Et tu, Wingnuts?

Today’s outrage on the Right is that a grocery chain in Britain allows its Muslim employees to refuse to ring up sales of pork or liquor. Instead, they may politely direct the customer to another cashier.

The reaction on the American Right has been swift and derisive. If you want a representative sampling, you may proceed to the comments at Weasel zippers. Be warned; it’s ugly stuff.

At least the customers can purchase liquor and pork, even if they have to wait in another line. But what about pharmacists who refuse to either fill birth control prescriptions or direct customers to another pharmacy? Or even transfer a prescription?

What about Catholic hospitals who refuse to perform abortions even when the pregnancy is doomed and the woman must unnecessarily endure a painful miscarriage?

For a time we were seeing ambulance drivers refusing to transfer women from hospitals that didn’t do abortions to abortion clinics that did. And these were situations in which the woman was in crisis and it was the judgment of doctors to terminate the pregnancy.

In those cases, the consequences were much more extreme than just having to go wait in another line.

And haven’t we just been told it is wrong for an employers to punish employees for their religious beliefs? Steve M:

But wait: it’s utterly wrong for people who are offended by this policy to retaliate in a way that threatens Marks & Spencer’s livelihood, isn’t it? Haven’t we just spent the last few days being told by conservatives that that sort of retaliation is fascism, because people have absolute freedom to offend you, while you have no right to respond?

Weren’t we told that suspending a millionaire TV actor who said insulting things about gay, black, and Japanese people is “totalitarian” and comparable to the worst Soviet abuses? Haven’t we been informed that going on social media to mock a racist tweet about AIDS from Justine Sacco, a high-level public relations executive (who’s since been fired), amounts to an “online assassination”?

So a boycott of Marks & Spencer would be just as horrible … wouldn’t it, right-wingers?

For the grocery store chain, seems to me it could keep everybody happy by designating some cash registers as “pork and liquor can be paid for here” registers staffed by non-Muslim staff. That way customers are not inconvenienced. But if your “moral refusal” puts someone else’s life in danger, you shouldn’t be in that job.

(And don’t get me started on employers whose moral refusal doesn’t allow birth control to be covered on employees’ insurance policies.)

The righties are pointing to a wedding photographer in New Mexico who was fined for refusing to document a same-sex wedding, on religious grounds. In this case the couple hired another photographer but then sued the first one. The first photographer was in violation of state law, but one might argue nobody ever died from having to hire another wedding photographer. But if we allowed one business to discriminate, how far would that go? Could restaurants refuse to serve gay couples (how would they know?) Now we’re wading into some really ugly territory.

It occurs to me that a lot of Christians also might feel morally compromised by having to serve or sell liquor. In the U.S., in many states groceries or stores other than liquor stores don’t sell liquor. Here in NY you can buy beer and really awful watered-down wine in groceries, but you have to go to a liquor store for other stuff. But what if a state suddenly allowed liquor sales in groceries, and Baptist clerks refused to ring it up? I don’t know that it’s ever happened, but it’s not impossible.

(For the record, some schools of Buddhism forbid followers from selling alcohol, poisons, or weapons, and I think meat also. I’d have to look it up. In some cases selling alcohol is discouraged but not necessarily drinking it, just not to excess.)

Oh, well. Another day, another hypocrisy.

18 thoughts on “Et tu, Wingnuts?

  1. This and other recent attacks on Christ (duck dynasty, affordable care act, white santa, war on Christmas, etc. etc.) is just a sure a sign that modern wingnutia is failing. What they really have is a backward out of date political model that relies on fear and hate. It has worked for years buy whenever a wingnut gets into a jam they pull out that god dam cross and hide behind it. The more they pull out the cross the more they are losing!

  2. Personally I would say that if you’re going to take a cashiering job at a store that sells liquor and pork, you should be prepared to ring up liquor and pork. But that has nothing to do with Islam. I apply the same standards to religious fanatics of all faiths and denominations.

  3. As for corporations refusing abortion coverage for its employees on religious grounds… how can corporations have religion? They don’t even have souls! According to Justice Brandeis, corporations have ‘no bodies to condemn or souls to damn’. So if a corporation is to have a religion, then it must be a religion for persons without souls.

    What might such a religion be? Satanism, perhaps? Or Objectivism? Your suggestions are welcome!

    I ask because this could be material for a fantasy story. Our hero visits Hell, he encounters a Corporation, the soulless monster expounds upon its religion, a faith suitable for soulless monsters. The satirical possibilities are endless.

  4. Great point, paradoctor ! Some of this stuff has become so rediculous that its now comedy. One of my friends just posted something on Facebook about “cracker barrel” rescending their duck dynasty merchandise rejection. Well, that’s why they call the place “cracker barrel”.

  5. Interviewer:
    “We’re thinking of hiring you here at this grocery store. Here are the job responsibilities. You need to be able to do all of them, or there’s no job. Will you be able to perform them, or is there some physical reason why you can’t, in which we can make some adjustment, and/or accommodations, in order to help you do this job?”

    ‘Well, I’m a devout believer in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and since we don’t believe in transubstantiation, I’m unable to sell macaroni or noodle products, since I think of that as some weird form of religious cannibalism. I can ring-up everything else, is that ok?’


    Why is this any different from the above?
    It’s MY belief system.

  6. Heck, whenever I want to buy booze at the supermarket it never fails: I find myself in the line with a tattooed and pierced cashier who’s only 20 years and 10 months old. So I have to wait until an elderly cashier can step in and ring up my purchase. I suppose “taking offense at the purchase” could work the same way as the over-21 law. Just page Laverne… she’s 102 years old and takes offense at nothing anymore.

    if a corporation is to have a religion, then it must be a religion for persons without souls

    They worship Almighty Dollar, naturally. “Objectivism” works, with Saint Ayn the Hideous as their patroness.

  7. Aux contraire, madame, le dynest du le Quacker plus le cracker east c’est manifique!
    Er, kismet.
    Got beer shooting out my nose over “Laverne”. Have a great Christmas, ‘y’all!

  8. Here in Iowa you can buy booze at the market. I don’t drink but my man does. Often times the cashier is a minor who is not allowed to ring up such items (state law). If you are buying booze the cashier gets on her mic and calls for an adult to come and scan the items for them. I don’t get into a tiff because someone else scans it and I might have to wait a few seconds for someone to arrive. I am not screaming that these under aged people should go get another job.

    People just look for shit to get uptight about and too many jerks are looking to start some world wide incident over NOTHING (see the duck bullshit for the past week). 2O some kids get gunned down in a school and we didn’t see as much outrage as we do over stupid horse shit like this. How much can this group of people piss me off in one week? That remains to be seen.. One thing I do know is they all need their heads stuck in the shit pot they are stirring for NOTHING. If I see one more asshole claiming to “stand for phil” I am gonna knock em on their stupid ass and tell them they just fell for him too… A pox on the whole damn bunch of right wing red neck idiots….and just one more thing…damn it I liked cracker barrel grilled catfish and green beans.. why the hell couldn’t they mind their own damn business and STFU? Now I will never have that again F them and their fake outrage. Assholes. I am going to my corner in the moderation area now… Happy Holidays everyone!

  9. Just me, you sound like honey badger! Like I wrote Earlier, all this stuff is just farce;Sean hannitty is fartin’ rainbows.!
    Cracka barrel gets their catfish from china anyhow.
    I’ve never seen black folks in cracka barrel, that’s kinda weird, maybe not so much.

  10. Thank you, erinyes and joanr16. But of course corporations would worship the Almighty Dollar. With Rand and other saints and prophets, and a complex theology which can support any conclusion, for the right price. A corporate religion would also have holidays, ceremonies, art and music. (All soulless, of course.) What do you suggest?

    As for the topic of this thread, let me challenge you by asking; if you yourself were a cashier, then would there be any items that you would refuse to ring up? Would that be worth losing the job? And if a clever lawyer said you could keep the job by claiming discrimination, then would you do so?

  11. Actually, this discussion has more facets than the Hope Diamond.

    It seems pretty reasonable for any private employer to voluntarily make allowances, on religious grounds, provided that any legal purchase can always be made with another cashier. IMO, that would even be a reasonable voluntary accommodation for an anti-abortion cashier or pharmacist as long as there was someone on duty who could make the transaction. I’m talking about the right of the business to make room for minority beliefs.

    What about when the government gets in the act? Slippery slope. On the one hand, I think it’s wrong for a minority religious opinion to endanger public safety. Maha had the classic example of an ambulance driver who would not transport a woman with an emergency as determined by the patient and doctor. Should the law protect the job of a person who refuses to do their job if the refusal is on ‘religious grounds’? IMO, no. It’s the call of the business owner if they have not declared a policy which allows and protects religious freedom. It’s also the right of the consumer to boycott and demonstrate against merchants with a ‘bad’ policy.

    Most people today (not in 1964) agree with policies and laws which prohibit discrimination along racial lines. A private business can’t decide not to serve blacks (for being black) or Hispanics.. Chinese, etc. And it makes ethical sense. What about a gay couple? Was the photographer within his rights to turn away the business? What about a non-passable pre-op transexual who wants to switch from a male to female wardrobe and use the ladies facilities? That’s not a joke – I have known some transgender people – they may be a tiny minority, but the complications of transition are not trivial to them. How does society balance their individual rights against the privacy rights of a majority who is not sympathetic?

    It’s a ‘facet’ I won’t endorse – that an institution, religious or corporate, can have the ‘right’ to make every effort to block the access of employees, or folks who aren’t part of that religion to any service or product that’s legal and accessible to others. Requiring on ‘religious grounds’ that an employee at a church school must pay full price – out of pocket for birth control is an attempt to block access.

    Extending the question a step further, and maybe OT, what about the tax-exempt status of a church when they become overtly political? What about tax-exempt organizations that are purely political? (Do you feel the same way if they are left-leaning?) What about the ‘right’ of donors to any tax-exempt group to be anonymous? If a group is overtly – or even somewhat political, does the public have a right to know who is financing?

    We tend to hit these questions on a case-by-case basis as something occurs to bring it to mind. Barbara has asked the question, inspired by a specific example, along broader lines, and I’d love to see it examined in depth. Might a formal paper or proposal be voted on and endorsed by the democratic party as a legislative guideline of principle?

  12. Why do you think Ariel Sharon is where he is today? Too many pork sandwiches.. Had somebody put the brakes on his gluttony by honoring Levitical dietary laws like God expects us to do, then maybe Ariel would be out on the handball court today instead of holed up in some hospice.

  13. Swami, I think Sharon’s achilles’ heal was bluebell vanilla on apple pie. I share that addiction. I’m Jones in right now…..

  14. Yeah there ain’t nothing like puttin’ away a half gallon of bluebell after slaughtering a refuge camp full of Palestinians.

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