Fayetteville Anti-Discrimination Order Passes

According to Nick Brothers’ article in the Aug. 21 issue of the “Free Weekly,” Associate Professor Laurent Sacharoff of the U of A School of Law cited history at the meeting held for public comment on Fayetteville’s then-proposed civil rights ordinance in support of the proposition that the majority cannot be trusted to decide what’s best for the minority in a democracy. According to the article, this argument was made in an effort to persuade the Fayetteville City Council to vote on the enaction of the proposed ordinance rather than put it before the public.

How very droll. One of the differences distinguishing conservative and liberal thought is the former’s trust in men to live their lives by their own good judgment, in contrast to the latter’s lack of trust in the same and desire to force men to live according to standards that they – being wiser – would impose. This latter is a cynical view, authoritarian and tyrannical. I am glad Professor Sacharoff spoke out. It does the public good to know the mindset of the educators infecting their children – or informing, as the case may be.

It is certainly true that men do not always live up to the hopes we place in them. People are not always good; and, even when they are good, they are not always wise. Nevertheless, love demands that we let men make mistakes, because the alternative is intolerable. A man who loves his fellow men does not seek to impose his will upon them in derogation of their own, especially by performing an end-run around them through the City Council. A man who loves his fellow men would, at least, give them a chance to do the right thing before dropping the hammer. It is the man who fears his fellow men and holds them in contempt who comes at them from their blind side to leash and harness them to his will.

History never saw anything like America, until it did. The notion that men should be left to govern themselves was untried. Perhaps Professor Sacharoff, had he lived in those days, would have argued against our independence, saying that men could not be trusted to govern themselves, which, according to the article, is pretty much what he did say at the council meeting. The reference to James Madison, attributed to Professor Sacharoff, was comical. I believe Madison was speaking to the preference for a republic rather than a democracy, not to the preference for having one’s elected representatives dictate matters of conscience to those who elected them.

The issues raised by this ordinance are deep and divisive. As Alderman Justin Tennant noted, such matters should be put before the public, rather than imposed upon them by fiat.

I am not confident of the analyses, as to the lack of protection requiring the ordinance and the innocence of its effect and application, given by its proponents. I do not believe the fact that it is illegal to use it as an excuse to troll bathrooms and locker rooms heretofore populated solely by another gender will be particularly prohibitive; neither am I confident that the beneficiaries of the ordinance will limit their use of it to seeking their own happiness, as opposed to cramming their world-view down the throats of those who disagree with them. We see the latter taking place in many places around the country, where Christian providers of goods and services are not only being forced to choose between their consciences and their livelihoods, but are sometimes also forced to take re-education classes in order that they might begin to think properly about LGBT folks. That doesn’t sound like any America I ever dreamed of inhabiting. It does sound like a few other places I know.

Let’s tease the whirlwind, why don’t we.

There’s a Christian bookstore at 637 E. Joyce Blvd. in Fayetteville. As far as I know, it is not a church. How long, after this ordinance takes effect, will we have to wait before some job-seeking LGBT individual applies for a position? Will the owners have to choose between closing their store and compromising their faith?

I guess that will be Act II.

Jere Guin resides in Elkins, Ark. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

Categories: Commentary