Monday, June 4, 2018

Developing Meme re: Supremes' Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision: It's "Narrow" — A View from the Bible Belt

The developing meme about the Supremes' Masterpiece Cakeshop decision is that it's very "narrow" and won't militate against existing civil rights laws. What that meme totally ignores is that large swathes of the country have no civil rights laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. None at all. Because "religious" people oppose those laws.

For those people — that is to say, for much of the real United States outside the bubble of beltway media and the memes that bubble generates — today's decision will be perceived as anything but "narrow." It will be perceived as license to heap discrimination on top of already existing discrimination, and to claim religious warrant for doing so. 

Some takes fresh off the press this morning:

The holding of the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — to the extent that the case holds anything at all — is that conservative Christians are special snowflakes who have to be given a safe space. And that's…about it. …  
Masterpiece is the jurisprudential equivalent of a Bari Weiss column. It bends over backwards to see chauvinistic conservatives in the most favorable light, while completely missing the broader, more important issues at stake in the case.

And Stephanie Russell-Kraft has re-upped her very good December 2017 analysis in "How Justice Kennedy Fell for a Right-Wing Meme" by tweeting out a link to the article and pointing out how it predicted exactly what Kennedy and the majority would do in this case:

In a big gay rights case, the Supreme Court's swing vote appeared swayed by the idea that Christians are the real victims of oppression.

The Colorado legal system was not, as the Supremes are claiming, hostile to religion in how it handled the cake-baking-is-religion case.

The legal system was dealing with so-called "religious" people who are themselves hostile to the rule of law and any curbs it places on their "rights" to violate non-discriminatlon laws.

The claim that the Obama administration was hostile to "religion" and that hostility to "religion" is growing in American culture — poor discriminated-against right-wing white Christians! — was central to placing the moral monstrosity in the White House.

The Supreme Court has demonstrated to us today how much it intends to sympathize with the bogus claim that religion is under attack in American society — sympathy stemming in the case of most Supremes from political motivation. In doing so, the Supreme Court is also demonstrating how much it has invested in keeping the Republican party empowered.

Though in the Bob Jones v. U.S. case, the Supreme Court ruled that it is impermissible to cite religion as a basis for violating non-discrimination laws protecting African-American citizens, in the case of LGBTQ citizens, businesses, organizations, and providers of service have now been ruled to have the perfect right to claim religious warrants while refusing goods and services to LGBTQ citizens.

This gives a strong signal that those citizens are second-class citizens of the U.S., and are fair game for discriminatory and abusive treatment. Anyone surprised by this Supreme Court decision has not had his/her eyes open, from Hobby Lobby forward. 

"Christians" — the kind who are the moral monstrosity's base — will be jubilating now. They imagine they have scored a big "victory," though I suspect that at the judgment seat of God and history, they'll learn how pyrrhic their "victory" is.

Meanwhile, some of us — people many Americans choose to attack by voting Republican, their family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors — have to live with the dismal consequences. 

Just three days ago, my husband Steve and I had a meeting with someone — about business matters — who told us, as we talked over our business with her, that she has a gay daughter who will be leaving Arkansas soon to study art in a college in Colorado. She said to us, 

She can't wait, and I can't wait, either, for her to be out of Arkansas. 
She's slim and feminine, but she dresses in a way people perceive as masculine, and has her hair cut short. And so, over and over, when she goes to restrooms if we're out in public, women verbally attack her and tell her she's in the wrong restroom. "Get out of my restroom!" they'll say to her. "Go use your own restroom!" 
The hostility is killing her. I watch the eyes of people in restaurants, how they narrow, how people stare at her. I can see the wheels turning in their heads as they try to figure out if she's transgender. When I see the hate stares, I hug her all the more tightly. 
She'll have a better life in Colorado and will find people who accept diversity in an arts program — of that I'm certain. So, though I'm sad to see her leave — and I know she won't ever come back home except perhaps for visits — I'm very happy for her sake. This state is no place to be gay.

If this is already happening in areas of the U.S. dominated by right-wing Christians, can you imagine what's going to be happening now in response to the "narrow" Supreme Court decision this morning? As someone living in a culture where many people are now very much emboldened to engage in hateful and discriminatory behavior directed towards minority groups after the election of the moral monstrosity now occupying the White House, I can tell you with confidence: the hate and discrimination, bolstered by "religion," will be on steroids now.

(And as someone who once had a Catholic identity, I'm frankly ashamed at the extremely large role the U.S. Catholic bishops have played in creating the mentality that has led to this, and is at the very heart of the rhetoric of the Supreme Court justices who want to claim that those supporting fair and equal treatment for LGBTQ people are being "hostile" to religion.)

The map of the bible belt is based on a Glenmary Research Center map, and appears to have been created for the Wikipedia entry about the bible belt. It has been made available for online sharing at Wikimedia Commons.

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