From reader Alan Richman:

I wonder: If Hitler had hired me, would I have had the courage to attempt to kill him, knowing that I would not escape with my life? A tough one.

Expand full comment

Was the gay wedding cake a case of freedom of religion or freedom of speech? Her argument, putting aside that it turns out to have trumped up because there was no request for a gay cake, seems to be that making a gay cake violates her right to exercise her religion, yet your argument (and maybe the Court’s) seems to by that making a gay cake violates her free speech rights.

Expand full comment

Dan…I don’t agree with you on this one. That Supreme Court decision was wrong-headed, in my opinion. When a business holds itself out to the public at large, where do you draw the line? It’s a slippery slope. I won’t do weddings for Jews, blacks, Muslims,,inter-racial marriages. You are a writer. You don’t advertise that you do ghost writing. Not to mention that, even if you did, writing is different than designing websites. Very skilled writers of mystery might be awful trying to write something comedic….etc.

Expand full comment
Jul 18·edited Jul 18

Dear Contrarian,

As a fellow professional creator (and — full disclosure — your son-in-law), the case puts me in the same bind as you, and initially I found myself siding with you and Lorie Smith: Adolph Hitler wants me to make a sculpture for his new house in Florida? No thank you! The law should never force me to apply my creative capacities in the service of a message or person I disagree with.

Even though I disagree with Lorie Smith's conservative views, the Smith decision appeared to protect me from the kind of "coerced expression" that might result if I were forced to serve clients with beliefs I found objectionable.

But as I've come to understand, the Smith case sets an intellectual trap, and we both fell into it. It turns out that the court's 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop decision already reaffirmed my nearly complete discretion to accept or decline clients. Rude? Bad breath? Creepy vibe? I can turn away customers for any of these reasons, or just because I'm too busy, and I won’t be breaking any laws.

What I can’t do is systematically refuse to serve a class of people based on their race, gender, religion, age, disability, or, until now, their sexual orientation. The same 2018 Cakeshop decision underscored this crucial exception.

Five years later, the court's new decision reverses this view, protecting Lorie Smith's bigotry at the expense of the civil rights of her gay customers. While the decision and its supporters claim to be protecting free expression, the decision is in fact a political salvo in the culture wars, striking a reactionary blow against equal protection for minorities, and enshrining religious intolerance into the law of the land.

Respectfully yours,

Ben Rubin

Brooklyn, New York

Expand full comment

Good piece, Dan; I too was puzzled by the reaction to the Supremes' decision.

And one note: Many lesbian couples use in-vitro as a way for the couple to proc=duce a baby that carries the genes of one of the parents...

Expand full comment