Monday, April 02, 2012

The Tolerance Police, Lexington, KY Chapter

In yesterday's Lexington Herald-Leader,  Tom Eblen cheered on the witch hunt currently in progress over a Christian businessman's refusal to print T-shirts with a message that contradicts his religious views.

The man is being hauled before the Lexington Human Rights Commission, which is being called upon to throw him into the political water to see if he floats.

Taking up his torch, Eblen adds his voice to those of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, and now the University of Kentucky (an institution increasingly on the forefront of left-wing activism, on campus and off), which are chanting the political equivalent of “burn him!”

Eblen and the rest of the mob are arguing that the business, Hands on Originals, has violated the Lexington Fairness Ordinance, an ordinance which added “sexual oriention” to race, religion, gender, and national origin to anti-discrimination laws governing housing, employment, and public accommodations.

The ordinance prohibits a business from refusing to serve a person on the basis of his sexual orientation. But this is not what happened in this case.

In a famous scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a woman is accused of being a witch. The reason? “She looks like one.” To Eblen and the rest of the witch hunters, Hands on Originals looks like it’s discriminating, even though, if you actually look at the law, it’s not.

What Eblen and the mob haven't noticed in midst of their frenzied denunciations (“He’s a witch!”) is that Hands on Originals did not discriminate against any customer on the basis of sexual orientation. In fact, the business has an express policy against it. What it did do was refuse to print a T-Shirt with a message that went against its religious convictions.

It didn't refuse to print the T-shirts because of who was asking it to print them; it refused to print them because of what the T-shirts said.

The ordinance only prevents businesses from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation; it does not require businesses to agree with their customers.

Ironically, the people really discriminating are the University of Kentucky and any other organization that pulls its business from the T-shirt company, since they are doing so on the basis of the owner’s religious beliefs. If they were providing the service rather than receiving it, they would be the ones violating anti-discrimination laws.

It used to be witches who contorted themselves into strange positions, but now gay activist groups, marching under the banner of “tolerance,” are twisting themselves into the Tolerance Police, intent, not on preventing discrimination against individuals, but using the power of government to force others to agree with the politically correct views of certain favored groups like themselves.

But in their increasingly intolerant crusade, they have apparently failed to take note of the consequences.

Imagine that you ran a T-shirt business and a White supremacist group came to you to print T-shirts that said, "Down with N______s! According to the reasoning of Eblen and the mob, anti-discrimination laws would require you to print them. Not to do so would be to discriminate against a racial group: in this case, Aryans.

It's not often you see gay rights activists--and liberal journalists--spouting views that would benefit the Aryan Nation. Ideology makes strange bedfellows indeed.

But Eblen’s bizarre reasoning doesn’t end there. He ventures into the issue of what Christianity actually says about homosexuality, saying that, the way he reads it, the Gospels aren’t against it. Notice the subtle avoidance of the rest of the New Testament, in which Paul leaves little doubt about the issue. Or the Old Testament, which doesn’t exactly read like a gay rights tract.

Then, as if to amuse those of his readers who have actually read the thing, he charges those who disagree with him with selectively reading the Bible!

Might as well burn the Bible along with the witch.

I’ve got a new slogan for a T-Shirt: “Down with the Gay Thought Police!” I’ll take it to a gay-owned T-shirt company and point out that, according the groups who say they represent them, they have no choice but to print it.


Stonewall riots 1969 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
One Brow said...

The mental contortion needed to claim that a store owner is not engaging in descrimination by refusing to print material that offends his beliefs, but that potential customers refusing to patronize the store owner because his store's policies offend them is discrimination, is dizzying. Can you even stand up after typing in something like that.

Having read what was supposed to be on the shirt, the comparison of "a stylized number 5 and the words 'Lexington Pride Festival' on the front and the event's sponsors on the back" with shirts featuring a racial slur means that, basically, you are saying gay people offend you merely by existing openly. I have no doubt that's true, if that is what you meant. If you meant something else, you should probably consider your examples more closely in the future.

One Brow said...

One more thing: there was no claim in the article that Christians are in the minority; that was a lie on your part. There is no better description for changing "not a Christain nation" into "Christian minority", as the ideas are too distinct.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

After reading the relevant section in Eblen's article again, I think you're right on that last point, so I've taken it out.

In regard to the first comment, the owner clearly had problems with assisting in the promotion of a gay rights event. That's why he didn't want to print the T-shirts. That is clearly not covered in the ordinance. If you don't think so, go and google the ordinance and tell me where it prohibits the refusal to engage in services that are objectionable to a business.

One Brow said...


I apologize for saying things to carelessly that I geve you the impression that you were misinterpreting the law. I doubt I can interpret the law significantly better than you (and quite possibly not better at all), as I am not a lawyer.

Rather, I was referring to what I saw as an obvious double standard of sayhing one form of refusing to do business based on personal belief is not discrimination, while another form of refusing to to business based on personal belief is discrimination. As a second point, I noted that your illustration was only apt if you found the very existence of openly gay people offensive. Neither of those was intended as a comment on what the law said.

Thank you for making the correction.

KyCobb said...


If the article is accurate then I can't agree with you. The message is that they are having the Fifth Annual Lexington Pride Festival. That is simply a matter of fact, so unless the owner has some religious problem with the number five, the city of Lexington, pride, or festivals, he is clearly engaged in discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. I know you would prefer to force gays back into the closet by denying them public accomodations everyone else enjoys, but you have already lost that battle.

Martin Cothran said...


So the puprose of the T-shirt was not to promote the event?

Singring said...

'So the puprose of the T-shirt was not to promote the event?'

So now shop owners are supposed to be making assumptions and interpret whatever a shirt says only to refuse customers based on their imagination?

What if a shirt said 'Paul: what a great guy!' and an atheist shop owner refused to print it because the shirt was obviously endorsing Christianity. Would that be OK?

KyCobb said...


"So the puprose of the T-shirt was not to promote the event?"

It was promoting a festival. Does the t-shirt maker have a religious objection to festivals? If he only objects to gays having festivals, that's discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

I also noticed that the complaint alleges that the owner bid for the job. If that allegation is proven, why would he bid for a job he was going to refuse to perform?

Andrew said...

Seems OK to me. There is the issue of coercing people to use their own property in a manner that defies their conscience. It would disturb me if atheists were compelled to support religious beliefs with their labor or property.

One Brow said...

It would disturb me if atheists were compelled to support religious beliefs with their labor or property.

Does it disturb you when racist restaurant owners are required to serve black people?

If you don't want to serve the general public, then set up a private club, and only print t-shirts for members of that club. If you are going to serve the general public, then serve everyone.

KyCobb said...


I think an atheist t-shirt maker who refused a big order to advertise a religious festival would be a pretty dumb businessman.

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