Thursday, June 5, 2014

Relocation

Just a cross-post to my other blog:

Relocation

Friday, January 3, 2014

Equal Rights, Part II

Yesterday morning, I posted a blog entry entitled Equal Rights, which dealt with Fair to All’s efforts to protect the rights of those who disagree with marriage redefinition. Strangely, no one chose to respond on this page, but I did get several responses in a thread on Mormons Building Bridges. I have dealt with each individually, but one was lengthy enough that I have chosen to add it as a separate blog entry, as well.

MBB member Gina Crivello stated:
“Jeff's blog post to show how inaccurate my and Erin’s comparison between segregation and basic LGBTQ rights. He asked for my thoughts.) - ‘Should bakers and photographers and florists also be forced to provide services to Westboro Baptist Church rallies? How about a KKK lynching?’
“You are comparing a group of people who need housing and employment protection as well as legal protection for their family (which marriage would provide) to groups of people who seek to harass and kill others. Our comparison is not ‘severely’ inappropriate, imo. Supporters of segregation had (in their mind) sound scriptural, Bible-based reasons to continue to discriminate, separate themselves, and to justify their right to not serve black people in white-only establishments and felt it was ‘God’s way.’”

Much like yesterday, the remainder of my comments will be addressed to her.




First of all, Gina, I’m not talking about “God’s way”; I’m talking about legality and logic. “God’s way” is certainly a valid consideration, but when there is significant debate as to what “God’s way” is, it would be extremely difficult to enter it into law. So, let’s deal with what I am talking about.

Despite your erroneous charge, I have never once argued that people should be able to deny housing to certain people. What I argue is that a business owner should be able to deny any specific service to everyone (as opposed to specific individuals or groups). It’s all well and good that gay people require housing, but if I’m going to be sued for not renting a property to a gay person, I would think the fact that I don’t own any properties to rent might be a relevant consideration.

So, let’s speak from what services I can provide. Personally, I’m a database developer. So let’s imagine a gay man comes to me and asks me to develop a database in Servoy. I respond that I’m very sorry, but I don’t do Servoy development. If he would like a database designed in FileMaker or SQL, I’d be happy to help him, but Servoy is outside my list of services provided. The man walks away, finds someone else to design his Servoy database, then proceeds to sue me for discrimination.

When the case arrives before the court, I argue that there was no personal discrimination involved, that it wouldn’t matter if he were gay, straight, or anything else; I don’t design Servoy databases and never have. The judge, however, sees that I have provided databases for many clients, so I must also provide a database for this client, and I must provide the specific kind of database the client requests. I am fined and sentenced to prison for violation of anti-discrimination laws.

Does this sound ridiculous? Of course! But it is no different than Jack Phillips being told that even though his business does not provide garriage cakes, the fact that he provides any type of cake requires him to provide all types of cake. It doesn’t matter that he wouldn’t provide that specific type of cake to a straight person; it doesn’t matter that he would provide other types of cake to a gay person. A gay person requested a cake and he said no, so he’s a criminal.

As far as I can see, Gina, there is definitely discrimination at work here, but the plaintiffs aren’t the victim. From what I can see, FairToAll is fighting to end discrimination; is discriminating against Jack Phillips somehow less wrong, just because he doesn’t happen to be gay?



As always, your comments are appreciated.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Equal Rights

I am a member of a Facebook group called “Mormons Building Bridges,” the purpose of which is as follows:
“Mormons Building Bridges is dedicated to conveying love and acceptance to LGBTQI individuals. We support all our brothers and sisters—those who identify as LGBTQI and those who identify as same-sex attracted—and work to make them feel welcome in our homes and congregations. Mormons Building Bridges is not sponsored by nor do we represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or any political party or caucus.”

I wholly support this endeavor and am actively involved in the group. However, I am constantly surprised by how much many group members’ politics diverge from my own Moderate positions. For example, the most active members seem to trend morally Liberal and consequently support current redefinition efforts. To wit, a recent post linked to a web site called FairToAll.org, which demands equality for those who disagree with marriage redefinition, calling it—as ultraliberals often do—an “anti-equality group.” My purpose today is to show that this allegation is not only erroneous, but exactly opposite the truth.

Drilling down a bit, I’d like to focus on the first comment on this thread, which deals with the section of Fair to All entitled “Real People, Real Harm.” This section gives examples of actual individuals who have been sued or charged with crimes, each for having the audacity to exercise his or her right of conscience. The comment, by a woman named Erin (whom I actually really like), states:
“Bakers & photographers & florists cannot refuse to serve homosexuals. This strikes me as exactly like the colored lunch counter phenomena of the Jim Crow era. I agree that it is painful, but I also believe that it is necessary. If you want to do business in America, you have to do it fairly.”

This blog post is to show how inaccurate that comparison is. I thus address the remainder of this post to her.




Erin, the problem I have with your argument, re: “real people,” is that none of the people on this site—and frankly, no one in history, of whom I am aware—has “refuse[d] to serve homosexuals.” For example, in several of the cases cited, the store owners specifically stated that they would be happy to serve gay people; they just refuse to support certain events. Should bakers and photographers and florists also be forced to provide services to Westboro Baptist Church rallies? How about a KKK lynching? If the services are being refused because of the event instead of the individual(s), there is no legal discrimination at play.

Because of this, the question becomes one of how we define “gay.” Obviously, there are two logical possibilities: either sexual orientation is hardwired into our person, or it is not. I assume most people in Mormons Building Bridges would argue that it is indeed hardwired, and while I don’t believe it’s that simple, I basically agree. However, let’s consider both possibilities and see how things turn out.

Scenario 1: Sexual Orientation Is a Choice.

Put differently, a person’s sexuality is based on his or her relationship: a gay man who enters into a relationship with a woman suddenly becomes straight; a straight woman who enters into a relationship with a woman suddenly becomes gay. I don’t think anyone really accepts this position, but it is logical and thus must be dealt with.

If we argue that a person’s sexuality is based on one’s actions, then Jack Phillips—the Colorado baker who is facing jail time for discrimination—is guilty as charged. He has openly admitted that he will bake a cake for an opposite-sex commitment ceremony (which, if sexual orientation be a choice, renders its participants straight), but he will not bake a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony (which renders its participants gay).

The point is that if it‘s impossible for a gay person to be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and it is also impossible for a straight person to to be in a relationship with someone of the same sex, then denying cakes to same-sex couples is discriminatory against gays. However, even though Mr. Phillips is clearly guilty, there is no crime to be prosecuted, because being gay is clearly a choice that one makes and thus not subject to nondiscrimination law.

So, if Scenario 1 be true, then Fair to All’s assertion is also true and Mr. Phillips’ rights must be protected.

Scenario 2: Sexual Orientation Is Not a Choice.

If sexual orientation is an immutable personal characteristic, something hardwired into one’s psyche, then a gay person who chooses to enter into a “traditional” (opposite-sex) relationship does not cease to be gay; and a straight person who chooses to enter into a same-sex relationship does not cease to be straight. Again, I suspect this is the position taken by most people in MBB.

If this be the case, then the validity of the lawsuit against Phillips is based entirely on whether he would offer services to straight people that are not available to gays. This could be shown in one of two ways:

a) We could establish that if a gay person asked him to bake a graduation cake, he would refuse; if a gay person asked him to bake a baptismal cake, he would refuse; etc..

-or-

b) We could establish that if a straight person asked him to bake a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony, he would not refuse the request.

Barring either of the above criteria, Mr. Phillips is clearly not discriminating based on personal characteristics. If there is no service he would provide to a straight person that he would not provide to a gay person, there is no discrimination against persons and thus, no violation.

So, if Scenario 2 be true, then Fair to All’s assertion is also true and Mr. Phillips’ rights must be protected.

If anyone can come up with a third scenario, please post it in the comments. I’m more than happy to listen! Otherwise, I think I have sufficiently shown that Fair to All is anything but “anti-equality”; on the contrary, it is performing a great work for humanity, protecting otherwise helpless individuals from persons who use the word “equality” as code for “bigotry.”

As always, my 2¢.




Update: check out Part II!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Acquiring Old New Music

In 1991, Coca-Cola offered a series of eight New Music Samplers, each in a different genre (although there were two volumes of Pop), each one free with (IIRC) four proofs of purchase. I got five of them and actually wound up buying a single CD—and later, two others by the same group—based on a couple of songs I really liked.

Twenty-two years later, I’m several years into the process of upgrading all my cassettes and can’t bring myself to just completely ditch a single one. If I own a song, I want to continue to own it. To this end, I’ve now bought almost 20 CDs for $1 or less on used music sites.

I don’t think that’s quite what the record companies intended, but I guess it’s something!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Marriage, Garriage, and You

Earlier today, I responded to a question by a Facebook acquaintance. As others have thought my response to be of worth, I have decided to place it here as well. The acquaintance in question—who, for what it’s worth, is the one who began the conversation—stated that my arguments regarding marriage vs. garriage boil down to a question of semantics. He further stated that arguments regarding the results of redefining the word “marriage” amount to a slippery slope argument, an informal logical fallacy. In response to both of these assertions, my response—which has remained unchallenged for eight hours (or in Internet debate time, approximately 562 years)—is as follows. Hopefully it will help someone in need. Enjoy!



Daniel, you’re right that marriage vs. garriage is a question of semantics, and you’re right that it’s a slippery slope—which, while technically an informal fallacy (as you rightly pointed out), is also well precedented in reality. Whenever a law is made, it is wise to consider the consequences of that law. That’s not fallacious; that’s common sense.

The government has given its stamp of approval to marriage, just like it has given its stamp of approval (whether formally or informally) to infinite other things. The argument of the pro-redefinition crowd is that we need to change the definition of the word marriage. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent: that if anyone wants to do anything, that person simply needs to argue that the legal definition of some unrelated word needs to be changed. Instead of attempting to pass a new law allowing the desired act, the person simply argues that an old law already protects the act. You call it “slippery slope,” but the courts call it “legal precedent.” If we can simply redefine the word “marriage,” we have precedent to redefine any word. We have quite literally legalized anarchy!

Furthermore, the argument that this will not give some people a missing right is entirely fallacious, as all people are already equally allowed to marry. Redefinition does not ensure a missing right for some but instead creates an entirely new one for all. Is anyone claiming that if some people are given the ability to legally garry, that all people will not receive this same ability? Those who self-identify as “gay” may already get married, and have always been able to do so. The right to garry, however, is a completely separate issue and must be kept as such. The very state of our entire legal system depends on it.

Finally, pro-marriage laws have been compared to anti-miscegenation laws, but this comparison is certainly erroneous. The fact that anti-miscegenation laws existed in the first place is proof that interracial unions are (and were) marriages, else there would have been nothing to legislate against. Conversely, the Supreme Court has already determined that same-sex unions are not marriages, if only because no reasonable person would ever consider them as such (Baker v. Nelson, 1972). If people want garriage, the correct course of action is to pass pro-garriage laws, not anti-marriage laws.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

When we moved back to Lafayette, almost 5½ years ago, I looked out our bedroom window and saw a traffic light. I don’t know exactly why, but that traffic light was very comforting to me. I suppose it stood as a constant, my connection to the world. Even though it was off in the distance, it stood as a reminder that even in the midst of the cornfields, we were not in the middle of nowhere; we were on the edge of somewhere. I looked out at it, almost every night, as it changed from green to amber to red and back. It was my traffic light, and I loved it.

Since that time, a lot has changed, around here. One of the streets that intersects at that light has been widened and combined with another street, necessitating a new and larger-sounding name. The other street has undergone significant construction, including a four-lane bridge over the railroad tracks where we used to have to wait for trains to pass. A factory has gone up on the corner of the two; a warehouse sits next to it; a third large building is now under construction. Pretty soon, the entire stretch will be commercially developed. A bit closer to home, the area that previously consisted of a cornfield and some wetlands is now our children’s elementary school, our new church building, and a still–under-construction residential neighborhood. All this happened in just 5½ short years.

Yet despite all this, my traffic light is still there, still constant. Despite the construction, despite the manufacturing, despite the new schools and churches and homes, despite the wider roads and bridges and even another traffic light that has since been obscured by the new construction, my light is still visible. It still shines every single night, right out my bedroom window, changing from green to amber to red and back. It’s comforting, that continued consistency, and for this I am thankful.

In short, I thank God for small blessings.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Poor Leah…

Tonight, while Anna and I were watching a show, our six-year-old daughter, Leah, came downstairs, obviously slightly distressed. Anna asked her what was up; Leah responded that she had to go to the bathroom—a rather cryptic statement, since there is a perfectly good bathroom, perhaps ten steps from her room, which she uses all the time. Still, we told her that that was fine and encouraged her to use the downstairs bathroom and get back to bed.

For whatever reason, Leah then proceeded to enter the kitchen—which, for those who have never been in our kitchen, does indeed feature running water, but does not particularly qualify as a bathroom. We asked her why she was going in there, but she didn’t answer, which of course led us to ask her again. This continued for about thirty seconds.

When she finally came back out of the kitchen, Leah again looked slightly confused. And again, we told her to go to the bathroom and head to bead. Her response: to walk right back into the kitchen, where she proceeded to get a paper towel.

When Leah finally emerged from the kitchen, the second time, I tried to snap her out of her apparent somnambulism by having her give me a hug. She did so, but not before accidentally kneeling on Anna’s legs and hurting her, in the process. Leah then gave me the paper towel, for no apparent reason, and with a little prompting, finally made it to the bathroom.

After going to the bathroom, Leah then came back to give us each another hug. We told her to go back to bed, cautioning her to go to her own room, not her sister, Naomi’s, nor her brother, David’s. She walked up the stairs and, less than a minute later, we were relieved to hear her door close. However, when we came upstairs, about ten minutes ago, we found Naomi’s door hanging wide open. While Leah was certainly not in there, we have little question about who did it.

Poor kid.