by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
I suspect now that the main reaction — five guys on the Supreme Court just ruled against women’s reproductive rights!1 — is more than just ignorance, but a calculated and orchestrated deliberate misinterpretation, planned beforehand, in the hopes of creating an election issue that would benefit the Left. Such deliberate lying is fully in keeping with the Left’s philosophy of politically expedient “truth”, where “certain lies are good” if they promote the “common good,” by which they invariably mean expanding the power of the state under leftist leaders.
Nevertheless, a secondary reaction is to “prove” that Hobby Lobby is run by hypocrites, which would somehow prove the Court’s decision wrong. I suppose the Hobby Lobby hypocrisy argument is intended to show that the owners’ decision was really about gratuitous war on women (and Obama! so it’s sexism and racism all along, just as we all suspected!), despite their constitutionally protected facade otherwise.
CNN, for example, has unearthed that some Hobby Lobby employees’ 401(k) plans invest in companies that produce abortifacients. Some readers not in on the joke point out it’s consistent, not hypocritical, since Hobby Lobby is letting employees make decisions with their own money.
The Week carries a religious writer, Jonathan Merritt, whose argument pro Hobby Lobby hypocrisy is that the company gets products from China, which has a horrible human-rights record, child labor, and not to mention hundreds of abortions daily. “How can this ObamaCare mandate be so foul to Hobby Lobby executives,” he writes, “while they say very little about Chinese policies forcing women to have abortions against their wills? Is abortion wrong only when the terminated life is American?”2
1 That having been said, this explanation in the op-ed that The News & Observer handpicked to carry that reaction — by Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post — would definitely fit among the 99th percentile of stupidest things I’ve ever read:
How did the Supreme Court manage to agree unanimously that police must obtain a warrant before searching cellphones yet split on whether employers must offer contraception as part of their health care plans?
My explanation, slightly crude but perhaps compelling: All the justices, presumably, have cellphones. Only three have uteruses, and you know which way they voted.
Marcus, of course, utilizes the Hobby Lobby straw man of saying the case was about “access to birth control,” willfully hiding that Hobby Lobby’s objection was to abortifacients, on the basis of the owners’ constitutionally protected religious beliefs, and that Hobby Lobby freely gave employees access to 16 different kinds of birth control.
2 Also making the upper quintile would have to be Merritt’s conflation of Jesus’ warning against “causing a child to stumble” (which is typically understood as causing a child to sin) with “harming a child” by which he explicitly means “causing a child to work earlier than what is legal in America”:
China is also the 20th worst in the world for child labor. Can you call yourself a “Christian business” when you support underage labor? Jesus, after all, taught that taking one’s own life is preferable to harming a child.
The link is to Matthew 18. Here is the “harming a child” passage in context:
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Even if one were to grant Merritt’s contextually indefensible conflation, an argument could be made that, especially in impoverished countries, children earning income for their families through work is the less harmful alternative than children having to choose between starvation or prostitution and crime.