The Baker and Government Doth Protest Too Much

On September 7, 2017 the Trump administration’s Department of Justice came out with a ruling that supported a baker that refused to create a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. The DOJ filed the motion in response to a pending Supreme Court ruling on religious liberty.

In August 2015, the state of Colorado ruled that the baker, Jack Phillips, broke Colorado law by not making a customized cake for a gay wedding, stating that his refusal to do so went against Colorado’s law that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation. Phillips argued that baking the cake went against his religious beliefs as a devout Christian. The courts were not swayed and ruled against him.

Many people – including me – believed that the court was wrong, and in June 2017 the Supreme Court agreed to review the case.


Colorado baker Jack Phillips

In advance of a ruling, the DOJ backed up Phillips arguing that the baker’s creations involve his personal artistic talents and expression, and as such, should be protected by his rights to express his beliefs.

But such an argument also falls flat.

The crux of the issue of discrimination versus religious liberty has to do with the willingness to sell a product that is produced to any and all customers.

If the baker has cookies on the shelf for sale, he must sell it to everyone regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Similarly, if the baker makes a customized item – say a wedding cake without any couples or comments on it – he should be forced to sell such cake to any willing buyer, gay or straight.

However, neither state nor federal laws should ever be able to force someone to create a unique item. Ever.

The baker should be able to refuse to make a wedding cake with two men on top of it if he never makes such cakes, in the same manner that a vegetarian restaurant refuses to sell any meat items. The vendor need not cater to a client’s unique demands that are outside the universe of items sold.

Should a baker be forced to bake a swastika cake? Of course not. However, were he to make a cake in the shape of a swastika, he should be obligated to sell it to anyone interested in purchasing it. The baker must similarly sell a wedding cake to a gay couple if it is the same kind of cake that he sells to heterosexual couples.

The Department of Justice was right in arguing that the sate of Colorado went too far in fining the baker. However, the DOJ’s rationale for absolving the baker on the basis of his creative talents being a form of expression went in the wrong direction by inserting the baker into the end-product, rather than focusing on the end-product itself.

Whether an item is already on the shelves or is made custom, the threshold of discrimination should be on the willingness of the vendor to sell that product to anyone. However, a product need not be created or customized to a specification that falls outside the vendor’s desires – whether they be for religious reasons or any other.

Thomas Jefferson understood the possible tyranny of government when he said:

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

As part of a common community, all Americans should treat each other respectfully, but the government should never be allowed to obligate a person to create a unique, alien and distasteful product to satisfy the desires of others.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

Pride. Jewish and Gay

The Gender Diamonds

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The Color Coded Lexicon of Israel’s Bigotry: It’s not Just PinkWashing

Opponents of Israel have come up with a variety of terms to portray the Jewish State in a negative light. Terms like “Zionist Entity” and “Apartheid Wall” are meant to show the country as a transient racist place.

Over the past years, a new term arose which doesn’t paint Israel in negative colors, but begrudgingly acknowledges the country as a liberal democracy, and does so as it calls out the actions as a flimsy veneer to an otherwise disgraceful country.

Pink Washing” is when entities promote themselves as gay-friendly. The anti-Israel community considers Israel’s actions in this regard a “cynical use of gay rights to distract from and normalize Israeli occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.”

pinkwashing

Below, I offer the rest of the color-coded lexicon of Israel’s “bigotry” against Palestinian Arabs.

PinkWashing– touting Israel’s rights for the LGBT community, in the face of surrounding Muslim countries that execute homosexuals.

GreenWashing– touting Israel’s leadership role in environmental projects and technology, as a mockery of Arab world dropping chemical weapons on its own civilian populace in places like Syria.

OrangeWashing – mentioning leaving Jewish homes in Gaza in 2005, while Gaza voted for Hamas in 2006, let that terrorist group take over in 2007 and then launch three wars against Israel with over 10,000 missiles fired since 2008.

RedWashing – mentioning that Arabs and Muslims are responsible for over 90% of Muslim deaths in wars, while Israel accounts for less than 1% of Muslim deaths, even though the country is surrounded by 8% of the Muslim world.

BlackWashing – noting that Israel is the only country in the region that does not have capital punishment, while the other Arab countries execute people for reasons including adultery, apostasy and withcraft.

SilverWashing – pointing out that Arabs in Israel have the longest life expectancy of Arabs in the region. The second-longest life expectancy for Arabs is in Judea & Samaria/ the West Bank.

WhiteWashing – constantly calling Israel the only democracy in the region, next to the various dictatorships and monarchies nearby. Beyond Syria and Saudi Arabia, even the Palestinian Authority is inept at democracy: it held elections for Prime Minister to a four-year term in 2005, and hasn’t had another election since; they voted in parliamentary elections in 2006, and the terrorist group Hamas got the most seats.

BuffWashing – a slightly off-white/ taupe color has been used to describe Israel’s discussing that Arab population in Israel and its territories have gone up more than the Arab population in any of the surrounding countries.

BrownWashing – the insulting practice of describing the long history of Jews throughout the holy land, dating back over 3700 years, while also noting that Arabs only came to the region en masse in the 7th century, and that more Arabs than Jews moved to Israel during the British Mandate.

BlueWashing – pointing out that Jews were the only people to ever have distinct self-governing governments in the holy land – three times.

PurpleWashing – is relaying that Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since 1870, and are the only people who made Jerusalem its capital.

YellowWashing – is the rude process of pointing out that Palestinian Arabs are the most anti-Semitic people in the world, that has a leader that wrote his doctoral paper on Holocaust denial, and that United Nations-run schools in areas controlled by Palestinian Arabs, are the only UN schools in the world that are prohibited from teaching the Holocaust.

GoldWashing – is the terrible tendency of Israelis to point out that they are the only country in the Middle East that built a thriving economy without relying on commodities, that survived the market meltdown in 2008-9, and continues to excel as the oil economy plunges its neighbors into distress.

A few terms have also been introduced beyond the rainbow, as Israel’s “bigotry” and “racism” is quite extensive.

SiliconWashing – is the annoying situation of Israel touting itself as a “Start-Up Nation” and a huge technology powerhouse, while the rest of the region struggles with obtaining broadband.

XXWashing – is the insulting tendency of Israelis to note that they have more women in Parliament than the United States, while the Palestinian Authority territories lead the world in “honor killings” of women per capita.

LegalWashing – mentioning Israel’s rights for living and buying land throughout the holy land as established in international law in 1920 and 1922, while also noting the illegal annexation of Jordanian Arabs seizure of the “West Bank” in 1949, and its expulsion of Jews counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

PluralismWashing – is the noxious narrative of noting that Israel granted over 100,000 non-Jews citizenship when it declared statehood in 1948, offered citizenship to non-Jews in the eastern part of Jerusalem when it reunified the city in 1967, and has over 25% non-Jewish population today.  This is done to only highlight that when Jordan illegally attacked Israel in 1948, it granted citizenship to everyone EXCEPT JEWS, passed laws prohibiting the sale of any land to Jews punishable by death – which was later adopted into law by the Palestinian Authority. Of course, there is the Palestinian Authority’s publicly-stated goal of having a new State of Palestine devoid of any Jews at all.

 

The list of affronts to global sensibilities does not stop at “PinkWashing.”  Israel has a multi-color rainbow of insults that discredits the Palestinian Arabs’ quest for self-determination, while highlighting the anti-Semitic, misogynistic, racism of Palestinian Arabs themselves.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

A Flower in Terra Barbarus

Israel’s Peers and Neighbors

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Leading Gay Activists Hate Religious Children

On January 12, 2016, The New York Times ran a cover story entitled “Balancing Terror and Reality in the State of the Union Address.” The article conveyed that President Obama will address the threat of terrorism against U.S. interests, even though such threats are actuality relatively minor.  As Americans are nervous due to all of the terrorism they see in the world, Obama will discuss an issue he would rather minimize.  As such, the guests that will accompany the First Lady to the speech include several people from the military, veterans and a police officer.

The long list of defense personnel guests masks the message of compassion in a veneer of strength.  As the White House press release said,the [invited] guests personify President Obama’s time in office and most importantly, they represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous.”  Most of the military guests will be props for Obama to discuss: the fight against homelessness; women’s rights; Islam is a religion of peace; and monitoring the police force.

Obama’s message is that while there is a fight against terrorism, it is a secondary concern.  The seven years of his administration were not primarily about keeping the country safe, but moving forward on a progressive agenda.

For example, another guest at the SOTU address was the lead plaintiff for the Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, Jim Obergefell.  He described his fight for equality as “liv[ing] up to the promises to love, honor and protect each other.”  The case was decided by the Supreme Court, not the executive branch, but it symbolized a step forward in “inclusiveness and compassion.”

The year 2015 also had lowlights on these exact points of inclusion, compassion and protection.

Protecting Children from Terrorism

On 9/11/2001, 2,753 people in New York City were murdered in acts of terrorism.  Over the next fourteen years, the city had numerous failed terrorist attempts (such as the Times Square bomber) which also included “softer” targets.  The city therefore placed more security around public schools to protect children.

The largest Jewish population in America is in New York City and the surrounding counties.  That religious community suffers from the most persecution, where 57% of all anti-religious crimes were against Jews. As Jewish schools and synagogues were also targeted by terrorists, New York City advanced a bill to provide security to religious private schools.

Leading activists and politicians in the LGBT community were appalled.

LGBT Hate for the Bible and
Children that Learn the Bible

Rosie Mendez, a Manhattan Democrat, lobbied aggressively against providing security guards for Jewish children at private schools. She said: “As a member of the LGBT community, I know that a lot of these schools discriminate against us and if the city is going to provide any kind of funding, the schools should not be discriminatory.”

New York Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Jackson Heights said together with Mendez that “often their [Jewish] leaders embrace homophobia, transphobia, and other horrific ideologies, and subject our young people to them on a daily basis in the classroom. It is our duty to protect LGBTQ students in every school. We must not bankroll hate with tax dollars.”

Press Conference held by Irish Queers re: St. Patricks Day Parade. Emmaia Gelman of Irish Queers, Council Members Danny Dromm and Rosie Mendes, Allen Roskoff of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and a representative of Manhattan Borough Pres. Gail Brewer. MATTHEW McMORROW of the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Council Members Danny Dromm and Rosie Mendez (photo: Donna Aceto)

In other words, because the Bible says that male homosexual acts are a sin, and the religious schools teach the Bible, these politicians do not want children in religious schools to be afforded the same police protection that children in public schools receive.  Whether the topic of homosexual sex ever comes up in school is irrelevant (the Bible is thousands of pages long and the prohibition against gay sex is a single sentence- do the schools really “subject our young people to [anti-gay rhetoric] on a daily basis?”).  The Bible also prohibits eating pig.  Should everyone who eats bacon argue that police should not protect any children in a school that teaches the Bible, since they are offended by the Bible’s contents?

What does protecting children from potential terrorism have to do with a school’s curriculum? Would these councilmembers be comfortable if these young children were murdered?

The statements are thinly veiled masks for anti-Semitism.

Dromm and Mendez weren’t alone in attempting to block police protection for religious schools because of their distaste for the Bible.

Allen Roskoff, president of the LGBT Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, was strongly opposed to funding police for religious private schools, saying “religious institutions pushing this bill have a long history and present-day reality of discriminating against the gay community. Why should they be able to discriminate on our dime?”

Gay civil libertarian Bill Dobbs said, “religious freedom does not mean socking overburdened taxpayers for special treatment worth hundreds of millions. Religious freedom means don’t disturb religion, it doesn’t mean you throw your wallet their way.”

Note that the bill was not “special treatment” for the religious schools, but one that was drafted to give private school students the same police protection that are given to public school students.

LGBT Hate of “Jewish Money”

Rosie Mendez continued to spew anti-Semitic hatred.  She accused New York City Mayor Bill Di Blasio of caving to the security request because “he’s trying to acquiesce to the lobbyists, to the religious community that has been looking for money for their private schools.”  She invoked an old anti-Semitic canard that Jews don’t even care about children’s safety- they’re only out for the money.


While Obama reluctantly addresses terrorism during his State of the Union address, he must remember that protecting the people of the United States is the primary responsibility of the government.  Not only is freedom of speech and religion protected in the First Amendment, but the physical protection of every individual underscores the entire reason for having governmental institutions.

When Obama joins the LGBT community to celebrate achieving equal rights, they must all remember that inclusion, compassion and protection extends to every single citizen – even Jewish children that learn the Bible.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Ramifications of Ignoring American Antisemitism

Absolute and Relative Ideological Terrorism in the United States

Jews in the Midst

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

 

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Summary: Israel is by far the most liberal country of the entire Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). It is also probably the most liberal country from Western Europe to Australia and down to South Africa.

Diversity of population. Israel has a diverse population. The majority, 75%, are Jewish, about 20% Arab Muslims, and the balance of 5% a mix of Christians, Baha’i, Druze and others. Almost all of the MENA region is 90%+ Muslim, with a large number being almost completely Arab Muslim (Morocco; Tunisia; Iran; Yemen; Iraq; Jordan; Turkey; Algeria; Gaza and EGL; Saudi Arabia; Libya; Egypt; Syria). Lebanon is the only other country in the region with some diversity.

Equal Justice. Israel administers its legal system to all levels of society.  Consider that both a former Prime Minister and President were sentenced to jail for general crimes such as bribery and sexual assault (as opposed to a method to remove a dictator). They were afforded no special privileges compared to ordinary citizens.

Salim_Joubran
Salim Joubran, Israeli Arab Supreme Court Judge

Women’s Rights. Women in Israel have full rights of equality including the ability to vote, inheritance, walk in public alone, drive, etc. These are rights that are not found in much of the MENA region. Saudi Arabia has virtually no rights for women.  The new 20th Knesset will have 29 women– 24% of the parliament, significantly higher than the 16% of women in the US congress.

shaked
Ayelet Shaked, Member of Knesset

Free Speech, Assembly and Press. Israel permits freedom of expression. Freedom House ranked Israel as the only country in MENA with a free press for several years, and just added Tunisia. The MENA region continues to be the most repressive in terms of freedoms in the entire world, such as Turkey which leads the world in jailing the most journalists.

african protest
Thousands of illegal African immigrants protest in front of parliament

Freedom of Religion. Israel allows people of all faiths the freedom to practice their religion. This compares to much of the MENA region which has criminal laws against apostasy– changing one’s religion from Islam to something else- even though such right is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A growing number of countries in Europe have begun to restrict freedom of religion including bans on minarets at mosques, head coverings in public and permitting kosher and halal foods.

mormon
Mormon church in Jerusalem built with assistance of Israeli government

Gay Rights. According to a gay rights group, ILGA, Israel was the only country to get a perfect score on gay rights in the region between Western Europe, South Africa and Australia. For example, Israel permits gay couples to adopt children and serve openly in the army , something which many western countries do not permit. In some MENA countries such as Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, gays are actually publicly executed by the government.

gays in israel
Gays in Israel

Environmental Matters. Israel is a “green” country. It leads the world in recycling plastic, having surpassed Europe in 2012. It created the first commercial wind farm in MENA and the first permanent bike sharing program. It leads the word in drip irrigation technology. It was one of only two countries in the world to have more trees entering the 21st century than it had in the 20th due to forestation efforts.

windfarm
Wind Farm in the Golan

Open Public Office. People of all backgrounds and faiths are allowed to serve in the Israeli government, to become Prime Minister, serve in every branch of the military and Supreme Court. The new 20th Knesset will have 17 Arabs – 14% of the parliament. This compares to 8% black representation in the US Congress. Many countries, like Syria, restrict the participation of people who are not Muslims from participating in public office.

Ayoub_Kara
Ayoub Kara, Druze MK from Likud Party

Death Penalty. Israel only has a single reason for sentencing someone to death – crimes against humanity – which it has carried out only once: fifty years ago for Adolf Eichmann for his role in the Holocaust. Much of the MENA region uses capital punishment for a range of offenses including: apostasy; adultery; drug trafficking; being gay; murder; witchcraft; and prostitution.

Abortion. Abortion is legal in Israel for a variety of circumstances. It is illegal in almost the entire rest of the MENA region, with the exception of Tunisia.

The Arts. Israel is the only country in the MENA region to have both an opera house and a ballet company.  Opera exists in Israel, Oman and Syria and ballet companies are in Israel, Tunisia, Egypt, UAE and Iran.

opera
Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center

Animal Rights. Israel became only the third country/ entity (after the European Union and Norway) to ban the sale of cosmetics that were tested on animals.

Human Body Rights. Israel permits full control of a person’s body including tattoos, body piercings and prostitution. More neighboring countries are enforcing bans on tattoos and piercings such as Turkey. Lebanon and Israel are the only countries in MENA that permit and regulate prostitution.

tattoo

Protecting Women. Israel passed a law that bans the use of underweight models to prevent women from becoming anorexic.

barrefaeli
Israeli model Bar Refaeli

Universal Healthcare.  Many countries in the Middle East provide universal healthcare including: Israel; Kuwait; Bahrain; and UAE.

 

Israel. An open society in the middle of the Middle East.


Related First One Through article

Israel: Security in a small country

In Israel, the winner is…Democracy

I’m Offended, You’re Dead

The US President and the media have portrayed “radical extremists” as angry about cartoons of the Muslim prophet by western media. Such a view focuses very narrowly on the recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. This is because democracies consider freedom of speech a fundamental right in their societies and object strongly to such rights coming under fire. Should the media and democracies look more broadly, they would note the broader attacks on basic human rights that Islam imposes where it is in control.

The “hateful ideology” (as US President Obama calls it) is not simply an “ideology” by a few “extremists”. The basic laws of several Islamic countries trample on many fundamental human rights. Islamic laws do not only challenge what you can say, but often attack the essence of who you are, and enforce double standards regarding what you can do. To aggravate the Islamic illiberal attitudes further, the laws impose severe punishments to the offenses, often the death sentence.

 muslim protest
Muslim Protest in England

What you said

Blasphemy is clearly part of the objection of the Muslim killers. Whether Charlie Hebdo (2015), Copenhagen (2005; 2015) or Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands (2004), the drawings of the Islamic prophet Mohammed were considered offenses deserving of murder. Those attacks made news and drew world attention because they happened in Western Europe. In the Islamic world, blasphemy is considered a crime in over a dozen countries. Pakistan recently sentenced a blasphemer to death, but the laws and actions do not often attract the world’s attention.

Asa Bibi
Asa Bibi sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy,
November 2014

Who you are

Islamic countries impose the death sentence on people for simply being who they are.  Innocent civilians are viewed as criminals even though they harm no one.

  • Apostasy is the act of changing religion. In several Islamic countries, the act of converting from Islam to another religion is punishable by death. Those countries include: Afghanistan; Brunei; Mauritania; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Sudan; United Arab Emirates; and Yemen. Many other countries also consider it a crime, punishable by a year or more in prison.
  • Being Gay is considered a crime in 76 countries in 2015. There are several Islamic countries that sentence gays to death including: Iran; Iraq; Mauritania; Nigeria; Qatar; Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
  • Islamic terrorists targeted Jews in recent attacks in Jerusalem; Paris and Copenhagen. Many Muslims feel that non-believers are doomed and should be killed according to Islamic teachings. While many Islamic countries do not sentence non-Muslims to death, they subject the non-Muslims to secondary “dhimmi” status and make them pay special taxes. There are “radical” Islamic groups like Boko Haram and ISIS that are actively killing non-Muslims throughout NigeriaIraq, and Libya.

gay hang iran
An estimated 4,000 gays have been killed in Iran since 1979

What you do

Some Islamic countries have laws that prevent persecuted segments of society from doing what other members of society (Muslims, men) can do freely.  The double standards and misogyny are simply part of the culture that the world ignores.

  • In Saudi Arabia, there are laws that prevent women from driving cars; only men can drive.
  • In Pakistan, girls are prevented from going to school to get an education; only boys can go to school.
  • In many Southeast Asian countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, a girl who reject a boy’s marriage proposal may be disfigured either by having her nose and ears cut off, or acid poured on her face. Boys do not deal with such issues.
  • In Israel, the Jordanian Muslim Waqf prevents Jews from praying on the Jewish Temple Mount; only Muslims are allowed to pray on the entire 35 acre site.
  • In Gaza and Islamic countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, people kill female family members in “honor killings” if they dress inappropriately or date unapproved men. Men do not face honor killings.

KSA women drive
Woman arrested for driving in Saudi Arabia,
December 2014

How they Respond

The punishment for many of these basic activities that people in the western world take for granted, is death.  The death sentence is often brutal and public.

“Minor” infractions also can yield a death sentence:

  • Adulterers are stoned to death in Iran; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; UAE; Yemen
  • Drug traffickers are killed in: Egypt; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Kuwait; Oman; Saudi Arabia; South Sudan; Syria and UAE
  • Prostitutes are killed in Sudan

The Danger

The view that a few “extremists” have hijacked Islam and are attacking the freedom of press is both myopic in terms of history and geography, and hazy in terms of numbers and scope. In reviewing the laws and actions of several Islamic countries, one can better understand the gross intolerance and extremism in their societies. Many Muslims are offended by a great many things, and will kill the offender.

If the West limits its review to freedom of speech in the world of social media, the conversation becomes limited as well.  Hate speech versus freedom of speech, and attitudes towards censorship of social media (such as in Turkey) are worthwhile discussions, but far too narrow.  The value of jobs and economic development for a handful of radicals is brought up by the Obama administration because he misses the larger point. Obama argues for “reasonableness and restraint” from countries because he views the attacks on them as limited to a handful of radicals.

That flawed worldview led Obama to abandon Iraq without helping secure the vacuum.  It will lead an Obama administration to enable Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

Perhaps it is time for Obama to visit Cairo again as he did on his first international trip in 2009.  This time he will meet a new leader in al-Sisi who has called for a “revamping” in Islam. Maybe al-Sisi should be on Obama’s Iran negotiating team.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Murderous governments

Blasphemy

My Terrorism

US Hypocrisy – “Reasonableness and Restraint”

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Gay Rights in the Middle East

Jerusalem held its gay pride parade last week, after the event was delayed due to the Palestinian War from Gaza in July and August.  The event is an anomaly in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) where most countries consider homosexuality a crime.  In several countries such as Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, gays are sentenced to death.

There are still over 76 countries in the world that consider being gay a crime.  Outside of Europe, there are only five countries that achieve a “perfect” score for gay and lesbian rights according to the ILGA, a leading gay rights group: Israel was the first to be awarded such score in 2008, followed by Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand.

music video:

israel


Source:

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Jerusalem-holds-annual-Gay-Pride-Parade-after-multiple-delays-375777