In Phoenix, a pair of Christian artists are concerned they may be ordered to create artwork for a ceremony in opposition to their religious beliefs. (See Gabriel: Is same-sex marriage more important than free speech? In Phoenix, it is.)
According to the Phoenix anti-discrimination ordinance, “[b]usiness owners and individuals who don’t comply can face criminal prosecution and a misdemeanor charge, with each violation punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.” (See Court: Phoenix wedding invitation designers must serve LGBT customers.)
Enforcement of this ordinance means that a person can be forced to do work they do not wish to do. If they fail to comply, government agents with guns will put handcuffs on them and put them in a cage. If they resist this use of government force, they may well be killed by the government agents. Don’t believe it? Ask Eric Garner.
The use of government force is an extreme remedy. Sometimes it is justified. Discrimination laws, however, do not justify the use of government force. We no longer live in 1964. The application of 50 year old policy is not justified in these matters. We no longer live in a society where people of color – or any minority group – are systemically, completely and totally shut out of commerce by institutionalized and pervasive racism or prejudice.
There are uncountable merchants who will provide goods and services to everyone. Unlike 50 years ago, no one is being systemically denied access to anything. Therefore the need to threaten government violence against anyone is not necessary. “Progressivism” should include making progress, not steadfastly holding on to government mandated violence to correct a problem when violence is not necessary to address the problem.
In the age of constant information, social media, sites that provide user reviews and the internet in general, calling out discriminatory businesses is easy. Refusing to do business with them and publicizing your critique punishes them, if that is your wish, for their discrimination. You can persuade others to avoid them.
And persuasion is far better than violence, government sponsored or otherwise.
And that’s REAL progress.