A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, April 5, 2015


"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
-- Thomas Jefferson, "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom"

Someone, TOF has forgotten who, once said that good versus evil was mere melodrama. For genuine tragedy and drama, you need good versus good. But Late Modern discourse has decayed to the point where it seems that few can make that distinction, hence the melodrama afflicting even quite ordinary disagreements. One's opponents are always Evil these days, even when they are evils that seldom seem to happen. (We are still waiting for the great Islamophobic backlash comparable to the backlash to American Indian raids, or to Japanese-Americans who shared only an ethnicity with our attackers.) One need only recall the 1960s to realize that nothing going down today compares to what was done back then to Negroes (as was then the polite name). Thousands of bigots lined the street when open housing advocates marched across the viaduct in Milwaukee in 1967. They broke through police lines, beat a priest, and had to be tear-gassed by the police to protect the marchers. (In some southern cities, the marchers had to be protected from the police!) Instead, we get attacks of the vapors when a Harvard liberal wonders why women are under-represented in mathematics, and pearl-clutching when a few people stand outside an abortuary and pray the Rosary. Oh, the torture!

(OTOH, we find 200 Christian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram for sexual slavery, more than a hundred Kenyan Christian students gunned down by al-Shabbab, 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS, any of whom could have avoided the fate by declaring their conversion to Islam. So, yes, there sometimes is genuine oppression and cruelty.)

The latest venture in hysteria is an Indiana law similar to a national law signed by President Carter that says you cannot force someone to participate in something to which he has moral objections. For example, if the Ku Klux Klan wants a baker to bake them a cake for some vile ceremony.

Not so far-fetched. It actually happened. And the Klan won.

Okay, it was a spoof. But on what principle can this be forbidden and other service compelled?

Live-action phishing proceeds as follows. Look around for someone who is likely to object to something and then insist on bringing that something to them. Hence, two lesbians who insisted on placing their child in a Catholic school in Boulder CO were shocked, shocked I tell you, to have the admission reversed. Speaking of the pastor of the parish involved, Dave Ensign, president of Boulder Pride said:
"He feels like it's a calling to be strict with upholding the Catholic principles." 

Well, heavens to Betsy! Who would have imagined a Catholic pastor upholding Catholic principles? (Or that it is a "calling.") He simply did not want his school used as a stage prop. The child was turned down because, in attending a Catholic school, she would eventually learn that her two mommies were in a disordered relationship, and this would distress the child and subvert their parental authority. The women could not have been unaware of the Church's doctrine, so why insist on placing their kid there? Evidently they did not care about putting a preschooler into such an unhappy situation. Apparently the kid was also destined to be a stage prop in the psychodrama by which "to exhibit their superior enlightenment."

In other cases, photographers, bakers and others were sought out. No news yet on devout Jewish butchers being pressured into slaughtering pigs.

William Briggs comments on the Indiana law:
You may well think this a horror almost unimaginable, something unfit even for the Middle Ages, but I assure you, dear reader, many worse scenarios are playing out in the minds of demagogues and their victims. The most prominent propaganda has the SSA being hounded from Indiana by non-smartphone-owning used-car-driving Walmart-shopping Jack-Chick-tract-passing honky tonkers, many of whom have never even watched a single episode of the Daily Show.
Apple’s Tim Cook ... says, “Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love.” Presumably, grown men who love prepubescent boys will be submitting their applications to Cupertino. Never mind. Cook says Apple “will never tolerate discrimination.”

Except in China, the country in which many of Cook’s products are made and sold. China takes a more traditional view not only of who may marry whom, but of many sexual practices. The word “perversion” is still in use there. If Cook is seriously serious about not tolerating “discrimination”, look for Apple to bring their manufacturing back to these once United States. 
We must caution Faithful Reader that Briggs is being droll. No one expects Apple or its CEO to forgo the dime for the sake of fairness. They are for the principle only if it costs them nothing. It is only a case of elites signalling to elites that they are enlightened.

The Washington Post notes that 19 states have ‘religious freedom’ laws like Indiana’s that no one is boycotting.  But the response is that Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” law is different.  Indeed it is. The NCAA finals are being played there, and that means greater media visibility.

Now what exactly is supposed to be different about Indiana? Curiously, though TOF did not search as diligently as some might wish, no one seems actually to have cited the actual words of the law that lead to the pearl-clutching. A friend of TOF wrote on his blog:
Indiana’s law explicitly allows for-profit businesses to have these same rights. Thus, Joe-Bob’s restaurant is allowed under this law to discriminate when it violates Jim-Bob’s personal religious views. “Sorry, my religion says no coloreds can sit at my lunch counter.” 
Joe-Bob?  Do parents still name their kids like this? Leave aside the spectacle of a person being stripped of his civil rights simply because he is trying to make a living. TOF has also read that the Act provides only a defense against the charge, not a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card. It must still be proven in a court of law. (In a similar manner, "self-defense" does not "allow" folks to run around killing people. It is an admissible defense against a charge of homicide.) It would still require the baker to sell the tart, but would not require the photographer to take nude pictures of a youth-attracted man and his boy.

Faithful Reader will also note a root cause lurking about. Which religion is it that says "no coloreds can sit at my lunch counter"? Are there any religions that get specific about lunch counters at all? (There may be some with strict dietary requirements, but they would involve the practitioner refusing to sit at the counter, rather than vice versa.) No, the pebble in the shoe here is DIY religion, that anyone can make up a religion and give it whatever "beliefs" he already has. The Late Modern, having adopted this bizarre form of egalitarianism, consequently has no intellectual equipment to distinguish the Greek Orthodox Church from Westboro Baptist. He can then lump them both into the box labeled "religion" without a twinge of uneasiness.

Bottom line. It ought to be against not only the law, but also manners and custom, to force someone to participate in something she finds repugnant. If a Klansman comes into a bakery to buy a birthday cake, the baker participates only in a sale, and it would be obnoxious to refuse service. But if the cake is to be inscribed with a swastika and inscribed to Adolph Hitler, the baker is now being asked to participate in something more than merely a sale. The same would go for a photographer asked to photograph a couple celebrating their union by public copulation. Or to photograph the love between a grown "youth-attracted" man and a young boy.

Similarly, a pizza parlor owner in Indiana, a young woman, told a phishing news crew that while she would not cater a gay wedding, she would welcome gay customers who wanted to buy her pizzas. The news story focused only on the first item, and unleashed a flood of death threats and hate mail against the poor girl, including threats to fire-bomb her store or drive her out of business. (In other circumstances, these would be taken as signs of misogyny and anti-womyn bigotry.) But talk about burying the lead! Who would want a pizza parlor to cater a wedding?

These are the two goods now in artificial conflict. The freedom of people to do as they wish, and the freedom of other people not to be coerced into participating. TOF is sympathetic to all sides, given that we are to love everyone, even our enemies. But there is no commandment to approve of every act, and there is a clear difference between refusing counter service to a man simply because he is black, and threatening a black baker into making a celebratory cake for a Klan affair.


  1. Hey, I remember the '67 marches and riots, watched the fires from the safety of the MU dorms. Did some marching myself, too. (Missed the viaduct march). You neglected to mention the paradise that sprang up in that region of the city afterwards. Take a walk through on Friday night sometime.

  2. The KKK vs. Bakery story is not legitimate. "Tribune Herald is a satirical publication meant for entertainment purposes." From

  3. "Tribune Herald is a satirical publication meant for entertainment purposes. All articles are a blend of real world events and people into fictional stories."

  4. "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

    When I discuss President Jefferson's views to those of liberal persuasion, especially concerning his views on those views they hold, which he would be appalled of, they talk about how hypocritical he was for owning slaves while holding the views he did, so we can discount his ideas because of it (cough, cough, ad hominem, cough, cough). Yet, when Jefferson agrees with a liberal viewpoint (which is often very rare), they go out of their way to point out that a Founding Father agrees with them! Praise be to the non-existent God! Suck it!

    What do we do when people of our irrational age will not respond with reason, but rather only to power demostrations?

    Christi pax.

  5. Jefferson only ever wrote one phrase worth keeping alive today: "wall of separation."

  6. Jefferson only ever wrote one phrase worth keeping alive today: "wall of separation."

    1. Unfortunately, you commit the sin of being stupid by insisting what he wrote in a PERSONAL LETTER to a SINGLE CHURCH, equates to LAW of the United States; and that what was written in that single PERSONAL LETTER means exactly as you think it does.

      Jefferson's statement (as backed up by hundreds of other sources) was the government should not pass laws which force a person to believe or act in relation to one thing or another (such as forcing a person to believe or act that homosexuality is acceptable).

      Funny, the side most oft to decry history is re-written and modified to suit X's tastes are the most vocal in changing and re-writing history ("Jefferson only ever wrote one phrase worth keeping alive today..." an absurd lie in itself) themselves.

    2. Of course, If I misinterpreted your comment (i.e. in opposition rather than support of the overarching theme), then I offer sincere apologies.

    3. It wasn't a personal letter, Jay.

      It was signed in Jefferson's Official Capacity as President after draft-review by his Attorney-General, Levi Lincoln.

      It's an official communication by the Executive of the Federal government on a matter of interpretation of policy and is accepted as such for the last 135 years by the US Supreme Court.


  7. TheFederalist --

    I think he may scribbled a couple more.

    However, that phrase to the Danbury Congregation was an assurance **of the defense of churches**!


    1. Well, yes we know that. Some of us, anyways.

    2. And now we've discovered that his real meaning was to prevent "Religion"TM from placing undue burdens on government.


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