Gulad mentality; Bakers should have rights; and more

The Gazette letters Updated: December 10, 2013 at 10:23 am • Published: December 10, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

Reminiscent of a Gulag mentality

When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission "administrative judge" found Jack Phillips, a Denver cake-baker, "guilty" of discrimination when he chose not to bake a wedding cake for two men, it reflects a terribly distorted concept of "equality" in which government now violates, with increasing frequency and impunity - an individual American citizen's freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of association and freedom of choice.

The Civil Rights Commission, in creating an artificial "right" based on a constitutionally artificial identity, has arbitrarily stripped an innocent American citizen of his "rights" based on that citizenship. Phillips is guilty of nothing except being true to his personal convictions, which does not warrant the state of Colorado to indict, prosecute, try, convict and potentially jail a citizen simply for what he believes. To this erstwhile student of totalitarian regimes - fascism and communism - this decision is all too reminiscent of a Gulag mentality that Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the ultimate authority on "Gulags," predicted in his 1976 seminal "warning to the west."

This decision by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is one that should make each one of us afraid, very afraid, of a government that can force a citizen into what he may think, what he may believe, what he may say and what he may do, or not do.

Whitney Galbraith

Colorado Springs

Bakery owner should have rights

Is individual freedom completely disappearing from the U.S.?

So a guy who "owns" a bakery doesn't want to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple for a gay wedding because it goes against his religious beliefs. If it violates his religious beliefs, then he should because of religious freedom be allowed to take that stand. But as the owner of the establishment, he should be allowed to refuse to serve or not serve any person he so chooses.

If he chooses not to sell to someone who comes into his shop using foul language, he should have the right to do so. If he refuses not to sell a cake to someone who wants some decoration on it that offends him, he should have the right to do so. If he doesn't want to sell product to someone who doesn't speak English, he has that right. If he doesn't want to sell to someone who has the same last name as his crabby mother-in-law, so be it. He has that right.

If he doesn't want to sell a cake to someone in an Oakland Raiders shirt, that is not only his right, it is good advertising to get me to become a customer.

As more and more incidents occur such as the wedding cake incident in Denver, I become more and more fearful about the future of this country. I want the same great country for my grand kids that I grew up in, but I see it slipping away.

Rod Summitt

Colorado Springs

Who's really being intolerant?

I read with dismay the article in Saturday's paper headlined "Cakemaker told to serve gays." The article implied the owner refused to serve two homosexual men but that wasn't the case; the owner simply stated he wouldn't make a wedding cake for them because it went against his religious beliefs. The two men could have registered their disappointment or anger and gone somewhere else but instead they began a campaign of protest that lead to numerous phone calls, hundreds of emails and threats of violence against the owner.

Now the owner must go against his firmly held religious beliefs or face penalties if he doesn't comply with the judge's ruling against him. While the two men are "ecstatic" about the outcome, what did they achieve if the owner decides to close his business rather than violate his conscience? They may be considered heroes by some for making an example of the owner but I doubt if his employees and patrons will feel the same way. This isn't an isolated incident because similar incidents have played out elsewhere in Colorado and across the U.S. I'm sure most people are like the owner and myself who treat others with respect even if we disagree with them but there are some things we won't compromise - I think this may be considered a freedom mentioned somewhere in our Constitution.

The government allows churches to uphold their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality so legally it's recognized to be a divisive issue. It's actions taken by these two homosexual men that demonstrate who is intolerant and serves notice to those currently granted freedom of religion.

Mark Smith

Colorado Springs

Set aside freedom of conscience

Apparently, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission agrees with the recent statement of a New Mexico judge that while conducting business, one must set aside their freedom of conscience as "the price of citizenship." In doing so, they failed to recognize several very important things.

First, freedom of conscience was never intended to be, and has never been, restricted to private, personalized beliefs. They have that sort of freedom in China, Cuba, and even - to an extent - North Korea. Conscience rights as guaranteed by the Constitution include the right to bring beliefs into the public square, including the arena of commerce.

Second, the commission failed to see the difference between serving a person who identifies as LGBT, and servicing a wedding. To not sell a cupcake to someone who identifies as gay or lesbian would be discrimination. Choosing not to provide a service for a public ceremony that violates one's deeply held convictions is not discrimination comparable to what happened in the Jim Crow south. Maintaining the distinction between honoring people and endorsing behavior is vital to allowing all citizens to live as their conscience dictates. Other bakers do provide services for these ceremonies, and should not be forced to stop against their conscience. To force this particular baker to provide services that violate his conscience is not a choice that should forced on anyone, and really amounts to government-enforced endorsement.

Third, the judge specified this baker discriminated for "refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage." Is the judge unaware that our state does not recognize same-sex marriage? Why would this baker be forced to recognize something that our state, nor this judge, is forced to recognize?

John Stonestreet

Colorado Springs

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