Yesterday, after the Supreme Court decided that the craft store chain was exempt from the Obamacare contraception mandate, I went to my local Hobby Lobby store.
I was wondering if it would be relieved now that its religious principles had been protected from the parts of the health care law it found offensive. I was expecting to see a big smile of relief on its facade, but it looked pretty much the same as it always had. a rather drab retail building with big orange letters spelling out “Hobby Lobby” on the front.
I asked the building, “So, how does it feel to have your religious convictions upheld by the justices of the Supreme Court?”
I admit I felt a little silly trying to have a conversation with a store, but if the Court says that Hobby Lobby is actually a person and not just another retail corporation that sells stuff, who am I to argue?
The building didn’t answer, so I went inside. My first stop was in the art supply section, the area I know best. I figured if there was any part of the store I could talk to, this was it.
"So," I said, giving the pencils a friendly wink, "How about that Supreme Court decision? You must be pleased." No response. I repeated my question to the oil paints. No answer. The brushes were equally mute. This was indeed perplexing. If Hobby Lobby cared so much that it brought this case all the way to the highest court in the land, you’d think it would be shouting with joy.
A young lady wearing a blue vest and a name tag came up to me, looking a bit nervous. She probably wasn’t used to customers talking to the drawing pads.
"May I help you?" she asked.
"Yes, thank you, "I answered. "Are YOU by any chance Hobby Lobby, the person?"
"Uh…I just work here."
"But you aren’t the actual artificial corporate human person the Supreme Court just ruled in favor of?"
"I don’t know who that is. I’m just an employee."
"You know about the Supreme Court decision, though?" I probed.
"Yeah, I heard about that."
"You must be thrilled that the company no longer has to provide contraception benefits in your insurance plan, in violation of your deeply-held religious principles."
"Uh, well…" she said, looking around warily. She leaned close and whispered, "I probably shouldn’t be talking about this while I’m working, but I’m not particularly religious. I liked it that my insurance paid for that. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know how I can afford to pay for it on what I make here."
"Really?" I said. "I’m surprised. I assumed that since you’re part of the big happy corporate Hobby Lobby person, all the actual people here would be ecstatic that your synthetic corporate person’s religious rights have been affirmed.”
"Rights?" she said. "Maybe Hobby Lobby has rights, but the company didn’t ask ME what I want. I just work here."
"I’m a woman, not a corporation. I don’t have rights."
The India ink said nothing.