...radical secularists are more than happy to shut down behavior with which they disagree, even if it should otherwise fall under the protections of the First Amendment, and they’re more than happy to use the power of government force to get their way, destroying the lives and livelihoods of people whose faith leads them to make the “wrong” choices.And I stand by that assessment. In fact, I think it's worth taking a few minutes to expound on that specific point, since a lot of people don't seem to understand what it means, exactly.
The basic point is that a right cannot by definition impose an obligation on someone else. Once it does, it ceases to be a right and turns into a requirement. Some might say slavery, since it would impose upon one person the obligation to work in order to allow the other person to enjoy his or her right. It also prevents the government from interfering with that right.
But my right to speak in no way imposes on anyone else the obligation to provide a platform for expressing my opinion, and it doesn't impose on anyone the obligation to listen to me ranting in Times Square.
In other words, my right does not impose an obligation on anyone else.
Take, for another example, my second amendment right to bear arms. I have the right to purchase and carry a firearm. But my right to do so in no way imposes an obligation on anyone else to buy me an AR-15, or ammunition, or anything else.
My right does not impose an obligation on anyone else.
But that principle has been turned on its head in recent years, all the worse because the specific examples pit one right against another. On the one hand, there is the first amendment right to practice one's religion:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...And on the other hand there is the right (not specifically enumerated, but granted by the Supreme Court under the ninth amendment) for people of the same gender to marry.
You can see where this example is going, I'm sure.
The salient question is, does your right to marry whomever you want carry with it the imposition of a requirement that I have to work to make it happen? Even if doing so violates my own freedom to exercise my religion under the first amendment? For that matter, does the right to legally marry (which according to the law, is nothing more than a legal recognition of a contract that is filed with a county clerk) also include the right to a party celebrating the execution of that contract? And does that right further specifically include the right to have flowers, or a cake, or a troupe of trained gazelles? And if so, why does your right to file a form with a county clerk suddenly impose on me the obligation to work to give you flowers, or a cake, or gazelles?
According to many on the progressive left, the answer is yes. In fact, according to G&R, human politics comes even before the wishes of the Gods Themselves. People on Hillary Clinton's campaign staff were actively discussing how to infiltrate the Catholic Church to bend it to be more accepting of their political program. The Solicitor General of the United States recently opined that churches might lose their tax-exempt status if they questioned the political orthodoxy of same-sex marriage.
If you claim a right, it is yours, and it is entirely self-contained within you. It cannot impose an obligation on me to devote my labor to making it happen. Especially when doing so would violate my own enumerated right to practice my religion, if the two happen to be in conflict.
And I do not give up those rights merely because I am engaging in commerce. There's no clause in the Constitution that says "you have rights unless you're buying and selling things."
Rights restrict government. They do not compel individuals.
Some will say this is a defense of "discrimination." In a way, I suppose it is. My rights afford me the freedom to exercise them when and where I wish, and your rights do not impose upon me an obligation to violate my own rights. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose, and your right to have a government-recognized marriage ends at the door to my bakery or florist shop.
Where's the outrage? Where are the lawsuits?
Where are the gays trying to force them to make the damn cake???
You don't like my choice? You have a remedy; the market. Go to another bakery, choose another florist. You want to apply pressure by convincing others to make other market choices? You have that right, too. What you do not have the right to do is compel me to support your right through the coercive force of government, whether that be through the collection of taxes or the threat of force or confiscation of assets.
And before some wag says I'm endorsing lunch counters refusing to serve blacks, or any such nonsense, I am not doing so in any way. I am endorsing the general principle that rights do not confer obligations on other individuals. I personally think it's stupid to refuse to sell a product to someone, but that's not my decision! I don't have to agree with a decision in order to support a legal right to make it, as long as the person making it realizes there are potentially (non-governmental) consequences.
It really seems that, having obtained all the legal rights they can from the government, the leftists are now on a campaign to force individuals to adopt their agenda, too. And that goes from freeing individuals from government oppression, to oppressing others who don't happen to be in some "protected class." And that's wrong.
People acting in concert to protect the rights of others? I'm all for it. Government enforcing some obligation on an individual to support another individual's right? No way.
Remember, the government that can force a florist to work on a gay wedding under Obama, is exactly the same government that can force another (let's say universalist Asatru) florist to work on the AFA's Ostara celebration under Trump.