Crisis in Indiana: Random small-town pizzeria says it won't cater gay weddings; Update: Might not re-open?

“This is not the Indiana I remember as a kid,” said David Letterman last night about the new RFRA. This is a guy born in 1947, old enough to have already been in elementary school before Brown v. Board of Education was decided, who was well into his 40s before the first gay-marriage blip appeared on a state’s judicial radar. But that’s the way most people on my side of this issue roll these days. Culturally we’re in the midst of a great forgetting, where those who were themselves agnostic about SSM or even opposed to it 15 minutes ago simply cannot imagine a mindset that would be agnostic about, or opposed to, the practice. Either Letterman’s memory has wiped clean his own decades-long tacit complicity in traditional marriage as the only legitimate form or he hasn’t realized yet that the reason he doesn’t remember stuff like this happening when he was a kid is because gay Hoosiers had little choice at the time but to stay deep, deep, deep in the closet. The suggestion that Indiana is less accommodating to gays now, when reporters have to go door to door in small towns to find even one business willing to deny service to them, than it was in the 1950s is revisionism so egregious that gay-rights activists should be in his face about it, insisting that he recognize what America used to be like for them.

Instead they’re in the face of some pizzeria owner from a small town, who’ll almost certainly never be asked to cater a gay wedding — except maybe now as a pretext to coax her formal refusal and trigger a lawsuit — and who, like every other Christian business owner who’s run up against antidiscrimination laws thus far, isn’t refusing service to gays as a rule. She’s refusing compulsory participation in a wedding ceremony that violates what her religion tells her is permissible. And she’s getting destroyed for it on Yelp. Watch the clip, then read the Yelp comments and ask yourself on which side the malice in this debate, which is supposed to be about hatred and prejudice, truly lies. There’s no Internet mob these days quite as nasty as a mob of pro-gay social-justice warriors competing to win the outrage Olympics.

And one of the worst things about it, especially if you support gay marriage, is how parochial the outrage is. MKH touched on that the other night in noting that Apple somehow manages to tolerate capital punishment for gays in Saudi Arabia in the name of selling iPhones there. Jonah Goldberg noted on Twitter this morning that Iran’s own death sentences for the crime of homosexuality are obviously no impediment to the peace-in-our-time nuclear deal that’s brewing right now. The world’s richest corporation and most powerful government could draw real red lines aimed at helping gays abroad but they don’t because it might cost them something. Only when it costs them nothing, like in the absurd hypothetical of a great wave of Indiana businesses kicking gays out, do they pound the table. They’re beneath contempt. And they’ll never be called on it by anyone who matters to them.

Update: Oh, the lectures about “tone” to which we’d be treated if a right-wing mob were treating a left-wing business owner this way.

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