by Bill Simon
1) the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.
2) the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not.
3) the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing.
For the dictionary meaning(s) of “free will,” Merriam-Webster provides these definitions:
1) the ability to choose how to act.
2) the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God.
For the dictionary meaning(s) of “associate” Merriam-Webster provides these definitions:
1) to think of one person or thing when you think of another person or thing.
2) to be together with another person or group as friends, partners, etc.
If you believe you have the inherent rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, then, as a human, you have to also believe you have a right to recognize that one thing/person is different from another, and that you have an inherent right of free will to choose to associate or not associate with anyone, whether it be of a personal nature, a business nature, or a religious nature that affects how you run a business.
If you merely believe that your existence as a human being was a random event (or, the “magical mutation” of two or more earlier species…something akin to a cocoa bean and a peanut deciding to get together and produce a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup) and humans are just an evolved species from mutations of earlier species, then you likely believe that your rights are anything you decide they should be, and you spend your time petitioning your government to grant you those rights.
I would propose that those of you in the latter group are out to violate your own belief system by “demanding” that no one be allowed to discriminate against you for whatever reason they so choose. Because that belief system is likely related to Darwinism, which also has a concept known as “survival of the fittest” inherent within it. No animal has the means to cheat in the natural animal kingdom, so why do those folks seek to cheat the natural order of life that they believe exists?
If you are a person who cannot survive in your life unless you demand that someone else violates their religious beliefs to associate with you (whether business-related or not), then that Utopia you’re trying to build will collapse upon itself, and sooner rather than later. Try as you might to change, people are born with the right of free will, and, with that free will, the right to discriminate for or against anyone they so choose.
Many governments in the past have tried to restrict and control people’s free will like this before…and millions of people perished at the hands of those governments that, at the demand of people just like all the people who oppose RFRA now, enacted laws prohibiting and restricting people from exercising their right to free will. It’s utter nonsense to attempt it again because it will not turnout well for anyone, whether you are a religious follower or an atheist.
So, for the Coca Cola Company, Inc., et al. to choose to publicly step-into the fray to prohibit people’s inherent right of free will, that is a line-crossing that should be met with the only weapon people still have in their possession: The right to exercise free will to discriminate against buying ANY Coca Cola products. Which will be explained below.
Normally, the corporate entity “Hobby Lobby” and the corporate entity known as “The Coca Cola Company” (“Coke”) would not likely appear in the same story unless they are reporting earnings.
But, in the waning days of the 2015 Georgia General Assembly, the proxies for these two corporate entities were butting heads via Senate Bill 129, a/k/a “The Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” (Georgia “RFRA”)
SB-129 passed the Senate on March 5 by a vote of 37 (Y) to 15 (N), before Crossover Day….and then didn’t just “die in a House Committee”…it got pummeled into meaninglessness by House members like Rep. Beth Baskin and Rep. Mike Jacobs.
On April 2, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution (“AJC”) published this story and mentioned SB-129, quoting both the prime sponsor of the bill, Senator Josh McKoon, as well as a link to a statement by Coke on their website in opposition of Georgia’s RFRA. Coke’s statement was as follows:
“Coca-Cola does not support any legislation that discriminates, in our home state of Georgia or anywhere else. Coca-Cola values and celebrates diversity. We believe policies that would allow a business to refuse service to an individual based upon discrimination of any kind, does not only violate our Company’s core values, but would also negatively affect our consumers, customers, suppliers, bottling partners and associates. As a business, it is appropriate for us to help foster diversity, unity and respect among all people.
We advocate for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices. Coca-Cola does not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.”
McKoon’s statement was a counter to that:
“When those corporations stop doing business with the ayatollahs and when they stop doing business with countries where homosexuality is a capital crime, then I will be interested in their opinion at that point,” McKoon said. “But unless and until that happens, I don’t really think what they have to say matters a whole heck of a lot.”
You know what? In the broad sense of what McKoon was referring to, he is right. Because Coca Cola happily does business in countries where people are regularly discriminated against for being a woman, or being a homosexual, or being of a different religion…BY THE GOVERNMENT(S) of those countries.
This Georgia RFRA is designed to protect people’s religious beliefs from being punished by the State of Georgia and local governments. That is what RFRA is all about.
You should note that Coke’s statement was not about “teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony”…this statement by Coke was primarily about its wishes upon the world as anything that would affect its operations.
So, I think it is a safe bet that Coke actually abhors, not only the Georgia RFRA, but also the Federal RFRA….along with the actual Supreme Court decision that Hobby Lobby (“HL”) won to protect the rights of HL’s private owners to NOT pay for contraception pills for its workers because doing so would be a violation of their religious belief.
And, in Coke’s abhorrence of RFRA, what Coke is saying is that Coke does not believe that people (that is, you and I) should be allowed to a) have free will and b) exercise that free will to “discriminate” in any way, shape, or form. Meaning, if your religious practice says “X” is a sin and you don’t want to participate in “X” or supporting anyone else’s practice of “X”, Coke’s answer to that is “No, you cannot take into account your personal or religious beliefs when engaging in business. We hereby command you to stop exercising your free will.”
I have to wonder if Coke prohibits anyone from carrying a Bible into the Coke workplace. Because, after all, the Bible contains some of those “admonitions” about associating with liars, crooks, and thieves (especially in my favorite chapter of Proverbs), and the like, along with admonitions against people having sex with animals, having sex with their sons & daughters, and, yes, having sex with someone of the same gender, etc.
Big point here is that the United States of America was founded on a combination of religious freedom and economic freedoms. It was not founded so that the one right that was enshrined in the First Amendment could be trampled by the very entity for which the First Amendment was written to prohibit taking harmful actions against.
Unfortunately, with the advent of the concept of “economic development”, governments (state and local) all across the U.S. are demonstrating that THEIR brand of “economic discrimination” (e.g., sweetheart tax abatements, sweetheart tax exemptions, bribes of all kinds and forms, etc.) is not only perfectly legal, but is an actual, natural right for the government to use to trample on the rights of existing businesses and people who don’t get tax breaks…and the ones who actually end-up paying more in taxes to make-up for the shortfalls that happen before 3, 5, 10, or 20 years goes by, and there is some trickle-back in taxes to (ha-ha! Not ever) pay for the acts of economic discrimination to “lure” some poor leech of a company to move.
Speaking of economics, politics and Coke
So, if you’re on the side of Coke in this RFRA battle, by all means, keep-on sucking down (aka “Coca-Cola” with Phosphoric Acid as an ingredient…which has quite the interesting MSDS sheet on it if you ever wondered) and the like to contribute money to Coke’s operations and stockholders.
But, if you’re actually on the side of Hobby Lobby, along with being of the belief that you were born to actually have free will, freedom of association, and all the rights inherent in that personal freedom throughout every aspect of your life (e.g., to be able to discriminate between buying a Coke and buying a Mountain Dew because Coke does not believe you have the right to exercise your free will), then you might be interested in knowing a few things about Coke you may not be aware of.
Coke has about 120 brands worldwide. Here is a link to their online list of brands. (Here is a link to these brands in alphabetical order in one easy list.)
In addition to the cans and bottles you see of their products in retail stores and vending machines, they also supply “fountain drinks” that you might see at some movie theaters, Chick-fil-a, McDonalds, and other similar restaurants.
Now, you might wonder what Coke does with its net earnings from selling all of that caramel-colorized & sweetened Phosphoric Acid. Besides paying shareholder dividends, Coke (“Coke” in this campaign contribution analysis includes any Coke entity, whether the corporate office, a corporate Coke-PAC, a Coke bottler, etc.) also uses it to contribute money to political entities and politicians.
Here is a link to a PDF I’ve created that took data from the Ethics.Ga.GOV website for Coke campaign contributions to Georgia-based entities (this PDF does not include Coke contributions to federal political entities). I did not do any “clean-up” of data due to constraints on my free time (“clean-up” would have done things like combined the two “Beach for Senate” entities where the data entry person left-off the “Inc” on one of their disclosure entries).
For a lot of the plain-vanilla candidates, the default contribution from a Coke entity is $250.00. Of an interesting note to some of you would the revealing of the total amount Coke contributed to the 2012 effort to get T-SPLOST passed in the Atlanta-metro area (seen on Page 8, and totaling $260,000).
Of another interesting note would be what is revealed on Page 4 for Casey Cagle’s total haul from Coke over 8 years of $32,600. I point out Cagle’s because he may very well be the most crooked SOB of a Lt. Governor in recent times who deliberately violated the Senate rules and OCGA regarding the Transportation Bill this past session because it was required by Senate Rules to lay on the desks of the senators for a minimum of 2 hours before being voted on, and Cagle also failed to provide the OCGA required fiscal note from the State Auditor’s office of the financial impact of a bill. (You can read more about that here from Senator Bill Heath’s newsletter on the issue.)
Here’s the point about any money you choose to spend on any Coke product/brand: Some piece of what you choose to give to Coke when you buy one of their products will be used to hurt you (in more ways than just drinking more sweetened Phosphoric Acid), either via Coke taking a stand against your right of free will to exercise your right to practice your religious beliefs OR by Coke using a piece of what you give them to contribute to people like Casey Cagle, David Ralston (yeah, his contributions from Coke are on Page 66), and other folks that you would not normally contribute money to.
Hopefully, for those of you who feel like Senator Josh McKoon does, and you live in Georgia, you have a right to practice and follow your religious beliefs without interference from any government entity…and if that practice happens to “discriminate” against someone else, and what they want you to do against your free will, then that is a case of one of those simple facts of life that cannot be legislated away from happening. (Learn to suck it up, Buttercup.)
Feel free to forward this Political Vine article to whomever you desire. Oh, and stop voluntarily contributing money to Coke entities who clearly don’t think you should be able to exercise your inherent right of free will.