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Baronelle Stutzman's misapplication of 'say it with flowers' slogan says so much about her bad case

by Jeremy Hooper

From its earliest uses through current day, the line "say it with flowers" line has always applied to the person giving the bouquet. The idea is that some sentiments are so beyond words that the only way for you to fully convey your message is to show it through the floral gift.

This is how advertisers have always used it. The conversation and associated sentiment is between the recipient and the gift-giver. It's not about the vendor who provided the flowers. No one who receives a glorious arrangement at just the right time to tug at just the right heart strings says, "Oh my, these are perfect! I love you so much—but I love the person who sold them to you even more!" It's understood that the commercial exchange happened because the vendor made the items available for public purchase, not because the vendor made sure the subsequent celebration was to his or her liking. What the purchaser chooses to do with the tulips is up to him or her.

Which brings me to Baronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who has spent the past many years (and several losing court battles) trying to "explain" why flowers that she denied to a same-sex couple in a way dissimilar to how she would treat any opposite-sex couple was really an okay thing to do because she's an artist with artistic license rather Screen Shot 2015-05-12 At 9.35.24 Pmthan a business owner who runs a public accommodation. In a piece over at Washington Post's "PostEverything" section, Ms. Stutzman applies the "say it with flowers" thing to herself and her "artistic talents":

Every person in the creative professions regularly has to make decisions about where they lend their artistic talents and which events they will participate in. For me, it’s never about the person who walks into the shop, but about the message I’m communicating when someone asks me to “say it with flowers.”

I was raised Christian. In my religious tradition, marriage is a sacred religious ceremony between a man, a woman and Christ. It’s a covenant with the church. To participate in a wedding that violates those principles violates the core of my faith.
I’m a florist, but I refused to do flowers for my gay friend’s wedding [PostEverything]

You'll notice that in any piece Stutzman, her fellow "victims," their lawyers, or their defenders post, they now go on and on about this "creativity" and "artistic vision." They believe this to be their ace in the hole. They think if they can turn their commercial goods and services into poetry, then they'll be able to sell this one special carve-out as some sort of shade or inflection or special ingredient to which they are entitled. Because they're artists, you see.

But the truth is when Ms. Stutzman enters into business with the public, she agrees to abide by the fairly enacted policies that all businesses must follow. She may see herself as a player in the "say it with flowers" conceit that she provides her customers, but the law does not. It cannot. It's just plain absurd to suggest that she, a vendor who chose to do business with the public, gets to gauge how and why and with whom each person who engages in a commercial exchange with her and her shop will proceed to use the wares once she exits the process. This is an untenable standard.

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