Around about the Fourth of July, it’s worthwhile–and becoming more and more necessary–to revisit our founding documents, particularly the Declaration of Independence. Consider these two passages:
WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Considering the IRS, EPA, DOJ, and a variety of other federal alphabet soup agencies and bureaucrats, this complaint about King George is even more pertinent today:
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.
Meet, gentle readers, as his campaign advertisement suggests, Oregon’s Brad Avakian, the new iteration of officer of the Crown, the soulless contemporary bureaucrat, determined not to serve the people, but to rule them as brutally as possible in the name of a corrupt government. Hot Air has the story:
The last we had heard from Aaron and Melissa Klein, the former owners of Sweet Cakes in Oregon that lost their bakery business after refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, the site GoFundMe had shut down their crowdfunding operation. That was in April, but the drama was not over for the Kleins, who faced a stiff fine [by Oregon law, up to $150,000] for their allegedly discriminatory conduct. Aaron and Melissa defended themselves in media interviews in an attempt to prevent the state of Oregon from further penalizing them, but Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian went even further than anyone might have imagined.
Not only did Avakian levy a $135,000 judgment against the Kleins for ‘emotional damages’ to the couple denied a wedding cake, he slapped a gag order on them that forbids the Kleins from explaining to potential customers of Sweet Cakes why they won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Of course, since they’re no longer in business, it no longer matters — and even if they were, the $135,000 fine would make sure they weren’t. The Daily Signal poses this as a broader gag order than it is, however:
‘Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian finalized a preliminary ruling today ordering Aaron and Melissa Klein, the bakers who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to the couple they denied service.
‘This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,’ Avakian wrote. ‘It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.’
In the ruling, Avakian placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to ‘cease and desist’ from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.
‘This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,’ the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed, wrote on their Facebook page. ‘According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.’
The Kleins, avowed Christians, actually baked cakes for the militantly, aggressively gay couple before–this was on the record–however, following their Christian beliefs, they didn’t feel they could participate in a gay marriage by providing the wedding cake. Their brick and mortar store was closed, but they continue their business out of their home, via the Internet. Hot Air continues:
This is not, as some on Twitter and the Daily Signal argue, a gag order against discussing the case, as Jeff B at AoSHQDD rightly points out. It relates to communication in their business about their policies, which would still be a violation of their First Amendment speech rights, but no longer applies. The Kleins lost their business almost two years ago due to the negative publicity of the complaint. This clause is moot now, which makes one wonder why Avakian bothered to include it at all. It also misrepresents the case at hand. The issue for Sweet Cakes, as it was in other cases, was not one of a refusal to serve on the basis of sexual orientation but the refusal to participate in an event that violated their religious tenets. The gag order clause makes it sound as though the Kleins refused service to people solely on the basis of sexual orientation, which was not the case.
Obviously Avakian, in the finest tradition of power-drunk milquetoast bureaucrats, is trying to implement the progressive’s first tactic in dealing with the arguments of others: shut up! And what, pray tell, were the horrific emotional damages suffered by the gay couple, who were obviously not so distraught that they weren’t able to file and sustain a complaint for several years? They were also, somehow, able to find the emotional strength to engage another baker for their gay wedding cake. Here is a partial list from the complaint:
‘Felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful’
‘Dislike of going to work’
‘Pale and sick at home after work’
‘Loss of sleep’
“Mentally raped? How do such shrinking violets manage to deal with daily reality? They have doubts? They don’t like going to work? That sounds rather like the daily reality I previously mentioned. They’re pale and sick at home after work? Oh come on! Do these twerps, through some supreme act of gay willpower, manage to infuse their delicate cheeks with color and their frail little bodies with vitality during work, but their superhuman efforts fail thereafter? “Sadness?!” Really?! Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m pretty sure that even people who weren’t able to force the baker of their choice to bake a gay wedding cake for them experience that from time to time. Got sad; got better. My favorite is they had a “loss of sleep,” followed by “excessive sleep,” which would seem to more or less balance one another out, leading to, presumably, sufficient sleep, but perhaps that’s just a gay thing. Finally, “felt stupid.” If they have a conscience, I should hope so. For this, they deserve $135,000 dollars?! Anyone that would do this to a decent, hard working couple rather than simply driving a few miles to another baker deserves to feel stupid, for they are stupid, and profoundly inhumane.
This “fine” of $135,000 dollars is an administrative matter backed by the power of the state, not a fine levied by a court for violation of a criminal statute proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Obviously, this would be ruinous for all but a small portion of Americans. The execrable Avakian is seeking to make an example of the Kliens that no one else ever dare think of challenging the majesty of the Labor Commissar–Oops! I mean Commissioner–of the People’s Republic Of Oregon. An actual man would have read the complainant’s faux-emotional sufferings, which read like a stereotypic parody of weakling, effeminate gays, and, if they felt lip service had to be given to Oregon labor law, assigned a fine of a dollar. A man would have also written in his ruling: “cowboy up, you weenies!” Actually, virtually all the women I know–and teenaged girls–are far more emotionally stable than these two. One wonders about the emotional stability of a bureaucrat that buys this laundry list of obviously concocted emotional pseudo-horrors.
Avakian knew the Kleins lost their store, that they had been well and truly emotionally battered by equally soulless gay cracktivists and their progressive masters and sympathizers, that their earning capacity had therefore been severely curtailed. A man with human dignity, with a conscience, would understand that the process is the punishment and the Kleins had suffered more than enough. But that is indeed the point. The process is the punishment, and Avakian obviously wants the punishment to continue as long as possible. Perhaps Avakian’s feeling were hurt and he is determined to show the Kleins, and the world, the full fury of his awesome power?
Some months ago, I wrote about the Kleins:
If I am part of a gay couple, or have any beliefs/practices that a baker or other artisan might find repugnant, and they refuse me a specific service, why in the world would I want to force them to give me that cake or other service? Why would I balk at simply driving to the next bakery? Why would I want anything to do with anyone that would choose not to associate with me? What satisfaction would I derive from using the coercive power of the state to force someone to do that which they find repugnant? That’s not courage; that’s brute, ugly tyranny, the imposition of my will, by force, on another.
Oh, but it strikes a blow for tolerance and diversity! It prevents discrimination and makes gays, etc. more acceptable.
One does not win hearts and minds by blunt trauma. One does not win respect by costing people their careers and homes. One does not obtain dignity by crushing the dignity of others. One does not encourage acceptance of others by convincing them such others are mean-spirited bullies determined to force acceptance of their beliefs on others no matter who they hurt in the process.
Clearly, Avakian has overstepped constitutional bounds, to say nothing of the boundaries of sanity and decency. Keep in mind that the states may not give their citizens fewer rights than the federal Constitution, but they may give them more. From the Oregon Constitution Bill of Rights, Article I:
Section 2. Freedom of worship. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences.—
Section 3. Freedom of religious opinion. No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.—
One would think, judging the letter of the law, any rational court would throw Avakian’s edict out on its tender, cute little gay behind, but let us not forget this is Oregon where law tends to take a back seat to the progressive narrative, and feelings tend to rule over law. The Supreme Court’s recent ruling that words mean whatever judges want them to mean is also not encouraging. One wonders why the Kleins don’t move to a free state?
I am, of course, not imbued with the awesome and nearly god-like powers of reason bestowed upon the Labor Commissar–darn! I mean Commissioner–of the People’s Republic of Oregon, but these sections seem to mean that the state can’t interfere with the “religious opinions,” or “the rights of conscience” of citizens, a category of which the Kleins would seem to be members. I make this observation, again, because Mr. Avakian would seem unable to apply common sense and a decent level of judgment and restraint to such matters. Obviously, even the highest law of Oregon and the nation cannot restrain his righteous wrath.
The Kleins have sworn that they will not comply with the Commissar, and will fight his edict. Good for them. What’s bad is that any officer of any state would force hard working, decent Americans to have to fight to vindicate such basic human rights.
But what about the poor gay couple? What about their human rights? By all means, show me the right, in the Oregon or American constitutions, to force others to provide commercial products against their will and their faith and their conscience. I’ve read them both, and I just can’t find that “right.” Of course, I’m sure the Supreme Court can find just about anything in the Constitution, as long as it makes progressives happy. So too can Mr. Avakian.
Servants of the people like Mr. Avakian deserve to hear from the public they rule, if for no other reason than to remind them–politely, please–for whom they work, and of the kind of reasonable discretion their employers expect them to exercise in their dealings with the little people. The Labor Commission’s web site is available here. According to that website, Mr. Avakian’s underlings can be reached at this e-mail address:
Also according to the website, opinions about the Labor Commission’s dealings may be submitted here:
One can only hope Mr. Avakian won’t feel “mentally raped, dirty and shameful,” dislike going to work, feel ”pale and sick at home after work,” or feel sad. One can also only hope that Mr. Avakian feels substantial doubt, and that he feels profoundly stupid. For buying and reselling this load of abusive, unconstitutional, militant gay bovine excrement, he more than deserves it.