Monday, July 08, 2013

Personal Views and Public Accommodation

This post, which I copy in its entirety, highlights a situation that can pull me in two different directions:
The Ugliness of Reverse Animus

by Stephen H. Miller on July 6, 2013

The 68-year-old proprietress of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, is the target of a lawsuit by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson because she refused to provide wedding flowers for a customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.

According to CNN’s Belief Blog, Barronelle Stutzman, an evangelical, “said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids. ‘I was not discriminating at all,’ she said. ‘I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.’”

Not surprisingly, “Among conservative Christians, Stutzman has become a byword—part cautionary tale and part cause celebre.”

Must progressivism decree that the power of the state be so absolute that there be no exemption from its dictate for religious conviction, not to speak of individual liberty? Apparently so, given Obamacare’s model of requiring private business owners to pay for their employees contraception, including abortifacient drugs, despite their religious convictions. In both cases, the state is not stopping one party from harming another; its forcing what it sees as positive behavior upon those who have a different view.

The pagans persecuted the Christians, and then the Christians came to power and persecuted the pagans. Similarly, there’s more here of animus against those who deviate from the one-true correct political line than anything else. It’s not only mean and vulgar, it’s politically counterproductive. But I’m sure using the power of the state to crush those who don’t toe the line makes those who can now persecute feel smugly empowered.
Of course I agree with the last two paragraphs, but that's not what I want to focus on.  I want to focus on telling people you don't want their business.

Yes, we have free speech and religious rights, and I defend them quite vigorously on this blog.  As an entrepreneur, though, you're engaged as part of society in commerce, and we as a society are not going to allow such apartheid.  We're not going back to "no coloreds allowed" businesses.  We're just not.

I will support the pharmacist who doesn't want to sell RU-486 in his personal pharmacy; no one should be compelled to sell anything they don't want to sell in their own business.  However, business owners cannot turn customers away in our society; they cannot refuse to sell to certain people.  To the florist above:  you're not supporting gay marriage, you're selling flowers.  Would you refuse to sell flowers to someone of a different religion, or a different political party?  As a society we've decided that you cannot.  And I'm OK with that decision.


mmazenko said...

Well said, D. I couldn't agree more.

Rhymes With Right said...

If we as a society have, in fact, decided that business people cannot conduct their business according to their religious beliefs, then we as society are dead wrong.

And before you start quoting various non=-discrimination laws at me, let me say it clearly -- the only place you have a moral right to demand non-discrimination from is a government office or agency.

Darren said...

Then we're dead wrong. Commerce is legitimately *regulated* by the state, and in this field we as a society have said that you cannot refuse customers because of certain attributes. We will not go back to "no coloreds allowed".

Anonymous said...

One more nail in the coffin of Western Civilization.

"A republic, madame, if you can keep it."

Anonymous said...

So we 'will not go back to "no coloreds allowed"' but we will go forward to 'no Christians allowed'?

I'm sure most of our lords and masters see this as an improvement. Most of the rest of us probably don't.

Not that our opinion matters anymore.

neko said...

I think a business owner has every right to refuse service to whomever they want -- but they will also have to live with the consequences of refusing that service. If other people refuse to patronize her business because of her refusal to serve someone, then that may affect her bottom line. Let the free market punish her, not the government.

Rhymes With Right said...

And given the situation in 1964, the non-discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act were correct -- because the discrimination was required by government in most instances. That was properly remedied.

However, at what point do business owners have the right to make business decisions that are nonsensical and harmful to their business? At what point does society have an obligation -- to the business owner and to consumers who would not wish to do business with someone with beliefs/policies they find immoral -- to allow them to implement such policies of their own free will?

For example, a couple of years back the guys at Gay Patriot highlighted an LA gay bar that had (gay) male exotic dancers on a certain night -- and the problems caused by groups of straight women on a "girls night out" or bachelorette outing clogging the club. Why shouldn't the bar be able to say "no straights" or "no women" in order to preserve the nature of its business and its mission to serve the gay community? Why shouldn't a black printer be able to say he will not print White Pride material submitted by the local KKK or Nazi Party leader?

Do I approve of discrimination? In most instances I would have to say no. If I found out that the local flower shop or other business were discriminating, I would almost certainly stop doing business with them. But you know -- if some local printer wants to refuse to print up leaflets for Westboro Baptist Church because of their repugnant beliefs, I don't feel the government should come in and force them to do the job or subject them to legal sanctions for religious discrimination afterwards.

Luke said...

Sorry Darren, have to disagree here. Agree with the florist or not, its HIS business, not society's. This nation was built on the notion of private property. A business is the owner's property to do what he wants to with.

Here's a scenario for you. You decide to offer up your services as a math tutor. Would you allow that state to dictate how much you must charge or a maximum charge? How about who you must provide services to? Your labor is YOUR property and no one else's.

Darren said...

Government can legitimately regulate commerce. Whether they *should* regulate commerce in a specific way, that's up for debate, but I'm willing to say that businesses can't discriminate.

If I'm a tutor, I can't say, "You're an ugly non-white Democrat and I'm not going to tutor you." That's not good for society. And since government can *legitimately* regulate commerce, I'm OK with it regulating commerce in this particular manner.

Luke said...

Do we really want the government deciding what's "good for society"?

EVERY person in the entire world discriminates EVERYDAY. We make decisions on WHO to associate with everyday. Do business owners loose their right to freely associate with who they want to? Where does it stop?

I do agree that the government does have a role in regulating HIRING practices, but dictating that a business MUST do business with a certain group? Will you be just as firm when the Aryan Nation sues BET to make sure that their commercial gets aired?

mmazenko said...

Exactly, D. Discrimination in commerce is simply unacceptable. And Anon's comments on "No Xtians allowed" is completely detached from reality. I am baffled by people who disagree with you on this.

Darren said...

I don't want our society practicing apartheid.

mmazenko said...

I don't know how to say this without sounding condescending, D., but your rational presentation and argument here really separates you from the craziness on the right. I'm impressed.

Darren said...

You failed.

But that's OK, over on the George Zimmerman post you come across as a crazed racist and I'm sure I come across as some KKK guy--oh wait, they were Democrats. Never mind.

mmazenko said...


I'm still impressed, and you can't really think it's racist to identify a man's race. Race isn't an issue, except if Zimmerman profiled Martin - and I don't think he did. But to claim it's racist is to imply that they only reason Zimmerman is on trial is b/c of his race. That makes no sense to me. But maybe I misunderstand your point.

Anyway, nice couple of postings. You always generate the discussions.

Luke said...

So a belief in the sanctity of private property, a founding principle of this country, represents craziness? Wow, just wow.

Does anybody actually believe that a business that refused service to people based on color or religion would actually survive today? Public opinion would most likely cause the business to go out of business through lack of patronage. THAT is how the market works.

mmazenko said...

Not private property. Public business.

neko said...

"I don't know how to say this without sounding condescending..."

It's never stopped you before... ^_^

C T said...

I disagree strongly with you. Flower arrangements are a creative effort, not just goods like a reception hall, tables, chairs, or sound equipment. A florist/photographer/cake decorator should have the freedom to refuse to provide their artistic skills to celebrate something they find immoral.
The florist would have been happy to provide flowers to her homosexual client for a birthday party, a work party, etc. She wasn't discriminating against him on the basis of his sexual orientation; her discrimination was against an event she considers immoral, not a person.
Can you think of nothing legal, yet objectionable to you personally, that you would want to refuse to provide your personal, professional services for? And are you OK with taxes being used to force you to provide those services anyway if the person wanting to buy them claims you are discriminating against him/her?

Darren said...

Taxes are not *commerce* so your point isn't applicable here. As for "professional services", that's an interesting point--no, I don't think a lawyer should be required to take every case, but if they are, sometimes they want pay up front and that could solve their problem! In this case, though, I can't see the balkanization/ghettoization of our commerce on "personal freedom" grounds. Could you really imagine living in a society wherein you'd have to plan where you could, and couldn't, go to shop? Is that the type of society you want to live in?

C T said...

I'm talking specifically about artists having to provide services in connection with an event they find immoral. They do not refuse the services on the basis of gender orientation. This florist had been selling flowers for a long time to the complainant.
Allowing people to have the option of turning down contracts to service a specific event will not lead to balkanization (separation into groups is an natural part of being human, so I don't understand your placing such importance on preventing it). But not allowing it will limit freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. I'm surprised, in light of your attitudes on unions and some other issues, to see you coming down against the Bill of Rights in favor of a hazy concern about balkanization.

Luke said...

Its HIS labor to provide, that makes it private property, or does just the act of hanging your shingle make your labor public property?

Darren said...

CT, to say I'm coming down against the Bill of Rights is not just patently wrong, it's offensive. Just because I disagree with you, that doesn't mean you get to read new rights into the Bill of Rights. Save that kind of crap for the lefties. If you can show me in the Bill of Rights wherein you have a God-given right to discriminate against people in your business, I'll accept that. Otherwise I await your apology.

C T said...

Darren, I think you misunderstand the case at hand and are unduly taking offense at rational, legal arguments.
The florist had clearly been providing flowers to this man for a very long time. She objected to the specific event on moral grounds. Forcing her to celebrate it with them just because she runs a business violates her freedom of religion and her freedom of association (already "read into" the Bill of Rights by the Supreme Court long ago in NAACP v. Alabama). I'm not making up new rights. Freedom of expression is used nearly interchangeably with freedom of speech. Freedom of religion is in the 1st Amendment. I'm applying our constitutional law and pointing out how forcing this woman to provide flower arrangements in this case conflicts with established constitutional rights.
Our Bill of Rights says nothing about God. I can not show you any "God-given right" within it. If you choose to be offended at a discussion of constitutional law, I am disappointed, but I have nothing to apologize for.

Darren said...

CT, to say that I, *of all people*, "am coming down against the Bill of Rights" is insulting and asinine. It's no less so just because you refuse to accept it.

Bikerdad said...


To say that you are "coming down against the Bill of Rights" is very likely insulting to you. It likely stings even more because you know, deep down, that it's a true statement.

The BoR clearly includes freedom of association. It does so without the inclusion of the clause "except for commercial activities". Furthermore, for someone to invoke civil rights as the reason that Party X can compel Party Y to work for Party X is positively Orwellian. (The fact that Party Y may be paid does not alter the compulsion.)

There is an amendment to the Constitution that forbids such arrangements.

How long will you persist in denying that you are defending violating two elements of the 1st Amendment, as well as the 13th Amendment, and arguably the 14th.

Darren said...

Good job being an amateur psychologist and amateur constitutional lawyer, because your views are just that--amateur.

Nobody's "freedom of association" is being abridged; these people are free to associate with whomever they wish. If they want to engage in commerce, though, they must engage with everyone on an equal basis. To believe your idiocy is to say that the 2nd Amendment is abridged every time sales tax is charged on a firearm or the 1st Amendment is being abridged when news companies have to pay corporate income tax--and let's be honest, that's a *stupid* argument.

You know what's even a stupider argument? Saying there's a "freedom of association" in the 1st Amendment. Perhaps you should read the Constitution again--and this time, read what it actually says and not what you think it says or what you want it to say.

So, Bikerdad,your statements are not only childish and ignorant but *factually wrong*.