November 30, 2013

"The Honesty of Your Selfishness"

"There is nothing more dangerous than the conscience of a bigot."   ~George Bernard Shaw 

This is a great article from a Quaker pointing out that Hobby Lobby, with their "conscience objection" lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, is basically full of shit.  

Instead, I want to know exactly where they’re getting the idea that conscience protections are a consequence-free exemption from legal obligations. 

Every year, I pay taxes to the United States government. 

I tell myself that I’m paying for roads and schools; food for hungry families and head start programs. I am, of course. But I’m also paying for Guantanamo Bay. 

I’m paying for two wars, and for racist immigration laws. I’m paying for drone strikes, including those that kill and maim children. 

I’m paying for federal executions, and for lawyers to argue that the government is not obligated to provide comprehensive medical care to Chelsea Manning. 

I’m paying for the prison industrial complex. 

All of those things violate my religious beliefs. 

And if I refused to pay my taxes because of that? I would go to jail.

If the Green family’s conscience really forbids them from meeting their legal obligations under the Affordable Care Act, then they have the option to arrange their lives so as not to incur those obligations. They can choose not to run a two billion dollar corporation. 


I was always taught that the world does not revolve around me, no matter how strongly I may feel about my religious beliefs. If my beliefs conflict with being a pharmacist, then I need to stop being a pharmacist. If my beliefs lead me to conclude that abortion is murder, then I need to not work at an abortion clinic. 

The rest of the world does not have to conform to my conscience, just because I claim religious belief. 

Look, birth control is not some sort of unheard-of phenomenon with the rarity of a lightning strike. It's one of the most prescribed medications in the United States. The vast majority of women use it at some point in their lives. Very few women want to, or can afford to, imitate the Duggars; it's basic health care for women.

Yes, I know the argument is that Hobby Lobby doesn't object to all forms of birth control, just ones they say prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. (Never mind that the official medical and legal definition of a pregnancy is implantation, and insisting that life begins at fertilization is a belief, not a fact. Many fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant, or spontaneously abort. Should Hobby Lobby's owners then be mad at God for murdering those babies?) That isn't even the point. The point is that if the Supreme Court opens this door, and for-profit businesses are given the rights of conscience...who's to say where it will end?

What if your boss who's a Jehovah's Witnesses decides s/he won't allow your company-provided insurance to pay for your blood transfusion?

What if your Christian Scientist boss mandates a certain number of hours of prayer before you can seek a doctor for your illness?

What if your fundamentalist Christian boss decided s/he won't hire women because of the apostle Paul's directive that women be "workers at home"?

What if your cheapskate boss (doesn't have to be Christian or even religious) decides his company's "conscience" won't allow him to pay minimum wage?

You start down that slope, and you might never stop.

No. The Supreme Court needs to throw this lawsuit back in Hobby Lobby's face. They can either comply with the law, or they can sell their company to someone who will. Unfortunately, after Citizens United, I don't have any faith in this Court's doing that.

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