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Oregon: The Triumph of Rhetoric Over Reason

Dear Readers:

I read yesterday that local bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa has paid off their debt to the lesbian couple who wanted to purchase their wedding cake from the business but were refused.

If you are interested, click here for the update: http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2015/12/sweet_cakes_owners_pay_damages.html

I was grateful for the update in the story because it gave me a nice opening for a re-run.  Today is jammed with rewrites and taking down my holiday tree (I am the 5-star General in charge of the War on Christmas), so there you have it.

Written in May, this piece was controversial.  I was accused of being homophobic and worse.  

I am not homophobic.  

I am “worse,” but that’s an entirely different blog for another day long after all my parents have passed away and cannot be killed by shame.

You decide.

We live in interesting times here in Oregon.

Let me explain by discussing two things that have been in the news quite a bit lately.

Refusing to Vaccinate

In addition to medical exemptions for fragile patients, Oregon currently allows parents to forgo vaccinations for their kids under what is labeled a “non-medical exemption,” more commonly known as an exemption for “personal beliefs.”  

These personal beliefs can be religious, philosophical, or based upon the rantings of dangerous lunatics who know nothing of science and who believe a measles vaccine will make their child autistic because former playboy bunny and noted high school graduate (!) Jenny McCarthy told them so.

It’s no wonder Oregon enjoys the highest rate of unvaccinated children in the United States, since we have such medical luminaries as Jolynn Reynolds spreading the word that vaccinations should be optional.  

Jolynn has a creative approach to logic, in that she doesn’t like it.  Here’s a quote from this astute young woman:

I’m their parent, I’m in charge of that decision and I sure would hate to inject them with something that has a potential high risk of hurting them.

Jolynn also said, prior to watching the educational video one must view before obtaining the non-medical exemption, that it couldn’t possibly change her mind.

To summarize:

This woman (and thousands like her) made a decision based on surfing the Internet that endangers her children and others and flies in the face of every study ever done on the subject by medical and epidemiology experts, but she is certain watching the video produced by such experts will not sway her.

People this stupid shouldn’t reproduce.  Perhaps her refusal to vaccinate her children is Darwinism at work on behalf of the rest of us.

While the Oregon legislature now contemplates closing the “non-medical” or “I believe everything I consume on the Internet” exemption, the nuts have come out of the woodwork to claim their “freedom” is being violated.  Most people with unreasonable and nonsensical beliefs are obsessed with the notion of “freedom” and constantly on the lookout for those who would wrest it from them.

I tell ya, I bet most of the 400 people globally who will die today from the measles wish they could be a part of such an oppressive government as ours.  

And the “freedom” issue brings me back to my opening salvo:

We live in interesting times here in Oregon.  

In Oregon today, you can refuse to immunize your child and start an epidemic of a long-conquered disease because of your personal beliefs, but you can’t refuse to bake a cake because of your personal beliefs.  

If you do refuse to bake that cake, you can be fined out of existence.

Gay Cakes, Bi-Pies, and Transgendered Turnovers

I won’t belabor the facts because they are easily found via the Google Machine, but as you may have heard a bakery owned by alleged Christians called Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to make one of those sweet cakes for a lesbian wedding, making the bakery guilty of both stupid business practices and being assholes.

It also got them in hot water with the law, because the couple was so distraught over having to find another bakery (oh, the humanity!) that they filed a discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, a.k.a. BOLI.

In its infinite wisdom BOLI found that the bakery did discriminate, and in its infinite stupidity BOLI fined the bakery $135,000 for the emotional damages suffered by these women.  

$135,000.  I thought lesbians were supposed to be tough?

Let me be clear lest you assign beliefs to me I do not hold:

  • I am a proud atheist, but I respect your right to believe in whatever nonsense you may choose.  
  • In return, I think of religion like a penis: you can be proud of yours, you can even talk about it with me if you want, but please don’t shove it down my throat.
  • I believe in equal rights and concurrent responsibilities for everyone.  

I’ve recently decided to just leave it at that because of the hysteria over certain labels, especially “feminist,” so consider me a humanist.  I believe simply this:

All humans have the same rights under the law.* 

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Given my lack of religious beliefs and my status as a humanist, one might think I believe BOLI reached the right decision.  I don’t, and here’s why:

Let’s assume I completely lose my mind and convert to Islam, and not the nice kind I’ve heard exists.  No, I’ve converted to radical Islam: the mean, jihad-y, cover-up-yer-women and bomb-Americans-into-ribbons type.  

So I’m walking down the street, planning my next assassination of a cartoonist (I’m coming for you, Jack Ohman!), and suddenly I’m overcome with the urge to memorialize the Charlie Hedbo Paris massacre with a cake.  That day was a big win for Allah!

Because I’m a fan of Papa Haydn, I adjust my burka and saunter in.  When asked what I need, I say the following:

I would like a cake memorializing the death of the infidels who impugned Mohammad with their pencils.  Can you do that for me?  

Here: I’ve brought a gruesome photo of the youngest victim.  Can you please reproduce that on my cake and caption it with the words:

“Death to infidels, especially those who are really good at drawing!’?

I betting Papa Haydn won’t make me that cake.  But I’m pretty sure they’ll let me buy a cookie at the counter.

Back to our exceedingly fragile lesbians Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer:

In their lawsuit, the two women professed the experience of not being able to secure a cake from Sweet Cakes by Melissa left them feeling “mentally raped,” along with 88 other symptoms including:

  • acute loss of confidence
  • doubt
  • excessive sleep
  • felt dirty and shameful
  • high blood pressure
  • impaired digestion
  • loss of appetite
  • migraine headaches
  • pale and sick at home after work
  • resumption of smoking habit
  • shock
  • stunned
  • surprise
  • uncertainty
  • weight gain
  • worry

Wow.  

Those cakes must be pretty fucking good.

One would think that the inability to buy a cake coupled with loss of appetite and the resumption of a smoking habit would lead to weight loss rather than weight gain.  But I digress…

In case you care, the owners of the now-shuttered bakery, Melissa and Aaron Klein, had served this same couple numerous times before.  They were not refusing service to them in their place of business, they were merely drawing the line, because of their kooky religious beliefs, at making a wedding cake for them.

Oh, and by the way?  Gay marriage wasn’t legal in Oregon when this case arose in January, 2013.  

To sum up: 

Sweet Cakes was fined $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a wedding that wasn’t legal until over a year later, when a federal court ruled in May 2014 that the Oregon constitutional ban on same-sex unions violated the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution.

This decision is an embarrassment to our state and BOLI and I hope it is overturned on appeal.  At the very least the damages should be reduced to what these women actually suffered:

$3.47 

That’s my estimate of how much money they spent driving to another bakery, one that isn’t so short-sighted and prone to misinterpreting the words of Jesus to mean gay people should not marry and enjoy delicious (but fattening!) pastries after they take their vows that will almost certainly lead to divorce.  

What Jesus really said (according to me because this is my blog and I can write whatever I want) was that gay people should not abuse the legal system and claim ridiculous physical and mental ailments because someone would happily sell them sweet cakes from their shop, but not bake them a damn wedding cake.

Whatever Happened to Personal Responsibility?

Rachel and Laurel need to build a bridge and get over it.  These two women are a textbook example of the abandonment of personal responsibility in our culture today.  

All those problems they claim were not caused by the Kleins.  Those problems were either made-up or pre-existing and self-caused.  Blaming the (allegedly) shitty status of their lives and health habits on this bakery is reprehensible.

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As for their marriage?  I wish them luck because they are going to need it.  

If the Great Cake Incident of 2013 fucked them up six ways from Sunday, wait until something bad actually happens.  I hope to hell they don’t have children, because all of those symptoms above?

Kids cause each and every one.

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*With the exception of my favorite divorce lawyer, who should only have the rights afforded to the elephants at the Oregon Zoo.  

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Chris

    Sorry, but you’re wrong on this one. Your analogy is false. This cake was not decorated with two women fucking, or “gay marriage is awesome!!!” or “Jesus sucks!” written on it. It was a wedding cake.

    In your analogy, this would be the equivalent of them refusing you service BECAUSE YOU WERE MUSLIM. Not because the cake had something offensive written on it. How do I know this? Because there have been cases where this exact thing happened, only with Hitler. That “Adolf Hitler Campbell” kid whose cake was declined by a bakery because they have a policy against “offensive” decorations. And that was, and is, 100% fine. Because they weren’t refusing service because of the person, they were refusing a particular job order because of the content of the order itself.

    If you’re all about personal responsibility, I guess the cake shop needs to take personal responsibility for discriminating. And they have done so (with much wailing and gnashing of teeth). Why is it only the couple who has to “suck it up” instead of the bakery?

    1. Robin DesCamp

      Chris, thanks for your comment. I want to note that I agree the bakery should have been found to be discriminating against the couple and they should have been fined. However, the fine was incredibly disproportionate to both the business and what transpired.

      Here’s a good example: Daimler Trucks North America agreed to a 2.4 million dollar fine in February of this year to settle multi-generational cases of racial discrimination. Daimler made a 6.96 billion euro profit the year before. You do the math because I’m too tired, but 2.4 million dollars is a tiny fraction of 6.96 billion euro.

      In addition, those cases involved people who were harassed and held back in their careers because of their race. You and I do not disagree that discrimination is wrong, but surely you don’t disagree that some cases are far worse than others and deserve a greater fine?

      The fine Sweet Cakes received was based upon a highly suspect version of maladies by the couple and it was in excess of their annual profits. It put them out of business. I wonder if they had been fined a much-more-reasonable $1,000 if they wouldn’t have re-evaluated their position.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment!

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