Thursday, March 19, 2015

"No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service" Issues

I have a simple question to discuss. Do you think that private business owners have the right to deny service to someone that they "conscientiously object" to giving service to?

Yes, I know the history of denying Black citizens the right to eat at a lunch counter was a flashpoint in the civil right movement. But should a private business owner like a bakery or a florist be compelled by law to provide their service to a same-sex marriage when it does not comport their personal religious belief?

I have had a day-long discussion on the with several people on this subject and, maybe I am just a bit too libertarian on this subject, but I truly believe that small private business owners should have some rights to refuse service to anyone for whatever reason that they deem objectionable. Do I think that it makes for "good business" practice...absolutely not. But do I think that they should have the right to do it? Absolutely, yes, I do. Private business owners should have the right to decide. I call it the "No shirts, No shoes, No service" rule. Maybe I am wrong, but what do you think.

Let's discuss.

Disclaimer: No people of Irish descent were harmed in the making of this post...


Tennessee Jed said...

off the top of my head, Bev, I agree with you. I think there is a difference between regulating business in the public interest (e.g. making certain businesses don't collude to price fix, for example, compared to serving someone you don't like.) The only way the government should be able to have a say is if the business is receiving tax exempt status or receiving some sort of federal subsidy or aide.

Kit said...

I think they have a right to regulate behavior in their store.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, This is a complex issue with some ugly twists and turns.

In a general sense, I agree with you. Why should anyone be allowed to force another to work for them? I don't see the moral argument in favor or requiring it, no matter how heinous their list is: e.g. won't serve atheists, people with tattoos, blacks, Jews, whites, etc. To me, the moral answer is that people have a right to decide when and under what terms to offer their labor and to force them to provide it under other terms is akin to slavery... which is immoral. Hence, intellectually, I come down in favor of saying that it's wrong to require people to provide services to someone.

As a quick aside, that doesn't mean I support those people. I think these people are immoral and rotten, but when it comes to the law, the moral argument tells me we should let society sort itself out one asshole at a time.


There is a problem with that answer. That problem is that we have never accepted true libertarianism because it just doesn't work when you are trying to run a society. Consider for example if every mechanic and/or hotel in town said, "We won't work for Jews." One or two might be a mere inconvenience, but having several or all becomes untennable for society. Are we really just supposed to say, "Hey, if you're Jewish, just don't visit XXX City?" That doesn't work.

For society to work, all of the things that are necessary to make society function -- food, transportation, lodging, housing, education, employment, health care, etc. must be available to all citizens on an equal basis. You can't let people pick and choose who they will service and then dump the others.

But how do we decide which industries are necessary and which are just economic fluff? It would be better to have blanket non-discrimination laws than it would be to try to sort out what businesses are necessary to the smooth functioning of society.

So to me, the answer is that morally, there is no doubt that the state has no right to tell businesses what to do... but in a practical sense, you can't have a society if you let people pick and choose who they will deal with.

So yeah.... yeah.

Kit said...

On Christian-owned hotels serving gays, I wonder what their policy is towards pre-marital sex?

LL said...

Kit, or post-marital cheating...the no-tell motels would go out of business if they required marriage certificates for all who check in for afternoon delight and promptly check out (so that the room can be re-rented).

Critch said...

It's one thing for a baker who objects to gay marriage to sell a cake to a gay couple, it's another to have to decorate it. let's turn the tables; how would the Left react if a black baker was forced to decorate a cake for the KKK? Or a Jewish baker to decorate cakes for the American Nazi Party? Why is it that things I consider wrong are not as important as things the Left considers wrong?

ScottDS said...

For my inner social liberal (on some things), it would be easy to say, "Too bad!" to the business owner. But my inner Libertarian is forced to agree.

HOWEVER, I fear the politicians are over-reaching with their religious discrimination bills. (And seriously, who are they trying to fool?)

Where does this end?

BevfromNYC said...

Critch, to answer your question, someone already has turned the tables.


And this is what happens. It is not the fact that business owners should or shouldn't be able to discriminate. Not providing goods or services for whatever reason seems pretty stupid to me.
What bothers me a lot, is that business owners who are open about their beliefs are being specifically targeted. They don't go out and beat up anyone in the dark of night with hoods on. They just conscientiously object to participate.

Tennessee Jed said...

Interesting arguments. Andrew, you comments are good ones, but surely you would not require anybody to patronize a given business (unless it is an Obamacare exchange!) My point is, why can you force a business to perform services or sell goods to all, but not force people to patronize a business. What of the Jewish baker who is boycotted because of his race/religion? Could you not end up with the same potential for societal breakdown?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, No, I wouldn't.

I think the truth is that the answer lies somewhere between the two extremes, and that "somewhere" seems to be that we will prohibit discrimination against any group that manages to convince enough people to support extending the protection to them through the legislative process.

That's not the most principled position, but it seems to reflect the compromise we have reached between total libertarianism and total government control.

Personally, I don't know where we should draw the line. I like the idea of no government say at all, but I realize that just like the idea of total privatization of government functions, it will likely cause more problems than it solves. So I don't know.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, As for consumers, other than the Democratic Party and the insurance industry, the public seems to despise the government telling consumers what to buy. It happens in many ways (e.g. safety/environmental mandates), but we still don't like it.

Rustbelt said...

This is a tough one for me. For the most part, I've grown sick of this topic. The problem I have is with the a**h***s on the left pushing business owners to conform. As Bev mentioned, only business owners who have openly talked about their beliefs are targeted. The political Left- you know, those people who allegedly want all opinions, religions, and lifestyles to be recognized and accepted*- singles them out, ridicules them for their beliefs, and then goes to trash them in a fine imitation of Brownshirt activity sans the actual brownshirts. Hypocrites.

I guess I'd be more open on the issue if the militant gays (GLAAD, George Takei, etc.) and their hate-spewing supporters (Madonna, hell, most of Hollywood, news and sports analysts, Channel Awesome, etc.) weren't basically everything they claim their opposition to be. (That is, intolerant creeps who want all opinions that don't match their own to be silenced and/or smothered.)
Rulings in favor of the militant gays over state laws in New Mexico and Oregon where justices used language that business owners must accept that they have given up certain rights in order to be allowed in American society ( I think the term "subjugated" was also used), or face the wrath of the government (I thought this was the USA), damn near turned me against gays forever. Fortunately, I calmed down after a while back to an undecided position.

So, long story short, the effect of the militant Left has been to make a potential opponent out of me on an issue of which I was a fence-sitter for quite a while.

*- this is a bold-faced lie

Rustbelt said...

P.S. Summoning the same courage he used in his younger years to pick the Chicago Bulls to win it all in 1997, and Team Canada to win Olympic hockey gold in Sochi last year, Obama has picked Kentucky to win the Tourney.

Later, when asked about a recent advance by ISIS, Obama responded, "Did they win a play-in? What state is their school in?"
Humoring the president, the journalist, identified as a Mr. Belt, said, "They beat out Charlie Hebdo and Northern Iraq U. to qualify."
The president chuckled and quipped, "ooh, sounds like we got a cinderella. All power to 'em. I may have to fix my brackets.

Anthony said...

No shirt, no shoes no service is very different than a blanket policy of not serving a class of people.

Gays would be the main targets at the moment, but not the only or the last targets nor would Christians be the only ones who went after those they objected to. It makes no sense to open that door.

A couple bakers having to stick two male plastic figures on cakes of people whose weddings they object to isn't ideal, but it's better than the alternative.

BevfromNYC said...

Rustbelt - that's really a hoot considering that ISIS took credit for the terrorist attack in Tunisia yesterday where 19 random people, mostly tourist were slaughtered. And by "hoot" I mean "what an asshat"...

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