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ADF links A-Rod's drug suspension with florist's anti-gay discrimination; huh?!

by Jeremy Hooper

I'm really trying to be nice here. But there's just no other way to say it. This clumsy attempt, from Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco, might be the most ridiculous piece of commentary writing I've ever seen an anti-gay organization put out:

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 At 8.04.39 Pm Disgraced Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez recently made headlines with a hand-written apology addressed “(to) the (f)ans” over his drug violation suspension. Predictable debate followed the apology; some thought it sincere, while others suspected he was hoping for kinder fan treatment – especially if he failed to live up to his very sizeable [sic] contract. Whatever the case, A-Rod took “full responsibility” for his suspension from baseball for substance abuse, and hoped the apology would allow him to get on with playing baseball.

Apologies are a good thing, and if heartfelt they can get one back on track. But a Washington florist offered the chance for an apology and a minor fine to avoid the ongoing heat (and financial ruin), replied “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The offer of apology and settlement came from the Washington State Attorney General, who is prosecuting a kindly grandmother and florist, Barronelle Stutzman. The matter has already received much publicity. Stutzman, who has employed persons and served people regardless of sexual orientation, declined a same-sex wedding request from a long-time customer. She tearfully told the customer and friend her Christian faith would not allow her participation, gave the name of three florists who would serve, and concluded the conversation with a hug. That looked like the end of the matter until Attorney General Bob Ferguson learned about the encounter through social media. He promptly filed suit against her business and Stutzman personally, so all her assets – including her home – could be taken.
There‘s another point here that makes the story even more troubling. Let’s imagine that A-Rod declined to apologize, and instead defied the Yankees. Let’s further imagine he said: “I’ll never play for you again, and I despise this team.” Do you suppose the Yankees would gleefully wave his contract and say “We’ve got you! And you’ll play for us whether you want to or not.” Of course not. No team wants a player who does not wish to play for them. You can’t force someone to put their talents to their best use. In fact, Yankee Manager Joe Girardi said the focus must now be whether A-Rod can do his job. In other words, give your best and show results or you won’t play – no matter how much you’re paid.

Now, do we suppose customers would want to force an unwilling florist or photographer to use their talents? I doubt it. Just as with an athlete, there would be no way to know if the flowers looked this bad, or the lighting was wrong in photographs, because the artist had a bad day – or their heart was not in it. Furthermore, I would not want to give my hard-earned money to a person who disagreed with my request so vehemently that they declined a paying job.


Follow that? You're forgiven, if not.

Not only is the whole thing ludicrous in terms of both setup and syntax, but it's also politically inept in terms of conceit. In the part imagining a defiant A-Rod who refuses to be a team player, the ADF guy is linking someone they've already described as a "disgraced Yankees superstar" with the supposed victim of the piece, Ms. Stutzman. How does he possibly think this is a good thing to do? We've already established that A-Rod did something wrong. The ADF denies that Ms. Stutzman did wrong. However, by directly linking A-Rod's theoretical defiance with the very defiance that Ms. Stutzman has very much shown and which has very realistically landed her in a hot seat of her own making, Mr. Infranco is helping making our point, not his. With "friendly" counsel like ADF, Ms. Stutzman won't need enemies!

I really think groups like the ADF are so trapped within a broken narrative that requires them to polish the turd of discrimination and sell it as "religious freedom" that they are starting to trip over their own logic. Over their own script and its casting. Which is not surprising: it's much harder to write a fantasy novel than it is to write an accurate news report.

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