- - Monday, October 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There’s something about the Left Coast. Maybe there’s something in the salt water besides the makings of taffy. California was once derided as “the land of fruit and nuts,” and the nuttiness has spread northward along the coast. Just when Gov. Jerry Brown of California had outgrown his reputation as Gov. Moonbeam, he does something to reclaim it.

He signed a new law last week making it a crime — punished by a fine of a thousand dollars and up to a year in jail — for the “willful and repeated refusal” to use the “preferred name or pronouns” of transgendered elderly folk in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The “LGBT Senior Bill of Rights” further requires such facilities allow residents to use the restrooms of their choice, regardless of whether their lady and gentleman parts accord with the noun on the door.

The legislation was the idea of a legislator from San Francisco, state Sen. Scott Wiener, who thanked the governor and called the new law “an important step in our fight to ensure all people are treated equally, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

This draconian attempt to impose official state speech on everyone is meant to protect the feelings of a tiny percentage of the population of California — by one estimate .003 of 1 percent of the population. Being deliberately rude to anyone is never called for, and if a man wakes up on a bright sunny day (or a grim rainy day) feeling female, a decent regard for his feelings dictates that he be humored, like not deliberately stepping on the cape of a gent who calls himself Superman. But it’s hardly the role of the state to monitor pronouns. Members of the Democratic supermajority could find other ways of burnishing their hip piety.

“How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” asks Greg Burt of the California Family Council, which opposed the new law. A fair question, and it’s difficult to see how such a law could get past a constitutional review by courts beyond the California border.

Free speech can be abused, of course, and it was at a coffee shop in Seattle earlier this month by a gay shopkeeper who launched himself on a profane rant when he discovered that a Christian pro-life group was taking a break from pamphleteering with a cup of java at his establishment, the aptly named Bedlam Coffee.

Ben Borgman ordered the group to take their pamphlets and leave, but not before subjecting them to a diatribe decorated with the usual F-bombs, and describing in detail his sexual proclivities and the imaginative ways he dreams of indulging them. Members of the pro-life group, whose handbills were critical of the practice of homosexuality, captured the incident on cellphone video and posted it online, where it could go viral.

Mr. Borgman was rightly admonished by the Washington State Human Rights Commission, but the Christian pro-life guests evicted from Bedlam Coffee should not expect an apology. If it weren’t for double standards, the intolerant left, on the West Coast and otherwise, would have no standards at all.

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