Because We Live Together
No one likes to be told what to do.
All right, there may be a few who sort of like it and some who can’t function without it, but generally speaking, the vast majority of us like to make our own choices.
Of all the organizations that are involved in telling others what to do, the government tops the list of most disliked. From the bloated entity that is the Federal Government of the United States, down to the local city government in the corner of Utah, they are all in the business of constantly telling citizens what they can and cannot do. The hot news topic recently has to do with governments having their pesky fingers in everybody’s pie, first telling us who we have to sell products to, then telling us it’s alright to not if that person’s lifestyle offends, then changing their minds again.
“It’s about coercion.” Really good point. The argument shouldn’t be about the who, but the what. The conversation isn’t really about liking or disliking gay people at all, but government intrusion. This argument would be much more persuasive if its champions were only as vocal about every other example of governmental coercion, constitutionally justified or not.
“The government shouldn’t tell businesses who they have to serve, period.” I get it, I really do. I even agree with it on some level. I also think that owning and operating a certain type of business is a choice, and that with that choice come obligations. One of them is allowing people who want to make reasonable use of your services to do so. Everyone has a story about a time they had to do something uncomfortable on the job. My library experience was full of such events- Providing information and library services to patrons that I found offensive, dangerous, misguided. Like most of you, I did my job.
Fulfilling my duty as a librarian did not mean I suddenly condoned certain behavior or supported certain political or religious positions. My job was to provide access to information. I did. End of story.
I recently saw a social media post that posited, “But what about the Jewish baker who is asked to make a cake for a Nazi wedding?”
We can make lists for days of the hypothetical things (business owners and employees) bakers, florists, wedding bands, doctors, civil servants, plumbers, police, grocers, shoe sellers might have to encounter that attack their deeply held religious convictions. Which religion? Which particular beliefs or obligations? Why do religious convictions get to be above reproach?
Where does our obligation to be decent human beings come into play?