July 2, 2014

The Oddity of Modern Liberalism

Goldberg & Sullum on the Hobby Lobby case.

Jonah Goldberg: “The notion that denying a subsidy for a product is equivalent to banning that product is one of the odder tenets of contemporary liberalism. This gets us to why I think the ruling’s majority [in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.] essentially agreed with the protesters. If I like to dress up as a character from ‘Game of Thrones’ on weekends, pretending to fight snow zombies and treating my mutt like it’s a mystical direwolf, that’s none of my employer’s business. But if I ask my employer to pay for my trip to a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan convention, I am asking him to make it his business. If my employer refuses, that may or may not be unfair, but it’s his right. If, in response, I go to the convention and have the government force my employer to pay for my travel, that only makes things worse. It not only makes my private pursuits my boss’ business, it makes them the business of taxpayers and a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington. At the heart of this, and so many other recent controversies, is an honest disagreement about how society should be organized. For liberals (and far too many Republicans), businesses should be de facto, if not de jure, extensions of government. If something is desirable, businesses should be forced to impose it. The fact that the owner disagrees or that it is not in the business’ economic interest is immaterial. And it’s not just businesses. Recall that the Obama administration has tried to force explicitly religious groups to betray their beliefs as well.”

Jacob Sullum: “[T]here is something undeniably troubling about making criminal or civil liability hinge on a person’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof). If Americans were not so blinded by partisan commitments, this situation would spur a discussion of which actions are properly prohibited or compelled. When it seems reasonable to contemplate a religious exception to a generally applicable law, that is a pretty good reason to question the law itself.”

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