"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -Evelyn Beatrice Hall
I should start with a defense, something I seem to do more often than I'd like when discussing my unabashed defense of the First Amendment. For all intents and purposes, I am politically liberal, though I am neither a member of the Democratic Party nor a member of the Republican Party. As far as major policy goes, I typically deplore the conservative platform. Specifically, I am a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and their struggle for very basic rights in this country which took far too long to come to terms with concepts of marriage equality and sexuality.
Some of you reading this may believe that defense is typical of someone defending ignorance before spouting garbage; and that is why I was originally so hesitant to write this. But as a citizen of the United States I cannot sit silent and pretend I am outraged by Monday's Supreme Court decision which found, by a vote of 7-2, in favor of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who, in 2012, refused to bake a wedding cake for the wedding of a gay couple, arguing doing so would betray his Christian faith. To feign anger would be partisan, a disease that has already plagued too much of our society.
Couple David Mulluns and Charlie Craig outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C.Image Courtesy of ABC News.com
The couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, claimed Phillip's refusal violated state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The case (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission) would eventually reach the Supreme Court's docket and, after four years, the Court finally decided that Philip's had a right to deny his services on the basis of the First Amendment.
As much as I myself disagree with Phillips's feelings on baking a cake for a same sex couples, I must defend his right to feel that way. I enjoy my First Amendment rights, some would even argue I abuse them. Without those rights I would not have the privilege of mocking President Donald Trump or advocating for Bernie Sanders. We would not have the privilege of disagreeing with Phillips. But rights go both ways. As lawfully democratic as it is for Mullins and Craig to be able to spend their lives together, Phillips too has every right to respectfully run his own business on his own terms.
The minute we prohibit the belief in any religious belief, conservative leaning or otherwise, is the minute the erosion of the First Amendment will empower those who wish to see it tossed away entirely. If a Christian is forced to disregard his personal beliefs because of the feelings of others how long before the ignorance of the Alt-Right hijacks the precedent in order to ban the wearing of hijabs or reading of the Quran?
As much as I sympathize with those who have so long been disenfranchised by this country, as much as I, as loud as anyone, scream for reform here in America, freedoms belong not only to the oppressed, but also to the privileged. Freedom of Religion is as promised to the majority Christians as much as it is to the minority religions. The minority opinion should feel as safe to speak out as the majority. Discrimination can touch anyone; and yes I can hear the rampant irony and paradoxical message seeping through every word. It doesn't make sense. It's messy. That's democracy, democracy is messy. It's full of cognitive dissidence, something the now infamous case of the Colorado baker has provided me in droves. Over 300 million people live within this country and every single one of them have every right to disagree. That's the point of the First Amendment. A promise to uphold a freedoms of speech, press, peaceful assembly and religion. Everyone has a right to disagree.
I disagree with Jack Phillips. I agree with the Supreme Court.