Does the Left Love Freedom Again?

It’s Thanksgiving this week, which means we’re all looking for things to be thankful for.

One thing I’m thankful for is that our friends on the left may be coming around to the idea that freedom is cool again.

Over the past eight years, we have seen a massive shift away from an emphasis on individual rights to an environment that prioritized a subjective concept of “tolerance” in the hopes of eradicating a subjective concept of “discrimination.”

The cost has been a significant assault on conscience rights and individual freedoms.

In 2007, few of us could have imagined:

But all of those became priorities of the Obama Administration.

Previously, it was understood that First Amendment protected people in cases like these. Beyond that, however, conservatives and liberals agreed that it was wrong for a political majority to compel a political minority to do things that violated their sincerely held beliefs.

In fact, it was this shared belief in individual rights that caused proponents of same-sex “marriage” to emphasize the fact that freedom was in no way being jeopardized by the sexual revolution.    

After all, it was about more liberty, not less.

But all that changed when they won.

Their tone changed because they believed the world was changing—permanently.

The President had assured them that “the arc of history bends towards justice” and they were sure that their understanding of justice was the correct one.

After years of telling themselves that they were on the “right side of history”, they were confident that their ascendance was permanent.  After all, they are “progressives” and this was simply the inevitable result of progress.

Comforted by the knowledge that they held the moral high-ground, the “fundamental transformation” of America that President Obama promised during his campaign was underway.

They knew that freedom was nice in principle, but in practice it provided too few safe spaces. Therefore, “celebrating our differences” gave way to “eradicating discrimination.”

And the mandates came, fast and furious.

Bake that cake.

Sell that drug.

Buy that insurance plan.

Pay for that abortion.

Decorate for that wedding.

Many objected, but those objections were met with scorn and disdain.  “You’ll die off soon enough,” they assured us—and themselves.

But we’re still here. And much to their consternation, we actually won an election.

Actually, we’ve been winning some elections for four years now, but it took losing the Presidency for them to really notice.

In the last four years, Democrats have lost one thousand seats in state legislatures across the country.

One thousand.

There are only six states in which Democrats control all three branches of government. There are twenty-five states where Republicans do.  In total, Republicans control thirty-two state legislatures (plus Nebraska which is technically but is plenty Republican).

If Republicans gained control of one more state legislature, they would be able to amend the United States Constitution without needing the support of a single Democrat anywhere in the country.

In protest to the election results, a fashion designer recently concluded she could not design a dress for Melania Trump.  In the larger conversation, this is a sub-sub plot.

But it’s noteworthy because the left has spent the last several years trying to tell others that if they didn’t want to lend their creative talents to same-sex weddings they were bad people.

Of course that was always non-sense, and still is.

In the same way, this fashion designer is probably not a terrible person.  She simply has a conviction and there’s absolutely no reason she should need to get a permit from the government for it.

Is it discrimination? Of course

Is there outrage from the left as a result? Of course not.

This case illustrates once again that they weren’t really trying to eliminate discrimination in its infinite forms, but rather trying to punish ideas they weren’t sympathetic to.

Indeed, just last week, in an attempt to punish a florist who didn’t want to decorate for a same sex wedding, Washington State’s Attorney General argued at the State Supreme Court that once you open yourself up as a business, you don’t get to decide who you do business with, the government does.

If the WA state legislature decided to make “Trump Supporters” a protected class (as they could, but definitely shouldn’t) this fashion designer would be liable in the same way they say the florist stands to be.

Your right to decline should not depend upon what a political majority in a state legislature decides to do.

That’s why we have a First Amendment in the first place.

But under progressive logic, it does.

Or at least it did.

Sometimes we win elections and sometimes we lose them. One of the ways we acknowledge the dignity of those who think differently than we do is by protecting their freedom to be who they are, even if we disagree and even if there’s more of us than there are of them.

And if that means anything, it means respecting their freedom to opt-out and decline to be part of things they don’t want to be part of.

It can be argued that many on the left forgot this over the last eight years, blinded by their good intentions.

However, further in our past, plenty of people on the political right showed an instinct to control those who disagreed with them as well.

It’s not a partisan problem, it’s a human problem.

This election hasn’t solved all our problems.  It remains to be seen if it will solve any of them and there is still a lot of work to do to undo the totalitarian impulses of the left at the state and federal levels.

But at least we have a chance to now.

And in light of the left’s newfound appreciation for dissent, we may have some new allies in the case.

And that is something we can all be thankful for.

Are We “Worthless Pieces of Trash”?

Colleges and universities are widely known to be hotbeds of liberal progressivism, but one public university administrator’s recent comments about supporters of traditional marriage are beyond the pale.

Andrew Bunting, George Mason University’s Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, shared his feelings about supporters of traditional marriage, calling them “worthless pieces of trash.”

The incident began last week when Bunting shared on Facebook a blog post written by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a grassroots organization that advocates for traditional marriage.

The blog post shares NOM’s desire to work with the Trump administration to protect religious liberty, nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court, overturn President Obama’s gender identity directives, and oppose efforts to redefine marriage.

Commenting on the blog post, Bunting parroted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s claim that NOM is a “hate group.”

He went on to write, “If you agree with [NOM about traditional marriage] then that is your opinion. Just know that to the rest of us, you are a worthless piece of trash.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a far-left political group known for designating as a hate group any organization that supports traditional marriage. According to SPLC, mainstream, pro-family organizations like the American Family Association, Family Research Council, and Liberty Counsel (Liberty University) are “extremist, anti-LGBT hate groups.”

Bunting’s comments reveal what Campus Reform has termed “liberal privilege” on college campuses. This “liberal privilege” on college campuses is evidenced by the way students who share conservative ideas are maligned and punished by professors and administrators, most of whom are radically progressive and many of whom are openly Marxist.

The groupthink on college campuses has gotten so bad that the conservative perspective often isn’t even shared with students. Conservative speakers are often disinvited from campus events, if they’re even invited at all. If conservatives do make it onto campus, they’re often verbally and physically abused by protesters comprised of students and faculty.

With college administrators like Bunting making incendiary comments disparaging half of the U.S. population, it’s no wonder that conservative students fear retaliation from liberal professors and administrators.

Additionally, given Bunting’s senior position in George Mason University’s admissions department, prospective students who happen to be conservative are probably left wondering whether they are welcome on campus, and if their political views will affect their admissions chances or opportunities for scholarships.

Bunting’s comments are even more troubling because GMU is a Virginia state public university. So far, it doesn’t look like he’ll be fired, despite his comments dehumanizing those who believe in traditional marriage.

Andrew Bunting’s views are representative of those held by college administrators in schools all over the country. Knowing that this is the predominant ideological perspective on most college campuses, it’s unsurprising that college students at the University of Washington and Seattle University say things like this and this.

WA AG Continues to Fundraise Off Lawsuit Against Barronelle Stutzman

Yesterday, Barronelle Stutzman, the florist from eastern Washington, had her day at the Washington State Supreme Court.  She argued that the First Amendment’s protects her right to choose which messages she communicates with her art and which events she chooses to participate.

On the other side, Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that, “The state’s interest overrides constitutionally protects individual rights”.

In addition to being alarmed that the Attorney General believes the state’s interest always override the interests of individuals, there’s something else you should be concerned about.

As has been customary at every hearing involving this case, Mr. Ferguson sent a fundraising email to his list of supporters immediately after walking out of court.  Here is what he said.

I went to court today, _____. Here’s why:

Three years ago, a florist in Richland refused to serve a gay man who wanted flowers for his wedding.

That’s discrimination, pure and simple. If a business provides a service, it must provide that service equally and cannot discriminate.

This morning, I argued before the state Supreme Court in support of our state’s anti-discrimination laws. Here in Washington, it’s against the law to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. Just like a restaurant owner can’t refuse service to me because I’m Catholic, a florist can’t refuse service to a same-sex couple because of their sexual orientation.

We need to make it clear that discrimination has no place in Washington. Our laws forbid it, and we will enforce those laws.

The fight for our rights, for equality, and for justice continues. Thank you for standing with me.

Bob

There are a couple problems with the email.

In the first sentence, he lies. I don’t use that term lightly, but at some point people no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Everyone involved in this case acknowledges that Barronelle Stutzman is happy to sell flowers to gay people. In fact, in addition to employing people who identify as gay, she happily sold flowers to the individuals involved in this case for nine years knowing that they were in a same-sex relationship.

Moreover, during oral arguments yesterday, it was repeatedly emphasized that she was happy to sell them pre-arranged flowers, vases, or anything from the store that they would want to use for their wedding.  She just wasn’t comfortable being part of the event and decorating custom arrangements that she felt would express her personal support for it.

But even if he had communicated the facts of the case honestly, his instincts to turn to fundraising immediately after walking out of the courtroom speaks to what this case is really about: politics and money.

One of the worst kept secrets in Washington State politics is that Bob Ferguson wants to be the next Governor.

As such, the only person who even theoretically benefits from this lawsuit is Bob Ferguson.

Indeed, even if the state wins this case, no same-sex couple will have access to wedding flowers that otherwise would have been forced to suffer through a poorly decorated wedding because everyone knows lots and lots of florists are happy to do the requested work. The market will provide the solution even if one particular business does not feel up to the task.

All the while, Barronelle Stutzman stands to lose her home, life-savings, and business if she loses.

So no one really wins anything and someone stands to lose everything.

But Bob Ferguson makes money for his next campaign.

This case is a great example of why so many people distrust government and those in it.  It demonstrate that in many cases, the only people who benefit from government action are those in power.

They misrepresent the truth  and pretend to do something meaningful when the only real impact is a loss of freedom.

If Bob Ferguson has wondered at any point over the last week how people could possibly vote for someone like Donald Trump, he need look no further than his behavior in this case.

Barronelle Stutzman Has Her Day In Court

Barronelle Stutzman had her day in court.  Accused of violating the state’s law against discrimination for declining to decorate for a same-sex wedding, today Mrs. Stutzman went to the Washington State Supreme Court to argue that the First Amendment protects her right to decide the kind of messages she supports with her art.

She had appealed a lower court ruling concluding that once an artist sells their work to the public, they must agree to do any art someone is willing to pay them to do, regardless of personal objections.

The lower court concluded that declining to decorate for a same-sex wedding is always discrimination based on sexual orientation regardless of the fact that Mrs. Stutzman has employed people who experience same-sex attraction, sold them flowers in the past, and repeatedly emphasized her willingness to do so in the future.

Because the state has sued her in her personal and professional capacities,  she stands to lose her home, life savings, retirement, and business to the government in this case.

A crowd of approximately five hundred people showed up to support Mrs. Stutzman.  The crowd filled the three-hundred person auditorium and two overflow rooms at Bellevue Community College,  where the arguments were held.

Outside the hearing room, the crowd held signs that read “I Stand with Barronelle” and “Freedom to Create” and chanted “Bar-ron-elle” as she left the courtroom.

A tent organized by the ACLU, which is representing two of the plaintiffs who are suing Mrs. Stutzman, had approximately six people in attendance who held rainbow colored umbrellas in support of the lawsuits against her.

On one hand, the lack of enthusiasm in the general public for forcing grandmothers to decorate for same-sex weddings is encouraging. But the fact that the state has stubbornly refused to recognize an individuals right of conscience is troubling.

Still, it remains to be seen is whether the Washington State Supreme Court will be as sympathetic to her cause as the public is.

Attorney Kristen Waggoner, from the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued on behalf of Mrs. Stutzman that that the First Amendment protects the right of individuals in the creative arts to choose for themselves what kind of events they lend their artistic expression to.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued, on behalf of Washington State, that the state’s interest in eradicating discrimination overrides any First Amendment protections Barronelle Stutzman might otherwise have.

The state argued that individuals have an absolute right to believe whatever they want to believe, but the state has an absolute right to regulate their religious conduct through non-discrimination laws.

A decision in this case is not expected until March, at the earliest.

Regardless of the outcome, it is expected that the losing side will appeal this decision to the United States Supreme Court.

This case, and a series of other religious freedom cases around the country, highlight the significance of the Supreme Court vacancy expected to be filled shortly after the inauguration of President-elect Trump.

In the meantime, you are encouraged to contact your legislators and encourage them to support legislation that protects conscience rights and religious freedom.

You can reach them through the legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000.  Even if you don’t know who your legislators are, the hotline operator will use your address to communicate your message to those who represent you.

And you should say something. After all, if they can threaten a kindly grandmother’s life savings because of her beliefs, they can do it to you as well.