When discrimination is acceptable…
Oh, the tolerance of the Left…
Late yesterday evening, a Knoxville restaurant cryptically suggested that it denied service to conservative State Senator Stacey Campfield, allegedly for remarks he’s made about the gay community and his fervent opposition to LGBT rights in the Legislature.
In a Facebook status update, the Bistro at the Bijou posted, “I hope that Stacy Campfield now knows what if feels like to be unfairly discrimanted against.” (At the time of this publication, their post had nearly 400 “likes” and more than 80 comments.)
The general consensus from the liberal commentariat in Tennessee (and now nationally) is that an establishment should be allowed to deny service to a customer based on the owner’s opinion of that customer.
Right. A business should be allowed to choose whom it serves. This is their argument. This is the very definition of discrimination, “the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category.” Toss Stacey into the group of conservative legislators, or high profile individuals who oppose LGBT rights in Tennessee, or Gingers. This definition applies.
As a libertarian, I agree with their sentiment – that a private business ought to be allowed to enter into business with whomever they chose, and by extension, deny service to those individuals they do not want to serve. It doesn’t make financial sense; a restaurant ought to want to maximize its profits and serve the most number of customers it can. A dollar from a Ginger, or a black guy, or a Jewish person, or a gay person, or whomever spends the same as a dollar from anyone else. But if the issue is property rights (and whom a property owner may serve in their establishment), then people should be allowed to exercise their principles.
But as you may recall, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul got into some trouble on the campaign trail in 2010 for expressing a very similar sentiment.
Rand Paul, in typical philosophical-libertarian-unconcerned-with-electoral-politics style, expressed his dissatisfaction with the Clause in the Civil Rights Act which forced businesses to serve customers of any race or ethnicity. Now, you might imagine that passing a law simultaneously changes hearts and minds, but it doesn’t. In fact, the Civil Rights Act did little to eliminate racist sentiments toward black Americans. I digress…
The same crowd who believes a restaurant in Knoxville should be allowed to deny service to Campfield expressed collective outrage over Paul’s comments. Rachel Maddow hosted Paul and later blogged about the discussion.
In the wake of Rand Paul’s Civil Rights-gate, John Stossel came to his defense – and by extension, the defense of those who support Bistro’s decision in Knoxville.
Stossel argues in favor of “freedom of association” and asserts that we discriminate every single day; when we’re choosing our foods, or our friends, or the hundreds of other choices we make. (On a side note, I want to strangle Megyn Kelly in this Stossel interview. She’s really grasping at straws.)
The problem with the incident in Knoxville and the subsequent public response is that it’s motivated by disdain for an individual and his beliefs. The manager who tossed Campfield out and the people who have applauded her aren’t standing on some libertarian, free association principle. They’re doing so because they don’t like Stacey.
What’s the difference, then, between refusing service to a man because you don’t like his ideas and refusing service to a man because you don’t like his skin color? Both decisions are based on a disdain for an individual.
What’s to stop the owner of Bistro from posting a sign saying “We don’t serve Gingers” or “No Republicans Allowed” or whatever?
The Tennessee Left (what little that actually exists) collectively cheers every time Campfield makes headlines for something silly. Their reaction this time is no different. It’s a personal vendetta they hold against him.
What do you think? Is it inconsistent of the Left to applaud denying service to a man with whom they disagree? Is it personal or philosophical? Leave a comment below.