Thanks, David, I appreciate your comments a lot! It has been so fascinating for those of us from the rest of the world to watch US politics the last few years — although of course it must be a very different experience to actually live in the country itself. And yes, I think you pick up on my main point — which really had nothing to do with Trump, he is just an obvious example given he has many “family values” supporters — which is just to ask, what makes some of us put aside our morals to vote for an effective leader, while others put the morals first? Fascinating stuff.
I also appreciate your thoughts on the gay/Christian baking stand-off. For me, what is troubling is the middle area. I think I agree with you that someone cannot be compelled to make a product they disagree with (whether it’s an anti-gay cake or a cake with two grooms on top) but I’m troubled by the idea that a store may deny service to a customer when that service would be no different. i.e., for me, if the gay baker is asked to provide a standard chocolate cake for an event that happens to be anti-gay, or if the Christian baker refuses to provide a standard wedding cake for a gay marriage, I worry about things going off the rails.
But this is a tough one, as you say. For some people “freedom” (of speech or otherwise) is in the very baking or selling of the cake, not the design of the cake itself. For me, I can’t get onboard with that. I think it’s wrong, for example, for a florist to refuse to sell a bunch of flowers to someone because it was for that person’s gay partner, if the flowers are pre-prepared in the store or if it was a standard bouquet the florist provides, and no special effort was required. The same would go the opposite, e.g. a left-wing florist denying flowers to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for example!. But I see where that gets murky real quick.
Anyhow, I think it will take all of us to find the best solution forward. Above all else, I believe that certainty is the death knell of thought. I refuse to be certain about anything, because I think those who do are reluctant to consider other options. There is a Bertrand Russell quote I adore: “To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do.”
“Epsilon” is perhaps a slightly cruel reference — it’s to Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World”, set in a dystopia which has a caste system. People are birthed in artificial wombs and are sorted into class groups based on intelligence. (Epsilon being the lowest!)