Writing for townhall.com, Christian apologist Frank Turek asks, “Can Bruce Springsteen Refuse to Play a Gay Wedding?”
I agree with Bruce Springsteen who cancelled his concert in my adopted home state of North Carolina because he objected to HB2 (the bathroom law). I also agree with Paypal, which cancelled their plans to expand in Charlotte because they think the law is “discriminatory.” Why? Because I believe that performers and businesses have every right not to do business with whom they disagree. In other words, they have the right to discriminate against the people of North Carolina.
But if liberals can deny services to people with whom they disagree, then why can’t conservatives?
And while we’re at it, why can’t you peel an apple the same way you peel an orange? Life is just so darn unfair!
The point Turek is missing (or possibly trying to obscure) is that conservatives can and do exercise exactly the same rights as Springsteen and PayPal did. Conservatives exercise the same rights every time they boycott gay-friendly businesses. Springsteen is a performer, not a service provider. He doesn’t put out fliers that say, “Please hire me to come sing at your child’s birthday party.” He schedules concerts at different parts of the country, and sells tickets to the public to come see the concert. His choice of where to schedule those concerts is up to him. As far as North Carolina is concerned, he’s the customer, not the business owner. He can decide whose venues he wants to rent, and whose he doesn’t.
Now, if Springsteen were to decide to discriminate against his customers—the people who buy tickets—then that would be a different story. If he said, “I’m putting on a concert next Tuesday, but Christians (or Jews, or blacks, or whatever) aren’t allowed to buy tickets,” then he would be guilty of discriminating, and would be subject to prosecution, just like a baker who refused to sell to gays.
What Turek fails to understand is the difference between a business owner who offers goods and services to the general public, and a customer who chooses where to shop. When PayPal is shopping for real estate, they’re the customer, and the customer has the right to choose where to shop, be they liberal, conservative, Muslim, gay, transgendered, Pastafarian, or whatever. Liberals have that right, and conservatives have that right as well. But if they choose a business that doesn’t want to deal with “their kind,” and refuses them service, then the business is guilty of discrimination.
This isn’t a terribly difficult concept to grasp, but I don’t think Turek really cares. And as with so many conservatives, he’s also unclear on the difference between being charged with a crime, and merely being criticized.
When Bruce Springsteen refuses to do a concert in North Carolina for moral reasons he’s a hero to the liberals and the media, which are the same thing. (Imagine what would have happened to Bruce if he had refused to perform at a gay wedding? He’d go from hero to zero.) Yet, when a conservative band, florist, or photographer refuses to work at a gay wedding for moral or religious reasons, the left and the media bully those folks mercilessly as intolerant bigots. And they do so while claiming to be against bullying and for “tolerance”! (As Ryan Anderson pointed out, if it wasn’t for double standards, liberals would have no standards.)
Ah yes, that old “double standard” of saying that it’s as wrong to discriminate against gays as it would be to discriminate against Christians. It seems Turek is not too skilled at counting as high as “two.” Should a band, or a florist, or a photographer be free to refuse to work at a Christian wedding just because the couple is Christian? How about an apartment complex refusing to rent to Christians, or employers refusing to hire Christians? Liberals are saying the same standard applies to everyone, Christians, gays, trans men and women—everyone. “Double standard” is the term for what conservatives are doing—claiming that no one should be allowed to criticize them for the way they criticize and discriminate against others.
In America, a gay T-shirt maker should not be forced to print up anti-gay marriage T-shirts. And a Christian or Muslim photographer should not be forced to photograph a gay wedding. If Bruce has the right to deny service, so does everyone.
Except Bruce isn’t a singer-for-hire. He’s not offering a service to the general public, and so he can’t deny that service to anyone. The photographer is offering a service to a general public, and so is legally obligated not to discriminate, even if they disagree with the opinions or personal qualities of their customer. It’s no different than if an atheist taxi driver refused to allow Christian passengers in their cab. If you’re offering a service for hire to the general public, then discrimination by Christians or against Christians, by gays or against gays, or whatever, is a violation of someone’s civil rights, and is rightly subject to legal penalties.
At this point, Turek descends from mere poor-me whining to outright dishonesty.
Of course HB2 has nothing to do with denying services to anyone. It is about public heath and safety.
Bullshit. By my count, the number of women who have been assaulted by trans women in public restrooms is zero. HB2 requires trans women to use the men’s rest room, and requires trans men to use the women’s rest room. This does not make anyone safer, and in fact, by setting a precedent for men using the women’s room, this bill makes it arguably easier for potential rapists and voyeurs to get access, since they wouldn’t have to disguise themselves as women. Trans men look no different than cis men.
And that sneaky little innuendo about “public health” is sheer bigotry. You don’t catch transexuality off a toilet seat for crying out loud!
There are 21,054 convicted sex offenders in North Carolina—one of them was a leader in getting the Charlotte ordinance to pass, which created the need for HB2 in the first place (a fact conveniently ignored by the mainstream media). Is it bigotry to protect women and children from these people? No, it’s loving and right.
Frank, if you’re really worried about giving sex offenders access to public rest rooms, then why pass a law that targets transgendered people—who are not sex offenders—instead of targeting the actual offenders you claim to be worried about? Could you possibly be any more transparently hypocritical and dishonest?
Turek’s rhetorical diarrhea continues for several more paragraphs, whining about the Human Rights Campaign advocating for equal rights for LGBT people as though this was a terrible thing, and then hypocritically arguing that he thinks discrimination against Christians ought to be ok even as he complains about how unfair it all is. And so on. But I think by now you’ve got the general idea.