ESPN host on Arizona's religious freedom bill: What's next, gays wearing yellow stars?

Via NRO, a video exclamation point on the self-congratulatory hysteria that characterized the latest panic. Ace once described behavior like this as “moral peacocking”; by going Godwin so quickly, Tony K wants to be sure you know that he’s got bigger, brighter feathers than you. I don’t watch “Pardon the Interruption” so I can only imagine the heights of indignation that he reaches when the subject of “Redskins” comes up — although, in that case, at least he was ahead of the curve. For others, the transition from not regarding a particular practice as unjust to acknowledging that it’s unjust to ostentatiously quaking with rage at a mere accusation of related injustice seems to get shorter all the time.

David Harsanyi sums up where I am on all this:

Now, it’s not my business — or his — to parse the beliefs of people or bore into their souls, any more than it’s the business of believers to explain how my atheism works. (Though, I should mention, that most e-mails reacting to my non-belief from social conservatives over the years have only gently attempted to persuade me that God loves me, while most e-mails reacting to my defense of religious freedom have speculated on my furtive bigotry and intolerance.) What the media should have been parsing was the bill itself – a bill that I suspect Fournier and others in the negligent media didn’t take the time to read…

I’ve been writing pro-gay marriage posts since I became a columnist at the Denver Post a decade ago. And though I don’t believe any of those columns or interviews with many gay Coloradans made much of a difference in the world, I do realize I was exceedingly gullible in believing that any group would be content simply being “left alone.” It’s clear that coexisting doesn’t only mean having the freedom to take part in the civil institution of marriage, but it also means compelling others into participation and acceptance.

Ilya Shapiro, another libertarian who supports legal gay marriage, did in fact read the bill. It’s essentially the same bill as the one that the federal government, under Bill Clinton, adopted 20 years ago, except this one would apply to private lawsuits too:

SB 1062 does nothing more than align state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which passed the House unanimously, the Senate 97-3, and was signed by President Clinton in 1993). That is, no government action can “substantially burden” religious exercise unless the government uses “the least restrictive means” to further a “compelling interest.” This doesn’t mean that people can “do whatever they want” – laws against murder would still trump religious human sacrifice – but it would prevent the government from forcing people to violate their religion if that can at all be avoided. Moreover, there’s no mention of sexual orientation (or any other class or category)…

This isn’t the Jim Crow South; there are plenty of wedding photographers – over 100 in Albuquerque – and bakeries who would be willing to do business regardless of sexual orientation, and no state is enforcing segregation laws. I bet plenty of Arizona businesses would and do see more customers if they advertised that they welcomed the LGBT community.

I bet so too. Nearly every harangue about Arizona in this debate, Kornheiser’s included, claims the state is notoriously stubborn in resisting social change, but that’s contradicted by the polling. According to the Arizona Republic last year, a clear majority of 55 percent support legalizing gay marriage. Dozens of states, not just Arizona, include no provision for gays in their public accommodation laws. And yet here’s Kornheiser stammering about the prospect of Michael Sam not being able to buy a ticket to the Super Bowl in a case where the NFL intervened heavily to kill Arizona’s bill. That’s the point — market forces are already on the side of gay rights, so the risk of gays not getting served absent a new law is already minimal. Frankly, if, like me, Harsanyi, and Shapiro, you support gay marriage and want to make it easier for opponents to accept it, the worst thing you can do is pick a needless fight over religious liberty at an instant when the momentum’s entirely on your side. Let the believers refuse service if they want; some of them will serve you anyway in the interest of their bottom line and others who refuse service now will come around in time. The less people have to fear from gay marriage becoming legal, the easier it’ll be to make it happen — if, that is, that’s the goal. If this is really about some sort of cultural revenge on people who are anti-gay, then I’ve been as gullible as Harsanyi.

By the way, before you watch the clip, read this post by Jon Swerens on the media’s “ooooopsi” approach to moral panics and try to identify which phase Kornheiser’s at. He’s the fifth “O,” right?