Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Rare Obligatory Political Post

Or, A brief jeremiad aimed at people who agree with Hobby Lobby and the various other companies jumping on their bandwagon.

For those who haven't been following the news, first a chain of profitable craft stores, and now a whole slew of other organizations, are claiming that they shouldn't have to pay for some of the health-care requirements of the Affordable Care Act [1] (aka "Obamacare") because it interferes with their religious freedom.

I know the religious freedom card is one with powerful sentiment, particularly among the kind of white middle-class Christians who have never had to suffer the tiniest bit of actual persecution in their lives, but please do think through the implications.

This is a private company -- not a religious institution, not a non-profit, not any kind of specialized organization, but a plan ordinary company trying to make money -- that wants to enshrine in law a right to avoid following a particular piece of law. And the basis of that right to skip out on a law would be their own interpretation of the personal religious beliefs of the owners. Logically, there's no reason why the same argument couldn't be extended to any company -- or any individual, since a company is a legal person just as a natural person is -- and any law.

In other words, Hobby Lobby is trying to make it impossible for any laws to be enforced at all if anyone can think up a pseudo-religious explanation for wanting not to follow that law. This is literally a prescription for anarchy.

Look, think of even this mild extension of the doctrine: what about a company run by Christian Scientists? They don't believe in modern medicine at all, so does that mean that company should be free to avoid paying any health-care coverage?

This is just a stupid legal argument. Admit it, give it up, and move on. Your side has comprehensively lost the battle against contraception, and the tide is just not going to shift back the way you want it.

[1] Specifically, the requirement that employers cover FDA-approved contraception for female employees, which Hobby Lobby and its lik say they consider abortion. This is actually one of the core issues: this case is based on what they consider a procedure to be, not what the general understanding or the actual scientific facts of that procedure are. In other words, they're demanding that their faith be given preferential legal treatment, because it is their belief.

(inspired by this Chuck Asay cartoon, which I couldn't manage to make work for Editorial Explanations, since it's not even wrong)


Anonymous said...

Your editorial comic link just takes me to the GoComics home page (and a odd cartoon about Brontosaurus Egg Salad)...

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anonymous: Hm -- that link still works for me -- how about this?

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