Saturday, March 01, 2014

Dr. Jay Michaelson writes one of the most stunningly boneheaded attacks on religious liberty laws that I have ever had the misfortune to read.

On a trip to Georgia, I enter a restaurant with my partner, who is male. “Sorry,” the maître-d’ says, “we don’t serve homosexuals.”
According to the law being debated in Georgia — quite similar to the one just vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer — this would be perfectly legal. That law — like others rejected by legislators in South Dakota, Kansas, Idaho, and Tennessee — is the latest salvo in a long campaign to redefine “religious liberty” to include the liberty to discriminate against other people.

Doc?  I’m a conservative Christian who considers homosexual activity to be a sin.  You obviously disagree with me.  But if you and your partner walk into my restaurant wearing rainbow flag T-shirts, sit down and order lunch, you know what you’re going to get?

You and your partner are going to get lunch.  And I’ll fire anyone on my staff who refuses to serve it to you.
Know why that is, Doc?  To a business owner, customers are extremely valuable people.   And the Bible contains no moral injunction against eating.

The campaign targets women as well as LGBTs.

You guys really need to come up with a catchier euphemism.

Next month, the United States Supreme Court will determine whether corporations have consciences,

Many of which are owned by individuals with consciences.

and if so, whether they can opt out of laws on the basis of them. This will immediately affect millions of women who want contraception covered by their insurance (as is, say, Viagra).

Viagra wasn’t covered in mine the last time I was working.

But it will also impact millions more who corporations may wish not to serve or employ — like me and my partner.

Insofar as those weren’t homosexuals crammed into the holds of the slave ships in the  1600′s and 1700′s, you might want to dial back the faux civil rights, “oppressed” minority rhetoric, Doc.

Is it ethically, philosophically, or even logically the case that providing an option as part of an insurance plan is the same as exercising that option? Is it the same as providing contraception? When a woman takes a birth control pill, is there really shared moral responsibility between the woman and her employer who enabled an insurance company to pay for it?

Where the hell did you get your doctorate anyway, Michaelson?  Ph.D’s ‘R’ Us?  Can’t you see the ethical difference between an insurance plan paying for an employee’s blood pressure, anxiety or anti-seizure medication, none of which have any moral implication whatsoever, and providing free birth control (or cab fare to the nearest abortion clinic)?

Second, it is simply not the case, logically speaking, that providing insurance coverage is taking moral responsibility for how it is used. Would Hobby Lobby be liable if an employee overdosed on painkillers, paid for by its insurance plan? Obviously not. Then likewise here: they cannot assert a religious liberty claim for an action someone else decides to take.

OH, SWEET MOTHER OF…Doc?  Most of us polished this one off in elementary school logic class but here goes.  My old health care plan used to cover my phenobarbital.  If, at some point, I decided to off myself and down 20 or so pills at once, that would be on me.

But if the health plan that I am forced by the government to provide to my employees requires that plan to pay for a drug or a service whose correct use will result in a grave evil, then I am complicit in that grave evil.

It’s a shame that you can’t grasp so simple a concept, Doc.

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