Sunday, February 16, 2014

Welcome to the Steinberg Bakery


     "Welcome to the Steinberg Bakery. May I help you?"
     "Yeah...I'll have ... let's see ... six schneeballs ... three of the cream horns....a half dozen ruggelah..."
     "Cinnamon, chocolate or raspberry?"
      "Two of each."
      "Excellent. What else?"
      "Lets' see ... a stollen..."
      "I'm sorry, we're out of stollen."
      "No stollen? Okay, how about a pound of the assorted butter cookies..."
      "Any in particular?"
      "No, just give me ... well, okay how about one of those, and one of these, that one and this one and two of leaf-shaped ones. A few with the candied cherries, and the almond crescents..."
      "Here, with the powdered sugar?"
      "No, behind it, there."
      "Got it. Having a party?"
      "No just a few people over for coffee after church ... and a couple of the poppyseed cookies."
       "After church!?"
       "...and a lemon square...what? Oh yes, church. That lemon square there...."
       "Christian church?"
       "Yes, that's right. The one in the front looks nice."
       "You want to serve my baked goods after your church?"
       "The lemon .... Yeah, you got a problem with that?"
       "Frankly yes. Well at least now I do. I mean, if state legislators in Kansas can try to pass laws allowing bakeries there not to make wedding cakes for gay Kansans, just because they've decided doing so violates some ad hoc notion of religious belief, then why should I be any different? Why should I insist upon my beliefs any less than they do theirs? Why should Steinberg Bakery provide my delectable Special Pecan Raisin Bread Pudding so you and your goyish pals can stuff yourselves silly and talk about Jesus?"
      "Maybe we should all just unleash our deepest prejudices and let them roam free, under the guise of extending our peripheral religious beliefs to our business transactions. I mean, it's one thing if we were all in the same country, right? You know, Americans. Fellow American citizens who respect each other and try to get along with each other despite our differences, within the parameters of our idiosyncratic, often conflicting, almost random biases and belief systems."
      "Maybe I'll come back later..."
      "But if we throw that out, if one group feels entitled, feels empowered, feels free to proudly and consciously step back from the basic capitalist system, and wants to claim that it is a violation of their ineffable pact with the Lord God Almighty to rent their Grange Hall to a couple of ladies who want to have a commitment ceremony, so much that they want to even consider passing laws to codify their right to turn away anybody whose existence they disapprove, then why should I be so loosey-goosey about my own sincere religious beliefs that I'm going to supply the mandel bread for your Sunday-after-church-lord-ourselves-over-our-neighbors session?"
       "I think I'll just head over to Deerfield Bakery..."
       "Sure, sure, St. Bartholomew, shop around, find some cookie cleric who shares your hierotopic outlook, some muffin mullah whose worldview perfectly meshes with your own, cause soon that's the only kind of person you'll be able to buy macaroons from, buster, when our heretofore cherished, fought for and protected democracy crumbles into the same anxious wasp's nest of warring tribes that wrecks half the world. Because we wouldn't want you suffering in your imagined fiery pit of hell along with my children for all eternity because you helped a gay couple pick out green tulle rental napkins for their wedding, would we? Because it's all about you, cupcake, isn't it? You you you and your precious theology, well, do you ever think about anyone else, huh? How they might feel seeing you run to legislature to protect yourself and your Bible buddies from the sin of selling a couple of queers some flower arrangements for their moment of happiness? I'll tell you this, Mark the Apostle: you're not the only religion around anymore. You never were, but the boot has slipped off the neck of we untermenschen, and your not wanting to provide your lousy limo service for Adam and Steve today means that Hajji the taxi cab driver won't take you to communion tomorrow! Or the Steinberg Bakery gets to tell you to hustle your mayonnaise-larded Christophany right out the door and bring your business somewhere else. Ever think of that? Huh? Ever imagine that other people might harbor toward you a fraction of the disdain you glibly heap on others? No? 'Course not. Sorry to be the one to bleepin' tell you, mon-seen-your. Sorry to be the bearer of the bad news. Go! Go, you cross-caressing Vanilla Wafer! I wouldn't sell my profoundly puffy and ethereal jelly-filled sufganiyot to you if you were the last cash-paying customer on God's green acre! Get the Keebler elves to cater your Sunday tent revival soiree, you English muffin munching moron! Out! OUT!"
      "Well I.... I... Fine! I'm out of here!"

     "Welcome to the Steinberg Bakery. May I help you?
     "Umm yeah. Do you have honey cake?"
     "Sure, fresh out of the oven."
     "Okay, I'll take two."
     "Two of the honey cake? Of course. Having a party, are you...?"



  1. Ban Republican marriage. It offends me and is an abomination to the Great Pumpkin.

  2. Neil,

    While I think that a secular business has to observe the law or go out of business, I'm not sure that this column hit the mark. You wouldn't expect the good ladies to rent their hall out for an orgy. Right? And yet, that's exactly how they view gay marriage. They consider both to be morally corrupt. You don't have to agree with them but I can understand their perspective. However, I can't go along with them because treating customers with respect ought to be a hallmark of any business. The Apostle Paul was a tentmaker. I have a hard time thinking that he limited his clientele to only Christians. That is, if he didn't want to starve.

    I think that if someone is uncomfortable with providing services to a gay couple, then he/she should be open about it with that couple. It's a matter of honesty and is something that the customer should take into consideration. For example, would a gay couple really want someone who objects to gay marriage to be their wedding photographer? We had a bad match with our photographer and purchased almost none of the photos he took that day. If the couple still decide to still use this person's services, then he/she should do their best by that couple.

    1. That's it exactly Byron (and sort of the point of my story). If we allow every business to decide who meets the religious test before doing business, we open the door to chaos. It's built on an assumption that we all agree on these values, and we obviously don't. I happen to think that people who use a concept of their faith to oppress people are deeply immoral. Yet I let them read my blog.

    2. Not sure about that orgy analogy. The principle I subscribe to is that all people deserve equal protection, not all activities.

    3. The solution to the orgy problem is to have a list of acceptable activities if you rent out the hall. It is perfectly legitimate to say "no drugs, no orgies, no dog fights, no gambling" in your contract.

  3. Oh, it hit the mark. Bullseye, even.

  4. I smell a Pulitzer. And Graf: nice slippery slope argument. Rent for an orgy? For the love of Christ. Or Allah. Substitute "black" for "gay" and then try it again, chump. The Kansas law allows ANYONE to not serve gays. Recall lunchcounters doing that once upon a time? Prejudice is prejudice, and if you're not comfortable serving all your customers, shut the door and go home to Jesus.

    1. Sure, in the "Light Humor on Obscure Blogs" category. A nice thought -- thanks Bill.

    2. Bill Savage,

      Do you feel better now for insulting me and showing to everyone else that you didn't even bother to read what I said? I'm not in favor of the proposed law in Kansas. That should have been obvious from my initial comment that you ought to plan to go out of business if you can't follow the law. Sheesh! I was simply relating how people I know feel about gays and gay marriage. By the way, over thirty years ago I said and it was printed in a Wisconsin college paper that our laws should not reflect beliefs particular to a religion and that you couldn't square loving God with hating gays. That was long before it was ok to be treat gays as human beings. That also destroyed any plans I had ever had to get ahead in politics. I also got read into Hell by an official of a prominent religious right group when I came out in favor a few years ago of a law in Illinois to ban discrimination in the workplace against gays and transsexuals. You took a cheap shot and you should be embarrassed. You owe me an apology but I doubt that we'll ever see one.

    3. Umm David, hands off Bill. He's my clout, and -- as the moderator and final arbitrator here -- I deem that it's you being too sensitive. "You wouldn't expect the good ladies to rent their hall out for an orgy. Right? And yet, that's exactly how they view gay marriage." Well thanks for the explanation, 'cause I was really confused as to what is going on. That's the point of my satire -- if they can feel that way, then I can feel this way, and nobody gets cake. I know you're a longtime commenter, and I appreciate your patronage, but Bill's a pal in the real world and, besides, he's right. Now show your maturity and don't argue, or I'll have to ship you over to Zorn's blog.

    4. Neil,

      After reading your book on Chicago, I guess that I shouldn't be too surprised that clout rules everywhere even in this blog! :-)

      Have a good night.

    5. David, maybe you think that people who are scared of scary Black men should be able to not serve them? Orgies and marriage ceremonies are not in the same ball park. (Unless it's three people getting married to one another. Then maybe it's at least relevant.)

  5. @Bill Savage: That proposed Kansas law permits government officials & employees to not have anything to do with gays.
    So if a cop came upon a gay man being beaten up, he could ignore it & just leave.
    A clerk in a county records office could ignore any gay person waiting to obtain a birth certificate.

    Even a federal judge that worships the ground that Scalia walks on, would find it unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment without the need of much of a hearing.

    1. Actually, that ISN'T what the KS bill (which, by the way, is DOA in the Senate as written) says. The KS bill explicitly applies only to recognition or celebration of marriages. The bill is bad enough without people who either didn't actually read it or didn't understand it making false claims about what it says or what it would permit. It doesn't permit the police to discriminate in performing its duties, and on its face it doesn't apply to most businesses. Is it awful? Yes. Is it the Nuremberg laws redux? No.

      And for what it's worth, Bill Savage and David Graf both overreacted.

    2. @David. Kinda snarky for a guy carrying water for bigotry, ain't it? There is debate what the bill would actually allow -- see below. And it wasn't DOA, the House passed it, the Senate stepped back. For now. By your analysis, I overreacted too, by making fun of something which ... well, I'm not sure what you're saying. Awful but no big deal? "Making false claims about what it says or what it would permit." Did you write it? Laws have all sorts of unintended consequences. If Bill and David over-reacted, at least they were reacting. You seem in some kind of fugue state. it's worse to be the voice of moderation when real people are under attack. From the LA Times:

      House Bill 2453 says that “no individual or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender: (a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement; (b) solemnize any marriage, domestic partnership.”
      The bill also would allow government employees to refuse to assist gay couples seeking services to which they are entitled. When such a conflict arose, the agency would have to substitute another employee. The statute isn’t a model of clarity, but it’s possible that it would allow a county clerk to refuse to help a gay couple with paperwork associated with a will or a real estate transaction. That’s outrageous.,0,6718807.story#ixzz2tY9zjPQo

    3. Snarky? Often, though nothing in my original post was particularly so. (This one? Much more.) But I didn't realize that saying it was "awful" constituted "carrying water" for anything. In the future I will strive to more fully wail and gnash my teeth over bills that haven't been passed and would probably be declared unconstitutional immediately even if they were passed. I love your assertion that "it's worse to be the voice of moderation." Because that's what's wrong with this country: too much moderation. I'm sure the bigots in this country will see the error of their ways, if only enough people yell shrilly at them.

      It's your blog. You can react however you want. I actually liked your initial post. But if you only want comments that agree with you, maybe you should delete the public comments section. I didn't even disagree with you and you still accused me of carrying water for bigots.

      As for what it says, I didn't write it, but I did read it. (Which, I suspect, makes me very unusual among the pool of people who have commented on it.) But you quoted the kicker: "related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union, or similar arrangement." The bill is designed (poorly) to prevent anyone from being compelled to perform anything related to a phenomenon that isn't legal in Kansas to begin with. This law would only have a practical effect if the Kansas prohibition on same-sex marriage were ruled unconstitutional (as it probably will be, eventually), and if that same ruling didn't strike down this law as well. Whoever drafted this drivel probably knows that he's fighting a rear-guard action against Federal law, hence Section 4. Usually, when a legislature is passing something when they don't know how the courts will handle it, they include a clause designed to sever the offending sections and instruct the court to enforce whatever parts of the statute aren't unconstitutional, rather than striking the whole thing. In this case, that's probably a waste of effort, because this law is more obviously unconstitutional than the same-sex marriage prohibition itself. (It singles out one class of people-- same-sex couples-- for a religious liberty shield. It's hard to interpret that as anything other than animus against a discrete minority. See Romer v. Evans.)

      So yeah, I'm going to sit in my "fugue state" and not worry overmuch about a bill that hasn't passed and which will never be enforced. I agree with your initial criticism. This bill is as stupid as a California gun law. It's GOOD that people reacted negatively and the KS Senate got the message. People are allowed to be intolerant in this country. We can't tolerate everything but intolerance. But the history of this country has been that tolerance and inclusiveness wins over the long run. Freedom grows. I think it's a mistake to see this as more than a pothole that got paved over by bad publicity. The good guys are winning. Don't panic.

    4. I'm not panicking; I'm trying to write a humor column on an important topic. Perhaps we have a different interest in parsing the nuance of that.

  6. @David P Graf,

    I know you as a pretty reasonable person from Zorn's blog. At the risk of playing Den Mother, I'd say your first post probably came off wrong (compared to your beliefs), Bill over-reacted, and then, you over-reacted to his over-reaction.

    To get back to your original argument, there is a flaw in relation to use/purpose. The owners could also refuse to rent out their hall for an indoor fireworks display or an amauter surgery open house. These uses are contrary to the hall's business operations. If people intent to use the hall in the normal manner, banning them for being gay, or the wrong religion, or left-handed is a bigotry.

  7. This kind of religious segregation has happened in the smaller red states without any obvious legalization. Coming from a small town in South Dakota, I've heard that this office or that office only hires people from this church or that church...or that this business or that business only serves certain people. It's been happening for years...nothing new here....but cleverly written none the less.

  8. Do we start applying the "one percent" rule? If someone "looks" gay is that enough reason to refuse service? What if they are wearing a pink shirt for a male or a female with a flannel shirt? Is that just cause? Where does this end? Lodging? Gas stations?

  9. Bake the darn cake, I'd say and take the money.

  10. What a great column — a funny and clever demonstration of prejudice. Entrepreneurs go into business to provide a product or service and make a profit, not to judge their customers based on their religious or sexual beliefs.


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