Calmly responding to the completely hysterical comments about the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of religious liberty this week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is about as easy as drinking water from a fire hose. The sheer volume of over-the-top rhetoric relative to factual and logical responses is staggering.
It’s not just random Twitter users who are claiming, against all reason, that the Supreme Court is criminalizing birth control. Presidential wannabes are also disseminating falsehoods. Board members of prominent, media-respected abortion rights groups are calling for sex in Hobby Lobby stores. Some have called for arson of same.
All because of a ruling that affirmed that the government must meet certain thresholds before violating the religious liberty of people.
On the one hand, I’d like to highlight the idiocy. Such as this Huffington Post piece headlined “8 Other Laws That Could Be Ignored Now That Christians Get To Pick And Choose.” While in this case the people fighting government mandates that violated their religious liberty were in fact Christian, the benefits of religious liberty rulings are available to everyone. But the ruling, which everybody would know if it had been read by anyone before they lost control of their bodily functions on Twitter and Facebook, does not actually tell anyone — Christian or non-Christian — that they get to pick and choose which laws to follow. It specifically says the opposite, in fact. Just that the government doesn’t get to run roughshod over religious liberty willy-nilly.
The Huffington Post piece — which has 85,000 likes on Facebook, 14,502 shares on Facebook, 977 tweets, and 2168 comments — is sort of a joking-not-joking piece that serves mostly to show that progressive Americans are capable of being complete idiots. The author, Ryan Grim, writes an introduction that shows that anyone can get a job at Huffington Post, provided they combine inability to comprehend basic facts with enough snark. So, he writes, “As long as we’re doing a la carte law-abiding, here are a few additional ones that could become optional to certain people with deeply held beliefs.” One of his options is “stoning,” about which he writes:
The Bible is packed with tales of impure women meeting a just end under a pile of stones. Today, in certain countries, they’re known as honor killings. Will the court make an exception to murder for the deeply religious?
Now, I’m simply a member of the media who, unlike most of my colleagues, doesn’t hate Christians, but help me out here. I’m trying to think of a single “tale” of an impure woman meeting a just end under a pile stones, much less the many that Grim promises are “packed” in there.
But the best part of the idiocy is that Grim illustrated his erroneous views on “impure women” getting stoned with a picture of St. Stephen, Protomartyr.
@Joelmentum ah, good catch. maybe we should caption it
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) July 1, 2014
I know it must be confusing at the Huffington Post, what with St. Stephen being world-famous for 2,000 years and having been depicted with long hair, but, um …
Anyway, in the same way that I praise my children for what they do well instead of complaining non-stop when they, you know, accidentally vomit in the car on a road-trip, let’s look at four not-awful responses from the Left to the Hobby Lobby decision.
1) Lawrence Tribe tells MSNBC to stop lying
I realize that this is kind of a low-bar but it’s still worth noting that liberal Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe tells the MSNBC host to stop with the ‘cardboard cut-out caricatures’ regarding Supreme Court decisions.
If more journalists and sources maintained a half-way decent relationship with reality, discussions of this decision would be much more productive.
2) Pointing out that liberalism is good for liberals
You may have assumed, at one point, that liberals didn’t think religious liberty or speech rights were a tolerable casualty in the progressive agenda. Some still do advocate for liberty. In “Why liberals should cheer the Hobby Lobby decision: Genuine liberalism is capable of accommodating a multitude of viewpoints, even on contentious issues like contraception,” Damon Linker explains how that works:
As everyone except children and ideologues understand, goods sometimes conflict with one another. Liberalism’s greatest virtue and strength as a political philosophy is its effort to adjudicate those conflicts, to allow people on various sides of moral and theological clashes to reach peaceful settlements that, on the whole, maximize human freedom. It’s a messy business that requires trade-offs and compromises, and sometimes leaves no one fully satisfied. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t preferable to the alternative, which is to fully satisfy some, leave others significantly less free, and create a more homogenous civil society, with private entities forced to function as arms of the liberal state.
3) Pointing out that corporations need legal rights
It’s Matt Yglesias, so keep your expectations low, but in “5 mistakes liberals make about corporate personhood and Hobby Lobby,” he points out that corporations need legal protection in order for individuals to enjoy, say, freedom of the press:
By the same token, the idea that corporations have a right to free speech is essential to preserving the values of the First Amendment. It’s imperative that not only do Fox News’ anchors have the right to criticize the Obama administration, but that Fox News as a corporate entity has that right. Otherwise, censors could effectively silence critics by heavily fining hostile broadcasters and publishers even while leaving the human critics unmolested. Similarly, NARAL Pro Choice America and the National Organization for Women are themselves corporations. It’s critical to the democratic process that they are able to criticize Supreme Court decisions, lobby congress, and otherwise act as constitutional persons.
4) Pointing out that Hobby Lobby case was misunderstood
In Atlantic.com, Emma Green writes “The Supreme Court Isn’t Waging a War on Women in Hobby Lobby”:
In other words, nobody gets to be “right” in this case. No one’s religious beliefs can trample someone else’s health needs, and even if the government can’t force closely held private companies to pay for contraceptives, these companies can’t stop their employees from being on birth control. Hobby Lobby is a balancing act, not a bludgeon—and certainly not an attack on women’s rights.
So while the overall social media meltdown of progressives who oppose religious liberty was extremely discouraging, it’s important to remember that not all liberals spread misinformation or hysteria.