“Thanks. Want a piece?”
“I don’t know. Has it been vetted? I only eat straight cake, motherfucker. That’s how they get you.”
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
If you grow up, though, then you’re on your own. Jesus has got places to go and things to do. He has a very full schedule.
This post is about three bakeries (and probably more) that are in the business of making, among other things, wedding cakes, but have policies against providing their cakes to weddings for gay couples.
Those bakers have gotten their batter in a bother. Yes, the sacred art of stirring flour, sugar and eggs must be defended. No matter the cost. This is jihad.
OK, I’ll bite. This will be my attempt to leaven things up with a dash of reason. As always my two bits are the icing on the cake.
For dessert I’ll be serving delicious Bread of Shame, so bring your appetite! I’m generously offering to slice off little pats of my anger to be used as a topping. I’m currently off dairy.
The Bakery Case Files
Bakery Case #1 – “I Do Have Convictions”
November 2011, Iowa – A baker refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding on the grounds that she is a Christian. After meeting the couple for a taste test, the baker told them, “I’m sorry to tell you, but I’m not going to be able to do your cake.” The couple admitted that no “condescending” remarks were made, but said the experience left them feeling like they had been “humiliated” and made to feel “chastised” for attempting to do business with the baker. After the incident several other bakers from the local area came to the couple’s defense, some of who also identified themselves as Christian.
Bakery Case #2 – “I’d Rather Close Down Than Compromise My Beliefs”
July 2012, Denver, Colorado – A bakery owner was protested after refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple for their wedding. The owner stated it was not the first time he refused service based on his cakes being used for a gay wedding. Interestingly, though, he stated that gay marriage was the exception, nothing that he still says cakes to homosexuals for other purposes, like birthdays, graduation and “any occasion.” After their encounter with the owner, the couple said they were stunned and humiliated by the experience.
Bakery Case #3 – “You Are Abominations To The Lord”
February 2013, Gresham, Oregon – A bakery owner is under investigation by the state after a complaint was filed regarding his refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. According to the complaint, when a woman’s partner went to pick up the cake, she was refused and told by the owner he wouldn’t sell to them because “they were abominations to the Lord.” Contacted later, the owner denied making the statement but acknowledged that he did refuse to sell the cake, citing his first amendment rights. “If I have to be to, I guess, be penalized for my beliefs, then I guess, well, that’ll be what it is,” he said.
Wow. Who ever suspected that the Cake Cartel, the Sinfully Delicious Syndicate, the Moistness Mafia, had such teeth? This sort of thing seems vicious. And contrary to good business. And so unnecessary.
I’d like to begin with a quote:
“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”
I could be wrong, but in each of the cases above, I believe the owners involved cited the argument that they have the right to refuse service. They are choosing to make that sort of thing a part of their defense.
I always thought that sort of thing was for behavior, not beliefs. You know, things like public intoxication, no shoes, no shirt, and being rude, offensive and/or boorish in some way. Like loitering with no intention of making a purchase, etc.
Now, in the name of fostering their belief systems, shopkeepers are using this right to defend singling people out based on some innate characteristic and/or belief of their own. The moral here is: Behave or believe different than me and I have the right to discriminate against you. (I’m using the word discriminate in the “recognize a distinction” sense of the word.)
If society recognizes the right to refuse service in that way, it could open the door to all sorts of things. How about grocery stores that refuse to do business with atheists? The myriad of possibilities is only limited by human imagination. It’s like the Field of Dreams of douchebaggery. If you build it, they will come. Make no mistake about it.
“Please take a number and fill out this questionnaire. Check all that apply. I believe in: UFOs, Flying Saucers, Area 51. Oops, sorry. We don’t sell to people who believe in UFOs. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Please exit the solar system immediately.”
What are valid criteria for refusal of service? Skin color? No way. Almost all of us accept that as patently offensive. Sadly, even today, some people still don’t. How about religion? Whoa! Hold it right there! Try that and these same damn people will be the first to grab the pitchforks and jab your eye for an eye out.
Most of us see the wisdom in rules like these. They protect all of us. If not, then it’s open season. How about people who smell bad? Smokers? What if you are overweight?
“I’ll take the chocolate eclair.”
“Hold it right there, bucko. I was satisfied to bring you a salad and a diet Coke, but there’s no way in hell I’m serving a lard ass like you an 800-calorie dessert. It’s my right to tell you no based on whatever criteria I see fit.”
Ssshick ssshick!!! “Hold it right there, mister. This shotgun is loaded for bear. I saw the bumper sticker on yer car. Let me see your hands. Now, turn around and walk away. Slowly! We don’t serve your kind here.”
Again, in all three cases above, I’m pretty sure the moment of discrimination was preceded by a moment of discovery. It’s that “aha!” moment when the shopkeeper realized who they were dealing with. In other words, everything was fine and dandy and I was about to overcharge your ass, but then I found out different. For some folks, ignorance is extremely bliss.
It works like this: As long as I don’t know XYZ about you, I’ll do business with you. But if I find out XYZ, well then, all bets are off. My question is an obvious one: If this is really about walking with the Lord and what not, how the hell can you justify doing business with someone and not finding out who they are? Wouldn’t that be worse?
“Sorry,” said Peter, blocked my view beyond the gates. “There was one time you sold a homosexual. I can’t let you in.”
“No way! I never did that!”
“How do you know? Sorry. We don’t serve your kind here. Into the garbage suit, flyboy. We’re about to give you a real long time to think it over.” Click! “Make a hole! One going down!!”
Bloody hell. Now that I think about it, how do we know if the shopkeepers are worthy enough to take our money? All people are sinners, right? So, by definition, shopkeepers are sinners. It would be the height of hypocrisy for them to be morality enforces only to find out what their particular peccadilloes might be.
“Aw, snap, Joe. I was about to buy this bag of Cool Ranch Doritos from you but then I looked at yonder receipt from your last stay at the Marriott. Oh my, that’s a lot of porn.”
Or what if he’s behind on his child support? Worse, what if the shopkeeper was ever involved with an abortion? Or is cheating on their spouse? Or doesn’t use exactly the right amount of rod on his kids? (Rod is a lot like porridge. It needs to be just right.) What if the shopkeeper cheats on taxes?
There may be a lot of missed opportunities out there for shitting on each other, folks. That’s all I’m saying.
It seems to be a lot of folks are forgetting one simple thing. A lesson learned from their moms, which was, “If you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all.” Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we lived like this?
“I’m not saying I have any problem with you homosexuals at all. I just won’t sell you a wedding cake. I gotta walk with the Lord. You’ll have to go somewhere else where they are more tolerant about that sort of thing. Not here.” Excuse me, but that isn’t your function. Who the hell elected you the boss of other grown adults?
What if we all lived like this?
“Excuse me. I just wanted to let you know that you are one ugly motherfucker. Now kindly move away. You are standing on my half of the sidewalk.” There’s no damn need for that sort of thing.
How is it that most of us are able to go through life and keep those kinds of thoughts to ourselves, but some, like the shopkeepers in these stories, are completely unable? What is the thought process involved that takes a person from a belief to outright douchebaggery?
You want to think that homosexuality is a sin? Fine. Knock yourself out. There’s no law against thoughts. But you want to translate those thoughts into behaviors? Now we got a problem. What if the whole world lived by that standard? Personally I think it would be an even shittier place than we’ve already got.
Like is hard. Life is pain. There’s no reason to go out of our way to make it worse. We should be pulling each other up every chance we get, not putting each other day. It’s the little acts of separation that becomes the violence in someone’s existence.
Finally, I would argue that in our society, access to commerce should be a basic human right. I think it is obvious that it is necessary for survival. It should be highly illegal to deny goods and services based on innate characteristics and/or beliefs.
These cases may involve something as ridiculous and unnecessary as wedding cakes, of all things. But there have been stories about clergy denying people holy communion based solely on a political belief. That’s someone’s goddamned immortal soul we’re talking about!
Or how about jobs? Clothing? Food? A place to live? Doctors with borders withholding medical care? Should all of this hang in the balance based solely on a person’s right to extend their belief system onto other people?
Just what are the people that we don’t agree with supposed to do? Go crawl away, find a rock, and wait for the sweet release of death? Yes, please!
I would argue that based on my premise that commerce equates to survival, demanding the right to pick and choose the application of commerce based on one’s own belief system is tantamount to not wanting people different than you to have the right to live.
This is the 21st century. This is the year 2013. At some point in societal evolution we are going to have to grow beyond the kindergarten playground mentality because all we’ve got right now is the adult version of running around calling each other four eyes and picking on anyone who might be different.
The only moral question I’ve got left is this: I wonder if those bakers will sell me of their damn overpriced cakes so I can shove them back in their faces?