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Robinson: You Were Warned

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Harry Reid gave us a warning.

In a video produced to announce his retirement, Reid told us not to be too elated: he would continue doing what he has always done, for twenty or so more months. 

As frightening as that thought is, Reid’s real warning for the American people came when he told CNN’s Dana Bash that he had no regrets for infamously lying about Mitt Romney’s taxes during the 2012 presidential election.

Romney didn’t win, did he?” Reid said, in defense of his McCarthyism. 

That should be a warning to all of us. Reid was the top dog of the U.S. Senate under an activist Democratic president. He controlled the Senate with an iron fist, protecting both President Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues from uncomfortable vetoes or votes. He helped fund raise millions for the Party and, presumably, helped craft national strategies. 

And he just announced to a national audience that he was willing to lie on the Senate floor in order to advance the Democratic Party’s interests. 

Mendacity is justified if it brings “progress,” according to Reid. 

How many other elected Democrats think this way? More than one, we know for sure. Obama told numerous lies in order to get his health care law passed. We could keep our plans and costs would go down, he said. And when that turned out not to be true, he gave the equivalent of Reid’s explanation, “It passed, didn’t it?” 

The question of how far liberals are willing to go to get their way is a pertinent one, especially as liberal activists — not all of them in the media — have caused an uproar over attempts by state legislatures to secure religious liberty against the long arm of government.

Democratic politicians (e.g. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy) are racing toward cameras, bombastic talking points in hand, and the liberal media is all to happy to hear them shout. 

Legalized discrimination! Jim Crow! Anti-Gay Bigotry!”

Closer to home, we saw a version of this when Maine lawmakers attempted to pass legislation protecting religious freedom last year. 

Attorney General Janet Mills, a left-wing partisan, testified before a legislative committee that a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) would legalize not just discrimination, but also child abuse, spousal abuse, on-the-job drunkeness and the public slaughtering of animals for ritualistic purposes. 

Seriously. 

Given that Mills unquestionably possesses an intelligent legal mind, one would have to assume that she knew her Chicken Little claims were hyperbolic to the point of absurd. 

So the question is, was she pulling a Reid? Was she spouting mistruths in order to defeat legislation she opposes for ideological reasons? And will she and her allies do it again?

The script is playing out in Indiana, Arkansas, on the network news — and it will soon return to Maine, along with Reidesque accusations designed to advance the left’s agenda. 

But what does the law actually do?

RFRAs provide a legal outlet to individuals who believe the government is interfering unfairly with their religious activities. From the text of Indiana’s (incredibly brief) law:

Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

The law does not — does not — guarantee an outcome of legal proceedings. It does not, as some critics claim, give immunity to every criminal act so long as the perpetrator claims religious motives. It does, however, require the state to define a compelling public interest if it wants to infringe on religious activities — and it requires the state to pursue such an interest in manner least restrictive of religious liberty.

This chart is good depiction of the legal process RFRAs establish. 

The liberal talking heads say this amounts to legalized discrimination, because, in their fantasy world, businesses will now deny services  to people who happen to be gay or lesbian. This is an attack on strawmen. 

Since 1993, when Democratic President Bill Clinton, then-Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) joined forces to enact the federal RFRA, there has not been a single instance of businesses systematically denying services to people on the basis of their sexuality. In the more 30 states that already have RFRAs or similar legislation, the left’s boogeyman has not come to fruition.

So why the outcry? It goes back to Reid. 

What liberals are really doing here is defending certain punitive — some might say, discriminatory — actions of government. These actions include: fining farm owners for refusing to host a wedding on their property; fining a florist for refusing to provide flowers for a wedding; fining a photographer for refusing to take pictures at a wedding. 

They are defending — they are militantly insisting upon — the prerogative of government to compel property owners and small business owners to engage in activities that violate their consciences, thereby subjugating moral conviction to the edicts of the state. 

What ever happened to that one-time motto of libertarian supporters of same-sex marriage, Live and Let Live? It’s been abandoned, it seems, in favor of, Live As We Please Or Else. 

At least you’ve been warned: in defending governments’ overreach into the lives and livelihoods of Americans, the left will stoop to any low. 

Just ask Harry. 

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently producer for the Howie Carr Show. Follow him on Twitter @Stevie_Rob or send him an email at Steve@HowieCarrShow.com.

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