Tuesday, March 25, 2014

shooting the cake

Now and then, I receive something in the mail that makes me realize how tattered the social-political fabric of The States has become.

The Henry Repeating Arms Company is a dying breed.  It is not an old company, but it is one of the few American companies that manufactures goods inside the country.  In this case, long guns.

Like most manufacturers, it seeks customers through advertising.  And because older men are a prime target, the company attempted to place a full-page advertisement for its Henry Tribute Rifles (that salute military veterans, law enforcement officers, firefighters, American farmers, and Eagle Scouts) in the AARP's magazine.  It sounds like a natural fit to me.

But not to the AARP.  AARP rejected the advertisement because it was from a firearm manufacturer -- without concern for the groups receiving tribute or where the company was located.

Now, I bet you know exactly what I am going to tell you next -- Henry Repeating Arms Company sued AARP for violating its First and Second Amendment rights.  I thought that was going to be the rest of the story in the country of Litigants Gone Wild.

Because that story sounds a lot like the wedding cake episode in Gresham, Oregon.  Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman requested Sweet Cakes by Melissa to bake a wedding cake for them.  When the owners politely declined, on the basis of their Christian beliefs, Cryer and Bowman filed a civil rights complaint.

There was the usual wailing and clenching of teeth, until the bakery was forced to close its storefront, and the state levied large fines against the owners.  What does not comply must be destroyed.

Much to my pleasant surprise, that is not the approach that Henry Repeating Arms Company took.  Instead, it ran an advertisement in the magazine of AARP's more liberty-minded rival, the Association for Mature American Citizens (AMAC).

I find the reaction to be telling.  Now, I have no axe to grind with any of the parties in this tale.  I am not a member of the NRA.  I am not a member of AMAC.  I would never be a member of AARP -- because of its long list of sins.  And I have more than serious doubts that the owners Sweet Cakes by Melissa were fully applying the doctrine of Christian grace when they refused service.

But that is where so much seems to be going wrong in American discourse.  Individuals are so concerned about nursing daily hurts that they do not see the bounty of their own lives.  And others are busy inflicting hurts (sometimes unintentionally) instead of offering the healing of living water.

For that reason, I celebrate what Henry Repeating Arms did.  It refused to wallow in self-pity and moved on.  Rather like John Wayne.

That is why we have the liberty of a free market.  If AARP refuses your advertisement, seek a friendlier forum.  If a baker will not bake you a cake, go to another baker who will.

I really do not want to live in a country where the government reduces all choice to those of The Chosen Few.

But, wait a minute.  I live in Mexico.  I guess this is really not a concern for me.  I will let the rest of you talk amongst yourselves.  You are in my prayers.


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