“The goal is to rehabilitate,” said the bureaucrat about a Christian-owned bakery that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. The man who uttered that phrase was Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian, and he’s obviously come to bear the secular man’s burden. He insists he doesn’t want to put the bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, out of business. He just wants owner Aaron Klein and his wife Melissa to think doubleplusgood thoughts. But now the Kleins have in fact shuttered their doors in deference to their principles and a local community that has all the wrong ones.
Unfortunately, such stories are becoming more common. Just yesterday, in fact, the San Antonio City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting business owners with faith-based policies against homosexuality and “transgenderism” from engaging in commerce in the city. It’s the realization of a prediction homosexual activists made in the 1989 book After the Ball. To wit: Once they could “produce a major realignment solidly in favour of gay rights, the intransigents (like the racists of twenty years ago) will eventually be effectively silenced by both law and polite society.” And this is where I’d normally start writing about freedom of association, but today I want to address something else first: a novel way to fight back against the statist equality jackboots.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act’s declaration that privately owned businesses are “public accommodations” (poof! Voilá!) robbed Americans of the right to run their businesses in accordance with their consciences’ dictates. Private organizations and clubs, however, can discriminate as they see fit; this is why the Boy Scouts can exclude girls and homosexual scoutmasters and Augusta National Golf Club was free to have a men-only membership. So here’s the idea: Whatever your business, why not just declare it a private club? A restaurant could be a dining club, a building a living-community club, and a bakery a baking club. Poof! Voilá!
How it would work is simple. The facade of the business would look the same, but upon entering customers would politely be told that to patronize the “club” they’d have to become a member. The fee?
And the complication of recording names and other personal information could be avoided by having per diem memberships that would be “renewed” with every visit. It would just be added on to the bill.
Now, many businessmen would worry that such a requirement may deter some customers, and most establishments would have no need for it, anyway. But if you face the choice of either yielding to government tyrants and violating your deeply held beliefs or closing up shop, isn’t the club solution worth a try? Besides, many customers would become conditioned to accept the wink-and-a-nod tactic — perhaps with amusement and even spirited support — if it became common enough.
Sure, this would be getting the government on a technicality, but doesn’t it use technicalities against us all the time? For instance, many observers have alluded to the equality jackboots’ double standard by asking what would be done if a Muslim caterer refused to serve pork. An even better example, however, would be a homosexual-owned bakery that refused to bake a cake bearing the Leviticus line, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable,” for a traditional-virtues group. But liberals get around this — not that they care about enforcing laws consistently, anyway — by saying that pork lovers and traditionalists aren’t “protected classes.”
Of course, it follows then that these groups — along with some others — are unprotected classes. My, how do “protected” and “unprotected” classes look through your America glasses, comrade? There should be no such classifications in our nation.
But their existence brings us to an inescapable conclusion: Government has no intention of eliminating discrimination.
It would rather control discrimination.
Why? Because discrimination — people naturally making decisions regarding whom they’ll associate with — has always been one of the ways to apply social pressure and control the culture. For example, if businesses won’t hire cross-dressers and landlords won’t rent to them, it helps discourage cross-dressing. And while seeking to prevent all discrimination would already alter the culture greatly, statist social engineers can effect the kind of focused and rapid social change they want only via the use of targeted discrimination. In other words, if you want to destroy traditionalism as quickly as possible, it’s not enough to stop traditionalists from applying their social pressure via their discrimination; you also need to ensure they will be discriminated against. Ergo, protected and unprotected groups.
Yet the precedent for this tyranny was set long ago — when we accepted the trampling of freedom of association in the name of preventing racial and sex discrimination.
This is where even most conservatives will protest and say, “Wait a second! We can’t allow people to discriminate based on race or ethnicity.” Really? We do all the time.
That is to say, you’re allowed to include in or exclude from your home whomever you please, based on race, sex, whether the person’s a smoker, or just because you don’t like his face. And you’d no doubt bristle at the idea of robbing people of this right in equality’s name. Okay, but why then should a person lose his freedom of association simply because he decides to erect a few more tables and sell food or buy a larger oven and sell baked goods? It’s still his private property.
Paid for with his own money.
Created by the sweat of his own brow.
And it’s still tyranny when government dictates with whom you must associate.
Getting back to my club tactic, I don’t claim it’s a panacea. It’s possible there’s some legal technicality that would make it untenable, and if there isn’t, you can bet the statists would institute one eventually. The ends justify the means to leftists, and their emotion-derived agenda is their god.
But even if the club idea wouldn’t work, there are other ways to deal with activists wielding the government hammer. Were I a baker forced to make a cake for a lesbian couple, for instance, the trauma of such coercion just might induce a confused state in which I’d get the ratios of the batter ingredients all wrong. The activists would then learn that they can look for trouble and complain to the equality jackboots — but they cannot have their cake and eat it, too.