Patterico's Pontifications


Yes, Sally Kohn, Laws Are Coercive

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 am

Some readers may remember Sally Kohn from such articles as “I’m gay. And I want my kid to be gay too.” Kohn’s latest Dispensed Wisdom is an argument that, hey, government’s not forcing you to cater a gay wedding with your pizza, because you don’t have to sell pizza:

This issue of government force is a funny one. You could also argue that the government is forcing you to drive below the speed limit or wear a seatbelt in your car. But it’s not. There isn’t a police officer holding a gun to your head literally forcing you to buckle up. In fact, you are 100 percent free to speed and not wear your seatbelt—and simply deal with the consequences if you’re pulled over. Is the threat of the fine for breaking the law amount to “forcing” you to follow the law? No.

And more to the point, the government certainly isn’t forcing you to drive. If you don’t like the speed limit and seatbelt rules, and don’t want to be subject to the consequences of breaking them, then you can not drive. Whether to drive or not is your choice.

This all seems simple when we talk about driving, but somehow a fringe set of rightwing conservatives want us all to believe that hapless business owners are somehow being forced, against their will, to serve pizza to gay people. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t want to serve pizza to gay people, by all means, don’t—which, by the way, is legal in Indiana and 28 other states, but even where it is illegal, you’re still free to do so and deal with the consequences of breaking the law. That, pizza shop owner, is your choice. And if you don’t want to deal with those consequences, well, no one is forcing you to be in the pizza business. You’re free to do something else.

. . . .

Don’t like following the laws that apply to businesses—including serving all customers equally? Then don’t start a business. That’s your choice.

Yes, I suppose that you could say that people don’t “have” to drive, or sell pizza. By the same logic, people don’t “have” to have sex. So I guess that means that if government wanted to pass laws mandating that any sex be heterosexual, then by Kohn’s logic, that wouldn’t be “forcing” people to have heterosexual sex.

In other words: Don’t like laws that apply to everyone having sex? Then don’t have sex. That’s your “choice.”

Right, Ms. Kohn?

But even if you could mount an argument that such laws would not “force” homosexuals to have heterosexual sex, it’s more difficult to argue that these examples do not involve government coercion. Even if you’re not literally “forced” into the behavior government demands, you are indeed being coerced into either a) performing that behavior, or b) giving up a major life function.

Kohn doesn’t seem to understand that labeling coercive action as coercive (or even as “force”) does not necessarily make that action wrong. Government “forces” those who drive to drive on the correct side of the road, and that is a proper function of government. Rather than make lame arguments that coercive action isn’t coercive, the honest approach is to recognize coercion for what it is, and defend it . . . if you can.

Kohn is busy digging deeper holes on Twitter, and exposing herself further as someone who can’t hold her own in logical debate. For example, she dismisses the example of sodomy laws I give above, which has been raised by many people, with the following “logic”:

Translation: “I dislike your totally relevant analogy because I don’t want to think about the point it makes!”

I had some fun using this #kohnlogic on Twitter against Kohn:

But the cherry on top of this delicious hypocrisy sundae comes courtesy of Sean Davis, who sent me a link to Kohn’s article on the Hobby Lobby decision. You’ll never guess what she said there (OK, actually, you will). Namely, she said that conservatives were trying to “force” their religious beliefs on America.

To put it mildly, our forbearers would be appalled by how right-wing conservatives are trying to use government to force their religious views on all of us.

We’ll place to one side, for the time being, the question: “What the hell is a forbearer?” To put it mildly, our forebears would be appalled at seeing their language mangled like this. But they would also be amused, as I am, by the inconsistency of Kohn’s “laws don’t force people to do stuff!” argument, as contrasted with her Hobby Lobby position.

Ms. Kohn: you don’t like religious freedom laws that apply to Hobby Lobby and other similar closely held corporations? Don’t work for said closely held corporations. That’s your “choice.” Where’s the “force”?

In the end, the Hobby Lobby decision isn’t actually coercive because there is plenty of freedom to work for companies that are not closely held corporations run by highly religious people. By contrast, your life is severely restricted if are told you can’t drive, or engage in your chosen occupation, or even engage in sexual activity. So governmental restrictions on such activities should be absolutely necessary — because they are inherently coercive.

Ultimately, all government laws are coercive, because resistance always ends up with men coming to your door and pointing guns at you. Keeping this precept in the forefront of the minds of the citizenry is critical, because it helps focus our attention on the fact that passing laws is serious business. Laws and government should protect the public. They should not be used for much else. Certainly, laws should not be used to force you to make me a sandwich. Although I would like a sandwich.

46 Responses to “Yes, Sally Kohn, Laws Are Coercive”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. “I’m gay. And I want my kid to be gay too.”

    But would she rather they be totally straight and 100% politically liberal or totally gay and 100% politically conservative?

    I have a hunch as to the way she’d answer that question.

    Mark (33be9a)

  3. plus the taxes are too high

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  4. Sally Kohn is from the happyfeet school of deep thinking and that’s probably being unfair to Sally Kohn.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  5. Stop me if I’m wrong, but if Sally Kohn wants to take the line that you don’t have to follow the law if you don’t want to, then why should she be upset that the owners of Hobby Lobby didn’t want to follow the law (really an HHS regulation, not a law; let’s not lose sight of that).

    After all, according to her nobody is forcing anybody to wear a seat belt. It’s just a ticket. Well, you can go to court and fight a traffic ticket. And if the court decides you’re right, you don’t have to pay the fine.

    Hobby Lobby owners didn’t want to drive the speed limit or pay the fine. According to Sally Kohn everybody is free to do that.

    Except Hobby Lobby! When Hobby Lobby doesn’t voluntarily go along with what are merely suggestive guidelines they are forcing their values on other people.

    This is how Sally Kohn and her ilk turn logic on their head.

    Hobby Lobby can’t send armed deputies to your house in the middle of the night to bring you downtown and question you about alleged violations of the Ten Commandments.

    The government can.

    Only once side in these affais has a law enforcement capability. And per Sally Kohn it’s the other side that doesn’t that is tyrannically compelling people to do anything.

    Steve57 (cd6f9a)

  6. *Every* law involves a policeman eventually putting a gun to your head if you don’t co-operate.

    I guess Kohn just doesn’t understand what law *is*.

    JWB (6cba10)

  7. Bugs Bunny told us how to engage a sophomoric, disingenuous, wanton pickle like Sally Kohn in 6 seconds:

    nk (dbc370)

  8. She’d be the first to bleat on about escalation of force during minor crime arrests and so lets not forget Eric Garner was only selling “loosies” when the cops moved in to enforce a very lightweight law.

    steveg (794291)

  9. hah Mr. daley made a funny

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  10. She’s a disingenuous jenny (that’s female jackass). I know about a 1,000 guys who subscribe to her theory of the social contract. Only the double murderer is still doing time.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. Bugs Bunny is an ignoranimus; a klansman inside a bunny suit who should be arrested for hate speech. (isn’t maroon racially charged?)

    steveg (794291)

  12. maybe not a sammich but i betcha sally would make you some tasty soup if you ask nicely

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  13. The bowl is empty.
    No soup for you.

    mg (31009b)

  14. I think this is where Sally Kohn dispenses with the hard work of making a coherent argument and lapses into the “I’m on the right side of history” schtick.

    JVW (a1146f)

  15. I am certain that we don’t need laws forcing restaurants not to have cockroaches. Customers (or ex-customers) will do that quite well on their own.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  16. “I’m in the right side of history”

    She stole that from Lenin.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. Or maybe it was Mussolini.

    nk (dbc370)

  18. Definitely not Napoleon. Napoleon was smarter than that.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. The stupid, it burns.

    DNF (208255)

  20. Pretty sure it was Barack Obama, explaining how Hillary’s “Arab Spring” would be remembered as a game-changing success.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  21. I think the health regulations (any regulations, really) all still prove your point: no matter what the specific law is, it’s coercive, by definition. Don’t do X, or once we’re annoyed enough we’ll lock you in a box. Even if it’s for stuff that most of us think is good (health codes, ADA, etc), it’s another reason for the government to destroy your life if some petty bureaucrat decides to flex their muscles, or the courts decide to accept some person’s insane theory (example: it has been decided that under the ADA, Netflix counts as a public accommodation and is legally required to provide subtitles for content that they don’t even own – at least there’s a circuit split for that one now).

    Even if I (or you) wouldn’t propose abolishing health codes any time soon, the fact remains that in a perfect world we wouldn’t need them. The fact that we certainly seem to require it is absolutely not a justification for us to use the same hammer for every problem, and anyone claiming that health codes in some way mean that it’s okay for the government to micromanage your life is being, at best, deceitful. We use radiation for chemotherapy, but that doesn’t mean that we should all be lining up to get irradiated to solve all our other problems.

    John S. (1ec0e4)

  22. The lovely Miss Kohn wrote:

    To put it mildly, our forbearers would be appalled by how right-wing conservatives are trying to use government to force their religious views on all of us.

    Apparently, Miss Kohn doesn’t know much about history: the colonies, and then some of the states after independence, had established state churches. Laws mandated that everyone attend a house of worship and pay taxes that funded the salaries of ministers. Eight of the thirteen British colonies had official, or “established,” churches, and in those colonies dissenters who sought to practice or proselytize a different version of Christianity or a non-Christian faith were sometimes persecuted.

    The historian Dana (f6a568)

  23. She’s stretched my forbearance. She’d sound a lot smarter if she used foremothers instead. But it does suggest she’d heard something about the past somewhere. Too bad it didn’t stick.

    bobathome (ef0d3a)

  24. Judging by her picture, count me as one hetero that will pass on having sex with Sally Khon. The homos can have her.

    Ipso Fatso (10964d)

  25. How do people like Sally Kohn have the jobs they do?

    Steve57 (cd6f9a)

  26. but would happyfeet eat some soup made from Sally Kohn’s panti… er, briefs?

    I think not…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  27. Wondering if in her world the government can stifle freedom of expression on the basis that there is a choice of speech and no speech.
    Maybe have every citizen sign a Miranda waiver every morning before they are allowed their free speech…

    steveg (794291)

  28. Robert at his residence wrote:

    She’s stretched my forbearance. She’d sound a lot smarter if she used foremothers instead. But it does suggest she’d heard something about the past somewhere. Too bad it didn’t stick.

    That’s what happens when you get your history from the History Channel.

    It used to be the Hitler Channel, but now it’s the Ancients and Aliens Channel.

    The Dana who watches too much TV (f6a568)

  29. To put it mildly, our forbearers would be appalled…

    Clearly she meant furbearers.

    It was the hunt for beaver that brought the mountain men west. They blazed the trail, setting in motion the great westward expansion the United States of America. If it wasn’t for the hunt for beaver, this country wouldn’t be what it was today.

    Sally Kohn’s entire life has been lived in tribute to this historical phenomenon.

    Steve57 (cd6f9a)

  30. It’s still the hunt for beaver that makes America great. Sally Kohn notwithstanding.

    Hoagie (58a3ec)

  31. And furbearers are an endangered species.

    Hoagie (58a3ec)

  32. “I’m gay. And I want my kid to be gay too.”

    I thought it wasn’t a choice. You either are, or are not.

    JD (962b99)

  33. You gotta very good point there, JD. The gays keep running around hysterically screaming gay-dom isn’t a choice. Perhaps Kohn didn’t get the memo: when you’re brow beating people with the no choice meme, shut up about what you want your kids to be.

    Hoagie (58a3ec)

  34. Gayness is like a ratchet.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  35. “That’s what happens when you get your history from the History Channel.

    It used to be the Hitler Channel, but now it’s the Ancients and Aliens Channel.”

    The Ancient Alien Pawnstars what lives in a Swamp Channel? And they restore old cars in their spare time too.

    But history? Not really a part of the programming anymore. Sorry about that.

    Russ from Winterset (30a992)

  36. @32 Ask Cynthia Nixon how that worked out for her a couple of years ago. Quite the kerfuffle as I recall.

    Gazzer (eae5fa)

  37. Russ wrote:

    The Ancient Alien Pawnstars what lives in a Swamp Channel? And they restore old cars in their spare time too.

    Alaskan Bush People.

    The Dana who watches way too much TV (f6a568)

  38. It used to be the Hitler Channel, but now it’s the Ancients and Aliens Channel.

    Before that, it was the Everybody Except Oswald Shot Kennedy Channel.

    Chuck Bartowski (11fb31)

  39. Dana, I hate that show with a passion. My cousin & her hubby recently relocated to Virginia from Alaska, and they know several people back North who are on one of the reality shows. I told them if they ever run into any of the subjects of that show, I will arrange for the payment to the bail bondsman myself.

    Russ from Winterset (30a992)

  40. #26

    You had to do that?
    Kohn’s soupy knickers… great. Maybe her partner will post them on Instagram along with some pupusas

    steveg (794291)

  41. People like Ms Cohn have an irrefutable argument.

    SHUT UP !

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  42. Four bear and seven years ago……….

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  43. …And here I always thought Kohnheads were supposed to be merely very strange, not complete and total imbeciles….

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  44. Who is Sally Kohn? By that I mean, she has a prominent stage in media. Anyone can look up her background on the internet. She went to college, earned a law degree. She did this, that and the other as a social justice warrior and was a Fox News contributor? Now, she’s on CNN.

    I think I may have done this before, but why is she a person to take seriously? What has she done to make her a spokesperson for the left other than being, you know, a lefty. How did she happen? What does she do for a living other than appearing on TV shows? Does she represent people in court? Has she done something other than being educated and gay? Is she a great legal mind? If she is, I would appreciate the evidence.

    I’m just asking because Ted Cruz is dangerous and stupid what with that Harvard Law degree and his background as well, You can read it.

    Wikipedia is not a source, so educate me.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  45. Not only did the founders of this country give us the first amendment, but congress printed the first English translation of the bible in the colonies. They also prayed. Sounds pretty christian to me.

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  46. Three times I’ve been stopped for not wearing a seatbelt. A guy wearing a gun each time. Each time the guy wearing the gun took a dip out of my wallet.

    In case you needed a second opinion, Sally is an idiot. And ugly.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

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