Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tolerance in LA


MaxedOutMama agrees that the Christofferson resignation and the Dixon firing are legal, but calls them morally dubious. I agree. M_O_M's conclusion also is correct:
Must the broad mass of Americans be forced to chose between extremes? Isn't basic civil tolerance getting lost here? Don't such cases tend to support the arguments of those who claim that it is necessary for Christians to oppose further legal endorsements of gay civil rights because such laws will be used to deny others their rights?

Marjorie Christofferson was the manager, member of the Board of Directors, and apparently co-owner, of the El Coyote restaurant in LA. She contributed $100 to the Prop 8 movement. No one says either Ms Christofferson or the restaurant ever treated gays differently than anyone else.

That didn't stop the anti-Prop. 8 forces from boycotting the restaurant, saying that "[s]omeone here . . . made the decision to take away our civil rights." On Monday, Ms Christofferson resigned.

Boycotting a business over political differences is legal. NAACP v. Clairborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886, 907-16 (1982) (First Amendment protects non-violent boycott of business designed to influence governmental action). As far as I know, boycotting a business to protest the the political activities of an employee or owner also is legal. It superficially resembles a "secondary boycott" (where a union refuses to purchase from a business with which it has no dispute in order to pressure a supplier or customer of that business), but only unions are barred from secondary boycotts. Cf. 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4)(ii)(B). Speech and association designed to influence governmental decisionmaking outside the context of labor unions is legitimate. See Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc., 365 U.S. 127, 138-39 (1961) (First Amendment protects lobbying campaign notwithstanding anti-competitive intent or effect).

That being said, the anti-Prop. 8 boycotts are a huge overreach, says National Review's Maggie Gallagher:
This is a totally new tactic by the way. Boycotts against businesses who donate to a cause or mistreat their customers have long been an accepted part of the American democratic practice. But targeting an entire business because one person associated with it made (in their personal capacity) a donation to a cause is brand new. It’s essentially McCarthyite in spirit. Gay-marriage activists hope to make you unemployable if you publicly disagree with them.

I'm sure many ordinary gay-marriage supporters deplore what happened to Marjorie. But this is now the face of their movement: agree with us, or we will hurt you.
The unfairness, it seems to me, is targeting protected political activities, not conduct. Ms Christoffersen, remember, is not accused of treating gays differently; indeed, she is said to have been kind to the gay community. So this isn't about discrimination. And leftists would leap into full moonbat mode were the situation reversed: imagine the tumult had Bush voters four years ago announced a boycott against businesses with owners or managers who contributed to John Kerry.

Again, I'm not saying that actions by Prop. 8 opponents are unlawful. Just that the boycotts, like lawsuits, show little commitment to the political process. Gay marriage proponents in California talk tolerance but prefer pressure in terrorem to persuasion. If the goal is a future constitutional amendment reversing Proposition 8, I question whether over-broad economic sanctions could ever be effective. After all, isn't it an article of faith among lefties that boycotting Cuba only entrenches Castro-communism?


MaxedOutMama said...

No, those boycotts are not unlawful. However, cases like Dixon's and this one are going to fuel the case of the various groups and interests that believe that gay culture is sinful and disordered.

The reason is that most Americans don't agree with job discrimination on the grounds that jobs are a basic part of making a living. There is something immoral about barring people from the basic functions of life.

As far as I can see, cases such as these two have provided the rallying ground for the opponents to gay marriage by providing evidence that in fact traditional culture won't be allowed to exist in a world in which gay culture has won.

MaxedOutMama said...

The Dixon case has been troubling me since I first read of it on Volokh. I posted on it this morning and asked that people discuss it over here.

It seems to me that we backing ourselves into a pretty ridiculous corner.

OBloodyHell said...

There is a difference between unlawful and morally reprehensible, but our society is determined to blur that line quite a bit.

Look at what happened with Lori Drew. Morally reprehensible, yes. Worthy of a civil suit, yes. Criminal? Bullsh**.

MaxedOutMama said...

OBH - tolerance in civil society is largely rooted in the ability to identify and teach against the morally and culturally dysfunctional without the necessity to levy civil penalties against it.

I'm worried by this whole thing because the blurring of those lines that you identify must push us into intolerance and a moralistic society.

Essentially, the extremes of the gay lobby are trying to get society to shun large portions of our sociey. It isn't going to work that way in practice.

OBloodyHell said...

MoM: I haven't looked deeply into the Drew case but from what I have read of it, it's certainly a matter of an adult woman, who disliked a teenager with known problems who had issues with her own daughter, going out of her way to cause severe emotional distress to said teenager, resulting in her committing suicide. That seems so far into an inappropriate behavior that I think the parents, who are also somewhat at fault in it all (failing to supervise their teenager adequately) have sufficient reason to visit a lawyer and seriously consider a civil suit.

The government's misuse of "anti-hacking" laws (gee. The government? Misusing laws? NAWWWWw...) to file criminal charges under violation of ToS rules is, however, well past the line.

That may be a wrong interpretation of the events, but that's what I've heard on the matter without digging into it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I read the comments at several sites. In and amongst the insulting comments about churches is the recurring theme "but she is trying to take away our civil rights." This to me is the center of the controversy. The SSM people believe that the right to marry is already theirs by some natural law, and anyone in their way is trying to cheat them of something. This creates a sense of entitlement that is based in emotion, not fact.

It is one thing to argue that SSM should be a right, and quite another to maintain that it is.

Carl said...

I agree with all comments. As a lawyer and writer, the misuse of language irks me. Here, the faulty term is "discrimination." There is nothing wrong with discrimination. We do it all the time, choosing the people and causes with which we associate. But the left wrongly uses the word as a synonym for "unlawful discrimination."

As AVI says, to claim that Dixon or Christoffersen are trying to take away a civil right "assumes the conclusion." Not even the most recent, and most liberal, Supreme Court precedent--Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 538 (2003)--says that. And, of course, in California, the state constitution says otherwise.

No one is cheating the gay community; rather, it is the gay community itself that is trying to cheat, substituting intimidation and judicial fiat for the popular sovereignty and elections.

OBloodyHell said...

Well, when it comes to SSM, my own attitude is that there is a difference between being tolerant and being "encouraging".

It seem appropriate that we should be tolerant of sexual choice as a society.

This does not mean it is good for society to encourage it, which is what SSM does.

There's a whole host of modern issues, which are typically so-called "liberal causes", which fall into this arena -- things one might be tolerant of without wishing to encourage. And that's not just on an individual level, it's true on a societal one, which is quite important.

MaxedOutMama said...

OBH - I hadn't paid any attention at all to the Drew case. It sounds sicker than imaginable, somewhat psychologically akin to that Texas bimbo who slaughtered her daughter's cheerleading rival. Yuck.

Carl - it is the gay community itself that is trying to cheat, substituting intimidation and judicial fiat for the popular sovereignty and elections

It's not so much that they are trying to cheat, but the fact that some of them appear to perceive no limits on their actions. When it comes to depriving someone of their job, my feeling is that barring real proved harm in their job, it is plainly morally wrong to do so.

I have been thinking about ENDA and other legislation barring anti-gay discrimination, and I have decided to oppose it after reading the Volokh comments. It's not that I believe most gays or lesbians are like that, but unfortunately the ones who are like that are the ones that would make life a living hell for anyone who wasn't prepared to endorse their position.

I neither know nor care how homosexual orientations arise, although I do suspect based on experience that they arise in different ways. However, the comments on Volokh alone seem to be strong support for the proposition that enshrining more legal job rights for homosexuals will be a tool used to crush the rights of others.

However, if I were ever exposed to job situation in which someone were being discriminated against purely for his or her sexual orientation, I'd raise hell.

Carl said...


I'm no fan of ENDA (for the reasons cited on Volokh), but--like you--wouldn't (and don't) make any distinction professionally. But I find it difficult to reconcile those positions: if a majority agree that such discrimination should be prohibited, can't a sufficiently narrow law (one that exempted religious institutions and sufficiently small businesses, for example) be crafted? The fact that a right could be abused shouldn't necessarily strangle its creation.

Anonymous said...

It's time to be respectful of agnostics and atheists. It's time to be respectful of people who know that it is wise to leave the rituals and beliefs of dead people to the dead and co-create a healthy society that reflects the needs and values of WE THE LIVING. Way, way too much respect is paid to dead people and their thoughts and beliefs. RESPECT YOURSELF!

Carl said...


How are we not respectful of the groups for whom you plump? Don't they have equal rights to be cynical and un-awed?