Bakers, the KKK and the False Dilemma

Let me start by saying that I have a measure of respect for anyone who puts their name to their posts and bares their soul for the world to see. Paul Williams, who runs Blogging Theology, is one such person. I certainly do not agree with a lot of what I see on his site, but it is by and large insightful, especially regarding the Muslim faith.

Of course, it is inevitable that he would say things I take issue with. We’ve had discussions in the past, but I feel this is one worth archiving, as it were, so there is no room for confusion later on. My comments will be in blue, his in red. Any additional comments of mine will be in black.

It started when  Paul posted this picture:

bakethecake

The implication behind this image is obvious. The LBGT community is persecuting the Christian community (substitute Christian for religious if you wish). The chief bone of contention? That a gay couple took legal action against a bakery who refused to bake a wedding cake for them, on religious grounds. You can see more about this specific case here.

It’s a fantastical image but not an accurate one. Businesses that have agreed to abide by public laws and regulations don’t have the right to force their religious beliefs on their customers by means of refusing service. This is why the State and the Faith are kept separate – and indeed, why they should be.

I bet a liberal baker would refuse to bake a cake for the KKK and be supported by the left for doing so.

The beginnings of a rhetoric trick, intended to force me down a specific path.

That doesn’t excuse using religion as an excuse to discriminate.

would you support a liberal baker who refused to bake a cake for the KKK?

A better question would be, would you support anyone who entered into a public business, which is subject to public law, use their beliefs to arbitrarily discriminate against anyone, on the grounds of faith? What would be next? Christians refusing service to Muslims and vice-versa?

Moreover, your example of the KKK is a false dilemma. The KKK endorses discrimination as a matter of practice, against gays, blacks and ethnic minorities. I don’t imagine they would look too favourably upon Muslims either. A gay couple who simply want to buy a cake is not comparable to an organisation that has historically engaged in violence.

so what is your answer to my question?

Would you support a liberal baker who refused to bake a cake for the KKK?

Yes or no?

Paul is setting up a false dilemma. If I answer ‘yes’, he will say I am being hypocritical. If we want to get really technical, I would be – but the KKK is an organisation committed to hate. They ought to have been banned decades ago, and in practice they are not at all comparable to a gay couple who want a cake to help them celebrate their wedding. You can see why this is a false dilemma.

If I answer ‘no’, he will no doubt use that answer to imply I am somehow tolerant of the KKK. He is setting a ‘win-win’ scenario.

Already answered – it’s a false dilemma. Will you answer MY question? A better question would be, would you support anyone who entered into a public business, which is subject to public law, use their beliefs to arbitrarily discriminate against anyone, on the grounds of faith? What would be next? Christians refusing service to Muslims and vice-versa?

No you have not answered! It is not a false anything.

KKK walk into a known liberal baker and ask them to bake a nice cake with a lovely swastika on it.

Baker refuses on principle. Goes against her beliefs.

Would you support the baker?

Yes

or

no

Of course it’s a false dilemma. Shall I assume from your question your tacit support for the KKK and its discriminatory policies, which is not at all the same as a gay couple asking for a cake?

I know what you’re doing. It’s a rhetoric trick. Not only are you not answering MY question, but you’re trying to set up conditions. If I answer that I would support the baker who refused service to the KKK, you’ll turn around and accuse me of hypocrisy. If I say I wouldn’t, you’ll accuse me of supporting the KKK. Hence why it’s a false dilemma. Let me ask YOU – would YOU bake a cake for the KKK? Or a gay couple? Or would you remove yourself from a position where your personal beliefs would interfere with your ability to do your job impartially?

You are right – I’m not going to answer your question at the moment. I want you to answer mine first.

It’s not a trick question. It is a real question involving real people in the USA. IT COULD HAPPEN.

But it IS a test of your liberal principles. Let’s see if you apply them equally or not.

FACT: There are many KKK types in your country.

FACT: You have many bakeries too.

It is totally realistic to ask what would happen if one of the former walked into one of the latter. If you reject this possibility explain why it is impossible.

The latter refuses to serve the former.

Do you still agree with your statement above that:

“Businesses that have agreed to abide by public laws and regulations don’t have the right to force their religious beliefs [or political beliefs] on their customers by means of refusing service.”

Of course it’s a trick question. We both know EXACTLY what you intend to do, whichever way I answer, which is why I am reluctant to play your game. This is about placing spin upon which answer I give, so you can do ‘HA!’ We both know this to be true.

However, I will take your bait (and that is what it is), though I expect you to answer my question in return. I want your word that you shall do so before I give any answer. You should also be aware that I am archiving this discussion on my own site, so there is no room for conflation or confusion.

I’m still waiting…

I’m waiting for your word.

what word?

That you will answer my question if I answer yours.

I will think about it. Now, I’m still waiting for you to answer my question.

I’m still waiting for your word. That first, or no answer. Surely that’s fair?

No not really. I don’t like people setting conditions on my future actions. I just asked you a question. Either answer it or don’t.

Enough already!

There’s a certain element of irony here. Paul is trying to push me into a corner, yet when faced with the same approach, it appears he doesn’t like it.

You’re doing exactly that to me. What are you afraid of Paul? Being pushed into a pidgeon hole? Because we both know that’s what you’re doing to me. You are setting up conditions to either way declare ‘HA’. Perhaps I should keep asking why you equate the KKK with gays?

OK. Lets move on…

I tell you what. As it’s now gone 11pm and I have work tomorrow, I’ll answer you tomorrow. I’m disappointed that you will probably not give your word and answer my question (I have to wonder as to why), but I obviously can’t force you to give your word. I’ll take your bait and play your rhetorical game, but as I said, it will be tomorrow.

Right, time to offer up my answer to his leading question…

You wanted an answer Paul, here it is. I will say firstly, I am disappointed that you are using leading questions – it’s a rhetorical trick, and a pretty obvious one at that. You are hoping to generate a ‘win-win’ scenario for yourself. Unfortunately for you, this is not my first time around the block, as it were, and I can see through such tactics. I must also wonder at why you equate homosexual couples with the KKK – that is quite disturbing Paul, and I’ll be interested to see how you justify that comparison.

In order to answer your question effectively, we must first examine the nature of your question. The question itself is a false one – what exactly ‘is’ a liberal baker? This is left rather vague.

Moving on, I support anyone – liberal, Muslim, or Christian – who refused to endorse the KKK, across any platform. The KKK is a hate group. They have historically persecuted minorities – and right now have their eyes set on Muslims and homosexuals alike. http://www.ibtimes.com/alabama-kkk-recruiting-fight-spread-islam-2219087 http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/08/13/the-kkk-issues-plea-for-members-to-kill-gay-people/

I suspect you will now accuse me of hypocrisy, and I suspect you will not answer my question, which will be rather telling. I will nevertheless, continue with my own answer, and make a wider point.

What the homosexual couple want is for a public business, which agreed to abide by public law, to uphold that law and fulfil their obligation under it, instead of practicing discriminatory policies. Is it not diversity and choice – it is bigotry, disguised behind religion, that motivates the denial of service in these circumstances – and it is in fact illegal.

So where does it end Paul? Why do you believe anyone should be free to arbitrarily discriminate against anyone else? If you were to enter a place of business and be denied the service you requested, on the grounds of being a Muslim, would you then be asking questions about whether someone should serve the KKK a cake? Or would you take the issue more seriously?

 

Paul has so far been coy in his response, preferring to let others answer for him. As the number of comments has rapidly expanded, I’ll be preparing a part 2 to this. In the meantime, let’s take a wider look at what the issue really is. I’ve read complaints of homosexuals ‘destroying’ businesses with bigoted and Nazi-like behaviour. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Homosexuals face being denied jobs, or dismissed from jobs, at a much higher rate than average. They face greater percentages of workplace harassment. This is a global problem.

Yet we are supposed to believe homosexuals are ‘Nazis’ and it’s perfectly reasonable to refuse service to same-sex couples, and expecting businesses that operate in the public domain to abide by laws preventing arbitrary discrimination is completely unreasonable.


Riiiiight.

The thing is, the narrative put forward here is completely false. It is also dangerous. Where does permitting businesses to discriminate for whatever reason they choose end? I can only wonder what would happen if they are on the receiving end of such a practice.

Back to Meerkat Musings and Blogging Theology

6 comments

  1. False dilemma indeed. And a somewhat outrageous mangling of classical logic. Let me put it in another context to clarify the issue:
    Business people offer services. If someone is hiring the services they offer (playing the piano, security, answering a telephone- or baking a cake), then the identity of the client is irrelevant to the transaction. I’m a specialist in fine arts; when I meet with a client I don’t ask them about their religion, their sex life or their marital status. Doing so would be highly inappropriate and unprofessional. My job is to provide an opinion backed up by research on the history/authenticity of artwork. Not to scrutinize the choices in the private lives of clients. A baker being asked to bake is in no way placing an exceptional burden on the professional.

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