Wednesday, February 15, 2012

So, a bishop walks into a bar...

...and he and his group are told, "Don't come back." Details:

On Jan. 26 Bishop Conley spoke to hundreds of young adults at the bar, which is less than five blocks from Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His topic was “Atheocracy and the Battle for Religious Liberty in America.”

Shortly after the talk, however, organizers were told to find a different location for the program because of its “controversial” content and the fact that that some of the bar staff said they would refuse to work the event again.

“It’s ironic that the talk itself pertains so well to what happened,” said Chris Stefanick, director of the archdiocese’s office for youth, young adults and campus ministry who helps run the event.

Rod Dreher's hosting a good discussion of the issue here.

My first comment at Rod's, which I'll share here because I've had a vicious migraine all day and am thus too lazy to come up with something different, is as follows:

You know, Rod, I think people are totally missing the point of this story.

The bishop and his group were told they’re not welcome to come back. Okay, they said. The bar has the right to exclude us, they said, and we have the right to go to other bars. We’ll be at Katie Mullen’s Irish Restaurant and Pub on the evening of Feb. 15 (today!) for our next talk.

You don’t see sanity and good manners like this when a gay couple is told that a wedding photographer or inn or florist or baker doesn’t want to accommodate them. You don’t see sanity and good manners like this when some member of a professionally aggrieved grievance professional group gets told to take his or her grievance elsewhere. No, you see lawsuits and public hissy fits and media blitzes about how awful the business in question was for refusing service.

The Catholic group will probably have more fun at an Irish pub anyway. :)

A commenter over there who also reads this blog on occasion challenged me to come up with links to the above examples--insinuating that I'm just making that stuff up. I was in the process of doing so when I realized that I hadn't blogged here, so I figured I'd kill two birds, etc. So, without further ado, here are some of the examples incidents in which the gay rights community has failed to act with the sanity and good manners demonstrated by the bishop and his group:

1. By suing a wedding photographer for refusing to photograph their "gay wedding." Elaine Huguenin of New Mexico refused to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony, was sued by the lesbians, and had to pay $6,000 because the state's Human Rights Commission found her guilty of discrimination. Nobody said that the lesbians should just have gone and found a gay-friendly photographer, though everyone seems to think the bishop and the Catholic group should simply move to a different bar.

2. By suing inns, wedding venues, and others for refusing to host their "gay wedding." Sued thus far include a Methodist group who owned an open-air pavilion, the Timber Creek Bed & Breakfast in Illinois, and the Wildflower Inn in Vermont. Only in the first case could any claim that the pavilion was quasi-public property be made (though the church disputed this); the second and third are no different from a bar deciding it doesn't want to host a Catholic group. Right? (Not according to gay activists, who only seem to recognize discrimination when it involves them.)

3. By threatening, boycotting, and harassing an Iowa baker and a Canadian florist for refusing to provide a wedding cake and flowers, respectively, for two different "gay weddings." Lawsuits were mentioned as possibilities, as were complaints to civil rights commissions, but apparently these have not yet materialized.

So the bottom line is this: a bishop gets thrown out of a bar, refuses to make a fuss and simply goes elsewhere; and we can all see the double standard at work.

UPDATE: Welcome, New Advent readers (and thank you again, Kevin Knight, for the link)! I've been a bit slow approving comments today--your patience has been appreciated.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Elaine Huguenin should take the Human Rights Commission to court. No doubt they have some sort of discretionary enforcement authority conferred by the legislature, but that is always subject to judicial review. They are not the last word on the scope of their own jurisdiction.

L. said...

"You don’t see sanity and good manners like this when a gay couple is told that a wedding photographer or inn or florist or baker doesn’t want to accommodate them." -->

Actually, you DO see it sometimes. But unless there's a lawsuit, it just doesn't make the news. I have gay friends whose patronage was shunned, who quietly took their business elsewhere, to an establishment where it was appreciated. Not all discrimination results in "hissy fits."

Anonymous said...

Catholics are too easy going. They should fight and yes, sue, more on stuff like this. This is how we keep getting trampled on.

Ann Marie

Childermass said...

I wouldn't call it a "good discussion" over at Rod's. I respect Rod, of course, but the majority of his commentators seem to be knee-jerk anti-Catholics who look on the bar's action with smug satisfaction. Reading through that thread, with few exceptions (your comments among them) was a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

We're allowed to hose "gay weddings"? (Sorry. That was uncalled for.)

Brandy Miller said...

And let's not forget that Planned Parenthood recently threw a fit because a St. Vincent de Paul food pantry refused to pick up their donation. You can see that article here:

Never mind that they could have called another food pantry in the area, or heck - opened their own. No, they HAD to have a CATHOLIC organization accept their donation.

Red Cardigan said...

Anonymous at 10:01--I don't usually publish no-nickname comments, but I wanted to thank you for catching my typo so I could fix it. :) It's weird, but one of my biggest migraine symptoms is that spelling goes right out the window, and typing follows. I've been known to mistype a word five times and get mad because the red line is still underneath it--and then I realize I'm missing two or three rather crucial letters. ;)

crazylikeknoxes said...

If Bill Donohue hears about this, you'll probably have to update your post. Something to the effect of "this is the exception that proves the rule ..."

Ninja Catholic said...

Brandy Miller, that was a set-up to make the St. Vincent de Paul society look bad.
The poor worker who answered the phone was in a Kobayashi Maru situation; no way to win.
If they sent a truck to PP, I guarantee the picture would have gone worldwide within microseconds claiming the "Catholics are for abortion."
Didn't send truck, pilloried as bigots, homophobes, anti-woman in microseconds. The Evil one is on the march; heads up and have your rosary at the ready.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I more than half-way agree with Ann Marie. I may not always agree on whether there are valid grounds for a lawsuit, but some of these are.

I would like to see less moaning about some Human Rights Commission imposing administrative fines, and more taking it to the Supreme Court (if necessary). If I were the photographer in New Mexico, I would have told them "See you in court." I would also have said "You can forget about an apology. When I'm sorry, I say so. When I don't, I'm probably not." Nobody puts words in my mouth, even if they have the legal power to impose a fine.

If the open-air pavilion was owned by a Methodist Church group, then it is church property, and "church autonomy in matters of faith and doctrine" applies.

The Bed and Breakfast is a bit more questionable -- there is a long standing common law tradition that inn keepers must serve all who travel the road. But, a bed and breakfast is often in some family's home. Even open housing laws allow a landlord renting four or fewer units in a building where they live to discriminate any way they want to.

I don't sign on to lawsuits against people who run boycotts. That is a two edged sword, because there are boycotts I enthusiastically approve of, beginning with the original Irish peasant action against Major Boycott. But hey, if community sentiment is split, you can pick up a lot of business from those who don't approve.

And of course, I have NO sympathy for Planned Parenthood claiming a civil right to have their donation picked up.