In the foundation-legend of the Swiss confederacy, Alberect Gessler was a cruel and tyrannical overlord installed by the Austrians, who installed his hat atop a pole in the public marketplace and decreed that all should bow to it … to his hat, not merely his person. Such a declaration was, I think, a way of rubbing in his authority over the common citizens – indeed, rubbing their noses in the fact that he could make them do so, and do so in front of everyone else.
Having read now and again of small businesses run by devout Christians, such event venues, a bakery doing wedding cakes, or a wedding photographer, even a bed and breakfast refusing to provide a good or a service to a gay couple, I am lead to wonder if this isn’t a kind of Gessler’s hat, metamorphosed to the 21st century. Of course, in this best of all possible worlds, anyone’s money ought to be as good as anyone elses’. And in the case of some of the complainants, loud comparisons are made, comparing the way in which small businesses dealt – or didn’t deal at all – with customers of the African-American variety, fifty years and more ago. Left unsaid, but still implied is a kind of smug satisfaction that devout Christians will be called to heel just as unrepentant racists were.
Somehow, I can’t be so certain of that outcome. Browbeating and bringing suit against the religiously observant into compliance with society’s dictates most usually has the opposite of effect intended, even if superficial compliance is eventually gained. Devout and observant Christians do make up a larger portion of the population than gays – who for all their prominence in media and entertainment, still only comprise less than 3% of the population overall – if that. African-Americans, give or take a couple of percentage points either way are at about %12, which is probably not a market segment which can be ignored by someone selling services or a product.
So, can you refuse service to a member of the public, and for what reason? Do you need a reason? Or will just a polite demurral do, such as “I am so sorry, we can’t fit that into our schedule” ? Making the question a little more complicated – will any religion do? Suppose a Jewish photographer didn’t want to photograph a Catholic quinceanera celebration, or a Muslim-owned halal caterer refused to provide food for a specifically Jewish or Christian event? Seriously, even if such a thing happened in the real world, I can’t imagine the customer getting too bent out of shape by the refusal – unless the refusal was couched in less than tactful language.
So what are we to make of stories such as those that I linked, and others of the same sort? I am pretty sure that it’s not so much a question of civil rights for a very small, but socially influential minority at issue here. Rather, it’s a metaphorical Gessler’s Hat, for which is not sufficient to merely tolerate – all must be seen also to approve, and in loud voices in the public square. Discuss.
(Cross-posted at www.ncobrief.com)
27 thoughts on “Gessler’s Hat”
The first would be bigoted and subject to the full force of the State. The second would be judged a commendable example of diversity. Muslims are in the top tier of certified protected classes along with unassimilated ethnic minorities, gays, and women.
Jews are considered to be worse than Christians, with European descended Christians being marginally worse than non-European Christians in the modern Leftist version of the Indian Jātis system.
It is a question of which animals are more equal to others, and which incentive system the Left is trying to impose.
You refer to “Gessler’s Hat” Being Chinese, I lean towards considering it a k’tou>/em> or kòutóu; what westerners call the “kowtow”. Kneeling on the ground and knocking one’s head on the ground 3 times, as a gesture of submission to higher authority. It is interesting that the submission is expected to carry over to other acts in life, and that submission can be indicated in other ways.
After the Tienanmen Massacre, Bush sent Scowcroft and Eagleberger to China to meet with the Chinese government. The reception was televised all over the world, especially in Asia. It was held in the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City. When I saw it, I started yelling [surprising wife, children, and cat]; “They’ve just done k’tou!”.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony had one use under the Empire. It was where the Emperor received the submission of foreign barbarians. By merely appearing there, in Chinese and Asian eyes, the US submitted, and accepted the Massacre.
Similarly, by accepting the authority of the PC government/NGO establishment, we are submitting in all other things.
I may be Chinese in ancestry, but I was born and raised here. I tend more towards the belief that it is better to die on one’s feet, than live on one’s knees. Of course, better than either is making the other guy face the same choice of posture.
Something to ponder in the coming interesting times.
Yeah. In real life the Muslim family either won’t care or will look for a Muslim caterer. Everyone will be happy. What probably happened in the cases you cite was that someone with an agenda decided to find a local niche business that prefers not to do business with people who aren’t members of their group and tried to make an example of them. It might have been better to start a gay catering business instead, which was the approach followed in the past by immigrants when they found themselves discriminated against. But activists would rather engage in destructive (though self-promoting) behavior than do something creative that benefits others.
Isn’t this the core of political correctness? The urge to make others submit to your view of their thoughts and actions?
}}} even a bed and breakfast refusing to provide a good or a service to a gay couple
The woman was even polite about it. The B&B was her own personal home, and she felt that gays being together under her roof was sufficiently wrong that she could not condone it.
The amusing question would have been — suppose she was a Muslim? Whose priority of creed trumps then?
I concur that this pro-gay crap is going to backfire — you could see it in the Chik-Fil-A debacle. And I argue that instances such as what you’ve suggested have led to such support for “Marriage Laws” as they passed recently in North Carolina. You can bet that, in North Carolina, that kind of crap isn’t going to go anywhere in the legal end of things.
Unfortunately, the problem here is that you can reasonably argue that persecution of gays is wrong. The notion of a talented genius Alan Turing being hounded to death over his homosexuality is just wrong. But that’s an extreme. To be wholly accepting and even encouraging of homosexuality is the opposite extreme. Is that necessarily any better?
I believe it is fairly easy to make a case that society should be more accepting of homosexuality than it has traditionally, but that does not mean it is in society’s interests to openly promote the practice, either. Acceptance is one thing. Openly welcoming and promoting it is another.
The other critical aspect is that comparison of anti-gay attitudes are not the same as racist attitudes. The Bible is pretty absolute about gays: “An Abomination In The Eyes Of The Lord” is pretty well an inarguable attitude. So it’s clear that, despite the effort of the media to paint this as a “this harms no one” situation, it’s not alway so — in the case of the B&B, we’re talking about one person’s religious rights going against another’s sexuality rights. And I believe, given that it was her own home that her religious rights trump those of the gay couple. Tell me it’s a motel she was operating, and that might not be so. Tell me it’s a restaurant they operate, and I am even less likely to concur.
It’s not so simple as the media wants to paint it, and that’s the biggest problem.
The argument that gay abuse might be ignored because only 3% of the population is gay is quite silly. I’m not gay, but I sure as hell fight hard for their right to have sex with anyone in any position. Funny, but singles, who now make up over half the population, are abused more than gays when it comes to tax, immigration, inheritance and other laws. Atheists suffer similar abuse and, once the Boy Scouts accept gays, atheists will be the only group still abused by the Boy Scouts.
The fact that abusers of liberty make up the majority of Amerikans is more reason to nip their discrimination in the bud wherever it tries to blossom, no matter how insignificant the abuse. Moments of silence are but one example of the continuing attempts to maintain the USSA as a land of religious and superstitious nuts.
The argument that gay abuse might be ignored because only 3% of the population is gay is quite silly.
That’s not the argument. The argument is that people running private businesses have the right to decide with whom they’ll do business, just as anyone has the right to decide with whom he’ll associate. If A doesn’t want to do business with B that isn’t an abuse of B. However, the use of state power to force A to do business with B is an abuse of A.
Jimbino, maybe, just maybe, you are not gay, but your argument is so twisted that i hope you do not have access to potentially deadly weapons.
Jimbino must live next door to Terry Pratchett:
“I get oppressed all the time,” said Brother Doorkeeper. “Master Kreeley, where I work, he oppresses me morning, noon and night, shouting at me and everything. And the woman in the vegetable shop, she oppresses me all the time.”
“That’s right,” said Brother Plasterer. “My landlord oppresses me something wicked. Banging on the door and going on and on about all the rent I allegedly owe, which is a total lie. And the people next door oppress me all night long. I tell them, I work all day, a man’s got to have some time to learn to play the tuba. That’s oppression, that is. If I’m not under the heel of the oppressor, I don’t know who is.”
“Put like that-” said Brother Watchtower slowly- “I reckon my brother-in-law is oppressing me all the time with having this new horse and buggy he’s been and bought. I haven’t got one. I mean, where’s the justice in that?”
I suspect that adding to the confusion about this is that the line between toleration and approval has been considerably blurred. One may tolerate … but sometimes it seems that no, that’s not enough. One must approve, rapturously and loudly, else one is accused of being a bigot. F’rinstance; I do not approve of rap music, for a number of different but personal reasons … but I tolerate the existance of the genre. What if someone came along demanding that I do a blog post praising rap music to the skies and asserting that I am a bigot if I don’t? Where’s the line to be drawn between toleration and approval?
Free association and social exclusion are two sides of the same coin. There is no right to free association in the Constitution any more than there is a right to privacy. Social exclusion is a powerful device for enforcing tyrannic majority rule over individual rights. If one opens one’s house as a public accommodation, does one have the right to regulate behavior therein more than the Holiday Inn? And does anyone really want to submit that the Holiday Inn has the right to restrict the legal activity that occurs in rooms paid for? If you engage in commerce, you have to provide your services to all comers. And if the best reason you can find for not providing a service to someone is that you do not like something about them, you need to be prepared to pay the price at law. Or have the creativity to find another reason you cannot provide the service. That’s life in a pluralistic society.
Where’s the line to be drawn between toleration and approval?
Ah, a new question. In none of the questions linked was there any issue of approval, only toleration and provision of service to all comers. Certainly one could provide the service while expressing disapproval. Nothing prevented the B&B lady from saying, “We’ve never had fags stay here before.” or more tastefully, “Have you ever considered that your behaviour is an abomination in the sight of the Lord? I beseech you to search you soul…” Such language indicates willingness to provide the service but disapproval of the behaviour. Interior decorators do it all the time.
But the example of Gessler’s hat is not one of toleration nor approval, but submission. And that is what is being demanded in all the linked cases, submission to the law.
If you engage in commerce, you have to provide your services to all comers. And if the best reason you can find for not providing a service to someone is that you do not like something about them, you need to be prepared to pay the price at law.
A gay hairdresser refused to continue cutting the hair of New Mexico governor Susana Martinez after she publicly declared her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman (http://tinyurl.com/b6d8eov). He cited her belief as his reason for refusing her as a client. Thus, wouldn’t he be liable “to pay the price at law”?
Perhaps all vendors should put stars in their front windows and marketing materials, with a blue star denoting Team Blue and a red star its counterpart.
Then there’s this:
Dunce’s handle is right:
“Jimbino, maybe, just maybe, you are not gay, but your argument is so twisted that i hope you do not have access to potentially deadly weapons.”
In fact, I am a physicist who has been professionally involved in the design of ICBMs, nuclear weapons, bombers, fighter jets, tanks and rockets.
I support the 2nd Amendment that grants Amerikans the right to defend themselves against their freatest threat.
There really are no colliding rights here. There is one right and that is the right to do business or associate with whomever you please,or to refuse to do so. The anti-discrimination laws bring the gov’t and courts into hiring decisions they are not competent to decide,with disastrous results. Requiring police officers to have some knowledge of the law,and some intelligence besides-well that would have a disparate impact on some minorities, and we can’t have that. So you have to have incompetent police because you cannot test effectively. Or you have the Washington Metro which has been taken over by an incompetents whose main qualification is that they belong to a particular ethnic group.
Or if you hire someone from a “protected” group and they turn out incompetent, you will likely have to pay to get rid of them.
The effect of the various “anti-discrimination” laws has been to encourage or require large organizations to hire incompetents for their superficial qualities rather than on merit. The bigotry is still there,but it is directed at white males or East-Asians.
It is time these laws were removed from the books so that we could become more of a meritocracy.
Hey, I asked for a discussion!
Although it is a sort of linked question, Mrs. D. It gets into interesting territory when it comes to a business that provides a sort of service that is more personalized, and tailored to the client, like a wedding cake, or photographic coverage of an event. Or even a haircut. (Really, would you want those services provided by someone what you had hectored into doing so by threat of bringing the local law down on them if they refused?)
I work also as an editor and I have a sideline in transcribing old documents. Suppose I was offered a job, editing a gay romance which had a LOT of explicit details … and I didn’t want to accept that particular job and said so, very politely. Suppose the client went flouncing off in a huff and brought suit because I didn’t want that job? I am in business and it’s in a kind of public … but don’t I have any right of refusal? Because I am out there as an editor, is it OK that I could be forced to do a particular job, just because someone can scream very loudly if I demur?
And does anyone really want to submit that the Holiday Inn has the right to restrict the legal activity that occurs in rooms paid for?
Of course they do. Hotels restrict how many people can sleep in a room (based on fees paid, not fire codes), whether you can smoke in a room, whether you can have pets in a room, how loud and at what hours you can play music in a room, whether you can cook in a room.
Hotels can and do make more severe restrictions on what goes on in their rooms. If I think the restrictions are unreasonable, I can take my business elsewhere, which I have done.
If a hotel had restrictions that I thought were bigoted or otherwise outrageous, I might organize a boycott or conduct a public “name and shame”.
But unless a hotel tried to steal from me or physically harm me, I certainly wouldn’t ask the government to get involved, and I’d be outraged if they tried to insert themselves into the situation.
That’s life in pluralistic society.
Thus, wouldn’t he be liable “to pay the price at law”?
If the laws were equitably enforced, yes.
It is time these laws were removed from the books so that we could become more of a meritocracy.
At the price of the return of private segregation? I don’t know. What is frightening to me is that things have come to such a pass that posing such a question is reasonable.
is it OK that I could be forced to do a particular job, just because someone can scream very loudly if I demur?
Yes, if the only reason you can find is that you don’t like the color of the other person’s skin or some other as hominem reason.
Of course they do.
You are correct, but all the examples you cite are applied to all comers and do not discriminate against people based on themselves. Do we really want to become a country where one cannot obtain a public service because they are black? Or Muslim? Or homosexual? Or Jewish? The list can grow quite rapidly. INNA. It wasn’t that long ago, and it wouldn’t be that hard to return.
Thomas Sowell asked who benefited from admitting less qualified minorities to Medical School. The administrators for one,who can say how liberal they are and get credit from the Civil Rights Industry. Not that they would allow their own families to be treated by such physicians. Who gets stuck with these substandard doctors? The minority communities for the most part. The Civil Rights Industry has enabled Liberals to feel good about themselves and enabled extortionists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They have also excused bad behavior on the part of certain minorities. These institutions do very well for themselves. Their ostensible clients? Well, they are the pretext.
But forget about the practical catastrophe this has been. Do you want the gov’t telling you who you may hire? You want to end discrimination? Get the gov’t and the courts out of it.
How much refusing to do business would there be if we got rid of anti-discrimination laws? I’m guessing much less than used to be the case. It’s costly for merchants to turn away business. Racial discrimination in the old South was maintained by a social consensus that would have penalized merchants who flouted it. That consensus no longer exists. If anything, in most parts of the modern USA a merchant who turns away gays or members of any other group risks bad publicity and lost business. Do we need the state to enforce association?
Renminbi beat me to it.
Segregation was not just maintained by social consensus-there was also the threat of violence-either private and/or on the part of the local authorities. This could excuse civil rights laws to counter that. No such excuse exists today.
That’s what I meant by penalized.
How much refusing to do business would there be if we got rid of anti-discrimination laws? I’m guessing much less than used to be the case.
And I’m betting a lot more than there is now. And it would grow.
This would also be a threat to the whole multi-culturalism scene. One of the benefits of social exclusion is that it forces assimilation. But whole swaths of social policy have bee anti-assimilative for 50 years. I don’t expect that to change overnight, much as I wish it would.
And I have a movie recommendation for you youngsters.
If you are a white male with a Ph.D in a non stem subject try getting hired for a tenure track position. We do have the most egregious racial blacklisting and it is encouraged by the gov,t and the academic establishment.
But whole swaths of social policy have bee anti-assimilative for 50 years. I don’t expect that to change overnight, much as I wish it would.
When I was younger, Mrs. Davis, I intellectually welcomed “out” groups to what I perceived as the larger, more successful, WASPISH culture. Little did I suspect that the “outies”, rather than adaopting the good habits and behaviors of the uber culture, would (to a large extent) influence the larger group to the extent it has, with culturally weakening memes.
Calling upon the gummint to combat racial discrimination through public accommodations law is amusing, considering the extensive racial discrimination practiced by the gummint itself in national parks and forests and in public universities.
A private party’s discrimination, whether odious or not, is not financed by the gummint. It’s particularly galling, however, that Blacks and Hispanics, while almost never seen in the national parks and forests and way underrepresented in public universities, still pay to own and finance these White Country Clubs.
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