Thursday, February 24, 2011

Soldiers and Dogs, Stay Off The Grass

I don't know if such signs ever existed, but I heard stories about such signs when I was young. In the late- and post-Vietnam era, when respect for soldiers was at an ebb, it was said that there were such signs in public places.

I first read this story last night and cheered for the restaurant owner:

Fed up with what he views as crappy treatment from the TSA, the owner of a restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has decided to put all TSA agents on his No-Eat List.

"We have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren't allowed to come into our business," one employee tells travel journalist Christopher Elliott. "We have the right to refuse service to anyone."

She says that whenever a TSA agent attempts to dine at the restaurant, "we turn our backs and completely ignore them, and tell them to leave... Their kind aren't welcomed in our establishment."

Before we go any further, yes, it is legal. TSA workers are not a protected class like racial minorities and the handicapped are, so it's entirely legal to discriminate against them. We've all seen those signs in restaurants--"we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"--and those signs are there exactly for cases like this.

And readers of this blog know of the complete and total contempt I have for the TSA as an organization and for the people who work there. In my view, what they do is sick, it's ineffective, it's a waste of money, and it's un-American.

So when I first read the linked story, I cheered at one person's ability to strike a blow, however small, against the cretins--and make no mistake, I do believe they're cretins.

This morning, though, I'm having second thoughts about my cheering. I've written before that I don't think every single thing needs to be made into a political issue; while TSA-hatred isn't political in a partisan sense, the concept is the same--we don't really need to broadcast our beliefs every instant of the day, nor to act on every single one of them. At some point there's got to be a "go along to get along" philosophy or else society itself falls apart.

Yes, there are lines I wouldn't cross. Unlike the NEA, I wouldn't allow the local communists to meet in my cafeteria for their meetings. But there's a huge difference between communists and TSA agents. TSA agents are, at worst, losers doing a crappy job, but they're not trying to get rid of capitalism and democracy. Somewhere between TSA agents and communists is where *I* would draw the line.

I don't really want to live in a society wherein I'd have to wonder if "my kind" is allowed in a certain establishment, or where I'd have to do my homework to determine if the owners of the establishments I frequent support "my kinds" of causes. Everybody's money is green, and I'd think businesses wouldn't want to turn off entire segments of the customer population by openly espousing certain political philosophies and catering only to those who hold those philosophies. As Michael Jordan once supposedly said when asked why he didn't support a certain Democratic candidate, "Republicans buy shoes, too."

So if the issue is big and important enough, if you'd feel like a hypocrite if you served a certain type of person or did business with a certain company, then I guess you've gotta do what you've gotta do and stand by your principles. But if your principles dictate that you can only do business with people who think like you do, I'd suggest that you'd need a very strong business plan. After all, what's next--"no Democrats served here"? "Republicans not welcome"? I certainly don't agree with the Wisconsin teachers, but if I had a hotdog cart I'd sell them hotdogs at lunchtime.

The priority for any business is to make money for its owners. In fact, I'd assert that that's the only function of a business. And everybody's money is green.

I'll still write about the TSA. I'll still slam them every opportunity I get. I'll still hope that entire operation goes away. And I will not cut the workers any "they're just doing their job" slack when it comes to "just doing their job".

But I don't really want to see any "soldiers and dogs, stay off the grass" signs.

(And yes, I know the restaurant story may be a hoax. That doesn't change my sentiment.)

1 comment:

Peter Reilly said...

I was in Junior ROTC in the sixties and I remember a sergeant telling us about signs like that being around pre World War II. I think it may have been more of a social class thing.