Last Week, Today: Cakes, Liberal Scare, JVTA, etc.

1. Controversial cake-baking

An Irish bakery was fined 500 pounds for refusing to bake a cake that contained the words "support gay marriage." To be clear: the cake was not for a gay wedding. Patrick Stewart, actor and longtime support for LGBT rights, drew lots of attention when he defended the bakers, arguing that they had a right not to print beliefs that were offensive to them.

2. "I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me."

We have heard a lot about censorship and silencing especially on campuses, but this perspective straight from a professor who teaches at a mid-sized state school is a relatively new one:

Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.

Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.

Read more at Vox.

3. At War with Traffickers or Sex Workers?

An noteworthy conversation is bubbling up over the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Elizabeth Nolan Brown, staff editor at Reason, criticizes the act for introducing a new version of "mandatory minimums" and setting up "perverse incentives to treat everyday prostitution as sex trafficking." A counter op-ed has been written that points out how Brown's critiques fall empirically and legally flat. It also points out that the uniqueness of JVTA is that it targets buyers (mostly white men) and traffickers (mostly colored men) alike, but it does leave un-touched Brown's concern that the War on Trafficking will start to resemble the War on Drugs in terms of its heavy crackdowns. Of course, the inherent costs and injustices involved in drug use as compared to human trafficking are quite distinct. 

4. When America's values collide

David Horsey calls out an internal American contradiction in The Los Angeles Times: Can we really say we are pro-family while also being pro-work(aholic)?

5. Conservative civil disobedience?

James Poulos, at The Atlantic, unpacks how recent calls by conservatives to "civil disobedience" against unrighteous laws of the land will fall flat. 

"...unless civil disobedience can transcend ideology to transform how bystanders see the world, the strategy loses not only its savor but its power."

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Sarah Ngu (@sarahngu) is a freelance writer and an alumni of Trinity Forum Academy and Columbia University. Based in New York, she blogs on faith and culture, and produces thought leadership for businesses.