Activism, Protests & Rights

So when is it okay for a business owner to say “no” due to being offended? Would you do a job for a Neo-Nazi?

This hubbub in Arizona has raised a lot of questions, and anger. Personally, I think those that are supporting AZ SB 1062 are hiding behind the “Freedom of Religion” argument which they have skewed to fit their needs. Everyone has a right to follow and believe in their own religion. Doing business with homosexuals doesn’t take that away from anyone. It may be offensive to some people, but hey, there are a lot of people who are offensive for a variety of reasons. The offended can still go home and do their prayers and partake in their male-female missionary position as any other position may offend someone else. 

sb-1062-21-304At what point IS it okay for someone who owns their own business, or provides some sort of service, to say “no”? For example, I build websites. That’s my job. Although most of my work is through a contractor, I still freelance on occasion. What if someone from a White Supremacy, Neo-Nazi-type organization came to me to build a website for their organization? I can tell you right now…. hell NO! How is this different than the NM photographer who turned down a job photographing a gay wedding? Look, I don’t agree with that photographer’s ignorance, but he has that right to believe what he believes. I wish people would quit using Freedom of Religion, though, and just admit they don’t like homosexuality. I don’t like racism. Simple.

However, what about a different type of business? I was a server for many years through college. If a White Supremacist, Neo-Nazi couple came into the restaurant where I am working and was seated in my section, yes, I would wait on them. They’ll be out of my life in an hour or so and it’s not like I’ll be hanging out with them chatting about ignorant hatred. I would just soldier up and deal with it. It’s not like I would be actively participating in some manner with their hatred, anyway. But in building a website, I would be involved to a certain extent as I would need to read and view their hateful ideologies while building the site. DING DING DING! I think I just hit it. The level of participation involved with the job, act, business, etc.

When the level of participation is minimal with the offensive action is minimal, just soldier up, do your job and move on. But if a job would entail having to actively witness whatever the offensive behavior is, then don’t you think someone should be able to say “no”? But should there be laws to determine this line?

It’s a very gray line. So gray, one can pick it apart enough to not find any black or white. What would be the defining point with the level of participation between the business and the client or guest?

PNI SB1062 rally

Now, don’t get me wrong. I hate this bill in Arizona and it should be turned down. Even with having no respect for Jan Brewer, I have a feeling she will turn it down. This bill abuses Freedom of Religion and twists it into a self-serving need. But it has made me think about this issue in general. I would hope I would be able to say “no” to building a website for a White Supremacist and not have to worry about them suing me. Well, like it or not, having that right myself does not mean it can be taken away from someone who believes differently than myself. The photographer should be able to do the same thing – and NOT have to hide behind their “Freedom of Religion.” Just admit you’re an ignorant fool and don’t want to be around homosexuality. It has nothing to do with your religion as I’ll bet it’s been months, if not years, since you went to church. And just how much of the bible have you really read and practice daily? Uh-huh. Just what I thought.

As far as the couple that is seeking the lawsuit against the photographer…. You know what, just move on. Let it go. No one said this was a perfect world. Personally, I wouldn’t want someone like that at my wedding anyway. I know and understand that people must make a stand for equality and shouldn’t back down. But, come one, pick the fights that will bring the best results. This type of lawsuit really sounds whiny to me. Focus back on employers who have fired someone who is gay; fight for equality in marriage; etc. This type of lawsuit is going to just piss off the haters and will end up being counter-productive to the grand cause in the long run.

Here’s another angle to this bill. I’m an atheist. What about my Freedom of Religion? For those that would argue that Atheism isn’t a religion, it is. From the Merriam Webster website, religion is, “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.” I believe that there isn’t a god, so I find all churches and religions and acts thereof to be offensive. Where are my rights to not have to see advertisements, commercials, churches on every corner???  If you don’t want to see gay couples, just wait. I’m coming to remove “god” from money, from the National Anthem, etc. (Actually, I’m not. But this bill would give me and other atheists more power to rid the world of public religious references.) When I was a server, I waited on many a pastor in my day – and was tipped like shit, too. “God gets 10%, you don’t get any more than god.”

Basically, it’s not a perfect world and there will always be gray areas. We all need to just get along. Respect other’s opinions even if you think they’re ignorant, hateful, and just plain stupid. Arizona, dump the bill. Gay couple suing the photographer, drop the lawsuit. Move on.

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14 replies »

  1. I find this bill and the debate very interesting.

    The bill really just amends the existing section 41-1493. The major change (as I see it) is in the definition of “Person” that cannot be substantially burdened in practicing religion from the phrase “a religious assembly or institution” to the all-encompassing “ANY INDIVIDUAL, ASSOCIATION, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION, ESTATE, TRUST, FOUNDATION OR OTHER LEGAL ENTITY.” One part that hasn’t changed is the broad definition of “Exercise of religion” including the phrase “whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”

    So this bill provides a framework where you could not be sued for refusing to build a website (as long as your disgust of neo-Nazi types was based on burdening your exercise or religion) and would block the couple suing the photographer. And I think the idea is not an unreasonable response to the handful of silly lawsuits that you mention. Most activists (on both sides of the debate) won’t just ‘move on and get over it’.

    But, I think this bills modifications open the potential for scary unintended consequences. The broad definition of “Person” combined with the very liberal interpretation of exercise of religion is ripe for abuse and discrimination. A lot of focus is on Christians and gay couples, but consider the broader implications! The various religious based prohibitions can be pretty dramatic and disparate. And because the law specifically states those prohibitions do not have to be compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief, where does it end? Christians may focus on homosexuality, but what about Islam and Sharia? Targets of religious prohibition could include gay people or couples, unescorted or unmarried woman, woman not covering their hair, people working on Saturday or Sunday, those that don’t attend regular worship, divorced woman, dog owners, non muslims. You as an apartment or hotel owner can refuse to rent. You as an ISP can refuse to provide internet service. You as a cell phone company can refuse to provide cell service. You as a business owner can refuse to hire. You as a realtor can refuse to sell a house. You as a pharmacist you can refuse to fill a prescription. You as a restaurant or other small business server can refuse to serve. And YOU could be a member of any of the groups that are suspect or unwanted. Sure, there may be economic consequences that will keep that abuse in check, but my experience is that it will not.

    • Exactly!!! Be careful what you ask for as it can turn around and bite you in the ass. We are a nation with a large amount of Christians, but we are not a Christian nation. Laws are built upon many morals derived from bible – and common sense – but the bible is not law. Not yet. But many are trying to make it so.

  2. I immediately saw the proposed AZ law as an excuse for every bigot there to claim their “religious” convictions were being violated. It’s as though everyone has rights, but religious rights trump all the others. I’ve long felt that way. Many of the measures pushed by conservatives are based on their religion, and if they get those measures passed into law, their religion has become law — for everybody. In my book, that’s unconstitutional. It’s unfortunate that the separation doctrine is only a doctrine and not an article in the Constitution. Because freedom from religion should be just as valid as freedom of religion.

  3. One further change (not as major but telling in the language) is the specific definition of “State Action” that CAN NOT BE USED in the potential scenarios I mentioned. “STATE ACTION” MEANS ANY ACTION BY THE GOVERNMENT OR THE IMPLEMENTATION OR APPLICATION OF ANY LAW, INCLUDING STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, ORDINANCES, RULES, REGULATIONS AND POLICIES, WHETHER STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, AND WHETHER THE IMPLEMENTATION OR APPLICATION IS MADE OR ATTEMPTED TO BE MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT OR NONGOVERNMENTAL PERSONS.” Thus only economic and social forces are the only barriers to abuse. And those are often sources of abuse vs sources of protection.

  4. A good article at http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2014/02/25/reality-vs-rhetoric-in-the-az-sb1062-debate-religious-freedom-lgbt/ that refutes some some of my concerns, as well as pointing out how the bill is in reality specific to overcoming a small number of local laws that prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. That type of ‘freedom’ is allowed everywhere else in the state. And of course, actual discrimination based on religion is prohibited by state and federal laws. They can call it religious freedom, but the more I learn the more it looks like anti-gay to me!

    • It is predominantly anti-gay all hiding behind the guise of their “religion.” I firmly believe this 95% of the time. Many may have convinced themselves it is because of their religion as it’s been beaten in the heads. But they just don’t like gays. If a religious person has no problem with someone else being gay, you never hear them complain about being around gay people, talking to them, doing business with them, etc.

    • Thank gawd that Brewer veto’d it. After the NFL spoke up, she knew she had to veto it. In 1993, Arizona was in line to host the Super Bowl in Tempe, but Arizona voters in November 1992 voted against a referendum recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday, prompting the NFL to give the Super Bowl to Pasadena, CA.

  5. Michelle, I live in Arizona. Not only do we do business with Neo Nazi, but we elect them to our legislature. ‘Nuff said’…No. I used to live in Florida which I thought was America’s main bastion of ignorance…until I moved to Arizona. Arizona is a beautiful state and a wonderful place to live…if you don’t pay attention to the rants of Right (wrong) Wing politicians and their many supporters who’ve gathered here.

    • lol… When moving down here to NM, I didn’t know anything about Arizona other than the tourist attractions (Grand Canyon, etc). Since the state is a fair distance away from the redneck, backwards-ass deep south, I just assumed it would be a more progressive, more liberal state. Especially with the diversity of cultures, it had to be more open-minded and tolerant, right? Boy, was I so wrong on that naive assumption.

  6. ” I wish people would quit using Freedom of Religion, though, and just admit they don’t like homosexuality.”

    That’s an important point. The objection to homosexuality is not necessarily a religious one. It is the political Left who insist on framing it that way.

    Many heterosexuals are simply disgusted by homosexuals and what they do. It is perfectly natural. If homosexuals demand other people respect them and their preferences, then they must extend the same courtesy to others. Homosexuals don’t like being forced to cater to a heterosexual world any more than heterosexuals like being forced (by the Federal Government, no less) to cater to homosexuals.

    Respect the differences and go buy your wedding cake somewhere else, with no hard feelings. It’s not that hard to do.

  7. “I believe that there isn’t a god, so I find all churches and religions and acts thereof to be offensive. Where are my rights to not have to see advertisements, commercials, churches on every corner??? ”

    So, you want the Federal Government to establish an official State Religion, Atheism, and compel others to hide their beliefs because they “offend” the official State Religion? Wow, that’s like the Church of England punishing people for being Catholic (or anything else).

    The purpose of the 1st Amendment was to protect Americans of any faith against people like you. It is to ensure nobody can be punished for freely expressing their faith or anti-faith. You don’t want to be punished for expressing your atheism, do you? You don’t have a Right to punish other people for expressing notions that you don’t share. You’re not a Fascist, are you?

    As Benjamin Franklin explained it, let the Musselmen (Muslims), Jews, Christians and Hindus express their faith openly in the public square. And let no one of them have the power to punish the others for “offending” them.

    When you see who you are not allowed to “offend”, you know who your master is. That is anathema to American principles.

    Think About It

    • Exactly! I was pointing out that many christians are trying to use their religion as a reason to not deal with homosexuals, be excluded from providing birth control, etc. What if the shoe was on the other foot? Be careful what you ask for as you just may get it.

      So if laws are passed to allow waivers based on religious beliefs, there are more out there than christians. It would be a civil war of religion.

      The churches, the religious commercials, Ten Commandments at the courthouses, etc. are not obstructing my right to be an atheist. It only goes to say that doing business with a homosexual, or an employer providing mandatory paid birth control, is in no way obstructing their religious beliefs. They are still completely free to pursue and live their own beliefs.

      And to counter your “people like me” comment… I could care less about the religious commercials and shows. I choose not to watch them. And the churches, I often admire and photograph the architecture of the older structures. Ten Commandments at courthouses, I walk by and just ignore them. I don’t let anything like these items affect me. I take care of myself and my own life. I don’t expect anyone else to change to fit my beliefs.

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