Indiana state senator on Memories Pizza: That kind of thinking has no place in this town

I flagged this story last night on Twitter but Matt Welch already wrote the post I wanted to write this morning about State Sen. Jim Arnold. I wonder if this schmuck is misinformed about what the pizzeria owners said, as so many people burning them in virtual effigy seem to be, or if he knows and is prepared to run them out of town regardless:

“The vast majority of people in this country are not going to stand by and watch that kind of activity unfold,” [Arnold] said. “If that’s their stand I hope they enjoy eating their pizza because I don’t think anyone else is going to.”

Sen. Arnold says he’s upset by the news because of the negative attention it’s bringing to a town he says is a great community.

He said this kind of thinking has no place in this town…

“This is America and if people say they’re not going to serve them and they feel this is some kind of defense, which by the way doesn’t take effect until July 1, but if they feel it’s some kind of defense, I think they’re sadly mistaken,” said Sen. Arnold.

The owners never refused service to gays. They never claimed they’d refuse service to gays. As Welch notes, they said the opposite — they would and do serve gay customers. What they wouldn’t do if asked is cater a gay wedding because their faith tells them that marriage is sacred and reserved for straight couples. That “thinking,” politely declining to be conscripted by the state into a ceremony that violates one’s religion, no longer has a place in small-town Indiana according to the town’s own senator, who’s more keen to stay on the good side of the left’s gay-marriage mob than defend constituents guilty of nothing more than giving their opinion to a reporter. The episode’s a total catastrophe if you care about reconciling opponents of gay marriage to the looming reality of the practice being legalized nationwide by the Supreme Court. The intelligent way to do that is to observe the right of business owners to decline service at gay weddings and trust that their feelings will change over time as the practice becomes more mainstream. This isn’t Mississippi in 1955; gay couples won’t be frozen out of local public accommodations by the number of holdouts. The revanchist way is to follow the playbook of hardline social cons and try to legislate your opponents into submission. All that will come of that is bitterness and resistance, a strategic disaster driven by the impulse to stomp dissenters rather than integrate them into the new regime that’s been created.

Here’s one expression of resistance: An Internet fundraising effort for Memories Pizza stands north of $135,000 as I write this. That’s gratifying but insufficient; you’re not going to stop the mob by systematically rebuilding every business they’ve financially burned to the ground. If you want to reach lawmakers on religious liberty, you’re going to have to reach Big Business by showing them there’s lots of money to be lost if they don’t start accommodating business owners with faith objections to gay weddings. You’ll never bring them over to your side of the issue but you can scare them enough to make them stay more or less neutral. The fact that Wal-Mart, a company born and bred in Arkansas and catering to the sort of lower-income consumers who trend traditional on social issues, felt no hesitation in jumping in against RFRA in Arkansas means there’s lots of work to be done here. No time to waste. While you think about that, via the Right Scoop, here’s CNN seemingly going door to door in hopes of finding yet another small business for the Lords of Tolerance to wish death and ruin on. Good work, guys.

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