Hypocrisy is the application of a double standard in favor of (surprise!) one’s very own self. The Intoleristas in Moscow (and probably in your town as well) are particularly adept at this. They excel in demanding a wooden, clunky, inflexible standard of law for their adversaries, and for themselves, well — that’s what ethical relativism is for! Although much is made of “the law,” this kind of judicial hypocrisy is actually an abandonment of the concept of law. When laws, rules, regulations, and so on, are used simply to go after your opponents, while your conformity to the same standards is entirely optional, the hypcrisy is plain enough to see.
So the first problem is one of double standards, overt hypocrisy. This is why the word tolerance as used by these folks is a thinly disguised sham. This is why the county commissioners are being asked to apply the tax exemption law woodenly only to those entities that have anything to do with me (that is, DW), while leaving entirely alone all the other tax entities that don’t. And there are actual people who, in the name of justice, are demanding from the county this kind of selective enforcement of the law. Which is, as I continue to remind people, an illegal thing for the county to do.
For a very recent example (out of many), can anyone demonstrate that Dustin Bauer is even a resident of Moscow? Does he have any standing to make a complaint like this? Did Mike Curley know that his client doesn’t even live here? I think it would be great if someone would take the trouble to demonstrate that Dustin lives here. Since he almost certainly doesn’t, the retort would be that this doesn’t alter the substance of their complaint, does it? Exactly, which is why I brought this up. Little thought experiment: Suppose the fellow who files the complaint against the Food Co-Op (Monday morning) lives in, say, Walla Walla. I bet somebody on the Intolerista side of things would make a big deal out that. Ya think? The center of virtually every one of these legal harassment deals is this issue of hypocrisy.
For another example, Mike Curley has tried to explain to us Rubes that the Food Co-Op is different than the NSA deal because the code allows for retail establishments in the Central Business District. And everybody breathed a sigh of relief. For a brief space of time. And then somebody explained (actually, maybe it was me, here) that the Moscow code clearly distinguishes between retail stores (Kind of Thing A) and grocery stores (Kind of Thing B). And thanks to the Curley Zoning Insight, if a thing is not expressly permitted in the CBD then it is forbidden. (By the way, and not irrelevant in all this, this kind of tortured reasoning lies underneath the views of those who prohibit pianos in worship, and don’t observe Christmas, because they aren’t mentioned in the Bible.) Grocery stores are not mentioned as a permitted use in the CBD, and they are elsewhere distinguished from retail stores, which are permitted.
And just to make it plain to everybody, since the cases are exactly parallel, and because I believe NSA’s claim to their location is entirely justified, I also think the Food Co-Op should be allowed to operate downtown. In line with this, I believe that zoning regs should be read and interpreted (as Joel Plaskon did) with a view of the big picture. That is to say, they should be read as a human being would read them, and not as an adversary or accuser would read them.
And that relates to the importance of story. One of the key problems we have had in many of these controversies is the difficulty of getting various officials, some well-meaning fellow Christians, not to mention some professing Christians who have inexplicably joined forces with the Intoleristas, to see the narratival flow of all this. Everyone wants to treat particular events in front of them as though they were an isolated math problem — and a pretty simple math problem at that. But it is not. This whole thing is a story, and is actually a pretty glorious story.
Part of that glory is that, despite the confusions and tangles of earth, and despite the best efforts of those who want to spitefully harass us, we have the privilege of filing our appeals every Lord’s Day in worship. Because of Jesus Christ, God hears us, and we actually have the privilege of doing this tomorrow morning. And so we are not worried. This is about the influence of the kingdom of God in a community, and Jesus compared the influence of His kingdom to yeast working its way through a loaf of bread. And when have you heard of yeast being successfully zoned to just one end of the loaf?
P.S. After I posted this, I realized that somebody might panic over the last illustration above, and take it as a veiled threat of seizing control of Moscow politically, or as some other kind of spiritual yeast infection. But by “yeast working through the loaf” I simply mean loving our neighbors and trying to mind our own business.