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Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014
Tom Jackson

The left's calculated Hobby Lobby hokum

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Among the best things about the modern world of social media is we no longer have to guess what our political opposites are thinking — using the term expansively, because in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court's aggressively misinterpreted decision about certain forms of contraception and religious liberty, our friends on the left have eschewed thinking in favor of going full-out, wall-to-wall, barbed-wire-chewing, bats-over-the-moon hysterical.

Yes, the margin was the latest in a series of maddening 5-4 decisions, and it's not hard to remember a similar moment suddenly, last summer, when the right lapsed into temporary insanity over a razor-thin outcome that conservatives still argue was contrived and coerced and liberals smugly describe as “the law of the land.”

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Now out of that judgment about the constitutionality of Obamacare has emerged another thorny issue, one in which the administration attempted to force its will regarding all things contraceptive — including a class of drugs and devices designed to prevent fertilized eggs from finding purchase in the uterus — on corporations with owners whose religious convictions compel them to abhor such activities.

Monday, relying on provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — passed in 1993 by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic president after SCOTUS ruled the federal ban on smoking peyote extended to its use in American Indians' religious rituals — the court ruled, with astonishing restraint, in favor of the faithful, most famously Hobby Lobby.

The instant commotion was like someone unleashed a crate of rats in a movie theater reprising “Thelma & Louise.” The shrieking, virtually all of it desperately unfounded, still hasn't stopped, as you well know if you've checked out your feeds on Facebook and Twitter.

Laboring in their secret digital factories upstairs from Mom's family room, the left's fevered agents provocateur live for such moments, knowing just the right GIFs erupt like blistering geysers across the Internet, eagerly relayed by social media guerrilla overflowing with righteous conviction, if scant knowledge. This arrangement is fine with the originators, since their content usually has only slight acquaintance with reality.

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This one, passed along by The Blue Street Journal, a trio of sweet-faced, Scottsdale, Arizona-based leftists over-promising “cognitive nourishment for progressive thinkers” — that word again — goes out of its way to misrepresent the Hobby Lobby decision. Still, let us bask in the wonder of its inflammatory disinformation:

“When your Jehovah's Witness boss refuses to let you have a blood transfusion, when your Scientologist boss refuses to cover psychiatric medication, and when your Christian Scientist boss refuses to cover anything, thank your wonderful Supreme Court!

“The floodgates have been opened to allow an individual boss to dictate your healthcare choices.

“And people say Obamacare is an intrusion on your freedoms?

“Wake up, America!”

The passage's purposeful and outlandish misapprehensions are refuted here, under the headline “The Hobby Lobby Ruling in Plain English: Everything You Need to Know”:

“Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion for this ruling, and within it stated that this decision cannot be used to deny other types of healthcare services. However, now that the court has ruled in favor of religious liberty in this case, it is feasible that another company can bring suit to avoid having to cover other types of services in the future. Alito said, 'This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g. for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs.' ”

The source for the above? The Blue Street Journal.

Yes, the court ordered rehearings on other cases logically touched by the Hobby Lobby ruling. But rehearings are a long way from rulings, and Alito's opinion commands. In other words, your social media pals and associates, making a spectacular leap to conclusions, are passing along an edgy, eye-catching graphic from a like-minded source whose authors know is not supported by the ruling but is, in fact — how shall I put this? — a plain and purposeful fabrication.

Ah, but what's a fabrication, or even a pack of them, in the interest of selling an otherwise unsupportable viewpoint to an audience that is enthusiastically gullible. After all, if it's good enough for President “If-You-Like-Your-Plan-You-Can-Keep-Your-Plan-Period” ...

 

tjackson@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @tjacksonTBO

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