Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Editorial: Hobby (Lobby)'s stand on par with civil-rights fight

This is just so wrong on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin.

What's sort of scary is that I'm confident the unnamed editor really believes what he's written, opening a window on the abyss of victim-thinking that our dominant white-male-religionist culture has wrapped itself in to justify its continuing efforts to turn back the clock and recover the days when women and nonwhites were kept firmly in their places, by force when necessary.

Wallace stands up for his rights in 1963. 
Yes, editor, it is a lot like the civil-rights movement, but not at all the part you're evoking. A much more apt analogy is George Wallace making a show of blocking federal troops from enforcing civil rights for blacks at the University of Alabama fifty years ago. Wallace firmly believed that his state had a right that superceded the rights of its citizens to access state education resources. It didn't work out.

We have a well respected principle in this society holding that an individual right ends where it infringes the right of another. You may not impose your beliefs on anyone, especially those over whom you wield power. The owners of a corporation may not treat its employees like children or religious congregants. They may own the enterprise, but not the people working for it.

The company argues that it should not have to provide resources for an action that it deems immoral. Company-funded health insurance is a form of employment compensation, so it may as well argue that it won't pay an employee who might use the money to buy contraceptives over the counter, either. It's a ridiculous argument on its face. Add in that the firm is under no compulsion to provide the insurance package at all, and we can see clearly that the issue is not about refraining from immoral action, but rather abusing its power as an employer to force others to do so.

In the long run we'll all come to see the Hobby Lobby show as just another ignorant and futile attempt to control women and impose religion on the rest of us, with the same sort of grandstanding that won George Wallace his place in the Hall of Fame for Stupid Cranks. It will fail, and in short order, that's obvious. The editor's defense of this idiocy as somehow heroic won't cause a ripple as it slips down the drain of antiquated babble, but it's still a shame for our community that our local paper is so backward and in thrall to magical thinking.

It's neither a good way to inform readers nor a good way to attract and hold advertisers. Make your case in your church pulpit if you must, editor, but please, keep it out of the paper, it's embarrassing and counterproductive for your business.

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