Je Suis Jack Phillips! And You Are Too

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Today oral arguments will take place at the Supreme Court in the incredibly consequential case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Catching up with the latest news about the Christian baker testifying to the truth about marriage, my heart leapt to discover I have nearly five hundred new friends – literally, amici, as in “Brief of 479 Creative Professionals as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner [Jack Phillips].”

The amici conclude their brief, “As with virtually every other petitioner who comes before this court Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop represents more than himself and his own dilemma in this cause. He is a proxy for others…”

In short: Je suis Jack.

I can’t really write anything new when billions of pixels have been spent on this case. However, I noticed that no musicians are individually profiled in the brief, so this is my story.

As an instrumentalist, I know that one need not use words to have a free speech case. Some melodies, of course, are associated with identifiable lyrics, but as Victor Hugo knew, the emotions evoked by music come from an even more primal depth than spoken language.

Wedding music in particular represents a significant time investment – at least if you want to do it properly. Weddings require a great deal of personal attention to your client’s preferences.

Sometimes three-quarters of the work was done before I even showed up to the venue. On the wedding day, one must be physically present and mentally hyper-present from start to finish, to celebrate and beautify and bless, to get it just right. No phoning it in, and no do-overs.

During the eight years of my freelance career, I played easily hundreds of gigs, most of which were weddings. One might think they would become one big white lacy blur, but no two weddings are ever exactly alike. I remember my clients distinctly years later.

I remember who was easy to please and who was demanding. I remember who I had to gently talk out of questionable musical decisions. I remember the triumphs; I remember the disasters. I remember the elegant and the rustic, the elaborate and the simple.

I remember the ministers and the wedding planners. I remember the day that was so windy, a topiary blew over and almost took out the ring-bearer. I remember the wedding with a surprise baptism at the end.

The best weddings were a real boost to faith, partaking in some small way in the awesome mystery of two becoming one and getting to say with the God of Genesis, “It is very good.”

Despite strong beliefs, I played with fire. I lived in a state that had redefined marriage and I didn’t have a formal policy. I’m lucky I never got sued. Granted it’s still a fair assumption that any given couple probably includes a bride and a groom, but if not, I could usually find a deft way to extricate myself without anyone being worse off.

One time, I couldn’t. I failed to communicate and realized my mistake a few days before the gig. I spent a full 24 hours sweating and praying about what to do. I sought trusted advice. I considered getting an “emergency” substitute. Faking an injury would be lying; could I actually injure myself, but not too badly?

Ultimately, I decided screwing everyone over because I didn’t do my job was not a good way to witness to a point. If I’m honest, there was probably some fear as well. You never know what someone’s going to do anymore.

An internet vigilante mob might threaten to burn your place of business down. I played, didn’t linger, split the pay among a couple of charities, and vowed to do better. I still feel bad about the whole situation, though.

I tell this confessional story (now that I’m out of the business) to underscore that it’s always easier to just bake the cake. Always. There’s enormous pressure to do so, and not all of it is external. Those who stand on principle, even when they would much rather avoid conflict with anyone, are taking the hard path.

Jack has been beautifully, simply, admirably consistent. Under the prevailing regime, it’s been terrifying to think what could happen to people who have given in even once.

I am not as brave as Jack, yet I am Jack. I’m counting on him. I encourage people with opposing views lurking about this site to support him, if for no other reason than because you are Jack too—or would be under the right circumstances.

Winds change direction, worlds turn upside-down, and suddenly you’re Sophie Theallet not dressing Melania Trump or the Rockettes not kicking for the inauguration.

You’re the woman who got fired for flipping off the President’s motorcade (not that I’d recommend it). I’ve had some nominally polite, but fruitless “dialogues” with people who said they get it, but really didn’t get it. The only way to get it is through the endangered art of putting oneself in another’s shoes.

Please join me in praying hard for the Court to render a just decision and say with me, “I am Jack.”

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

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Nicole Stacy is a cradle Catholic with the uncommon distinction of having been both a conservative activist and a professional classical musician. Her adventures have taken her from West Virginia to Connecticut to Washington D.C., where she now resides. Her Myers-Briggs type is INTP, and her blood type is espresso. Follow Nicole on Twitter @Nicole_in_DC.

17 Comments

  1. I am not Jack. I am an open minded person who feels whatever we do for the least of our brothers we do for Him. DId the author regularly question all of her customers to make sure they had never engaged in adultery, used birth control or held impure thoughts. Obviously the author wold feel sickened performing in the front of such customers just as she felt sickened performing in front of her gay brothers and sisters in the Lord. What a holier than thou self righteous POS she is.

    • Being “open minded” would hopefully leave you with the charity to give others the latitude to believe and act as their consciences direct them.

      Otherwise, one might find YOU to be a “holier than thou self righteous…..”

      Just an observation.

    • No, Nicole Stacy is correct and Jack Galvin’s view here is mistaken. There is a big difference between selling a product to (or performing a service for) a sinful human being, on the one hand, and celebrating an event you consider to be immoral in itself, on the other. I doubt that Ms. Stacy would have any objection to performing music for a couple each of whom who had committed various sins at various times–including homosexual sins. But I am sure a majority of us, presumably including Mr. Galvin, would object to being forced to perform music for an event we consider immoral in itself–say, a white supremacist rally or a striptease. The fact that most people today object to the white supremacist rally and most people today don’t object to the gay wedding is not the point. The views of societies change over time, but conscience rights must be protected.
      This difference also explains why the baker Jack Phillips is emphasizing the point that the homosexual couple who wanted him to bake for their wedding could have bought a cake off the shelf, though he was not willing to bake a custom cake for their wedding. He has no right (an in any event it would be impractical) to attempt to sell only to customers whose personal lives he considers to be moral and upright. But he does have a right AND RESPONSIBILITY to avoid celebrating and validating events that are, in his view, immoral in themselves.

    • “I am an open minded person who feels whatever we do for the least of our brothers we do for Him.”

      Sadly, in the last 30 years, being “open-minded” has mostly meant an oncoming demand to view law and culture from a secular viewpoint. One who would view culture and law through a Judeo-Christian lens will often be condemned for ignorance and bigotry.

  2. Good points Nicole and well written! Your article has nothing to do with the judgement of others, but is a defense of the religious right of a man to live according to his conscience and a truth that transcends personal opinion! Proud of you!

  3. Sorry, Jack Galvin, but anyone who refers to another as a “POS” is not open-minded but demonstrably an ignorant troll who has no right to claim they are lead by a spirit of service to Him, assuming that the “Him” in your statement refers to the Lord God of all and not the Prince of Darkness. Applying the logic of your self-serving claim of righteousness, isn’t calling another a derogatory term doing something to them and, by extension, applying that same term to “Him”? I pray for your soul, Jack.

    • My reason for referring to Nicole in such a way was the pitiful way she described her experience playing at a gay wedding. Instead of going in with an open mind to learn something about people who were born to be different than her, she went in holding her nose because she feels a superiority to those born gay. I am sure both spouses at that particular wedding were surrounded by family eager to share in the couple’s happiness and welcome a new member to the family. Perhaps Nicole could have realized that gay people are not really different than she is. She could have gotten to know the spouses and their families. But instead, she went in with her superior holier than thou judgmental approach and disinfected herself as she ran out at the conclusion of the festivities like a white racist forced to somehow observe an African American wedding. She could not touch the money received from the gig as if she had just played at the wedding of a mafia kingpin who had just murdered his rival. The message of the Gospel is one of challenge, one of taking us out of our comfort zones, one of not judging people based on the circumstances into which they were born. Perhaps Nicole should read the Gospels. POS was perhaps too strong a term to describe her. I should have used ‘ignorant troll”.

      • I don’t think the Gospels teach us that we should be corollary to activity we believe is sinful, just for the sake of having an open mind.

  4. The teaching authority of the Catholic Church has never said that selling a cake or other product that the purchaser uses at a wedding not recognized by the Catholic is a sin on the part of the vendor. Are people really doing time in Purgatory because they sold a pastry to a couple of gay guys?

    • The teaching authority of the Catholic Church has ;likewise never said that when you get into a situation where you take a dollar or violate your faith, take the dollar.

  5. I’m still struggling to understand why the religious beliefs of an employer or business override the religious beliefs of an employee or customer. If participation in a civil wedding is a religious belief for a baker, surely participation is a religious belief for those getting married.

    • You can stop struggling.

      Arrangements for exchange of good and services are by mutual agreement. Employment benefits are a term of engagement and be refused (i.e. the ACA mandate) -you can work elsewhere.

      Likewise here. I cannot compel someone to serve me under terms he or she finds a violation of their rights (First Amendment).

      • I don’t find that explanation to be adequate. You have just invalidated the Civil Rights Act of 1964/65, for starters, which specifically bans discrimination based on religious belief by employers (Title VII).
        The entire point of the Civil Rights Act is to make clear that the beliefs of one person do not outweigh the beliefs of another. I don’t see why the beliefs of employers or service-providers are more valuable than the beliefs of employees or customers. All should be equal in the eyes of the law (Fourteenth Amendment).

        • Of course, I didn’t invalidate civil rights protections based on race.

          The beliefs of people also do not supercede each other’s. That’s “beliefs”. Not race.

          You cannot compel contracts by force, all things being equal. I cannot refuse to contract with someone because of their race. The case at hand here is whether the state can compel people to contract in violation of their religious beliefs. They (the government) has to show compelling state interest before doing so.

          Gay is not the new black in that African Americans were systemically shut out of/deprived of liberties and rights such as voting. None such condition has applied to gay Americans. Obergefell toppled the last domino.

        • “the beliefs of employers or service-providers are more valuable than the beliefs of employees ”

          A prevalent argument in the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby case.

          HL, in this case, was the party providing the healthcare coverage as a benefit of employment. Thus, they set the terms of the provision of same and the employee accepts in or seeks other employment since HL was relieved of the ACA-compelled obligation of provision of certain contraceptive drugs in the health plan.

          If a prospective employee applied at Hobby Lobby for PT work, and the individual wanted to work Sundays since they had more available time for work, HL would not be compelled to open their doors on Sunday to accommodate this person.

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