There’s Freedom of Association too.

I found this the same day as I found Victoria Jackson crying about censorship. This is, then, the companion piece to the earlier post. There are far too many whiny people who don’t seem to understand what “rights” are … or censorship … or allowing people to run their own companies as they see fit. This time it seems more about the Freedom of Association. Just as important as Free Speech, I assure you.

 That’s the link, here’s the story and my comments:

 Chris “Cmar” Martin of the rock group Hostage Calm says that Wes Breedwell, a friend of the band got canned for wearing a “I Support Same-Sex Marriage” tee shirt, while at work at Rocketown.

 Is that the only reason? Is there a dress code? Is there something else besides this? I always marvel at the surety in which these things are presented – as if in a vacuum. I do recall that I worked at a place that was pretty lax about the relaxed outfits we could wear – there was a limit, however. Though, as the boss joked “We could set a dress code, you know,” about some loud color shirt I’m partial to; it sort of miffed him – his religious scruples, believe it or not, didn’t allow for bright colors. Well, that was new to me. He asked if I might forbear the shirt, to avoid the dress code. So, well, I just toned down the colored shirts – no biggie. But, I did joke, in return … “Yes, but you can’t make me wear a dress.” There’s parameters – on both sides – something of late we don’t seem to grasp as a society any more.

 What I heard from him was a long pattern of discrimination against him for not being Christian and for supporting marriage equality. Rocketown is a Christian-owned non-profit community center and venue: not a church. And yet, over the seven years he has worked there,

 For seven years you worked there? And they “discriminated” against you this whole time? And you did nothing? I’m sorry, but there’s sort of a “statute of limitations” on this … not legally, I’m sure … but morally, commonsense wise. If you work at a place for such a length of time to now all of a sudden say that one shirt is what did you in I just can’t buy it. The reality is – you had to have known of this being a Christian-owned place. You worked with these people, they paid you … they set tasks and rules, you followed, they kept you for 7 years. Obviously they had no issues with anything you did outside the workplace, or within – the 7 years was perhaps a clue that you’re a valued employee for heaven’s sake.

 And, too, “non-profits” operate under strange rules, including, well, limiting whom they have to hire, and whom they do not have to hire, and why. And anything religious is so exempted as to not be funny – unless they’re receiving public funds – which always trumps religions – which is the problem with public funds and religion mixing – it sets up battles. It’s like Creche’s at Christmas – it’s not that they’re not allowed – it’s they’re not allowed on courthouse lawns. There’s a qualitative difference in this. If you can’t see this difference – then, well, I’m sorry – you’re blind.

 he’s been denied opportunities for advancement and salary based on his non-Christian beliefs. Today, Rocketown fired him for wearing this shirt commemorating equality (along with his non-Christian activity on social-media pages).

 How much advancement could there be at a small non-profit? And, given that non-profits have an educational goal, which must be clearly depicted to the IRS to get the status (I’ve written my share of non-profit applications, it was a job of mine,) and that non-profits perforce have to hire people who are in league with the goals of the non-profit declaration so they can keep their non-profit status. It’s like, well, a non-profit gay group doesn’t have to hire a rabid fundamentalist against gay folks existence, do they? In a sense, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If you want to work for a Christian organization for seven years, well, get with the program. To argue now, so many years later, after you sought and obtained the job that you not only disagree with the stated purpose of the non-profit but go against it – well, that’s chutzpah. And don’t tell me you didn’t realize a small Christian non-profit wouldn’t like gay marriage when the subject came up – some things are just too obvious, no?

 No doubt, however, that the Sierra Club would love to be on the board of the American Petroleum Institute, and the API on the Sierra Club – but somehow, that’s really not the purpose of non-profits. They are supposed to advocate for something, educate, with a purpose. I set up a Czech museum non-profit once – I really would be opposed to letting Sudeten-Germany loving Nazis on the board to give their take on what happened in Bohemia. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to them trying to do their own non-profit. That freedom of association stuff is creepy – you actually have to allow people to NOT freely associate.

 Wes emphasized that employees routinely wear band shirts at Rocketown. So why did this shirt cause such a problem?

Um, it’s not a band shirt. Now, that wasn’t that hard, was it?

 This shirt represents an idea that all people have the right to live their lives without being told who to love and whose love is more valuable. It represents equality under the law. It represents the freedom to choose.

Um, the issue of what the shirt says is not the issue. The issue of wearing the shirt is not the issue. The issue is where the shirt is being worn. And to wear a shirt with a message that is against the stated purpose of the non-profit is just pushing it too far. Indeed, I could imagine the squealing if a Fundamentalist Christian worked in a gay non-profit for 7 years and all of a sudden started to wear “God Hates Fags” t-shirts – under the logic of these people this must be allowed. In fact, to demand that your right to wear a shirt with a message simply trumps all other rights is something I don’t buy.

 Rights, weirdly, are cooperative things. Now, this non-profit surely couldn’t tell the wearer that he can’t wear the shirt outside work. That would go too far. Nor could they say he couldn’t own a shirt like that, or have friends with shirts like that – but, well, to have Freedom of Association they simply must have the right to say “No” to a shirt with a message opposite to what the non-profit stands for.

” Breed well recived (sic) the above letter from his manager that said “you cannot wear a shirt to work on an office day or a show day supporting same sex marriage” and criticized him for presenting beliefs that “contradict the mission.”

And there you go – it’s clear – it contradicts the mission – -and it’s unfair to the non-profit to encourage the IRS to evaluate the Non-Profit status because the mission isn’t being followed. There’s a legal responsibility for the non-profit to maintain it’s mission. It can’t just switch missions. Museums can’t even get rid of stuff they accept.

 “Christians of THIS KIND are the pure evil of this world” 2 snaps and a rewind….

This is not “pure evil” – that’s absurd. Being told to not wear a shirt which conflicts with the message of the organization for which you worked for seven years is not “evil” – it’s just well, normal. Imagine the McDonald’s forced to allow their workers to wear a Burger King shirt – or a “McD’s sucks” or something. The whole thing is preposterous.

 p.s. Props to Wes for standing up to bigotry and supporting equality!

There’s nothing wrong with arguing for the wearing of the shirt – or for arguing within the process of the non-profit to alter it’s mission to include or not disparage gays. That though, has nothing to do with the current policy – or with wearing the shirt.

 And, so, in this case, in my humble opinion the gay man or the gay supporting man is wrong and I ask that you let Rocketown determine the sorts of messages they want on shirts at their workplace. You can, if you wish, Mr. Offended, go get a shirt now that says “Rocketown should like gays” or something. And go get another job. 7 years, sheesh.




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