My first effort at writing this week’s column was spiked by editor Aaron “Slam Dunk” Burkhalter for crossing too many lines. Woot. I’ll be 69 next month, but I’m still as immature as ever.
It all has to do with that word “irony” in the title. I realized years ago that I’m a natural irony generator. There was the time I was riding in a van with half a dozen other people and an old man stepped out in front of the van, requiring the driver to slam on the brakes. Without any hesitation, I said, “SMART!” One quarter second later other people in the van blurted out, “STUPID!”
A vast, deep chasm of attitude separated us, with me forever on the ironic side of the cliff.
So back to the writing table. My first effort was all about the separation of children from families of immigrants. I won’t revisit that. Doing so could trigger the same spew of excessive sarcasm such as came forth the first time. Instead, I’ll discuss a certain Supreme Court decision.
When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker who wouldn’t create a wedding cake for a gay couple, they did not really rule that the discrimination was OK. They ruled that the civil rights commission that said it was not OK had displayed anti-religious bias in the course of their ruling.
It’s really hard for anyone to take that degree of nuance. What’s nuance, anyway? You buttered my bread on the wrong side. “Both sides are the same.” Yes, but then you put it in my hand. “You wanted bread and butter.” Yes, but…
It’s usually liberals like me who go around saying to the conservatives, “What’s the matter with you that you can’t take nuance?” But this time it’s all, “Take your nuance and shove it.”
I respect that. But it does have the consequence that we thereby take the Supreme Court’s ruling to mean they’ve ruled that it is now OK for bakeries to discriminate against gays. And only a small further rejection of nuance takes it that the same goes for all privately run restaurants and every other private business that serves the public.
Ignoring the nuance means taking the ruling that the civil rights commission acted out of bias away from the discussion and making it all about the baker.
Conservatives want that to be the decision. They want to say the baker won. If liberals ignore the nuance and stop hearing all the Yes Buts, that amounts to going along with that view. Doing so doesn’t so much change the table as turn it around. So, having decided that the Supreme Court has decided that it’s OK to discriminate against gays, liberals are looking to see how they can discriminate back. Right away Sarah Huckabee Sanders gets told, “We don’t serve your kind at this restaurant.”
Just about two months ago, Michelle Wolf blew up the White House Correspondents Dinner by, among other things, denigrating Sarah Huckabee Sanders in ways that made many people, even some liberals, uncomfortable.
I won’t bother to repeat the words Michelle Wolf used that were considered to have gone too far. It’s enough to say that she may have insulted Sanders not only for her politics, but also for her appearance.
It has been said, rightly, that politicians and their lackeys are not a protected class and never will be as long as the First Amendment is still in force.
The problem with supporting the denial of services to Sarah Huckabee Sanders is that even if it’s done sincerely for the hatred of her politics, someone could say that hatred was not 100 percent pure hatred of her politics, but was contaminated by an animosity toward her for other unrelated reasons, such as tainted Wolf’s speech.
The question would then be, was the contamination of the pure hatred of Sanders’ politics with unacceptable bias enough to make the discrimination altogether unwarranted and unacceptable? No, says the person who says no to nuance, and who says no to any further Yes Buts. You got butter on my hand, that’s all that matters, get out of here.
I’m not complaining. I’m only pointing out a change in the way we’re all expected to think.
Now everyone, liberals and conservatives alike, is going to say it’s OK to deny a service to anyone as long as it’s because of their ideas and not “because of who they are,” whatever that means.
Watch out for that.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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