Ory Hebert: Perception vs. Principle on Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Submission by Ory Hebert:

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about Arizona’s somehow controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill made it’s way past the Arizona legislature and is waiting on the desk of Governor Jan Brewer where it will either be signed into law or vetoed. Brewer has until Saturday to make her decision, but according to aides she may make it as early as Wednesday or Thursday.

Therefore I think this is a perfect time to appeal to the governor’s Conservative credentials. Gov. Brewer doesn’t have a completely spotless record as a Tea Party champion, but she is the farthest thing from our enemy. She is a good Conservative, and one that I believe has a servant’s heart. In her book Scorpions for Breakfast she recalls that she first really considered the idea of serving her community when she went to her first school board meeting as a mother ready for a fight. She noted that she could do “at least as good a job as they are, if not better.” And then she did.

We know that logic, reason, and fundamental Constitutionality are on our side of this issue. As usual though (and just like every classroom you’ve ever been in) the most uninformed are talking the loudest. They’ve already got a presupposed notion of what this bill means, and they are being predictably obnoxious and obtuse about it. Those urging the governor to veto are loud, and they are many. But they are also dead wrong.

Now let’s be intellectually honest for a moment and imagine the shoe on the other foot. A gay baker is commissioned to design a cake for a recent graduate of a gay conversion program or perhaps for a Muslim fundamentalist who believes in Sharia Law and the persecution of gays. The baker considers both his business and his conscience, wrestles with the decision, and ultimately decides to sleep better rather than eat better. Now because we are the Common Sense Movement—the Tea Party Movement—we applaud this decision. Good on you, buddy! We don’t deal in double standards. All private business owners have the right to make their own principled decisions free of government interference or persecution.

The Old Guard Media, the Statists, and those who have been led to believe that there is power in perpetual victimhood deal almost exclusively in double standards. Since there is no logic to be found in a double standard, they must appeal to panic, alarm, and perception. They’ve already won the battle of perception on this issue. The two greatest intellectual names of our generation—Anderson Cooper and the Super Bowl Committee—have spoken: “Anti Gay!” They said it, and therefore it is. Except that it isn’t.

Conservatives like Gov. Brewer (and a great deal of others with her potential) need to accept after all these years that we will never win the battle of public perception. The only arena in which we can win the hearts and minds of the American people is principle. So I sure hope that Brewer has had extra scorpions this morning because the way to earn respect is not by caving into the demands of a hysterical child. A principled leader will look past the hysteria to the actual problem and act on the most practical solution. When you’re making the right calls, eventually light and reason will shine upon them as well as on the lazy misconceptions initially lobbed at such a decision. This is the difference between superficially pleasing those across the aisle and actually protecting and serving those on all sides of the aisle. The Bandage vs. the Suture. Alarmism vs. Common Sense. Perception vs. Principle.

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