Sturm: Who’s imposing their values on whom? |

Sturm: Who’s imposing their values on whom?

Melanie Sturm
Think Again

Shouldn’t college students know as much American civics as they do pop culture?

MRCTV went to American University to find out, discovering few students who could name a single U.S. senator or the number of senators from each state, though most knew the Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.”

Equally surprising are polls showing that only one-quarter of Americans can identify the vice president or name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (religion, speech, press, assembly and petition), though over half knew at least two cartoon characters from “The Simpsons.”

Before suggesting Americans’ ignorance is bliss, Think Again. “Fear always springs from ignorance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, which is why fear mongering and placating assurances have enabled a ruling elite to wield enormous power over the people — our founders’ worst nightmare.

False promises and controversial payoffs enabled the narrow passage of Obamacare, which grants unelected bureaucrats control over 16 percent of the economy, empowering them to impose costly and freedom-infringing regulations.

Perhaps their most liberty-assaulting decree — and cunning, given its election-year timing — was the unprecedented Health and Human Services mandate forcing employers to provide free contraception, including abortion-inducing methods, or face a $100 per day/per employee fine.

That amounts to $47 million annually for arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, whose devoutly Christian owners, the Green family, oppose the mandate with pilgrim-like fervor.

Just because they started a business, the Greens argue, doesn’t mean that they must leave their religion in the pews. The First Amendment guarantees their right to live and work by their faith, and they won’t give it up without a fight.

For 44 years, the Greens have operated Hobby Lobby as they do their lives, in accordance with Biblical principles. They close on Sunday to honor the Sabbath, pay justly by starting full-time employees at nearly twice the minimum-wage, maintain a free health clinic at headquarters and offer Cadillac-level health benefits for 13,000 employees, covering 16 out of the 20 Obamacare-mandated contraception drugs. And they won’t pay for four abortion-inducing methods, all cheap and ubiquitous.

Their Supreme Court case will determine whether the federal government can force corporations owned by individuals to choose between moral beliefs and government dictates, or face crippling IRS-enforced penalties.

Hobby Lobby argues the Health and Human Services mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act— passed nearly unanimously and signed by President Clinton — which says the government can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” without “compelling” justification and using “the least restrictive means.”

With half of the population already exempted from Obamacare and its contraception mandate, how could there be a compelling interest in forcing conscientious objectors to comply when their non-compliance is hardly burdensome?

While admitting the mandate forces the Greens to violate their Christian faith, the government argues that religious liberty is forfeited when people go into business for profit, meaning companies also could be required to pay for abortions, and kosher butchers could be forced to break ritual laws — an outcome all media corporations should oppose, or risk losing their First Amendment freedoms.

If the government didn’t insist that its interests trumped the First Amendment, it could make abortifacients available otherwise, which would be “a win for everybody,” according to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

“I’m a liberal Democrat who supports Obamacare. But I think the constitutional right of the free exercise of religion trumps my own personal, political views,” concluding that it’s not “a complex case.”

Unfortunately, a win-win solution is not the preferred outcome for mandate supporters like Sen. Barbara Boxer, whose rhetorical bombs transform dissenters like Hobby Lobby into War on Women combatants.

Misconstruing Hobby Lobby’s plea not to buy abortifacients for employees as “denying women birth control,” Boxer declares the company as anti woman and hypocritical for having “no moral objection to men getting Viagra” — as if procreation-aiding drugs resemble pregnancy-ending ones. Stoking more fear, she mused whether vaccinations and HIV drugs might be “their next moral objection.”

Throughout our liberty-loving history, Americans have endorsed Voltaire’s enlightened principle: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” No more.

In abandoning this principle, we now assassinate the character of non conformists, like Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who was purged last week for contributing $1,000 to the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Meanwhile, no political leader dares to face the mob despite sharing Eich’s views on marriage until recently.

Once the mob forms, no dissenter is legitimate, no sunlight can disinfect, no society is free and no constitutional right is secure.

Regardless of one’s views on contraception, abortion or marriage, this can’t be our destiny.

Think Again — if Americans want to retain our right to prefer pop culture to politics, we must preserve our individual liberties.

Melanie Sturm lives in Aspen. She reminds readers to Think Again. You might change your mind. She welcomes comments at