As a twenty-four-year-old woman with friends on all sides of the political spectrum, I’ve heard quite a bit about the Hobby Lobby decision over the past couple days. I’ve seen a few thoughtful responses, but mostly I’ve been struck by the illogical and factually incorrect criticisms from otherwise intelligent and well-educated friends. If someone looked at my Facebook and Twitter feeds, he would surely think that birth control was banned forever and soon there will be babies everywhere.
The panic-stricken tirades came straight from the top. Feminist actress Lena Dunham tweeted, “Women’s access to birth control should not be denied because of their employer’s religious beliefs.” Sandra Fluke experimented with different fonts in Photoshop to send the message that “we’re sick and tired of SCOTUS putting corporate interests ahead of women’s rights!” Meanwhile, the writers at the Salon.com office just ran around screaming about Armageddon.
In reality, the ruling is quite narrow. It only applies to three types of birth control and private, not public, companies. Moreover, it simply upholds the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was aimed at preventing laws that substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. Feminists can thank their hero Bill Clinton for signing it into law.
If Lena Dunham had read the ruling, she would know that “access to birth control” is not being “denied.” But what really strikes me about the feminist reaction is not the lack of facts, but the lack of logic. Take the #NotMyBossesBusiness hash tag. Even ignoring the spelling errors, it makes no sense. If your sex life is not your boss’s business, why is it his obligation to pay for your birth control? Also, in the corporate sense of the word, it is your boss’s business. Feminists are not arguing for the right to birth control. They are arguing for the right to have their birth control paid for by someone else.
How do thoughtful young women fall into this trap of entitlement? In The Law, Frédéric Bastiat argues that when the law allows one class to legally plunder wealth from another, people tend to see it as justice:
It is so much in the nature of law to support justice that in the minds of the masses they are one and the same. There is in all of us a strong disposition to regard what is lawful as legitimate, so much that many falsely derive all justice from law. It is sufficient, then, for the law to order and sanction plunder, that it may appear to many consciences just and sacred.
Bastiat’s theory does not make for an optimistic view of our future. The more the law tries to legislate away inequality, the more people see it as just, and the more people like Lena Dunham are taken seriously.