"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson

Who's Imposing Their Values On Whom?

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 10
Publish Date: 
Thu, 04/10/2014


Shouldn’t college students know as much American civics as they do pop culture?


MRCTV went to American University to find out, discovering few who could name a single US senator or the number of senators from each state, though most knew the Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.”


Equally surprising are polls showing that only one-quarter of Americans can identify Joe Biden as the vice president or name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (religion, speech, press, assembly, petition), though over half knew at least two Simpson cartoon characters.


Before suggesting Americans’ ignorance is bliss, Think Again. “Fear always springs from ignorance,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, which is why fear mongering and placating assurances have enabled a ruling elite to wield enormous power over the people – our founders’ worst nightmare.


False promises and controversial payoffs enabled the narrow passage of Obamacare, which grants unelected bureaucrats control over 16 percent of the economy, empowering them to impose costly and freedom-infringing regulations.


Perhaps their most liberty-assaulting decree – and cunning given its election-year timing  -- was the unprecedented Health & Human Services (HHS) mandate forcing employers to provide free contraception, including abortion-inducing methods, or face a $100 per day/per employee fine.  


That amounts to $47 million annually for arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, whose devoutly Christian owners, the Green family, oppose the mandate with pilgrim-like fervor.


Just because they started a business, the Greens argue, doesn’t mean they must leave their religion in the pews. The First Amendment guarantees their right to live and work by their faith, and they won’t give it up without a fight.


For 44 years, the Greens have operated Hobby Lobby as they do their lives, in accordance with Biblical principles. They close on Sunday to honor the Sabbath, pay justly by starting full-time employees at nearly twice the minimum-wage, maintain a free health clinic at their Oklahoma headquarters, and offer Cadillac-level health benefits for 13,000 employees, covering 16 out of the 20 Obamacare-mandated contraception drugs. And they won’t pay for four abortion-inducing methods, all cheap and ubiquitous.


Their Supreme Court case will determine whether the federal government can force corporations owned by individuals to choose between moral beliefs and government dictates, or face crippling IRS-enforced penalties.


Hobby Lobby argues the HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- passed nearly unanimously and signed by President Clinton – which says the government can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” without “compelling” justification and using “the least restrictive means.”


With half the population already exempted from Obamacare and it’s contraception mandate, how could there be a compelling interest in forcing conscientious objectors to comply when their non-compliance is hardly burdensome?


While admitting the mandate forces the Greens to violate their Christian faith, the government argues religious liberty is forfeited when people go into business for profit, meaning companies could also be required to pay for abortions, and kosher butchers could be forced to break ritual laws -- an outcome all media corporations should oppose, or risk losing their first amendment freedoms.


If the government didn’t insist its interests trumped the First Amendment, it could make abortifacients available otherwise, which would be “a win for everybody,” according to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.


“I’m a liberal Democrat who supports Obamacare. But I think the constitutional right of the free exercise of religion trumps my own personal, political views,” concluding, it’s not “a complex case.”


Unfortunately, a win/win solution is not the preferred outcome for mandate supporters like Senator Barbara Boxer whose rhetorical bombs transform dissenters like Hobby Lobby into War on Women combatants.


Misconstruing Hobby Lobby’s plea not to buy abortifacients for employees as “denying women birth control,” Boxer declared the company is anti-woman and hypocritical for having “no moral objection to men getting Viagra” -- as if procreation-aiding drugs resemble pregnancy-ending ones.  Stoking more fear, she mused whether vaccinations and HIV drugs might be “their next moral objection.”


Throughout our liberty-loving history, Americans have endorsed Voltaire’s enlightened principle – “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” No more.


In abandoning this principle, we now assassinate the character of non-conformists, like Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich who was purged last week for contributing $1000 to the 2008 passage of Proposition 8 in California.  Meanwhile, no political leader dares to face the gathering mob despite sharing Eich’s views on marriage until recently.


Once the mob forms, no dissenter is legitimate, no sunlight can disinfect, no society is free, and no constitutional right is secure. 


Regardless of one’s views on contraception, abortion or marriage, this can’t be our destiny.


Think Again – if Americans want to retain our right to prefer pop culture to politics, we must preserve our individual liberties.





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Great column as usual! You

Great column as usual!

You caused me to think deeper on the Hobby Lobby case thereby causing me some consternation. I am told that Hobby Lobby has approved the use of the birth control pill as one of their 16 approved contraceptives. There is quite a debate beneath the surface about the distinction between a contraceptive and an abortifacient. Contraceptives typically refer to the prevention of fertilization while abortifacients refer to the destruction of the fertilization. As pro-lifers assert that life begins at conception (as I do) then it is acceptable to uphold contraception (preventing fertilization) while opposing abortifacients (destruction of the fertilized egg.)

Since the fertilized egg takes approximately one week before implantation of the endometrial wall, that one week becomes philosophically critical to pro-lifers. The destruction of the fertilized egg prior to implantation would be considered an abortifacient by the pro-lifer while the pro-choicer is indifferent. Pro-choicers sometimes argue that pregnancy begins at implantation while pro lifers say that both life AND pregnancy begin at conception and prior to implantation. There is a consensus of medical opinion that the pill operates in three ways. It suppresses egg release, promotes thickening of the cervix, and prevents implantation if the egg were to be fertilized. This clearly makes the pill an abortifacient and not a contraceptive device. It's a fair bet that the reason Christians are generally more willing to condemn IUDs than the birth control pill is because so many Christians are on the birth control pill. If true, this makes a large percentage of Christian who use the pill either hypocrites or intellectually bereft.

This may seem like excessive parsing but it is philosophically important because if Hobby Lobby has approved a birth control pill already but is only opposed to the two IUD's (hormonal and copper) and the two more powerful birth control pills, it is philosophically inconsistent. Further, It also appears that their religious claim may be a little hypocritical in that they invest in abortifacient companies in their retirement accounts: (http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2014/04/01/hobby-lobby-401k-discov...).

Thought your thinking might be stimulated by reading this. The abortifacient vs. contraception debate is not resolved. It appears that abortifacient devices terminate the fertilized egg (life) after conception but in the week (or so) before implantation to the endometrial wall. As a result, the birth control pill should be considered an abortifacient but is categorized as a contraception because so many Christians are using it. Obviously, this is a problem being ignored in the Christian community as it points to moral relativism and hypocrisy. It seems that spermicides and the diaphragm/condom are the only true "contraceptive" devices (excluding abstinence and "rhythm" method).. This is probably more than you wanted to know.

I am surprised that I have not heard this argument in the public square. I wonder if the SCOTUS is cognizant of the foregoing. Have you (or anyone you know wrestled with this already?)

As one would probably expect,

As one would probably expect, I don't agree with your view of values. I think the expectation that values should be tied to, or represent, a society, actually proves my argument, because values actually represent subgroups - if not micro-groups - of a society.
An example, the US is very much an 'American' society, from there it tends to be splintered into regions/maybe states, then rural/urban, from there neighborhoods possibly still by race/ethnicity/beliefs. Fact is that doesn't even begin to set values. The same Caucasian, protestant community can have people with significantly varying values. The entire argument against stereotypes and generalizations is based on this exact principle.

When I said that we need to avoid the discussion of values, there was a point. They actually create the most division, and are unhelpful in a discussion that only requires the understanding of basic human rights, set by natural law, and protected by our Constitution. If we can all agree on that basic point, there is no need to bring our varying values into the discussion.

I sympathize with the

I sympathize with the position about values, but I think you go a bit far. You seem to contend that talking about values is the same as forcing one's values onto other people. It's not.

Talking about values is a good thing -- values are the glue that makes us a society, and talking about them to arrive at some understandings regarding them is a good thing. To use a trivial example, we talk about how leaving a tip for adequate service in a restaurant is a good value and we accept that it should be done even though there is no legal obligation to do so.

Coercion in violation of Constitutional rights is quite a different thing.

Congratulations on another

Congratulations on another excellent article. My experience over the last several years is that conservative people are generally far more tolerant than liberals. Certainly there are exceptions, but the general rule holds.

For example, my wife and I are in a somewhat unconventional relationship in that she is the breadwinner and I stay home. We are actually very traditional people and are raising our children as such, but certainly the way we have defined our respective roles is untraditional in the sense that the female is doing the things the husband traditionally does and the male is doing the things that the wife traditionally does.

But here is the interesting thing. We live in a fairly conservative area – Scottsdale, Arizona – and while some people have issues with our arrangement, I can tell you that no conservative person has ever done anything to me, my wife, or our kids that is discriminatory because our arrangement might not be to their liking. Yes, we have gotten our share of comments from conservatives, but no one has actually done anything to hurt us. In fact, in general, I would describe conservatives' attitudes as very much live and let live.

Not the same though for many liberals. Many of them are gung ho about our arrangement but are disappointed that in virtually every other way we are traditional. The comments we have gotten range from disappointment that we go to church to judgments about how we are raising our children with conservative values to how my wife and I should be upfront feminists to how we should be better environmentalists, etc. Many of them are of course disappointed that I homeschool, which is ironic because the homeschooling is the principal reason why I am at home and not working. And my wife definitely feels shunned by certain people in work situations because they know that we are traditionalists. Of course, how ridiculous is that? If anyone typifies what a successful 21st-century woman is-one who is doing well in her career and is successfully raising a family-it is my wife. Nonetheless, there are these people who want her to toe the party line no matter what.

There is a connection between that type of attitude and what you write about in your column. Liberal intolerance now extends far beyond making personal judgments; it is embodied in government regulation that seeks to punish anyone who deviates from what liberals think is right. Your column very eloquently makes these points.

Liberalism is the only

Liberalism is the only religion that will be allowed to survive.

People do not realize how

People do not realize how deep this discussion actually is. The problem I see here is that there should be no talk of values. To have a truly free 'society', it must be void of values. Our personal freedoms are not values, but rights, afforded to us by natural law of nature/God (you fill in the blank); while values are made up, legalistic principles, designed to enforce someone's way of thinking - and inherently religious.

I, myself, am a Christian; however, I find it difficult as a believer in true freedom to enforce my Christian values on another. With that said, I also find it abhorrent when a non-Christian is attempting to force their values on me. And that is my point. Values cannot exist. The moment we begin speaking of whether it is right or wrong to do 'X', is the moment we begin to enforce a certain way of thinking. That is not freedom.

The discussion here should not be whether Hobby Lobby has the right to religious expression, or that the women who are losing their access to contraception are having a right limited, but about how this discussion is coming to fruition in the first place. Taking the discussion in the direction of religious expression forces us down the path of a discussion on values; however, taking the discussion down the path of government enforcement, leads us to the real issue - Freedom.

As I said before, freedom is a right afforded by natural law. Whether that natural law is God-given or the secular natural selection, should not matter. What matters is whether we can agree on the fact that all human beings have been selected to live a life as they see fit, as long as they do not infringe on the same right of another human being (within reason). If we can agree to that, then the view of the Bill of Rights changes from a dictation of rights that a government has provided, to a limitation of what a government can do upon those rights of a person. That would include that a government cannot limit/encroach upon the religious freedoms of an individual.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, have the right to express their religious values (not agreeing with contraception), and the moment the government steps in and mandates the acceptance of contraception, their rights have been violated.
As to the rights of the women, they have a right to work where they want. If they do not like the values of their employers, they have a right to leave and seek employment elsewhere. More importantly, they have the ability to find insurance from other sources. This brings up a whole new topic: Government intervention in the markets and economy.
If the government would stop regulating the health care industry, limiting cross-state business, forcing acceptance of pre-existing conditions (which makes premiums of others sky-rocket), adding premium caps, coverage minimums and maximums, forcing employers to cover insurance, specifically; insurance would be vastly more available, and far less expensive.

Social injustices and inequalities are results of government enforcement of specific values. When you take government out of the equation as much as possible, it makes everyone more free to live their life as they choose. It also allows 'society' to construct and regulate the markets and economy as they see fit. When this occurs, freedom truly exists.

College - just another place

College - just another place to hang out for 6 years to avoid the real world.

I would guess that less than

I would guess that less than one quarter of Americans cast their votes with any sort of intelligence. They listen to the rhetoric that their favorita media outlet spews out, and ignore the record of their candidates.

Americans need to ask

Americans need to ask themselves which political gains the greatest advantage from a semi-educated public that inevitably requires more government intervention as a result. But then again, those same Americans have to be aware that we have two main political parties.

Greed is not a religion

Greed is not a religion Mel.

So if I don't believe unmarried people should have children out of wedlock, it violated my Christian beliefs, my company does not have to provide pregnant employees with pre-natal care, birthing costs, etc.? And why does HOBBY LOBBY provide Viagra as part of their health care package Mel. That violates my beliefs to...its not god's will...

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