The Left’s Hypocrisy on States Regulating Freedom of Expression of Businesses
Should businesses have a right to express their views and practice them accordingly? The left says yes — and no. They say, “It depends.” Liberals tend to say yes when the business takes a position they agree with. They say no if the business takes a viewpoint they disagree with.
In the first case, the left stands for free speech and the first amendment. In the second, the left happily uses state power to curtail the business’s freedom of expression.
Liberals increasingly do the latter, as they increasingly target Christian businesses. We all know the cases of Christian bakers, florists and printers being sued and prosecuted for refusing to promote a message they don’t believe in. Secular bakers, florists and printers do the same thing, and not a single liberal says a word.
Businesses that Boycott Israel
Two articles on TheHumanist.com feature these conflicting positions. Interestingly, they both take liberal positions on the issues. One attacks laws against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. These laws prohibit states from working with businesses that boycott Israel. The other supports laws making businesses provide contraception.
In “Cut the BS with BDS,” Spencer Grady-Pawl defends businesses’ freedom of expression. He declares that “any attempt at restricting the right of an individual to express their political opinion is antithetical to this country’s emphasis on free speech.” Government shouldn’t restrict “the ability of one of the many sides of the debate to express their position.” He warns that “history won’t look favorably upon those who acted to restrict the legitimate political expression of others.”
Jason Frye doesn’t care about businesses’ freedom of expression. In “Hobby Lobby Isn’t About Religion. It’s About Health Care,” he argues that the government should make businesses include birth control in their health insurance plans. Letting them refuse “is not a matter of protecting religious exercise.” It’s “an assault on labor.” It also assaults “the right of healthcare.”
What’s the difference between the two? Some businesses think it’s wrong to support Israel. Some businesses think it’s wrong to provide contraception. Why should one be allowed to practice its beliefs and the other not allowed to practice its belief? How does that make sense?
In just one way: A lot of liberals (though not all) favor BDS. So YES! to free speech on that issue. Almost all favor contraception. So NO! to free speech on that issue.
The Left Picks and Chooses
The problem is worse than just selective reasoning. The left can’t find a coherent position because they don’t have a consistent position on state regulation. The left picks and chooses which areas the state may regulate based on its current theory of morality.
The government must make businesses provide contraception because the left finds it a positive good. Therefore women have a right to get it from their employer. They don’t care what the owners may believe. That area of life can be regulated.
The government can’t make businesses support Israel because the left doesn’t believe in it. Therefore liberals care what the owners may believe. That area of life can’t be regulated.
Look at the issues already mentioned, the work of bakers, florists and printers. The left believes completely in same-sex marriage, so that’s an area it demands the state regulate. It wants to state to legislate that morality. If you’re a businessman, you don’t have a First Amendment right to do something liberals don’t want you to do.
But if a secular baker or florist or printer turns down a request to make something for a Christian marriage, that’s treated as an exercise of free speech. It’s protected by the First Amendment. It’s absolute.
At least in these matters, the left doesn’t regulate based on any clear idea of what the government can and should do. It regulates based on its own theory of morality, and to heck with anyone else’s. It legislates for secularism. That means it legislates against Christianity. If there’s one thing the left is consistent on, it’s that.
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