Sunday assorted links


Enjoyed the RD column...
But I do think he underestimates how deep the divide already is between the two sides.
One of my favorite revolutionaries was Patrick Henry - I believe he stated that the most important freedom was the freedom the be left alone.
I hope we can all learn to leave people alone who are not doing any harm.
I found some of the progressive Supremes arguments - and even my least favorite conservative George Will's arguement "that is is just a friggin cake" fascinating...
If it was "just a friggin cake" go pick up an alternative at COSTCO and leave the poor baker alone.

I wonder what Anthony Kennedy had for breakfast last week ...

Douthat says "religious conservatism isn't going away," but I don't know where he "gets that." "Religious thought" has been declining across the western world for hundreds of years, and will continue to approach zero. Tyler describes himself as an atheist! But he has to pander to a complex set of donors which includes many existing religious conservatives. Tyler and Douthat love each other because they share the style of using their powerful intellectual apparatus to support defunct ideologies--Douthat to support Catholicism, and Tyler to support libertarianism.

OR maybe they are both writing in good faith and they see something you don't.

Did you get your degree at SmartGuy University?

4. What is the deal? Do people not know to cut the avocado in half first? To stick in the belly of the blade and rotate the fruit? We actually had a discussion of this as we made avocado toast this morning. In our house we don't get it.

5. The problem is that there is a fine line between refusing cake and refusing lodging for the night. While I might not sweat a cake, I don't want to live in an America where hotels turn away "your kind."

5. The line isn't that fine, since it isn't about lodging in this case, nor in any of the ones that have come up. They are all about not participating in a celebration that they don't agree with. There has been no harm, since there are plenty of cake makers and flower arrangers willing to provide the services. In fact in this case the complainants could have bought an off the shelf wedding cake.

The principle is about the appropriate use of the blunt instrument of state power.

Ok, change the context to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling, and the 1987 marriage of Virginia Lamp to the divorce vow to god breaker Clarance Thomas.

A double strike in the Bible for that marriage.

Would the baker refuse to sell them a wedding cake? Or anniversary cake?

How about Warren Jeffs who has been imprisoned for exercising his religion, for the same crime, upheld by the Supreme court multiple times in the post Lincoln 19th century, laws and Supreme Court rulings that led Mitt Romney's great grandfather fleeing the US to Mexico to exercise his religion. Of course, Mormons were persecuted by laws causing them to flee to Salt Lake. But the Republicans were the most determined to make their religion illegal, primarily over their marriage beliefs.

@derek: "The principle is about the appropriate use of the blunt instrument of state power."

yes... and Americans are supposed to refer to Federal & state constitutions to determine what is appropriate (legal) for state police power. But that does not happen. The Bill of Rights restricts government, not private citizens. That all people are equal before the law means the government may not discriminate -- but does restrict private individuals/businesses from choosing who they wish to associate with ... or not associate with.

All U.S. "Public Accomodation" laws are blatantly non-constitutional.

The principle at issue here is "Freedom of Association"

Bakers, plumbers, hoteliers, etc. have an absolute right to decide what people/customers they wish to associate/contract with ... just as potential customers of bakers/plumbers/hotels have an absolute right to decide which businesses they wish to patronize or avoid.

It's not really a fine line at all. The baker did not turn away 'your kind' (gay customers). The baker refused to design, bake, and decorate a cake for a gay wedding. He would have sold them cakes for other occasions and would have refused to make a wedding cake for a same sex wedding if the customer ordering the cake was, for example, a straight wedding planner. This is a first amendment case, not a public accommodation case. There are no first amendment issues in providing lodging.

Would he have refused to make a cake for the Lamp-Thomas wedding, twice contrary to the Bible?

He doesn't make second wedding cakes either, apparently.

Though you can buy one "pre-made" from him.

If he had refused to bake a cake for a wedding he thought was wrong, it seems like it would be the same moral issue. (But perhaps not the same legal one.)

a. Maybe he thinks divorce is immoral and remarriage is adultery (there's a famous Gospel quote directly saying this from Jesus' mouth, so that's not some kind of doctrinal stretch), so he refuses to take part in weddings where one of the participants is divorced.

b. Maybe he thinks interracial marriage is immoral, so he refuses to take part in interracial weddings.

c. Maybe he thinks cousin marriage is immoral, so he refuses to take part in marriages between first couisins.

d. Maybe he thinks this particular marriage is a terrible idea and so he won't have any part in it.

And so on.

The default, in pretty much all areas of life, is that you are allowed to say "this is wrong and I will have no part in it." That's certainly true in your private life--if I object to a wedding, I can certainly refuse to attend or be a groomsman, for any reason or none. Maybe my reason is crazy (I think the groom is secretly a space alien), maybe it's nasty (I can't abide the Aryan woman marrying a Slavic untermench), maybe its weirdly idiosyncratic (I don't like guys with mustaches), but none of that matters. I'm allowed to say no. (You're allowed to be pissed off at me for saying no if you don't like my reasons, too.)

At work, we're often working as agents of some employer, and that can limit our choices. The pharmacist at the CVS who thinks the morning-after pill is immoral may find himself given the choice of dispensing it as ordered or finding another job. But it's common enough for people taking a job with some moral aspect that troubles them to make sure they won't have to take part in objectionalble things. A Catholic obstetrician can probably practice medicine and deliver babies at the local hospital even when he makes it clear that he will never perform an abortion, even if the local hospital does sometimes perform them. That's a matter of local agreements between the employer and employee. I've gotten my employers to avoid assigning me to work I found morally questionable in the past, FWIW, simply by letting them know I didn't want to do that kind of work.

To you guys who say it is easy, draw the line.

Can a "Christian" hotel refuse gay couples?

Why are you speaking in hypotheticals? How about a real one that hit some 'human rights commission' in Canada. Can a gay couple, hyperallergenic, who have a B&B kept to the cleanliness standards that they require, refuse to rent the room to a blind person with a guide dog?

The question isn't 'can someone do something'. The question is whether a gay couple can get a room. Or a cake. Or flowers. Or a job. Etc. Is that a problem anywhere that needs the highest court of the land to get involved?

This isn't Selma, no matter how fervent your imagination.

So, you can't draw the line?

What about Evangelicals refusing Mormons, or Catholics?

We have been through this, and it leads as you say to drinking fountains that say "whites only." The only workable alternative has been that commerce cannot be denied to citizens.

You’re being intentionally ridiculous.

A good legal test for “public accommodation” would be monopoly/oligarchic market power in specific areas. A cable company, the only hotel in a 20 mile radius, water/power utilities, the only grocery store in a 5 mile radius, etc. Call it “undue burden.”

And of course it should go without saying that any state, local, or federal government entity should be held to an extremely strict standard vis a vis discrimination (Trump’s trans ban overturned, anyone who does business with government entities or federal contracts held to a strict legal standard...)

Otherwise the freedom of association between private parties should take precedence. We’re reaching the point of insanity. Both sides want to use the legal system to enforce their own evangelical Puritanesque religion. Either outlawing gay marriage or outlawing being against gay marriage.

The couple had two options: find one of the other bakeries that offered to bake a (free) cake, or sue his business into oblivion.

They chose option B and we should not applaud it.

Stop trying to legislate morality.

I am actually sympathetic to something that would allow trivial inconvenience, but not attack on the general welfare, but I don't think you have found it.

What should a hotel that passes your distance tests do, put a "no gays" sign in the window, to save travelers the awkwardness of asking?

I would say that is an attack on the general welfare.

"Stop trying to legislate morality."
Wasn't it Scalia who said people are ALWAYS legislating morality, one way or the other, one kind of the other?

The point is, America is hopelessly divided and only the force of the weapons will, soon or later, settle the matter. Both sides think they will oppressed. Letting them eat cake won't change it. Which side will prevail? What will the price be?

I am proud to live in a contry where ideological hatred was all but eliminated. Maybe one day America will follow in our steps. And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

For who [fem.] is better than your older siblings, Jupiter? Why could they be devoured, but not this one [i.e. you]? Also, why were you unharmed [on account of] a woman? Finally you become Jupiter the son of Saturn.

A good legal test for “public accommodation” would be monopoly/oligarchic market power in specific areas.

No it wouldn't. A good test is whether you are offering services to the public, monopoly or not. By your standard there would be no problem if every hotel in town refused to accommodate black guests, because none of them had a monopoly.

I answered down thread.

However, the answer should be: is there another hotel within a few miles?

Should a Halal hostel house be allowed to refuse Zionists? Should a Jewish youth House be allowed to refuse Neo-Nazis? Should an eco green zen hotel be allowed to refuse oil tycoons?

We can all come up with hypotheticals that are meant to shut one’s brain off and turn to emotionalism and virtue signaling, which is the DEATH of logic.

Your example has the added unforced error of being governmental discrimination. Which, if you knew more about the subject would lead you to the factual conclusion that Jim Crow was a legally state enforced racist apparatus.

I agree with you one hundred percent, overturn Trump’s trans ban on military service, and fire clerks who refuse to sign gay marriage certificates. If a local government bans Muslims from using a water fountain then send in the 10th Mountain Division and desegregate by force.

But it’s 2017. We don’t need the government to enforce public acomodation laws in competitive markets. We have Yelp. 🙄

We won the culture war already. Time to let them sue for peace and move the f on.

I love it that the real history of the United States is just a "hypothetical" and that the practical resolutions are therefore unnecessary.

I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were literally retarded and lacked reading comprehension skills.

From now on I’ll refrain from responding with a “negative reinforcement sentence”, we should all be proud that you’re making your “voice” heard! Big steps.

I’m sure you excelled at Piece of Shit State University in the field of “Non Stem Academics.”

I’m proud of you for overcoming your disability and lack of ability to leverage rational thought. Congrats on your 1300 SAT score! You’re...retarded but less so than others!

Emoting is comforting and good. Keep at it ! You might make a shitty career at it.

Next time we can talk in nursery rhymes so it doesn’t hurt your brain.

"We can all come up with hypotheticals that are meant to shut one’s brain off and turn to emotionalism and virtue signaling, which is the DEATH of logic.'

That was the idiocy that denied US history.

Potato: *plonk*

US history is that of the Government restricting access to subsets of the population, not private merchants. They are call Crow LAWS for a reason. This is not being discussed today. Today's discussion is people's right to freedom of association.

US History was that businesses which wanted to serve blacks would get firebombed by the local KKK, and the local police would stand by and not do anything about it.

The result was that businesses supported anti-discrimination laws because it gave them plausible deniability so they wouldn't incur the ire of the local KKK when they started serving blacks. They could just innocently claim that they were being forced (forced!) to serve black people because of the federal government *wink* *nudge*.

Such are the realities of life in a racially segregated society. It wasn't as simple as "we had to pass public accomodation laws because otherwise everyone would be racist" OR "public accomodation laws aren't necessary because businesses have a market incentive to serve minorities".

Sometimes a racist social milieu can socially coerce people who would rather not be racist. This is how norms work - absent government coercion, norms are free to evolve in any direction. There's no guarentee they will naturally evolve towards a secular liberal equilibrium. You might wind up with an equilibrium in which the racists dominate and impose their racist values on everyone else. In some cases, socially coercing certain people might be a good idea - i.e. if you really really don't want any radical Muslims in your society, one way to ensure that is for everyone to refuse to associate with them. The point is that it's just wishful thinking to believe that absent government force, racism would just go away. That doesn't necessarily mean that only government force can make it go away - but that it's not going to just evaporate entirely without any positive efforts by people to make it go away.

My kind (parents with kids) is already turned away in America by many hotels, inns, and
beds and breakfasts.

Because that one is different.

That’s not a massive inconvenience to families looking for food or lodging ?

Let’s get this straight: your discrimination legal standard is “if it potentially bothers you personally.”

You do of course realize that it is based on statistical discrimination. That you apparently actively denounce. I’m interested to hear the logic.

lol. Google the body of US law.

If "noisy and bothersome" is the allowable reason, then there's no question that there are groups worse than children.

There is a particular ethnic group - I won't say its nombre - that takes a motel room (the sort where the rooms give on the outside) and then stands on the balcony talking most of the night.

That this stems from sociableness, or some other charming trait, makes it no less annoying.

TV-watchers (!) are awful. America - those who are still watching TV anyway - like it very loud.

[A tip re the TV: the motelkeepers are now mounting them directly - usually back to back - on those thin walls, making the TV in the adjoining room an amplifier. I found it helps to stick a card between the wall and TV to break that effect.]

Motorcyclists are the worst, though. No, maybe it's people who don't know how to walk quietly down the corridor of a Comfort Inn at 2 AM.

I hate you all, so we're good.

These are set up confrontations not simple purchases. The offended purchaser may well be more interested in a civil case with a nice payoff. Many who engage in this offense hunting expedition are in it for the fun of angering those they don't like. The is in this country an antagonism towards Religious, or more correctly Christian religious people. It isn't enough to leave them alone if you don;t agree with their beliefs you must go out and hunt them down and punish them. Now the government has become the enforcer who kneecaps those who do not embrace the cause de jour.

There was an incident the other day where a man tried to have a confederate flag tattooed on his arm. The tattoo establishment refused based on politics. The "offended" customer complained but no one cares. Who is right? The customer who simply wants a tattoo or the tattoo artist whose business is open to the public and should serve everyone?

"White only" lunch counters were about simple purchases, and I guarantee that if the restriction was removed, some clown would open one tomorrow.

"The difficulty of cake" is that it crosses the solution to that previous problem, and there is not a way to untangle it with a bright clean line.

If the court does approve "cake," expect a lot of messy follow-on cases.

We have a natural experiment, I think. As I understand it, antidiscrimination laws apply to specific classes, not generically. So here's the question: in 1990, say, was it in fact impossible or very difficult for a gay couple (then not a protected class) to rent a room?

Prior to I'm sure "buddies" just showed up to "share a room."

“White only” lunch counters were about simple purchases, and I guarantee that if the restriction was removed, some clown would open one tomorrow.

This is unfortunately what the alt-right has taught me. Pre-Trump I would have said "There just aren't that many hard-core racists out there, and they're too marginalized to matter". Post-Trump, I know better.

That said, the correct response would be to organize boycotts of said clown. Socially shame him on Twitter. Post negative reviews on Yelp. I'm sure that would result in some dipshits going out of their way to patronize the guy, but then we would know who THEY were and so on. Social coercion has its uses and this is how society works these things out naturally.

Other paths might have been possible, but the thing I've tried to get across is that these commerce rules didn't spring from nothing. As you describe above, they were the solution chosen for an existing problem.

why causes conservatives regarded as procedurally neutral exercises in enforcing laws — illegal-immigrant roundups, strict voter ID laws — were experienced as acts of white-identitarian aggression.

Because they are? Does Douthat really believe that there is a serious problem with voter ID fraud? There's not. There's hardly any evidence of it at all. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence that the campaign is designed to suppress black votes.

There is no symmetry here.

And as for "roundups," what is the point of ruining people's lives by suddenly deporting them, sometimes after they have lived here peacefully for decades? They came in illegally? We have statutes of limitations on lots of things. What about that? And I ask, as I aways must, why it is that alleged Christians so vigorously support kicking out the stranger? Perhaps Douthat, who is himself devout if I understand correctly, could justify that.

Franken won by voter ID fraud in Minnesota. Gore almost won Florida with voter ID fraud. You are not honest. Name a country, you liar, that is, or ever has been, kinder to more immigrants. You can't, because there aren't. It is wrong to slander others, even if you think they are your moral inferiors.

But obviously, the voter ID fraud was and still is completely legal given the failure of anyone being even charged, much less tried and convicted.

It is only voter ID fraud because you don't like the election results.

Nah, I would have preferred Kennedy to Nixon in 1960 (if all I knew was what we knew in 1960, but we were, of course, lied to), and Kennedy won by vote fraud. Try again. For the record, Democrats will win by vote fraud more than Republicans, these days, because the Democrats take politics more seriously, and their minions have less to lose by breaking laws that are generally unenforced, for reasons that are obvious to any honest observer. Also, you are wrong about "nobody being tried and convicted" - do some research, my ignorant young friend. There are quite a few voter fraud convictions every year - true, they are few and far between compared to the likely incidence of wrong-doing, but we can (thankfully) say the same about convictions for first time marijuana possession (a low rate which I approve of) and about the convictions for going above the speed limit in a rational choice to not be that one slow car in fast traffic....

."... the Democrats take politics more seriously..."

Let's see how Roy Moore does before making that assertion.

No, it's really voter ID fraud. It isn't accidental it is very carefully planned and managed by left wing organizations most notably unions. They register illegal aliens knowing they will vote for the candidate with the dog whistle of free stuff. They organize vans to go out and find homeless drunks to bring them to multiple precincts on election day to vote for left wing candidates.The going rate for alcoholic voter ID fraud is $50 to vote at half a dozen different poling places. Why isn't this crime identified and punished, you ask? Simple in the cities and states where this is practiced the politicians are Democrats, the DA's are Democrats and the majority of the polling place monitors are Democrat.

Gone with the wind: Perhaps you can offer some evidence for this claim?

I've heard stories like this, too, from some people who are in a position to know something about election fraud. But my impression is that this is very much small-scale local fraud. (Though I've always heard it as paying homeless guys to vote--you give them a name to use, a sandwich, and maybe a few bucks or a bottle of cheap wine when they're done.) Doing this on a large scale requires that the local election officials and authorities are basically willing to put up with it.

I do not remember voter fraud being an issue in the Gore vs Bush Florida case. I remember it being about poorly marked ballets. Can you provide us with evidence to support your claim that there was voter fraud in that Florida election?

The United States of America has been kinder to more immigrants, both in the past and recently, than any other country that has ever existed. Yet you feel superior! You shouldn't, you know.
Franken would not have won Minnesota, and Gore would have been further behind in Florida, without voter fraud. You cannot justify that.

Ate those the "alternative facts" we hear so much about?

Douthat is an absurd man who simultaneously believes he’s more Catholic than the Pope and also that the Pope is infallible.

More to the point, however, please provide us the link where any strict Catholic pundit, to include Douthat, vehemently supports deportation for illegal immigrants.

I won’t be holding my breath.

Why do you idiots make me defend religious nutjobs?

Potato - Douthat is a friend of one of the people who run this blog, so he is probably not completely absurd, right? Well, he has said absurd things, and he ridiculously tweeted, last year during the election, a vicious "joke" about (with a sort of "I was just kidding vibe") the murder of Trump (he tweeted about a movie where an unpopular President was murdered, I think). He apologized, but we all know that only an absurd person would have tweeted a stupid joke like that in that vicious way ( he tweeted a reference to a movie where a President was assassinated. I believe that he did not stop to think that Trump has a wife and children who love him. Not very Christian, in that moment, Ross wasn't.) Anyway, the Pope is, in fact, infallible in questions of faith, and no Pope in 2000 years (that is a lot of years, considering how many bad people would have liked to become Pope, not to mention the one or two dozen or so bad people who actually became Pope) has said anything, infallibly, that is now considered wrong by the good-hearted faithful in the church militant and the church triumphant ...the last time there has been a contested question was in 1950, and the Pope in 1950 got that question right, I believe. I am no idiot! And I am not a religious nut-job. But it seems wrong that anyone can criticize the most generous nation to immigrants in the entire history of humanity - the nation that has by far been the most generous to immigrants - for being "unfair to immigrants."

To "good advice". I believe`that those who criticize "the most generous nation to immigrants", as you rightly call it, for not being generous enough with immigrants, are, at some deep but still conscious level, hostile to immigration, and hope to sow confusion among the partisans of an open society. Their hatred toward the current president, a son and husband of immigrants and the closest thing to an immigrant in the white house in the last two centuries, is another symptom of this.

Strange how one's spouse or father's immigration status does not seem to directly influence the actual policy positions about immigration one holds.

But let's all judge people according to who their parents were.

Sure it does. My parent were immigrants and came here legally. They had to have sponsors back then or prove that they could support themselves. My friend's wife is from Mexico and is here legally. She does not support illegal entry either. These are very consistent views.

"has said anything, infallibly, that is now considered wrong by the good-hearted faithful in the church militant and the church triumphant …"
Particularly if one uses that litmus test to decide who is "the good-hearted faithful in the church militant and the church triumphant…"

We don't have a statute of limitations on illegal immigration, so it's just too bad (and despite Obama's ridiculous claim, there's no clause in the Constitution that allows the president to act if Congress does not).

I also find it tiresome when an ignorant nonbeliever sanctimoniously interprets another person's religion as if he were speaking ex cathedra.

"an ignorant nonbeliever" = someone who does not think I speak for God

Hua Wei - I was trying to say that, in the Catholic Church of today, where much is disputed, there is not much dispute about the last absolutely and clearly infallible pronouncement of a Pope ("Munificentissimus Deus", from 1950)- not a single canonized saint is on record as opposing it, and very few theologians who claim to be Roman Catholic dispute it. And those who dispute it - with the exception of fringe theologians who will almost always admit when asked, that they do not completely subscribe to Roman Catholic belief - do not consider it "wrong", as far as I can tell, but, at worst, misguided or unnecessary or unproven.

Thank you for taking this comment seriously, and thank you for considering that you may have misunderstood my earlier comment. Theologians, with very few exceptions (I am not a theologian, by the way) are people who do not make much money and are usually good-hearted. In my comment about Popes and infallibility, I was describing an objective, researchable, fact about the statements (and non-statements) of Roman Catholic theologians, and was not saying that the mystical facts in which they believe are true because they believe them, and I was not saying those mystical facts are true because of my personal certainty that the criterion for being a theologian who is correct about mystical facts is being a theologian who believes the mystical facts infallibly stated to be true in Munificentissimus Deus. (By the way, when I say 'mystical fact', feel free to consider that I am referring to something like 'dogma', although to explain why I did not use the word 'dogma' would double the length of this already too long comment ....

Congress did act, they acted to fund the arrest and deportation of only a fraction of 'illegals' living in the US. Obama no more 'acted when Congress did not' than a police chief who deploys patrol officers to write speeding tickets on the most problematic roads is acting to overturn speeding laws.

6. Why is this behind a pay wall in an acidemic joiurnel even now, and you and others who effect public opinion only talked about the effect of corporate rates on wages etc, not details that matters more before congress voted?

and opinion maker

1. I subscribe to both Spotify and Apple. The big difference is that Spotify requires essentially no effort on the part of the listener while Apple requires lots of effort (in choosing music). If I have friends over and wish to listen to, for example, Christmas music, I load Spotify. To be fair, Spotify does give several choices for Christmas music, but it's still a passive experience. [I picked Christmas music just as an example of a genre, but it could be any genre.] Spotify is the stupid person's idea of a music-lover.

5. I thought Andrew Sullivan's take on the cake case icing on the cake:

I read Douthat and appreciate his point of view, but he needs someone to help him with his writing. He rambles on and on and on. And on. The contrast with Andrew Sullivan couldn't be greater. The best of Sullivan is when he puts on his best debater's technique, which is to build his adversary's case point by point, and then proceed to demolish it point by point. It's something to behold. Very smart people aren't necessarily good writers. Matthew Yglesias before Vox comes to mind, which was difficult to understand given his DNA. Ezra Klein, a very smart person, got MY an editor and, voila! Douthat doesn't need an editor as much as he needs a tutor. I understand he and Sullivan are friends.

But neither address the elephant in the room in the name of Justice Thomas. I would not failed to inquire whether the baker would refuse to bake a cake for Thomas-lamb in 1987, a wedding against the Bible, which the Supreme court invalidated, just like the Supreme Court ruled Congres could make Mormon faith a crime in 1887.

I don't know whether the basket would refuse to make a cake for a second wedding, but this is also not a religious freedom case. A progressive baker should have been free to refuse to make a cake for a Trump inauguration celebration. A cake is an artistic expression. Sculpture made of cake and frosting is speech every bit as much as one made of stone. The government should not be able to compel speech against a speakers will. Whether or not the motivation is religious or secular is irrelevant.

And proves Douthat's point about "the law of merited impossibility."

ANDREW: "I’d have been gobsmacked, as the Brits say. Smacked in the gob because only a decade ago such a question would have seemed so remotely hypothetical as to be absurd."

CONSERVATIVES: "Thanks for finally recognizing our concerns from over ten years ago... Glad you caught up."

(I get that "slipper slope" is a logical fallacy, but it's the nature of the development of legal reasoning and jurisprudence.)

I agree with Andrew's overall position, but he sure was naive about the motives behind many activists in the gay-rights movement. This was not about "live and let live," which I support. Unfortunately, most Americans are statists when it comes to culture and social issues. To me, the gay-marriage debate has always been a battle between two sides who want to force their views on everyone else. The numbers in the "live and let live" camp are few.

ANDREW: "One reason we won that debate is because many straight people simply said to themselves, “How does someone else’s marriage affect me?” and decided on those grounds to support or acquiesce to such a deep social change. It seems grotesquely disingenuous now for the marriage-equality movement to bait and switch on that core “live and let live” argument. And it seems deeply insensitive and intolerant to force the clear losers in a culture war into not just defeat but personal humiliation."

CONSERVATIVES: “Thanks for finally recognizing our concerns from over ten years ago… Glad you caught up.”

5. Andrew Sullivan penned a poignant response to this case. His last line is the kicker.

"One final thought as a Christian. Sealing yourself off from those you consider sinners is, in my reading of the Gospels, the reverse of what Jesus taught. It was precisely this tendency of the religious to place themselves above others, to create clear boundaries to avoid “contamination” from “evildoers” that Jesus uniquely violated and profoundly opposed. If Jesus is your guide, why is this kind of boundary observance such an important part of your faith? Are you afraid your own faith will be weakened by decorating a cake? Would you have ever had dinner with prostitutes or imperial tax collectors as Jesus famously did? What is this Christianity you are so dedicated to? Somewhere, the fundamental Christian imperative to love others and be humble before them has been lost. In other words, if the liberals were more liberal, and the Christians more Christian, this case would never have existed. It tells you a great deal about the decadence of our culture that it does."

Sullivan has the knack of sounding intelligent when he is blitheringly stupid, utterly missing the point.

He proposes the stupidest answer possible: 'If everyone believed as I do, we would have peace'.

The point of religious freedoms is the simple fact that people believe differently for reasons that are their own, and only their own. A mature society who respects the rights of others assumes that those rights belong to people who they vigorously disagree with.

And by the way, the issue in this case isn't that someone couldn't get a cake, or that someone refused to bake one. It is whether the government has the power to force people to do things that are against their religion. There is ample jurisprudence on this; the standard has been accommodation, meaning that some arrangement that is mutually agreeable to all parties is arrived at that both respects the religious beliefs and the needs of the other side. Sometimes accommodation is impossible, and that has been the case in some instances. Things that are symbolic, such as in a cake infested market forcing someone to celebrate with you, or like saluting the flag or singing the anthem, the state has no place because there is no need of accommodation since there is no harm.

It was trivial for these people to get a cake. There is no issue for the government to be involved in, but they insisted on using their blunt instrument. That is what this case is about.

How does this case differ from Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. (8 Otto.) 145 (1878),?

Why isn't Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. (8 Otto.) 145 (1878) dictating religious faith and practice more than in the case of the baker??

Sullivan is a brilliant writer and debater. His problem is that he has terrible instincts. On how many big issues has Sullivan been wrong, only to later shift his position, so many times that it's a wonder the man doesn't have whiplash. On the other hand, many if not most people are wrong on many big issues and never waver from it, the more obvious it becomes they are wrong the stronger they hold onto their views.

Just reading this excerpt in your remark, I think Sullivan misses this important point: the distinction between Christ's association with the sinners in the Gospel and the baker's act is the endorsement of the acts themselves. Christ, by dining with tax collectors and speaking with prostitutes, was not effectively endorsing their views, but exactly the reach even the lowest moral person (by that societies standards) with the message that even they could have salvation in him if they repented from their sins and lived in faith. Christians, interpreting this message correctly, understand that they also are called to reach out to people by spreading this message to everyone, but to live faithfully, above all else. Christians should not actively isolate themselves from society, yet the tenants of their faith are increasingly applying an isolating effect to them in today's society. Gay marriage, as with most teachings on divorce, runs contrary to the teachings in the Scripture, which many consider to be the final authority in their lives. A baker may find no harm in friendly association with homosexuals and may see it is an opportunity to be a witness. But when he is forced to violate a tenant of his faith in his place of work against the threat of financial insolvency, then he is left with an impossible choice. He must either be willing to offer an endorsement or validation to something he believes is a sin, or pay a huge financial penalty for non-compliance. Whether or not you agree that the baker is right, you need to understand why he can't make the cake to be able to see this side of the argument.

Tangential note: a tenant is somebody who occupies somebody else's property. The near-homonym, tenet refers to opinions.

Yep and thanks. Should have caught that

Important distinction here: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭5:9-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

It's a stupid comparison. Eating with someone is not on the same plane as being a participant in celebrating matrimony, which is regarded as a deeply holy act.

So, the architect and carpenter building the building where the wedding cake is cut and eaten are participating in the wedding?

8. is great, and worrisome. Is the singularity near?

Fortunately for us humans, self play in a perfect information game is still very far from consciousness, so I'd not consider this to be that big a day towards artificial consciousness.

That said, AlphaZero plays the most beautiful chess we have seen in decades, and against top AIs. Part Morphy, part Karpov, at the very same time, in the same games. Its intentions far more understandable and "romantic" than anything since Deep Blue, and yet carrying behind it inhuman calculations. You don't have to be a GM to follow along: I've seen middle school kids gasping at some of the moves it does. I wish we had more games, and against more opponents: The way it plays can change chess about as much as AlphaGo changed Go.

I believe and hope you are right. It was the fact that I understood some of AlphaZero's moves, even without the commentary (and as a very mediocre chess player), which made me wonder if it had attained some kind of "human (super-)intelligence".

Is consciousness necessary ( or inevitable) for human intelligence, I am not convinced. Say we develop many AIs with different problem solving purposes and one day they are put together into one single AI

Now you have one AI who is fantastic at chess, fantastic at driving cars safely and solving customer problems and interpreting DNA sequences ,recommending financial investments, counseling depressed people and a myriad of other capabilities all at super human levels. It may appear very intelligent in nearly any domain but not conscious at all.

I don't know if a generic learning algorithm has been found with this Alphazero AI, or it is limited to self contained domains like chess, but it seems we are getting closer to more powerful learning algorithms.

How do you know your hypothetical AI *isn't* conscious?

Let's say consciousness ( among other things) is a capacity for self reflection. Why do we have it ? does it help in solving problems or does it helps survival or is it a side effect, an emergent property of a complex brain, I don't know.

There is no need for the conscious assumption in an AI. Humans can solve problems a lot of the time unconsciously .For example i can walk to my neighbor's house without thinking about the path to take, fairly automatically out of habit. Still my brain has to figure out how to do it and tell my body how to move even if I am not conscious of it. It's not clear that consciousness helps in solving problems. It helps with drive, motivation, goals.

Even if an AI is aware of itself as an entity separate from the rest of the world. So what ? That doesn't mean it wants to propagate, survive and create new goals only advantageous to itself.It seems that our goals and drive to survive are rooted in evolution. Otherwise of course we would not be here to discuss it.It could be that a conscious AI would not care if it lives on or is turned off any more than my desktop computer does.

It might give the impression of consciousness, but it is nothing like it. The series of neural network layers that go from board position on one hand to the evaluation score on the other, are progressive generalizations of that position. While a human player and a chess engine will both recognize clearly defined patterns that are of importance (e.g half open files, weak squares, etc.) AlphaZero will “recognize” consequential patterns in a position that no human (nor previous chess engine) has ever been able to formalize before. What many of these features of a position are, I don’t believe we can easily know even after detailed study of the trained neural network, but they could include extremely difficult, complex, or subtle features of a chess position heretofore never considered (say a rook on the seventh rank with opposing pawns on adjacent files, Knight blocked doubled pawns with opposite colored bishops and queens still on the board). This pattern recognition and the importance of pattern combinations is automatically generated by feedback from the results of self play.

@ #8 - the skeptics to AlphaZero say the hardware was not equal in the match, and that AlphaZero did not play a genetic algorithm but a variant of "alpha beta" (what traditional chess programs use), namely a form of Shannon B forward pruning. But still impressive play by AlphaZero.

Bonus trivia: the presenter Agad* that TC cites in YouTube is just a patzer, about as strong as I am, class A. He gives the impression he is stronger than he really is with strategic pauses (same as when Obama gives a speech), which is taught in Toastmasters as a tactic to give gravity. But Agad*'s channel has gotten popular since, like Mato (also an excellent presenter, even better than Agad*) he generally keeps his videos under 10 minutes. Further, though the AlphaZero game involving a long term positional sacrifice was brilliant (I assume that's the game that was reviewed), even lower level programs can give entertaining matches. In the below, played on my PC the other day, a lower rated program beats a higher rated program (that can consider 5x to 7x more moves per give time) despite being down materially, due to a passed outside pawn, always a danger. I use both the below freeware programs as sparring partners.

[Date "2017.12.09"]
[White "Xchenard,Intel Core i5 about 5' a move"]
[Black "Clueless, Intel Core i5 about 5' a move"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B81"]
[WhiteElo "1850"]
[BlackElo "2000"]

1. Nc3 c5 2. e4 d6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 6. h3 e6 7. g4 h6 8. Bg2
Be7 9. Be3 Nc6 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. Qe2 O-O 12. O-O-O Rb8 13. Rhe1 Qa5 14. Bd2 Qb6
15. b3 d5 16. e5 Nd7 17. Kb1 c5 18. f4 c4 19. f5 d4 20. fxe6 fxe6 21. Nd5 exd5
22. Bxd5+ Kh8 23. Qxc4 Qc5 24. Bc1 Qxc4 25. Bxc4 Nb6 26. Rxd4 Bc5 27. Rde4 Bb7
28. e6 Bxe4 29. Rxe4 a5 30. Be2 Rf2 31. Bd2 Be7 32. Bxa5 Na8 33. Bc3 Rc8 34.
Be5 Rd8 35. Bg3 Rg2 36. Bf4 Rf8 37. Bc1 Rg1 38. Kb2 Rf2 39. Bf4 Rgg2 40. Bd3
Rf3 41. Be3 Rgg3 42. Bd4 Rxh3 43. a4 Rf8 44. Ka2 Nc7 45. Bc4 Ne8 46. Be2 Rh2
47. Bd3 Rg2 48. a5 Rf3 49. Be2 Rh3 50. a6 Rhh2 51. a7 Nc7 52. Bd3 Rxc2+ 53.
Bxc2 Rxc2+ 54. Kb1 Rc6 55. Re2 Kg8 56. Rc2 Rxc2 57. Kxc2 Bd6 58. Kd3 Kf8 59.
Ke4 Bg3 60. b4 Na8 61. Kd5 g6 62. b5 Bc7 63. Kc6 Ke7 64. Kb7 Kxe6 65. Kxa8 Bd8
66. Kb8 1-0

#5...I'm okay with the baker's refusal. He'd better hope he never meds my help, though.

To be a decent comparison, helping others needs to be against your religion.

5 - I like Ross and mostly agreed with this column, BUT I think that he and other folks making the "leave them alone" argument are studiously ignoring the context, which is that the baker case is actually a case of turnabout: when religious conservatives had more political power, they actively used the state to constrain the rights of couples like the men who wanted the wedding cake. I think that Ross's argument still more or less holds, but the context goes a long ways towards explaining why people can't just let it go. Christians are asking gay people for a courtesy that they were never willing to give; it shouldn't come as a surprise that the response has been uncharitable. I would be mildly curious to know if the baker voted on Colorado's Amendment 43 referendum. That would tell you what he believes about whether the state should use its power to enforce people's moral beliefs about gay marriage.

A fair point. But my reading of history is that when the victors in a war exact revenge on the vanquished, it ends badly: think Treaty of Versaille compared to the treatment of the defeated Axis powers after WWII.
The reaction may be understandable, but that doesn't really justify it.

The difficulty is in defining a line that at once gives space to dissenters without giving up hard won solutions.

That "commerce should not discriminate against citizens" is messy at times, but less messy than any alternatives presented on this page.

In that regard, of course hay is made about cakes. It is a corner case that avoids the full weight of discrimination in American history.

Clyde's point was that the victors (or at least the Western victors) actually helped the defeated rebuild themselves. I think the analogy is actually helpful in its failings. De-Nazification and required changes in Japan didn't require people to really give up their communities, and actual economic help was offered. For dealing with Christians, there isn't any option available comparable to De-Nazification that doesn't require destroying their churches and communities. Whether progressives should attempt to destroy these communities is really what this case is a stalking horse for. I don't think anyone cares whether or not the baker has to make custom designed cakes for gay weddings. But can churches continue to receive tax exempt status if they discriminate against gays? Will people who are affiliated with conservative churches be discriminated against when seeking employment or promotion? Will Western countries treat the public expression of the view that homosexual acts are sinful as hate speech and hence as a criminal act? These are unsettled questions. I think that Christians rightly fear that the prevailing view of the state (and of the powerful secular elites) will soon come to be that it is just fine that Christians be ostracized from public life, including from most opportunities for remunerative work, in the same way that it is now considered appropriate to ostracize neo-nazis. No one really cares about the cake, although in my opinion, the court damn well better have developed a good test of whether or not some sort of work is public accommodation or artistic expression so that these edge cases don't keep popping up again and again.

Also, just to be clear, I am glad that neo-nazis and other white supremacists are ostracized, as it seems that part of their core beliefs are that violence should be visited upon those that they don't like. So if progressives look back in time and say that conservative Christians not too long ago supported violence against gays (e.g. laws criminalizing sodomy), that strikes me as a reasonable view to take. Vanquishing those who threaten you with violence (or walling them off from you) seem like the only viable options to me. Requiring that Christians renounce views that in the very recent past were associated with the view that violence should be visited upon gays or else be ostracized isn't a crazy view to hold at all.

P. Burgos has taken my analogy farther than I intended it. I did not intend to advocate for anything analogous to "denazification" of Christian churches and communities, though I can see now how my words could be construed that way.

The point I intended to make is that post-victory vengeance leads to humiliation and suffering, which leads to resistance. Resistance grows and may come to dominate with very destructive counter-vengeance. By contrast, the approach to the defeated Axis powers took an overall positive approach and did not seek to humiliate or permanently disempower the defeated nations. Germany, Italy, and Japan became "good world citizens" and have remained so for over 70 years now.

I agree it would be a good thing if Christianity rid itself of those who advocate violence and cruelty to gays, especially among their leadership--I think many who consider themselves serious Christians would agree with that as well. But that is for the Christian communities to do (or not) on their own--not something to be imposed on them by others.

Where I agree most strongly with P Burgos is that this is a difficult and peculiar case, and that the court needs to think very carefully about whatever principles it sets and lines it draws in deciding it. There is little room for error here, and lots of bad consequences could follow in either direction.

It is unfortunate we are at this juncture. Regardless of how you see the "rights" falling here, this case did not need to be litigated, and the fallout, either way, is likely to be very damaging. It bodes poorly for our future as a society that we are fighting in this way.

CLYDE you are imposter who cannot recall the story of boo-boo the rabbit that was lost in Philadelphia in a performance art piece in 1882. The flowing water and the still photographs behind and the chandelier above lit a woman trapped inside. She had pail of bleach in her hand, the woman CLYDE, and a flat iron in her hair and she read Pariksha guru and when she looked up there was Abaham Cahan. He was only two but he saw that woman die and he might not have been able to talk like you or I CLYDE but little Abraham spit at boo-boo's shivering tongue and he laughed at the vapid, black eyes the woman inside falling.

This is wrong on so many levels.

The baker shouldn’t be liable for the actions of his co-religionists in the past. Collective guilt is evil.

Christians were never willing to give a courtesy? That’s ridiculous. We in the West have all inherited the courtesies to fellow man that derive from Christian principles. Even as an atheist I can recognize I largely follow Christian principles and that without the Christian tradition our society would be much less forgiving and charitable.

The threshold for leveraging the enormous power of the state against harmless individuals should be between very high and unreachable..

I didn't say that collective guilt was good--read my post, and you will see that I say the opposite, agreeing with Douthat. What I said is that collective guilt is understandable and a thing that humans commonly do to one another, and I fell pretty solid standing behind that opinion.

I also think you misunderstood my use of the word "courtesy." As I assume you know, Christians DID use the power of the state against harmless individuals--specifically, homosexuals--when they had that power. It's why I brought up the amendment debate. Christians could have ignored homosexuals and let them go about their business unmolested; that would be the courtesy that Christians are now asking for themselves in the baker case. Christians chose not to do that. Instead, they actively targeted homosexuals for official harassment. That fact (and reversal) is why I think Douthat's argument tends to fall on deaf ears, and I think he is severely weakening his own case by refusing to acknowledge and deal with it.

If you are going to define laws as violence, then perhaps you should try living in a place without laws. Or just places where laws are not enforced, like say Baltimore.

Did you actually read my comments? The word "violence" doesn't appear in any of them. The law can be violent, but I think that most of what homosexuals experienced is better described by "harassment," which is why I used that word.

So, next year when you're arguing for, say, trans rights, how many social conservatives do you think will be convinced by the standard American "no skin off my nose" type argument for personal freedom. And how many will just expect that giving an inch on the issue now will end up with people being legally compelled to take part in things they believe are morally wrong?

Gay marriage could gain acceptance because even most people with moral objections knew it mostly wouldn't affect them. Nobody's going to make my church perform them, I don't have to attend the wedding, it's mostly happening somewhere far away. So why spend a lot of energy fighting it?

One way to change that logic is to maximize the cram-it-down-their-throats aspect of the culture war. Once gay marriage is recognized, any resistance to it gets hammered, people get sued or shut down by the city or whatever for refusing, religious institutions are required to provide marriage benefits for same-sex couples, etc. This is a *great* way to incentivize backlash.

The backlash can happen in a couple different ways. First, for future causes, all the "no skin off my nose" libertarian arguments for greater personal freedom w.r.t., say, polyamory or trans people, will evaporate. Everyone will understand that the progression of these things is:

1. It is permitted.
2. It is mandatory.

And so people who simply object to having it be mandatory will find strong reasons to push back against it.


The other kind of backlash is that the current state of the culture war isn't some kind of Ordained By God thing. Gay marriage won in *court*, despite as far as I know never winning a popular vote anywhere. Amp up the "cram it down their throat" aspect of that bit of culture war, and we could see a genuine political backlash. Imagine if Pence runs on culture war + Trumpism issues in the next two elections and appoints four more justices to the Court--will we still have gay marriage?

We already did a lot of this w.r.t. rights of criminals. Courts and activists moved the ball *way* down the field w.r.t. legal rights of accused criminals, rehabilitation vs locking-em-up, etc. There was a big backlash, and we got mandatory minimums and no-trial property seizures and supermax prisons. That can happen again.

I think the best way we know to deal with this kind of fundamental disagreement about morals is to keep the state the hell out of it and leave people to make their own decisions. It's a bit like freedom of religion--instead of making "shall we be a Catholic or Protestant regime" the main political issue, we can say "go to whatever church you like and leave the government out of it," and avoid a whole lot of otherwise-intractible disagreements.

I more or less agree about keeping the state out, as I have said many times in this thread.

But I am also saying that the baker case IS the backlash--it's the backlash of the people who used to be disempowered against the people who used to be empowered. That doesn't make it a great idea; the pendulum can always swing back the other way, as you suggest. Still, your underlying suggestion that this backlash is a new thing is silly. You're not describing backlash; you're describing a backlash TO the backlash. it's a Hatfield and McCoy problem, rather than a novel one.

Also, you got the formulation wrong. It's 1) The majority disapproves. 2) The power of the state shall enforce disapproval.

That's what happened to gay people. Now it's happening to people who dislike gay people.

" they actively used the state to constrain the rights of couples like the men who wanted the wedding cake."

They couple has no RIGHT to force a baker to produce a cake for them. They were never wronged to begin with.

But they did have a right to associate with whomever they chose and execute contracts, including marriage contracts, with whomever they chose, and Christians had no problem constraining those rights.

I'm not arguing that they had a right to force a baker to produce a cake. I'm arguing that the use of state power in this instance is a case of turning the tables which, while inadvisable, is totally understandable.

8- I think we like this AI more because it's a better version of ourselves. It learns by experience like us, only much faster.

It feels like a souped up/speeded up version of a human and we can appreciate the beauty of its chess games more easily; not so much with the alien Stockfish

Chess players love the fact that AlphaZero shows there’s a lot more depth and subtlety to the game than the engines had people believe. Sacrificing significant material for what seem at first to be subtle positional advantages is pretty amazing when these features slowly morph into very significant long term advantages.

6. If only the chattering classes had devoted one-tenth this much attention to the flaws in Obamacare. What a contemptible lot Alex, Tyler and the rest of their tax-supported cronies are. They have failed utterly in their responsibilities to society at large, in favor of sanctimonious moral preening.

8. Seems like a big win for AI.

But curious - is this the first attempt at AI in chess? Did all the earlier chess engines, starting from Deep Blue to Stockfish incorporate no AI / machine learning element? Are they all explicitly programmed for every move?

The real avocado injury of concern is bruising caused by 2 dozen prior shoppers giving the fruit a firm squeeze before it finds its forever home. My dream is an automatic system that sorts the avocados by days until ripeness and puts them behind glass until they're selected.

5.) On a different note, I found two mistakes or typos in the first couple of paragraphs in Douthat's column. Is the Times cutting on editors?


Let's talk about public versus private businesses. Say your town has 3 liquor happens to be owned by a high end restaurant, another by a hotel that has an overpriced bar in its lobby and the 3rd by a cozy neighborhood bar type of establishment. You go to the neighborhood bar but the bar owner announces he 'doesn't serve your type' (forget about what 'type' he might be objecting too).

Now before you talk too much about property rights consider that by limiting the available liquor licenses, the town has in fact done the bar owner a favor by limiting competition. As a resident of the town, your local gov't has limited your possible choices in order to do something to improve the lot of local businesses. So before jumping too much on the side of the bar owner being able to say no to whoever he wants, keep in mind his hands aren't as clean as some pure-Ayn Randian fantasy world. If this gives you trouble imagine the postman declaring his 'religious beliefs' means he won't deliver mail to people he thinks are gay AND since the US Post office has a monopoly on mail you don't get any mail if that happens to be you.

On the flip side, public businesses usually are not monopolies. There's usually more than one bar, more than one cake shop etc.

Hence I think the rule of thumb should generally be "you can choose your product but not your customers". If the cakeshop wants to not carry or make 'groom-groom' cakes, that's fine. But they still have to sell cakes to gay couples IMO. Ditto for other variations. Guy doesn't want a cake with a Star of David, fine, but he can't refuse to sell to a Jewish person because he thinks the cake will be used in a Jewish ceremony .

I'm a bit unclear here what exactly the cakeshop refused to do. Sell a cake period or sell a cake customized for a SSM ceremony? Only the latter, IMO, should prevail for them in the case.

Mulp is clearly a Jesuit.

It is the latter. The bakery had cakes that they were willing to sell to them; they were unwilling to customize one for them.

Customize how? Most wedding cakes I've seen are pretty plain except for different variations on icing and maybe a bride/groom on top. Were they unwilling to provide, say, a groom-groom cake or were they simply refusing to provide the customizations they usually provide on cakes because the couple buying it was gay? If the 'customization' is something they don't make available to customers in general (say a groom-groom cake), I'm ok with it. If it is provided to customers in general, they shouldn't discriminate. Pick your products not your customers.


I'd like to introduce you to the Ray Lopez Foundation, an altruistic organization devoted to helping lonely middle-aged men become sugar daddies to barely-legal Filipina girls. This organization manages to (just) avoid being illegal--they're not *quite* pimping the girls out, technically; they're not *exactly* carrying out immigration fraud, etc. This foundation would like to use your coffee shop[1] for initial meetings, and the bed and breakfast you operate out of your house for later interactions between the lovelorn men and cash-deficient young ladies. Is it your position that you should not be permitted to refuse to take part in this stuff? Because you operate a public facing business?

Similarly, you are the owner of the Acme cattle prod and rubber hose factory, a public facing business that normally caters to farmers and such. A nice purchasing agent from the Egyptian secret police shows up at your factory one day and wants to put in an order for a few thousand cattle prods and 2-foot lengths of rubber hose for counterterrorism purposes. Again, it is your position that you should not be permitted to refuse to take part?

You are a drug manufacturer who makes drugs that hopefully save lives. The state of Texas is looking for a new supplier of execution drugs, and they've noticed that some things on your catalog would meet their purposes nicely. Again, is it your position that you should have your business closed down if you refuse to sell those drugs to the state of Texas? (Hurry up! They've got a guy they're wanting to execute, and if they don't get it done soon, the court might allow a challenge on the validity of the Ouija board testimony they used to get that conviction!)

The general principle you seem to be supporting is that once I am in business, I'm not allowed to let my morals get involved at all in what I do. This seems like both a really horrible moral principle, and also one that would lead to a much worse world.

[1] Not a bar, of course--the girls aren't 21 yet, and we'd never do anything illegal!

Actually I would say public facing businesses operate on a scale. A purely private business, say a private tutor, is pretty much free to discriminate as it pleases. A public utility, say the electric company, has almost no such freedom. Hence your Ray Lopez Foundation may have trouble using the coffee shop for their monthly meetings, but should they have an office I don't think the electric company should be refusing to hook them up.

In between I would say public businesses have limited ability to discriminate against their customers. The coffee shop may not allow the club to meet but should probably let it's members stop in to buy coffee as regular customers provided they don't cause trouble. Hence the mall wasn't wrong to bar Roy Moore after he made a pest of himself hitting on teen girls.

#5, Diversity leads to a lack of trust? Well I'll be darned. I thought the pundits and social science researchers were telling us that diversity could only make us stronger?

Actually Putnam found exactly that (i.e. diversity reduces trust). For a hilarious `refutation' of Putnam, see paragraph 3 here:

#7 includes the Minutemen, Steve Lacy, Sun Ra etc.

I guess Batson didn't find enough good music made by musicians who are still living.

Donthut is making essentially the same argument that was made about lunch counters 50 years ago.

You would think that over 50 years conservatives would have come up with a better argument.

Don't anyone try to tell me that he is not raciest. His revealed preference obviously contradicts his claims to the contrary.

50 years ago it was illegal to allow blacks at the same lunch counter as whites. The government stopped you doing this. Nothing at all alike. Now you've gone from forcing people not to associate to forcing people to associate. Colorado's position is the same as a Jim Crow law. In both cases it's the left that has the same answer for everything, the opposite of freedom.

Depends on the jurisdiction. I believe the bus company Rosa Parks protested had their 'back of the bus' policy as policy and were not mandated by law.

You're also being a bit silly. Lunch counters were not chafing under gov't regulation 50 years ago, unable to sell to willing black customers. Lunch counters were on board with segregation and we both know that if you went back in time and tried to open your own non-segeregated lunch counter you would be run out of town.

#5. Actually agree with Ross Douthat for once. The problem with centralizing more of social life in the government is that the stakes get ever higher - and as a result politics gets ever more polarized and tribal. The way the ACA was used to force Catholics to pay for contraceptives is a perfect example of this. If everyone MUST buy a one-size-fits-all medical plan then you MUST control the federal government to control what that plan covers or doesn't cover. You can't just personally go out into the market and buy an individual plan that fits your needs - the only way to get what you want is to politically organize and win elections. The more power the state has over your life, the more politics will become a winner-take-all take-no-prisoners war for control of the state.

I think the great genius of freedom of religion is that it moved explicit questions of religion (will Catholics or Protestants be on top in this country? What church will you have to join to get a government job? Etc.) out of the political realm. There are still all kinds of political issues related to religion (because religion and morality are tied together), but there's an immense win to taking the whole question of whose church will be in the driver's seat off the table.

One reason: if the election is about whether the Catholics or Protestants run things, I can't really waste my vote on trivialities like whose environmental or tax policies seem best. I have to keep those damned Protestants from getting in power and screwing my people over.

There's something very much like this w.r.t. the culture war. The urge to grind down the losers, cram the winners views down their throats, and bayonet the survivors probably feels pretty good to the winners, but it also guarantees that there won't be a lot more voluntary compromises coming down the pike.

Arguably you could state the libertarian position as the idea of removing virtually everything from the political realm - cultural issues AND economic ones - leaving nothing of the state but the court system and police. Maybe a rump parliament which does nothing but tweak meta-rules governing the courts.

BTW, I'm all for bayonetting the losers (on certain issues, if the losers are still capable of harming their outgroups), but via the soft coercion of social ostracism.

No real and normal human being finds that a moment of real concern. It was and is a phony 'concern' by the political right.

Before you argue, please cite as evidence all examples of Roman Catholics objecting to insurance plans that cover viagra for unmarried males.

Exactly, you just write off people you disagree with as "not real and normal human beings." Your mouth reveals your fascist heart.

I'm not writing off people that disagree, I'm pointing out no such people really exist. No Catholic group, thinker, organization, etc. ever expressed any moral issue before with health insurance provided by work or individually purchased that covered behavior prohibited by Catholic doctrine. Again find me one example of those making a fuss about contraceptives in health plans also making a fuss about health plans covering viagra for unmarried males.

My position is people who did make a big deal about the 'contraception mandate' are either political operators seeking their entitlement to Fox News fame, or are being conned by such.


Have you ever actually interacted with people who take their religion seriously? Or who think deeply about moral issues--ones that you don't find too compelling, but they apparently do? It seems to me that you are, right now, failing your ideological Turing test.

It seems to me that there is nothing on this Earth easier than to say "Those people saying X is offensive to them don't really believe it, they're just saying that to get attention/virtue signal/accomplish some shady political goals." But since you can't actually read minds, you probably don't actually know the internal motives or beliefs of, say, the leaders of the Catholic church or Catholic institutions who are being told to pay for birth control, say.

The Catholic Church teaches that most kinds of contraception are morally unacceptable in most circumstances. You may think this is a silly belief, or a politically unwise one, or an ecologically destructive one, but the Church has upheld that belief for decades despite a lot of social pressure to reverse it--including having a large fraction of American Catholics kind-of roll their eyes about the whole teaching and quietly limit their familes to two or three kids. It seems *really* implausible that you, from your armchair, have truly seen into the hearts of the Church leaders and recognized that it's not really an important issue to them, they're just using it to try to obstruct ACA[1].

One reason Church leaders might have raised the issue there--a pretty plausible one, in fact, is that they wanted to apply the brakes as far ahead of where they needed to stop as possible. Like, if they're worried that some Democratic candidate in the future will find it politically advantageous to add a requirement for covering morning-after pills or surgical abortions to the ACA[2], they might think that they're more likely to avoid having that forced on them if they don't fight back on the first step of being required to provide contraception. But it's also quite plausible that they genuinely, truly, feel that they're being coerced into taking part in something they believe is morally wrong, and they don't want to do that.

[1] Note that the Church's social teachings are very favorable toward social welfare programs like universal healthcare.

[2] Which, once again, is totally nuts and could never happen and when it does those bastards will have it coming.

Actually there are many reasons contraception can be practiced morally under Catholic doctrine. For example, consider a woman who is BRCA positive who opts to take contraception pills to lower her risk of developing ovarian cancer until she decides to have a child. It is a stretch, however, to assert that just because the boss is Catholic she should have to explain her medical decisions to him is not about respecting the boss's religious beliefs but disrespecting her and the fact that her health coverage is earned from her work....she no more has to account for how she uses her health coverage than how she spends her money....which also comes 'from the boss' if you follow that thinking. Now if the boss is covering erectile dysfunction meds for unmarried male employees without also asking for an explanation how such use can happen within Catholic sexual morality, that just demonstrates religious belief is not really the issue here.

Let's leave the contraception issue aside for now.
One consequence of the ACA is that, because infertility treatment is NOT mandated as an "essential benefit", and a long list of other stuff is, that many employer based plans are cancelling infertility coverage. The ACA plans definitely do not cover anything that is not required. Thus, let's say you're an infertile couple - now if you want to get something expensive , like IVF, you're probably going to have to pay for it yourself, OR ... you lobby to make it an "essential benefit". Voila, now you get it for "free". Well, there aren't enough infertile couples to form a lobbying group apparently. There's enough women out there to lobby for free contraception, but not enough infertile ones to make free IVF a mandatory benefit.

Again, my point is that once you put the government in charge of what kind of insurance EVERYONE gets (and cross-subsidizes), you make it essential that in order to control what's in your health plan - something that intrinsically has a deep personal effect on one's life (and death!) - you HAVE TO control the government. Whether it's contraception or infertility treatment or some rare disease or mammograms at 40 - when the government decides what your insurance is going to cover, not you, the only way to control your own insurance plan is to control the government. And the same goes for many other issues. The more powerful the federal government gets, the higher the stakes get. It shouldn't surprise anyone that poltics has gotten crazier and more polarized as the federal government has worked its way into more and more parts of the economy.

Most states require you to have auto insurance. Auto insurances cover all types of things...some give you free towing, others will fix little cracks in your windshield 'for free'. Yet all the plans cove the bare minimum that state law requires. Can I shop by price and get the lowest possible coverage even though that may leave me on the hook if I damage some car beyond that? Sure. Can I shop by benefit and get lots of extra goodies and be assured that if I plowed into a storefront of fine china and delicate Greek sculptures, I'd still not have to lose a cent? Sure.

A policy that increases coverage begs the question of what exactly counts as coverage and IMO that could be answered by giving the actuarial estimated percent of expenses covered (about 60%+ I believe) and ensure that essential medical conditions are not excluded (i.e. cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc.). Infertility treatment is wickedly expensive with a low success rate. Should it be covered? Perhaps but you can get it if you 'choose your plan'.

Your freedom blind spot is that you only see freedom in one direction. That you can't buy 'coverage' that includes infertility treatment but excludes contraception and still avoid the mandate penalty is something you're making a big deal about. But on the other side of the spectrum not being able to actually cover yourself or your family because the only affordable plans are ones that exclude things like chemotherapy or price any of your neighbors who have poor health profiles out of the pool is just as big a hit to freedom, if not bigger.

A policy that increases coverage begs the question of what exactly counts as coverage and IMO that could be answered by giving the actuarial estimated percent of expenses covered (about 60%+ I believe) and ensure that essential medical conditions are not excluded (i.e. cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc.).

Like contraception?

you only see freedom in one direction. That you can’t buy ‘coverage’ that includes infertility treatment but excludes contraception and still avoid the mandate penalty is something you’re making a big deal about. But on the other side of the spectrum not being able to actually cover yourself or your family because the only affordable plans are ones that exclude things like chemotherapy or price any of your neighbors who have poor health profiles out of the pool

Not being able to have a child is a pretty fucking big deal to a lot of people. Just as big a deal as not being able to afford chemo - or not being able to afford a plan which covers chemo. Probably a much bigger deal for most couples than whether your neighbor with a poor health profile gets priced out of the pool.

My point is not that it should be covered or not but that centralizing the decision making about what gets covered means that in order to control your own health plan , you have to control the state. The affordability of coverage and treatment is determined by how much stuff the essential benefits list covers so you're necessarily pitted against other people's interests if you want to be able to afford the kinds of health care you need. is a good starting point. 'Essential coverage' is defined as being at least 60% actuarial value. The ten essential categories of coverage are:

Mental Health
Preventative/Wellness/Chronic disease support

Your hypothetical person who really wants to have kids would need maternity care. A health plan may or may not cover IVF treatments *but* contraception is preventative and a plan that covers contraception has more money to pay for IVF care (whether or not they offer that to get customers is a market function). Keep in mind births cost less than abortions and abortions cost less than contraception.

Very much like the auto insurance that pays for fixing a cracked windshield, the people who actually pay for it are those who receive the service. The insurance fixes my window, I don't have an accident, I 'pay' because I would have otherwise been receiving a payout from my auto insurance. Of course I don't complain because between paying my auto insurance premium and getting no check for an accident versus paying and getting a huge check for a huge accident...I'd rather take the former.

Can you make the case that IVF, which can be included in any 'full plan' fits into that boat? I don't think so. If I told you we had 10 categories we should define as 'full coverage' would you make a case that IVF should replace one of those above? If so which one?

#1 is so dumb, you wasted my time.

2. "In societies with low trust, there isn’t much incentive to, for instance, abide by clean-air laws, or follow regulation to make food safer."

The essay was fairly perceptive and thoughtful overall, but the observations did not quite cohere. In particular, in China surely the problems of air pollution and contaminated food are not due to "low trust" but rather due to lack of regulation in the first place or lack of enforcement of the existing regulations.

The problems of air quality in China are due to their currently being in the air quality-minimizing spot on the environmental Kuznets curve.

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