I once sat in on humorist Stephanie Miller's radio show when her guest, pornographer Larry Flynt, was asked what the difference was between him and televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. Flynt's response, "He sells his thing and I sell mine," is as applicable now as ever, especially with all our Thanksgiving discussions only a few days away.
With that in mind, here are some notes for your Thanksgiving consideration.
To the proverbial baker who does not want to make a cake for an LGBTQ wedding:
You may find this hard to believe, but gay people are not trying to seduce you. They probably do not find you attractive. They are not trying to change your religious views, if that is the reason why you do not want their business; nor do they want to delegitimize your own marriage. They are simply trying to live their lives as you are living yours.
It is hard as hell for anyone to be different than the majority, whether that difference is being gay or anything else. Being asked to use your talent to blend ingredients, bake them to perfection and decorate the resulting cake into a thing of beauty does not mean you "approve" of gay marriage, and truth be told, nobody asked for you to approve it. Try not to be crippled by other people pursuing their happiness.
LBGTQ couples come to your bakery because you are nearby and apparently quite good at baking. So what if it presses your buttons? Bake the cake with joy and deliver it with a smile if, for nothing else, out of professional pride. If you think your God will disapprove (if there is a God) you apparently don't understand the whole God-concept and the words in Psalm 86:5 speaking about how the Lord is "... abundant in lovingkindness to all." It applies to all people and, truth be told, all living beings.
Please don't come back at me with an opposing Biblical "oh yeah?" I had to look that up on the internet. Bake the cake. Make the money. Get a good Yelp review. Rise above it because it's the yeast you can do.
To the LGBTQ couple hoping to get a cake from that baker:
You learned long before you met your betrothed that the world is often illogical, unfair, uneven and unkind. Someone, apparently including this baker, was raised in a way or developed thoughts in which they feel threatened by how others live. But instead of hating them, why not instead reward another baker with your business because that one respects you and makes as good, if not a better, product? The laws are now in your favor and are becoming ever more that way.
You are in the right. But sometimes, the best way to be accepted by those who do not accept you is to not necessarily exploit it by suing. Why not look upon them with pity because their vision is so myopic. Why not take a broader vision than they do and understand that, most likely, they do not hate you, but that they are paralyzed by fear of the unfamiliar? By exercising your right to sue, putting them out of business and their employees out of work, whose mind will you change?
This is why Yelp exists. Praise with a 5-star review the baker who welcomes and appreciates you, and give a 1-star review to the one who didn't, and explain why. Maybe turn the other cheek, as it were.
On the issue of abortion:
We can all agree that it is one of the most difficult decisions a woman may ever make. Depending on your belief system, it is somewhere between terminating a life and terminating a potential life, and there is nothing to celebrate in that. Ultimately, it is a yes or no decision and, anatomy being what it is, nobody has a greater overall stake in the decision than the woman. Those who are pro-choice should try to understand that those who are pro-life might feel that the fetus has an equal if not bigger stake in the decision. Those who are pro-life should understand that the decision does, and can only, belong to the woman, and that making it less accessible is less productive than preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. We will never all agree on where sustainable life begins, but it is somewhere therein.
On the issue of the U.S. Supreme Court:
There is a great chart on Wikipedia showing the liberal/moderate/conservative balance of the SCOTUS. With the death of Antonin Scalia less than a year ago, the conservative bent presently has Roberts, Alito and Thomas remaining, with Kennedy in the middle; the liberal bent has Breyer, Bader-Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor. (The chart, made at Berkeley, lists Kennedy as moderately conservative, but he is in fact moderately liberal.)
If ever there is a place for balance, it is here, especially in an era where SCOTUS is increasingly accused of legislating from the bench, when the separation of powers dictates that legislating be done by the Legislative Branch, that is, Congress. Both sides should understand the others' fear of a 5-3-1, or an even more unbalanced court. The pendulum always swings, and a 4-4-1 balance is always a great idea.
As for myself...
I spend a great deal of my life advocating for animals and, therefore, have a lot of friends in the vegan, vegetarian and humane advocacy universe. The world has always, and probably always will, exploit animals, the horrors of which I will spare you in this column today. But please Google, as a favor to me, the phrases FACTORY FARMING, VIVISECTION, WHAT "NO KILL" REALLY MEANS and DOG MEAT FESTIVAL so you are not fully detached from the brutal realities of their lives. It is my hope that we always move toward less animal exploitation, and treat them all better while they are alive.
The whole point of today's article is simply this: try to at least see the other's side. It almost always helps.
Have a great holiday.
Daniel Guss, MBA, is a contributor to CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640 and Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport.