Freedom, discrimination and SB 1062

Ilya Shapiro has a great article up at Cato:

The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexico wedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakerythat closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs?

For that matter, gay photographers and bakers shouldn’t be forced to work religious celebrations, Jews shouldn’t be forced to work Nazi rallies, and environmentalists shouldn’t be forced to work job fairs in logging communities. This isn’t the Jim Crow South; there are plenty of wedding photographers – over 100 in Albuquerque – and bakeries who would be willing to do business regardless of sexual orientation, and no state is enforcing segregation laws. I bet plenty of Arizona businesses would and do see more customers if they advertised that they welcomed the LGBT community.

Let’s be clear – the cause for this Bill is that homosexual couples have come after Christians, who have refused to participate in their wedding ceremonies, in the courts. If you are going to use the courts as a weapon to beat your ideological opponents with, don’t be surprised if they want to defend themselves with the law also.

SB 1062 wasn’t like the horrendous Jim Crow laws in the US, where governments forced racial segregation on their populations. In that case, the state was denying freedom of association – businesses were happy to serve their black customers in the same way as their white customers and the government said that was unacceptable and forced them to be racist. As best I can tell, SB 1062 would’ve have just clarified that you can do what you want with your stuff, which is the very basis for all freedom. It doesn’t all religious businesses to take other people’s stuff or hit them; it doesn’t allow them  meddle in the affairs of other businesses – it just allows a religious person to do what they want with their own stuff.

My only quibble with this Bill is that the criteria was based on religion. The State shouldn’t force anyone to provide a service they don’t want to – their reasoning doesn’t matter. If you want to be racist with how you operate your business, that is your right. If you want to refuse to participate in a homosexual wedding ceremony (something I don’t have a problem with but I understand why other Christians do), that is your right. If you don’t want to participate in a Christian wedding ceremony, that is your right. The State has no legitimate authority to tell you what is the ethical use of your own property.

I can appreciate that this might be a bitter pill to swallow for homosexuals and their allies – the US, like many countries, has a substantial history of very real and violent persecution of homosexuals, which should never be forgotten. It is evil when the State picks a minority to target for violence or harassment, or turn a blind eye to private players doing the same. However, two wrongs do not make a right and homosexuals and their allies should police their own when it comes to using the courts or the State as weapons in the Culture War. It is unacceptable in a free society to coerce businesses to provide a service they find unconscionable and whatever its flaws were, SB 1062 stood for those values.

Update: Ilya Shapiro has made another, very excellent, comment.


Hack asks the right questions on agricultural handouts

I have been pretty critical of Triple J in the past but today on Hack, Tom Tilley really turned the screws onto Barnaby Joyce, Federal Agricultural Minister, about the recent announcement of handouts to farmers (listen from the 24min mark):

Tilley points out the truth – that farming isn’t anything special, that they aren’t the only business with long term time frames for revenue and that they need to plan more for the future. The paucity of Joyce’s arguments is exposed when Tilley pointed out the economic truth about farming, that maybe the future is in getting bigger – he falls back to a political argument (he can’t sell it), a cultural argument (that small family farms are inherently good) and a distraction (that the ABC is exposed to the same argument, which is true). In the end, Joyce has no credible economic argument for these handouts – it is a political fix for a favoured group of constituents.

Tilley would do well to interview LDP Senator-elect for NSW, David Leyonhjelm, who slays the arguments for agricultural subsidies.

The disgrace that the Liberal Party of Australian should have nothing to do with

The IPA highlights this disgraceful attack on free association and speech by elements within the Liberal Party:

The names ”Liberal” and ”Labor” would be quarantined for use only by the major political parties under reforms being considered by the Abbott government to prevent micro parties capitalising on voter confusion.

A tightening of the Commonwealth Electoral Act could spell the end for the Liberal Democratic Party, led by NSW senator-elect David Leyonhjelm.

Victoria senator John Madigan, of the Democratic Labour Party, would also likely be in the sights of the ALP if any reforms succeed. Senator Madigan said ”hell would freeze over” before he gave up the DLP name.

Senior Liberals are behind the push to stop votes bleeding to little-known parties like the Liberal Democrats. Mr Leyonhjelm infuriated the Liberals when he bagged nearly 10 per cent of the Senate vote in September – scooping $1 million in public funding in the process and nearly ending the political career of assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos.

Liberal Party director Brian Loughnane said Mr Leyonhjelm’s success was ”almost entirely at the expense of the Liberal Party”.

I have been at a Liberal Party Divisional meeting where this idea was suggested and, while not surprised, I was still appalled. Primarily, it is an attack on freedom of speech – classical liberalism is an idea that has long preceded the Liberal Party of Australia by a couple of centuries so if a political party wants to hark back to those ideas (as the Liberal Democrats undoubtedly do), the Liberal Party of Australia doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. For the the Libs to claim they have exclusive property of a set of ideas is both totally misguided and verging on the authoritarian.

Secondly, it is politically self-defeating. The balance of the Senate will almost always be held by a minor party so which minor party do you want to rely on to help the Liberal Party achieve the majority of their aims? The pinko Greens, who hate almost everything the Liberal Party stands for? Do you want to indulge the megalomania of a fickle populist like Clive Palmer? Or do you want to work with a party that is deeply and fundamentally committed to reducing the size of government?

Even if you don’t agree with their stances on gay marriage or drug policy, they are the only party that will help the Libs cut taxes, cut spending and tame the special interests in bureaucracy. It is an absolute no-brainer, yet in their arrogance, some Libs want to attack the only party that is really willing to help them. I will fight this hopeless attack on freedom and I pray that other Liberals will stand for what is right too.

How I think a League of Legends player union could work

Overnight, Snoopeh, jungler for Evil Geniuses and all-round top bloke, has come out saying that he thinks a player union would be a good idea. This has brought on a range of comments from people within the eSports community. Most comments seem to revolve around whether players waging war against team owners/Riot would be a good/feasible thing, and given that unions in the rest of life seem to hell-bent on a combination of rent seeking, class warfare and (at least in Australia) maintaining their monopoly on their patch of union turf, it seems pretty reasonable to be skeptical.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way in my view. I think there is a way of having player unions that don’t revolve around what traditional unions do in the US/Australia. If I were to run a player union, and it is something I would love to do, I would run it more along the lines of a friendly society. Friendly societies, from what I understand, were a mainstay of working life prior to the formation of massive government welfare programs. Essentially, people would pool their money to provide for insurance of various sorts, as well as banking and a whole range of other services. There was some times a social aspect to it too, with regular meetings for members where they could provide support to each other. Friendly societies enabled cooperation and mutual assistance for working people.


Song of the day – 4/2/14

While probably not the best Radiohead song (that honour IMHO is reserved for either Paranoid Android or Karma Police), this is my favourite Radiohead song. The fuzzy guitars, the hypnotic bass line, the thumping drums and Thom Yorke’s wail just make for a primal and hauntingly beautiful song. Supposedly Thom Yorke burst into tears when he first heard the final mastered version of this song, which wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Andrew Bolt and Edward Snowden

I while back I sent this email to Andrew Bolt regarding his stance on Edward Snowden. I have edited it to look better as a blog post.

Dear Mr Bolt,

Firstly, I would like to say that I am a daily reader of your blog and ordinarily, I would agree with the vast bulk of what you have said in the past.

However, I have to take strong issue with your stance on Edward Snowden, as I think conservatives should welcome the documents he has released for exposing the attempts by Big Government to invade every aspect of our lives and to lie to our faces about it. Conservatives rightly make a big deal about the overreach of government and the Snowdon documents have exposed the US Government of unconstitutionally issuing general warrants, something the Fourth Amendment was specifically written to forbid. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said:

General warrants do not state the name of the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized, and they do not have the necessity of individualized probable cause as their linchpin. They simply authorize the bearer to search wherever he wishes for whatever he wants.

General warrants were universally condemned by colonial leaders across the ideological spectrum — from those as radical as Sam Adams to those as establishment as George Washington, and from those as individualistic as Thomas Jefferson to those as big-government as Alexander Hamilton. We know from the literature of the times that the whole purpose of the Fourth Amendment — with its requirements of individualized probable cause and specifically identifying the target — is to prohibit general warrants.

And yet, the FISA court has been issuing general warrants and the NSA executing them since at least 2004.”

Not only that but the Snowdon documents have also exposed senior government officials blatantly lying to Congress, something I would have thought should deeply worry conservatives, being aware of the abuse that comes from unaccountable power. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, ruled out the mass collection of data by the government while given sworn testimony to Congress and the only reason we know he was lying was because the Snowdon documents came out shortly after and exposed what he said as a lie. As reported at Breitbart:

When the James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, was asked under oath at a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting in March of this year: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?, he answered “No, sir.”  Astonished by the response, Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden sought clarification: “It does not?” Clapper replied: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect–but not wittingly.” Yet documents recently leaked by former NSA analyst and America’s number one fugitive, Edward Snowden, demonstrate Clapper likely gave false testimony to Congress. Clapper has since admitted he testified in the “least untruthful manner’ he could think of” and he was “too cute by half.”

On the issue of Snowdon seeking refuge in Russia, you approvingly quote someone who (presumably sarcastically) refers to Obama as oppressive but in reality, we should both be able to agree that the Obama administration has ruthlessly attacked its enemies. Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, said that Snowdon made the right call by fleeing because of the ruthlessness of the US government:

“Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers the night before, I was released on personal recognizance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000. But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern. I couldn’t have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.

There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).”

Conservatives have rightly condemned such government projects as Obamacare or the NBN as government overreach but I think it is foolish to dismiss the very important work that Edward Snowdon has done in exposing the unconstitutional and extensive spying that the US government has committed on everyone. I would hope that you might see the importance of the Snowdon leaks in a different light.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Herridge
Busselton, WA

Andrew replied, saying: “I see nothing gained in the release of our spying secrets. Only much damaged.”

I followed by saying: “You don’t think it is worth knowing that the US is engaging in massive unconstitutional spying on its own citizens and on everyone else? Sure, it’s embarrassing to the Abbott government that it was revealed that Australia tapped SBY’s phones 5 years ago but I wouldn’t call it a massive blow to Australia’s security.”

Despite my differing view, kudos to Andrew for replying – I’m sure he gets a million emails a day, and lots that are angry so to get a reply was nice.