So yesterday was the much-anticipated Hobby Lobby/Conestoga case determining whether a for-profit corporation could object to paying for certain contraceptives for its employees. I actually thought the SCOTUS would rule against them and it would be a less than the usual 5-4 split on controversial cases. Man, I was wrong. But I’m sure glad to be a man because my reproductive health issues are still covered. Then again I recall a phrase that resounds with me: “First them came for the socialists and I didn’t speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak out because I’m not a Jew. Then they came for me. And there was no one left to speak for me” – Martin Niemoller.
I think that even in a time where we do not have Nazis roaming the streets, this quote still is pertinent because we are all in this experiment of a constitutional representative democracy together. And yesterday, I do believe that our democratic traditions took a beating and it may turn out to be serious. And this is not the first beating individuals are taking at the expense of corporations or other large organizations nor will it be the last.
I have heard alot of arguments supporting Hobby Lobby’s “religious freedoms.” Not to mince words, but I think each argument is unbelievably full of shit and riddled with problems.
1. It is about religious freedoms
Bullshit. We are talking about a for-profit company organized for the purpose, like all for-profit companies, of making money. Regardless of whether they are publicly traded or not. The sole purpose is to make money. And I have no problem with that. Actually, I like Hobby Lobby as a store and I have purchased a number of things from them over the years. But they sell stencils and pencils. They are not a damn church. The owners can exercise their rights to not use a particular form of birth control themselves. I find it ironic they are ok investing in companies that support contraceptives they oppose. Yeah, I know. When investing you usually have little say about what companies are being invested. But then again, if you want to cry all the way to the SCOTUS, apparently you have time to make a stink about it and do something about your investment morals.
The owners are not be persecuted and their freedoms are not under assault. They are not barred from their church, sent to camps because they believe in a different mythical daddy-figure in the sky, and they are not being told what to think. If you really think five people (IRS definition of a “closely held corporation”) should restrict access to medically legal products to everyone else because they have a personal problem, I wonder just what the hell we are thinking about the role of an employee and employer in this nation.
2. It is about abortion
More bullshit. Science was completely ignored in this. It is not that HL had a problem with birth control per say. They had a problem with certain kinds that they THINK are abortive. But here is the problem. These are not abortion inducing medicines or devices. To be pregnant you must have two things: Fertilization and implantation. BOTH. “But life begins at conception!” Well then, your god has a terrific hardon for natural abortions because alot of fertilized eggs go right on outta there! Neither of these medicines or devices that HL was so morally opposed to cause an abortion. They, like all contraceptives, prevent one or the other of the two necessary requirements from happening. Since both are biologically necessary, why is there no real issue with preventing fertilization but all up in arms about implantation? Again it comes back to this arbitrary decision that as soon as all 23 pairs of chromosomes are joined, we got ourselves life. Well actually, both the egg and sperm were alive. And no matter what, there will be no LASTING life and certainly no fetus and no baby after that if that egg doesn’t implant. And there are many other issues that can make even those go bad and cause a spontaneous abortion.
3. If you don’t like, get another job.
Ok, let me stop for a second and hose off my waders. This shit is getting really deep. Yes, in theory this is true. I can use the “free market” to go find a job at a place where the owners are running around indirectly (or directly for that matter) what to believe and questioning my morals. I say “free” market because it is anything but free to up and quit. Usually there is a loss of money either from transitioning from one job to the next or moving to a new location. This is the same crap that people said about racism at work, sexism, etc… And yes, a free market society could be a pressure to change such behaviours. But guess what? That doesn’t work to damn well, hence why we have anti-discrimination laws and regulations in place to stop people from being jackholes. As an example, ladies and gentleman, I give you the Deep South circa 1963 and the embedded system of racism there and among many places of employment. People felt a right to feel and treat folks they deemed different or inferior without any interference from the government. It took legislation to stop that, not free marketing.
Also, at what point in this nation did the employer become king of the employer-employee relationship? This is utter bullshit. No, make that elephant shit. Here is the thing. Yes, employers have power because they can terminate you and then you, as a member of the unwashed masses, a mere stinking servant, has to incur the stress and problem of finding a new job. Last I recalled, the relationship really boils down to this: I trade my services and labor for a compensation package which often includes health insurance (if the company is big enough). It is not a serf laboring for a goddamn King. No company alive, other than a company of one, is managing without having someone trading their services for some sort of compensation. Just because there is always another employee around will not make me feel or act subordinate. Respectful yes. I will do what I’m told within reason. But there is a relationship and it is not supposed to be, nor should it be, a totalitarian one. I could bring up unions or collectives as a countermeasure but don’t get me started on that in this blog entry.
4. The government could simply pay for the contraceptives in question
Why, yes, Justice Alito, they sure and the hell could. What a brilliant statement. Are you implying that maybe the government should pick up the tab perhaps for the whole kit and kaboodle? Perhaps just toss out private for-profit health care in this country and go for single payer? Oh no? Well then. Now you see why this statement, while definitely less “restrictive” for the corporations exercising their “religious rights” kinda weakens the whole notion of employers dictating what they will or will not cover for the ACA, which also is a “law of the land.” Yeah I know. You and Kennedy mentioned that this only applies to a very limited scope about these contraceptives. But forgive me because I still smell shit in the air. Your esteemed colleagues on the dissenting side didn’t see anything concrete that would support you. As a matter of fact, they are worried that this has opened a minefield for you and the Court to tiptoe around. And for good reason. There are other procedures, devices, and medicines that other religions find objectionable. Are you going to rule in favor of HL against some types of contraceptives but against other corporations opposed to say, antidepressants (Scientologists). Good grief…so which religions get shafted here? Isn’t that the whole reason why we originally didn’t want any federal laws supporting a particular religion over another or being forced to have a religion? Uh oh. I think there will be a few more explosions in that proverbial minefield before long….
5. Corporation’s “religious rights”
Ok, I must have tripped into a sea of brown. I thought a corporation was a deliberate dissociation from having the same liabilities and standing as a person would have. Otherwise, why incorporate? So now we have an organization composed of several or many individuals but now this lifeform (and we argue about when life really frickin’ starts?!?) that not only has property rights (which it should), but speech rights (good, although not sure on the speech = money BS from any organization) and now religious rights?!? The only organization that should have religious rights is a church or other similar religious institution developed to serve a religious purpose. Again, selling stencils and pencils ain’t saving souls.
6. This isn’t about women.
Dear whatever god may exist in heaven, forgive them for they not know how much they shit. Well see, there are two sexes that exist in humans. Male or female. Jebus, I really have to go into biology here? Men get to have viagra to keep the willy up. That is still covered apparently. Women have multiple choices on their end and they all involve some sort of device embedded in their bodies or a drug they take. Isn’t that an amazing asymmetry? Shucks, nature is weird isn’t it? That asymmetry in women may sometimes involve a selection that might be “religiously objectionable” to the now suddenly moral lifeform known as a “closely held corporation.”
Our civilization invented this specialist called a doctor. They are really amazing people. They have come to learn alot about the human body and how it works. They, like other practitioners of various branches of science, have come to develop a host of biochemcial or biomechanical devices to prevent pregnancy. It has given millions of women freedom, reduced the burden of having too many children to support, and even been used to alleviate other issues that are unique to women. This is what we call medicine. And in many cases, it makes sense to put as little distance between a woman (or a man for that matter) and her doctor. Again, selling stencils and pencils ain’t really involved with the menstrual, if you get my rhyme.
7. They (women) can buy their own birth control. Why should I subsidize recreational sex?
Really? So now the compensation package is altered and I sincerely doubt HL is going to raise the pay to its women employees nor do I think Obama is going to get away with the government picking up the tab.
“Recreational” sex…. well what the hell do you think most sex is? Oh really, it’s just for procreation? Now that is just batshit crazy. How many folks believing in this were a) really virgins until marriage, and b) don’t have recreational (defining it for non-procreative reasons) when married? Also, do you really want a child each time you have sex? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Oh, some women are having sex outside of marriage? They aren’t doing alone, folks. They have a partner.
You can make an argument that everyone should pay for their own birth control. And I could support that. But while companies are using a health care plan that covers contraception, picking and choosing which ones to pay for makes no sense. None of them cause abortions as I previously mentioned so stop that argument.
8. No one should have to support something they don’t believe in.
What stinking island of concreted feces are you living on? Every one of us has to pay, via taxes for example, for things we disagree with. My taxes, for example, went for a war that I said was idiotic from the beginning. In my case I want to pay more for some planetary science missions but my representatives are against that. I have indirectly paid for lots of things I didn’t want. But we all have to pull up the big boy (or girl) pants and suck it up.
Here’s the thing. As a citizen or a “corporate citizen” we have a responsibility that is beyond our selfish needs and wants. We have roles that require us to do things and provide things we don’t want to do. And that is true for HL as well. It is not like HL didn’t think about health care coverage before yesterday. It comes with the territory. If you want don’t want to run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. They decided to run and this is the nature of a changing democracy. Stop bitching about having to do something you don’t like. Shit, I’m agnostic in that I don’t think there is a god (I really don’t know). Personally I don’t think there is so in that sense, I’m atheist. Either way, you think I want to support anything when it comes to religion other than the right of my fellow citizens to believe in the supernatural? When you stop and think about it, we all pay indirectly for the existence of a religion in this nation. I don’t like that but it comes with being a citizen and not always getting what you want.
To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I think this is a bad decision but there are ways out of it. But that would require the legislative and executive branches to work together to remedy that. And we all know there appears to be little traction for that to occur anytime soon.
Now you may have felt I have dramatized this. Maybe so. But I think this is a dangerous precedence and I recall one final quote that I consider. “When fascism comes to America it will be cloaked in a flag and carrying a cross” – Sinclair Lewis. Why on earth would I invoke this quote? Simple. Back in the day, Mussolini himself said he preferred the term “corporatism” instead of “fascism” because it explained the collusion of a government and corporations over an individual’s rights better than the term “fascism.” While I don’t think we are there yet, recent decisions including this one bear watching as we see a slow march from time to time in that direction. If that doesn’t add a pause in thinking of the wider implications of this decision, I’m not sure what would.