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Opening Arguments

Word power

Interesting words encountered while wandering through the blogosphere. Actually, today we have a word pair, and while they're not uncommon in usuage, they are frequently misued: flout and flaunt. Following is a comment made to a blog post on the Oregon baker who ran afoul of the law for refusing to cater a gay wedding:

If I want my cake with the Confederate battle flag on it, I'll demand I get it! You can't refuse me! :/ 
Seriously, if 'sanctuary cities' can flaunt the law, then why can't we flaunt the SCOTUS ruling? Or any law we don't like, for that matter. Obama not only flaunts laws he doesn't like, he sues states who pick up where the feds refuse to follow the law.

No, no, no. You want to flout the law. You think sanctuary cities flout the law. President Obama likes to flout the law. Flout: to treat with disdain, scorn or contempt; scoff at; mock. If you wear a $20,000 Rolex to a pro wrestling match, you are flaunting your wealth. Flaunt: to parade or display ostentatiously. It should be noted that in  its early usage in the English language, flaunt had the mean the dual meaning of "display ostentatiously" and "display defiantly," which approaches the usage of flout. But the two words have long been separated in usage, and until "flount the law" really catches on, those using it will seem uninformed.

The article is by Eugene Volokh and explains why the government may ban businesses from saying "we won't bake cakes for same-sex" weddings, which seems to be a violation of First Amendment rights. (It's because saying you won't do something the law says you must do is not just speech but a threat to commit an unlawful act -- the same way a "whites only" sign would violate a law forbidding discrimination on the basis of race.)

I've been wondering in posts here and articles for the editorial page if there is a dinstinction to be made between serving a gay couple and catering a gay wedding. Volokh makes no distinction. If you're doing business, you're doing business with whoever wants your service, especially if a government defines people you specifically may not refuse service to.

From another commenter:

Yes. That's what I've been saying. In fact, aren't we all sinners? No one would have any customers if they refused to serve sinners. 
They don't serve same-sex weddings simply because they don't want to. I don't know of any religious text that defines the provider of cake or flowers as participating in the "sin". The wedding will take place with their cake, a different cake, or no cake. It is still a wedding whether the cake is there or not. They won't even witness the wedding, they drop off the cake at the reception.

Good point.