Oops. That’s right; a gay person cannot turn off who he is, just as the shopkeeper can’t turn off who she is. Yet that is exactly what you, Cotour, insist upon when you say that she must leave her religion at home, and it is what the government insists upon when they coerce her into a contract that violates her religion.

    You also insist that in order to be in business, she must be a dishonest lying liar. Instead of being honest about the services that she provides, you want her to hide them. Do you think that the gay couple likewise has to hide who they are? If not, why the incongruity? Do you really think that it is reasonable for a shopkeeper to lie to her customers, and if so, how are her customers supposed to trust her?

    You yourself have chosen to create a sobriety test (based upon your personal subjective observation, rather than an objective test), yet you deny the shopkeeper a similar courtesy in order to protect her soul. Another incongruity for you to reconcile.

    > My point from the beginning is that the flower woman because she is the final arbiter of who can and can not make a purchase in her normally open to the public business venue is more equal because of that narrow “power” and therefore must be aware and more “flexible” and not as set in her religious beliefs in the context of her doing business as she would like to think that she is.

    This is completely bogus, and that is why no one agrees with you. The customer is very powerful; he is free to choose any other vendor, but the shopkeeper does not have the power to coerce someone into becoming her customer; if she rejects one customer, she may not get another one in a timely manner, and she could go out of business. This makes the customer far, far more flexible than the shopkeeper. Indeed, to deny her the ability to protect her soul is to put all the power into the hands of the customer, as the customer’s requests become the equivalent of demands that must be satisfied at all costs, otherwise the government intervenes and violates, rather than protects, the shopkeeper’s rights.

    Your point is only valid if the shopkeeper were working in a socialist economy, where the customer has no choices. In reality, the shopkeeper and the customer are in a free market economy, where either one is free to choose whether to do business with the other. It is reasonable for her to choose not to serve a customer based upon criteria that are protected by the US Constitution. It is reasonable for the customer to choose not to hire the shopkeeper based upon any criterion he has. In the scenario that you advocate, the shopkeeper loses her reasonable power of choice, as she is coerced into the contract.

    If you take the shopkeeper’s choice away from her, then she no longer works in a free market system, but in a tyrannical fascist system.

    For you to think that the shopkeeper has so much power makes me wonder just how you operate your business. Or perhaps you operate a monopoly, such as the water company. This would explain why you think that government should be so regulative over the shopkeepers of this country, and why you don’t understand the advantages of letting the public, not the government, choose which companies thrive and which die.

    Choose the freedom of the free market economic system, not the tyranny of a fascist system.

  • Cotour

    Is this woman running a church or a business? Or is she running a church / business?

    Choose one.

  • Excuse me, but in a free society, she should have the option of doing both, at the same time, if she wishes.

    Freedom: I know it is a hard concept to grasp, but it means that we let people do what they want with their own lives, and try not to impose our beliefs on them. We give them liberty of conscience. You keep trying to impose your concept of religion on her.

  • Max

    Prostitution is legal in Nevada. Does the prostitute have the right to refuse service to the customer? Is it rape when it is a function of her business, and will the state force her on the side of the customer to comply? Say she has a religious requirement that every man wears a condom, can a man claim that it’s a violation of his rights and refuse? Can she claim spiritual and emotional harm from this business transaction? Will the government come in on the side of the man who claims that his wife and daughters do not experience any trauma so neither should she? Will she need extra ordinary proof like open sores and smelly breath to prove her case?

    I know this is apples and oranges in difference, but a new perspective in a different situation can sometimes be helpful in determining who has the right to refuse service. Emotional trauma can be as devastating as physical trauma. Asking someone to violate deeply held beliefs can be tragic.
    When I was young, I had a scout master who was fresh home from Vietnam. When out camping in tents, it would trigger something that would cause him to wake up screaming not knowing where he was. He explained that the government drafted him, and took something from him that he will never get back. I do not wish this on anyone. He did not believe in killing, but the government taught him otherwise and paid him to do it. They suspended his rights and he’ll never be the same.
    The difference between reasonable freedom and slavery is the power to choose. Fascists believe in a managed controlled society, and the more they squeeze the more we will slip through their fingers…

  • Cotour

    Is it possible to agree to this one point:

    An individual American human being that walks into an open to the public store should be able to purchase what everyone else that walks into that same store can purchase without having a subjective religious or any other test being administered to them, qualify them to make that purchase?

    No “creativity” involved no special preparation no “involvement”, just the purchase of an item without a test.

    Can we agree to that?

  • Cotour

    “Excuse me, but in a free society, she should have the option of doing both, at the same time, if she wishes.

    Freedom: I know it is a hard concept to grasp, but it means that we let people do what they want with their own lives, and try not to impose our beliefs on them. We give them liberty of conscience. You keep trying to impose your concept of religion on her.”

    This is where we see things a bit differently and I ascribe your position to a puritanical Libertarian type philosophy.

    ( I appreciate the Libertarian philosophy but reject it mostly because of the narrow and absolute and bigoted terms it logically fosters. Its a philosophy, not a functional form of governance. One of those things that is better referenced within the cranium but can create havoc when introduced to the real world, filled with real other “free” people, without common sense and reasonable buffers first put in place. )

    In your version of a “free” society anyone can do what ever they please in absolute terms. This IMO is like I said idealistic and using this rigid and narrow view anyone could say that anyone is offensive to their religion or just their personal freedom. This is where the concept of reasonability comes in and your stiff puritanical view fails, miserably.

    By your own words any persons concept of religion and logically by extension any crazy thing that they might associate with that interpretation of religion or freedom is valid. What happens to those rights of the people who they have chosen to publicly deal with? They at this point are being administered a test of acceptability and forced to adhere to another’s beliefs to make a purchase, what happens to their rights to freely participate in commerce?

    You will answer that they are free to go to another venue to purchase what they want. And my response again is, do you really think that that is the intent of the founders social experiment? really? You never addressed that question.

  • “You will answer that they are free to go to another venue to purchase what they want. And my response again is, do you really think that that is the intent of the founders social experiment? really? You never addressed that question.”

    But I have answered that question here. I’ll answer it again: My perspective is exactly the intent of our founders, and it is exactly how this country functioned until the mid-1960s. It wasn’t perfect, but it was our concept of freedom, and the result was we went from a backward frontier society to the most wealthy nation the world as ever seen. And it was freedom that did it.

  • No, we do not agree on this point. This is the heart of our disagreement. Except for you, everyone else in this discussion accepts the idea that if the store-owner has a religious or ethical objection to the request of the customer, that store-owner should have the freedom to reject the request.

    Obviously, if the store-owner rejects the customer for ethnic reasons, they are wrong. The discussion here however has never been about rejecting the customer, but the ideas the customer is trying to force on the store-owner.

  • Cotour

    Ok, we are making some progress, the issue of a “request” being against certain religious rules or norms can be too far for some.

    But you do agree that an individual not making any unreasonable request, religious or otherwise should be treated equally without any test of acceptability or judgement being administered? That’s reasonable to you?

  • Cotour

    You did not really answer my question, you answered your version of the question. This is my question:

    Do you really think that it was the intent of the founders and their social experiment to create exclusion and not inclusion under the label of “freedom” ?

    And as a matter of actual fact America came into its most powerful, most wealth creating and most freeing phase related to American individuals and a majority of the people on the planet beginning in the late 40’s and early 50’s not in the 150 previous years.

  • We will have to continue to disagree.

    Note that if the U.S. was not the most wealthy and powerful nation on Earth before the 1940s, how is that we entered WWI at the moment the Germans had completed their largest expansion, and within months the war was over?

  • Cotour

    Wealthy and powerful in the 1910’s for sure, especially compared to the rest of the world and much, much, much more wealthy and powerful after that. And along with the late 40’s and on came the freeing of half of the worlds peoples.

    Power, wealth and freedom is the metric.

    America’s ascendancy is a function of its basic structure right from the start, the Constitution in combination with capitalism are truly the two most powerful forces on the planet, thats why when they are abused and perverted, as the founders understood they would be, we are all in jeopardy. But at what point does America really out pace every other civilization that has ever existed?

    The 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and up until today.

  • PeterF

    perhaps a finger on the scale?
    but what does this have to do with unalienable rights?
    The first amendment (or the constitution) does not give us the right to freedom of religion, it merely enumerates it.
    Don’t fall into the trap of believing in our “constitutional” rights. An amendment can take them away…

  • Perhaps the wealth increase has been exponential? similar to what my retirement would be doing if I listened to the financial planners?

  • Cotour

    Robert cited that the previous 150 years before the 60’s were a Utopian freedom fest, wealth and power abundance in America and I disagreed with him and cited that in actuality America’s biggest power, freest people (and in the world) and most wealth has been created in the last 70 years. I will stick to my statement.

  • Edward

    > In your version of a “free” society anyone can do what ever they please in absolute terms.
    > …
    > Robert cited that the previous 150 years before the 60’s were a Utopian freedom fest,

    I wish that you would stop mischaracterizing our position. This is neither a reasonable, nor a good way to argue, as it puts you at the disadvantage of seeming to not have adequate responses to our arguments, and we have to continually restate our positions. It also makes your arguments less clear, because you are knocking down straw men of your own making. We respond, then mischaracterize our responses, again.

    > What happens to those rights of the people who they have chosen to publicly deal with?

    These are the rights that the US Constitution deems inferior to the right to practice one’s religion. The public retains the right to seek their desired goods or services elsewhere, but to violate the religious rights of the shopkeeper permanently damages her – not just for the ten minutes that it takes to go to the shop the customer should have gone to in the first place.

    Or are you speaking of the rights of the vengeful customer to sic the government on the shopkeeper in order to destroy her for having a religion that differs from the customers? Surely you don’t want to deny the shopkeeper her religion. That would be evil and tyrannical.

    > Do you really think that it was the intent of the founders and their social experiment to create exclusion and not inclusion under the label of “freedom” ?

    The answer is yes. Your version of freedom is exactly the same, but you would exclude the pious. The very purpose for founding this nation was to prevent that same bigoted exclusion that had happened for centuries to many religions. You keep telling us that rights are not absolute, and we keep telling you that we agree, a balance must be found, and that some rights are more important than others — otherwise our freedom of speech could be violated and then we would have difficulty retaining all our other rights from a tyrannical government, such as the one we live under now.

    > And as a matter of actual fact America came into its most powerful, most wealth creating and most freeing phase related to American individuals and a majority of the people on the planet beginning in the late 40’s and early 50’s not in the 150 previous years.
    > …
    > Power, wealth and freedom is the metric.

    And the tyranny that you support has resulted in a decline of the very freedom that you wish for.

    Indeed, this tyranny destroys the freedoms of the religious – a majority of Americans – in order to favor a small minority, estimated at 1% to 5% of the population. If you are in favor of freedom for the most, then you have to favor freedom for the most. It is not as though looking for another shop is soul-destroying, as would be the coercion of the pious to violate their religions. Who suffers more for the perceived loss of their rights? The pious. Indeed, the rights of the customer has not even been lost at all, they merely discovered that the shop next door does not provide the desired service and that they have to walk a little farther down the street — which they would have had to do if the shop had been closed for not providing that service in the first place, so a little more exercise is no loss at all for that customer, but the loss of the shop is a loss for the other customers and a tremendous loss for the proprietor.

    No one is saying that the customer may not have flowers at their wedding (much less that they can’t have a wedding), they are only saying that the customer cannot coerce the shopkeeper into participating — against her will — at the wedding.

    We are saying that the freedom to practice one’s religion cannot be violated, not even from someone whose other rights might be violated. In this case, the customer’s rights were not violated, although many people argue as though they were.

    You are arguing in favor of a loss of freedom for a majority in order for a tiny minority to not be inconvenienced.

    > the Constitution in combination with capitalism are truly the two most powerful forces on the planet, thats why when they are abused and perverted, as the founders understood they would be,

    It is the same Constitution and free market capitalism that are now being misused, abused, and perverted by government. You tell us that these concepts are good, but your arguments favor the perversions that are happening now, not the desires of the Founding Fathers. Take a hard, unbiased look at what you argue vs. what we argue. You will see that this is true. We argue for a return to the Founding Fathers’ wishes.

    They knew that things would not be perfect – they had to deal with forming a nation despite a great division due to slavery – but that things could be worked out for the better over time. The Founding Fathers set up the system in a way that would make freeing the slaves easier than if the Revolution had not occurred (the cotton gin messed up that plan). They even thought that there would have to be revolutions every couple of decades in order to recover from growing tyrannies, such as the tyranny that we now find ourselves in. Fortunately, we were able to avoid that fate and maintained our liberty for far longer than they had anticipated.

    Choose the type of liberty that created the freedom that you espoused, and reject the tyranny that is destroying it. That is what I have been asking you to do for these past several weeks. Now that you acknowledge that this is the freedom that you desire, please advocate it, along with the rest of us.

  • Edward

    Why do you, Cotour, believe that it is reasonable that she must to deny her faith in order to run a business? Why does practicing her faith mean that she is running a church? Do you think that each time that you do not violate your religion or morals (such as stealing) then you are running a church? So why do you insist that practicing one’s faith is to run a church?

    The point is that she must be allowed to run a business while being who she is, just as a gay proprietor must be allowed to run a business while being who he is.

    Every time the government (or anyone, for that matter) limits freedoms, they increase tyranny.

    Please choose freedom over tyranny.

  • Cotour

    “I wish that you would stop mischaracterizing our position.” (Our position? You are the web cite rep for everyone arguing this subject against me?)

    I am not mischaracterizing anyone’s position, I pretty much interpret and respond directly to whom ever I am communicating with. I feel that I take great care to clearly understand other positions and lay out my counter position and many times I provide follow up research information to support my position.

    I again suggest that you consider this, you pretty much agree with me on most other issues of a political nature, step back and at least consider a slightly modified concept besides your stiff and narrow interpretation. I think that I have been pretty reasonable, strong minded, but reasonable.

    This particular issue certainly has its nuances and complexities and needs to be hashed out and that is why I spend time on it. I have a lot of experience dealing with the public in the exact manner as described in these confrontations, I know what I am talking about when talking about dealing with the public and being able to interrupt their freedoms.

    In my business I had a need to properly understand the narrow way that I can interrupt someones freedom to do as they please and I have not come to my conclusions lightly and I take my responsibility, as minor as it may be, very seriously. I came to a point that if I was not able to properly understand it (the Constitution and the rights we are talking about) I understood that I would have to get out of it.

    This narrow “power” to interrupt someones rights to do as they please lead me to study and fundamentally understand the Constitution as best as I could and is where I derive my total respect for the document and the people that designed it, it is truly a miracle, kind of a religion to me. So please don’t for one minute think that I come to this subject as if it were a casual sport or I do it for giggles, I take it very seriously.

    So you might at least consider my position a bit more than you seem to be and possibly from a bit of a modified perspective.

  • “So you might at least consider my position a bit more than you seem to be and possibly from a bit of a modified perspective.”

    No. We disagree fundamentally. You believe that gay advocates have the right to force themselves on others, even if it violates their religious beliefs. I, and Edward, do not. Just as a woman cannot become “a little pregnant”, one cannot live with a little bit of tyranny. Sadly, America has been willing to live with a little bit of tyranny now for a half century, and the chickens are beginning to come home to roost. If people do not begin to stand up to the little bit of tyranny that is becoming bigger and bigger day by day, nothing but tyranny will be left us in the end.

    And agreeing with you on this subject will be accepting another little bit of tyranny. I can’t do that.

  • Cotour

    ” You believe that gay advocates have the right to force themselves on others, even if it violates their religious beliefs.”

    No, not at all, please recall, if you read my responses you would find that I have specifically offered and promoted the strategic business solutions to avert and short circuit such confrontations if someone is so religiously repelled by another’s life style choices or are put upon by any advocate. Edward accused me of being a very dishonest person for doing so.

    I believe that in the context of doing business with the public to be properly prepared for such situations but that does not mean that you set out to create such confrontations. If you again remember, I have plainly said that all good business begins with respect, the proprietor respecting the customer and visa versa.

    My distinction and point all throughout these exchanges here is between the individual person as an individual and their rights, and this is where we divert, and the act of an individual creating a business entity and creating a higher responsibility related to others rights where they they hold a higher position when dealing with the individuals in the public who also have their rights.

    Again, please carefully consider my words.

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote, “But you do agree that an individual not making any unreasonable request, religious or otherwise should be treated equally without any test of acceptability or judgement being administered? That’s reasonable to you?”

    We have disagreed on what is reasonable, so agreement with this statement is not possible. It reads like a trick question, where to agree gives you the power to declare what is reasonable then impose that interpretation upon the rest of us.

    This is part of the problem with mischaracterizing positions. It becomes difficult to trust that we are talking about the same thing, so agreement likewise becomes difficult, and we find ourselves stuck in a nasty infinite-loop of disagreement.

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote:

    > I am not mischaracterizing anyone’s position,

    The examples that cited were contrary to my position and to Robert’s position, which I believe to be the same position.

    1. In my version of a “free” society no one can do “what ever they please in absolute terms.” I have never suggested any such thing. You have misinterpreted my statements into what you want my position to be. I have been very clear on many occasions that rights are not absolute.

    I have the right to flail my arms around (some dances seem to consist of little else), but that right has limits; it ends where someone else’s nose begins, for example. I have used that example of limits on rights, and other examples, on several occasions. On the other hand, you continually advocate for the customer to get whatever he pleases, as though that *were* an absolute right, a right that overrules the shopkeeper’s right to freely practice his religion.

    2. Robert never suggested that the 150 years before the 60’s were a “Utopian freedom fest.”

    Indeed, utopia is a goal of the socialists, not of the United States. We understand and the Founding Fathers understood that, although we can improve, perfection and utopia are unattainable. There will always be conflicts in the real world. Socialists believe that utopia is attainable, if only everyone were properly controlled. Ever hear someone say something like, “if I ruled the world then … and everyone would get along”? He means that he would make sure that everyone were controlled enough to get along. That is not freedom, that is tyranny.

    > I think that I have been pretty reasonable, strong minded, but reasonable.

    You may think so, but I do not believe it is reasonable to require that a proprietor lie to his customers in order to keep the (supposedly reasonable) customer from siccing the government on him. Nor is it reasonable to require the proprietor to violate his religion. Those are the only positions that you have provided us with. You have not explained why it is unreasonable for a reasonable customer to go to a shop that *does* provide the desired service. Or why it is reasonable to sic the government on the shopkeeper in order for the government to violate its charter of protecting religious rights.

    All the evidence points to these cases being brought about by vindictive “customers” who sought out shops to sic the government upon in order to make examples of them, so that other shopkeepers fear disobeying the tyranny that these vindictive, anti-religious, freedom-hating customers enjoy.

    > if you read my responses you would find that I have specifically offered and promoted the strategic business solutions to avert and short circuit such confrontations if someone is so religiously repelled by another’s life style choices or are put upon by any advocate. Edward accused me of being a very dishonest person for doing so.

    The strategic business solutions you have offered and promoted explicitly involved lying and being deceitful to the customer.

    Indeed, some or many of those who have sided with the customers, in the cases we are discussing here, are showing themselves to be disingenuous*, intolerant**, hateful***, and even violent****. None of these are honest activities, as they all are intended to deny the shopkeepers of their religious beliefs. Rather than finding a common solution, or go to a shop that provides the service that they seek, there are those who wish to change this country from one of freedom to one of doing things only one way — their tyrannical way.

    Choose freedom, Coutour; reject tyranny.

    * There are now reporters going from shop to shop asking if they would cater a gay wedding. Once they find a victim who says they would not, the reporter ensures that the shop is quickly closed down. Oops, did I say reporter? These people are anti-religion advocates in reporter clothing.

    ** For example, Miley Cirus has advocated “Let’s Stir Some S**t Up!” This is a terrible, divisive attitude that has only recently found a home in this country.

    *** Shopkeepers who dare to protect their religious beliefs have been receiving hate mail and threats. Another attitude that divides, not unites.

    **** There is a case in which someone has advocated burning down a shop because the manager was honest and expressed religious beliefs. There once was a time when honesty was the best policy. Now there are evil people who turn that honesty against the honest. This is another terrible transformation of this country.

  • Cotour

    I will just respond to your last 4 items that just demonstrate that the business owners do not properly understand what they are doing in relation to their strategies and responsibilities in dealing with the public. Another rule of operation should be, when a reporter who is probably a political operative comes around asking questions do not have any comment !

    The things that these people are saying they are free to say but they are incendiary. What Mike Pence said the other day after signing an incomplete law into existence was weak and incendiary.

    I am tired of the people who have the responsibility and power in the Republican and Conservative party’s not having a proper and well thought out strategy. Stupidity is its own reward, and I am tired of stupidity.

  • Edward

    > Another rule of operation should be, when a reporter who is probably a political operative comes around asking questions do not have any comment!

    Oh, there’s a great protection for our rights: “Shut up!” Let the unreasonable, disrespectful enemy win, not only taking away your right to your religion, but your right to speak, too.
    http://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/essays-and-commentaries/what-ever-you-do-dont-shut-up

  • Cotour

    There is a very big difference between intelligently voicing your opinions freely and not being able to recognize when a news crew puts a microphone in your face in order to get you to say something that puts them on the media map.

    Keep thy mouth shut is one of the first rules of business. Lets be reasonable and make a distinction here. Do you answer every leading question that someone who can be reasonably seen as an adversary asks you? Please say no Edward.

  • Edward

    So now you are advocating that it is reasonable for the news media to take sides, ask leading questions as an adversary (even though they have gained your trust as an impartial reporter), then make sure that you are shut down, threatened, frightened, and terrorized?

    It is reasonable that we should forsake our First Amendment-protected rights in order to prevent trouble? That is like letting a school administration force us to not wear the American flag (or to remove it from the lobby) in order to keep the bullies from creating trouble (terrorizing the helpless and hapless school administrators).

    Learn a lesson from the “Hunger Games” series, and remember who the enemy is.

    Let’s *do* be reasonable and realize that, as the Klavan video linked above says, “Whatever you do, don’t shut up.” Otherwise, the enemy wins. Again.

  • Cotour

    I am not advocating that news organizations take sides, I am observing it. Where do you get that I am advocating it from? I truly wonder about you and your free wheeling interpretation of the words that I happen to write.

    I will give you an understandable example of when you should learn to keep thy mouth shut in the context what I mean. You meet a woman that you have not seen in a bit of time and you greet her and say ” oh, I see your pregnant, condratulations!”

    And she’s not pregnant.

    Sometimes its best to have no comment in the context of a business operation, your not obligated to answer any ones questions just because they ask them, especially for a member of the media. A person should learn or be instructed in such matters.

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote:
    > Where do you get that I am advocating it from?

    If you suggest that we capitulate to it rather than fight it, it certainly reads like advocacy.

    > I will give you an understandable example of when you should learn to keep thy mouth shut in the context what I mean. You meet a woman that you have not seen in a bit of time and you greet her and say ” oh, I see your pregnant, condratulations!”

    First, that is outside the context of talking to a news reporter or someone who would run to the courts to have you punished. Or someone who would rouse up a mob to force you into hiding.

    Second, not commenting on that assumption is considered politeness, but it is not a comment that could incite politically charged controversy.

    And third, I grew a beard so that people would stop saying that to me. (My due date is uncertain, as I should not even have *been* pregnant, lo these many years.)

    > Sometimes its best to have no comment in the context of a business operation, your not obligated to answer any ones questions just because they ask them, especially for a member of the media. A person should learn or be instructed in such matters.

    You insist that a person should learn to forsake his First Amendment-protected rights to the news media, yet you wonder why I conclude that you advocate that we should allow the news media to win its fight against us.

    This is part of our problem, in modern America. There once was a time when we could disagree without fear that a mob would burn down our shops or threaten us with personal harm, but that time is passing away. It is the act of caving in to the leftist’s tactics that makes such tactics desirable to them.

    Resistance is not yet futile. Resist as best you can.

    When We the People are reduced to fearing a shameful partisan press, a press that is supposed to be the watchful eye over the tyrannical nature of government, then we are farther gone that I thought we were.

    Every time I think that I am making headway in bringing you back to the side of freedom, Cotour, you reestablish your advocacy for allowing tyranny to win.

    Robert may be right. Bringing you back is proving more difficult than I had expected.

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