Bench legislation alive and well


While the country continues being in the throes of figuring itself out, and all the foofaraw about President Trump and his manic march to Armageddon (darn those tax cuts), we pause to return to an old standby, activist courts and legislating from the bench.

The Court of Appeals in Oregon has upheld a ruling against a bakery that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple, and further upheld a $135,000 fine.

In its ruling, according to news reports, Melissa and Aaron Klein’s work is not “speech, art, or other expression,” and the state of Oregon “did not impermissibly burden the Kleins’ right to the free exercise of religion” by compelling the couple to comply with the state’s discrimination laws.

You can imagine that both sides of the issue had their positions codified in the media. None of this, however, addresses what I believe is the central issue, and that is of the government’s meddling into affairs like this.

Discrimination is a heinous act, to be sure. Laws that are intended to level the playing field are on the surface a good idea, but as it is demonstrated here, unable to answer the problem as it will inevitably shift the discrimination from one side to another.

This is because some of the parties involved in issues like this are polar opposites, and there really isn’t any middle ground. The results in a government body forcing one side to comply.

This also is completely different than laws dealing with racial discrimination for several reasons, since this isn’t about hatred as much as it is about differing beliefs, and more to the point, it wasn’t the only bakery in town. This was about forced acceptance, and using the weight of the government as a club.

If this truly was an attempt to right a wrong, then it would include every bakery and every religion in a class action suit. However, the plaintiffs in this case would never be so bold as to force a Muslim baker to provide a wedding cake (or to cater an event and serve dishes made of pork). No, this was a surgical strike, against a couple whose religion has been the subject of assault for years.

The other thing of note here is the word compel. The government, in its wisdom and quest for fairness, has passed legislation that will “compel” a person (or a group of people) to behave in direct conflict with their beliefs, and backs it up with punishment. That’s not now, nor has it ever been, the function of government. That’s Big Brother stuff right there.

This entire mess could have been solved simply if the betrothed couple chose a different baker. In my mind, this was never about law. It’s about overstepped bounds, courts making decisions about social issues that have nothing to do with law.

•This week’s Headline of Note comes from what used to be a pretty respected source of news, the Associated Press: Snatched by hungry eagle, little dog lives to bark the tale.

Seems an eagle, on the prowl for food (as eagles are wont to do), saw a bichon frise, and snatched it up (also, as eagles are wont to do).

The couple could not find the animal, and (as owners are wont to do), posted the event on Facebook. A kindly woman who found the animal on the side of the road about four miles away had found it, and the dog was reunited with its owners, and all was well.

There was no word on how the pooch escaped; even if it could bark its tale, no one understood it.

So, I guess, this is what passes for national news nowadays.

Tony Farkas is publisher of the Madisonville Meteor