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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.

16 comments

1 cyndietodd { 01.30.12 at 9:45 am }

I’d say he got off easy. I spent many years in the restaurant business in my younger days and you don’t even want to know what some of the waitstaff will do to your food if they don’t like you.

2 cbpooh { 01.30.12 at 10:14 am }

There is a huge difference between refusing service to a man because of the color of his skin and refusing service to a man because of his ideas. The color of a man’s skin reveals nothing about the content of his character. The color of a man’s skin injures no one. In contrast, Mr Campfield’s beliefs negatively affect an entire group of people through his proposed policies. It’s his beliefs that continue to deny these same people of some of their basic human rights. Therefore, his proposals and his rhetoric reveal in stark detail the content of his character.

It should also be said that federal law outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in places of public accommodation. The vast majority of the American public can understand why the Congress didn’t include “political ideals” in that list. It’s only the nutty libertarians and overt racists who haven’t been able to figure it out.

3 Sen. Stacey Campfield denied service at a local restaurant? | No Silence Here { 01.30.12 at 10:14 am }

[...] II: Matther Hurtt:  The Tennessee Left (what little that actually exists) collectively cheers every time Campfield [...]

4 Sandra Garrett { 01.30.12 at 10:27 am }

“Is it inconsistent of the Left to applaud denying service to a man with whom they disagree? Is it personal or philosophical? ”

You don’t seem to understand. Ms. Boggs was simply pointing out the Mr. Campfield, in a very simple way, what it felt like to be discriminated against. Unfortunately, Mr. Campfield has an especial talent, and is helped by people who refuse to look at the issue properly, for turning himself into a victim when his ignorance is handed back to him – in this case on an empty dinner plate, if you will.

Very simply, Ms. Boggs is suggesting that there IS no reason to refuse service to Mr. Campfield, outside of simply having the right to do so. This is, in essence, what Mr. Campfield wishes to do to an entire group of people; to refuse the service of government to the LGBT community by denying them the protection of their civil liberties as appointed to them (and us all) under the constitution. (Funny that a libertarian should have missed that fine point.)

5 Matthew { 01.30.12 at 10:30 am }

Sandra –

The point was not lost on me. I do not agree with Campfield’s stance on LGBT rights; however, does it make sense to perpetuate a wrong in an attempt to correct a wrong?

6 cbpooh { 01.30.12 at 10:55 am }

Wait Matthew, do you think that it’s wrong to discriminate in places of public accommodation or not? You seem to be defending Rand Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act and that it should be hunky dory for these businesses to choose who they serve and who they don’t.

The bottom line is that Ms. Boggs refusing service to Mr Campfield doesn’t even remotely resemble the segregated lunch counters of Jim Crow Alabama in the 50s. Any clear thinking, moral individual can see the difference. Demonizing and dehumanizing people because of the color of their skin is not the same as refusing to serve someone who is actively discriminating and hurting an entire group of people.

7 Matthew { 01.30.12 at 10:57 am }

Pulled directly from the blog post:

“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.”

8 David Garrett { 01.30.12 at 11:46 am }

I agree with cyndietodd. The movie Waiting is on right now.

9 roberto { 01.30.12 at 11:47 am }

If she kicked out the grand wizard of the Klan would anyone argue with it? Or the leader of the local ne0-nazis?
She did NOT kick him out of the cafe for his politics or his political affiliation or anything like that.
She kicked him out for being a hateful bigot. Plain and simple. (Or as MLK Jr once phrased: “by the content of one’s character”. Of which, this man had zip.)

10 cbpooh { 01.30.12 at 11:50 am }

So the only consideration to be made when determining who you will serve in your restaurant is how much is to be made from them? This puts the moral vacuity of this Randian style libertarianism in stark relief. The fact of the matter is, those segregated Woolworth’s lunch counters WERE in the financial interests of the owners at the time. Large segments of the white population refused to dine with African Americans so they were simply serving their economic interests. In your moral world, those “property rights” of maximizing profits are enough to excuse their behavior, regardless of the dehumanizing effect it might have on an entire segment of the population.

But I still have to take issue with your previous post. You seemed to say that Ms Boggs perpetuated a wrong by refusing Mr. Campfield service. Is that simply because she could have had his $15.35 for lunch and didn’t? Or was her denial of service due to some other “wrong”?

11 Chris Cotter { 01.30.12 at 1:18 pm }

cbpooh:

“Wait Matthew, do you think that it’s wrong to discriminate in places of public accommodation or not? You seem to be defending Rand Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act and that it should be hunky dory for these businesses to choose who they serve and who they don’t.”

The whole point of this type of discussion is the fact that just because something is morally wrong doesn’t mean that it should be illegal. People should have the right to use their own property to do and say morally despicable things, so long as they don’t trample others’ rights. You act as if its contradictory to hold that discrimination is wrong and also that Rand Paul was right, when the fact is, both are true.

“So the only consideration to be made when determining who you will serve in your restaurant is how much is to be made from them? This puts the moral vacuity of this Randian style libertarianism in stark relief.”

Have you ever actually picked up a Rand novel? The main protagonist of the Fountainhead turns down an immensely lucrative job designing a bank because he would have to compromise on his moral principles to do so, and the character who actually would do anything that sells is the main antagonist, Peter Keating, who ends up a broken shell of a man by the end. Just because calling this anything-for-a-buck sentiment “Randian” is popular doesn’t make it true.

In any case, you’re right that discriminating based on political beliefs is morally justifiable, if those political beliefs are horrible, while discriminating based on race is not. However, the law should allow property owners to make that distinction, rather than making it for them.

12 cbpooh { 01.30.12 at 2:50 pm }

I have indeed read the Fountainhead. The theme is selfish interest. Roark’s selfish interest is that his vision is preserved. When he builds a building for another man who decides to change it, he throws a fit and blows it up. This selfishness manifests itself in this discussion in Matthew’s statement about how one man’s buck is just as good as any others. I pointed out that in the South in the 50s, it was indeed in that selfish interest to deny service to blacks. What society came to understand that it simply could not be left up to private businesses i n the South to come to the correct conclusion that excluding people from your establishment because they were of a different skin color was wrong. We realized that trying to live in a community where you had to walk past 10 restaurants with signs that say “No Blacks” to get to one that would accept you, we weren’t living in a free society at all. The balance of the dehumanizing and segregating effects it had on the black population versus the property rights of the proprietors of the businesses clearly favored the interests of blacks not being 2nd class citizens. Libertarians would do well to see the massive expansion of liberty for blacks in society and reject the idea that land owners should be able to just do whatever they wish regardless of whom they discriminate against.

13 Dave2 { 01.30.12 at 5:07 pm }

Liberals agree with the Civil Rights Act that it’s legitimate for public accommodations to discriminate by political beliefs, but not to discriminate by race, sex, etc. There’s nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about that. In any case, shopowners who kick out known Stalinists are certainly more likeable than shopowners who kick out blacks or gays.

14 Matt { 01.30.12 at 6:26 pm }

The stuff that Stacy Campfield said about AIDS is not a difference of opinion, and the owner said that his comments about AIDS was part of the reason that she kicked him out. Here are the comments I speak of.

“Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community — it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.”

“My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex…very rarely [transmitted].”

“What’s the average lifespan of a homosexual? it’s very short. Google it yourself.”

1. The “screwing a money” thing has NO basis in reality, it’s a blatant lie and attempted smear to equate gays with bestiality. It is simply irresponsible as an elected official to spread unsubstantiated lies like this

2. The airline pilot is Gaeton Dugas who was shown to be connected to a few early AIDS cases in the US. He didn’t bring AIDS from Africa, he was not “patient zero,” and he was not the first AIDS case in the US. This stuff was disproved in like 1983.
3. It is apparently “virtually impossible” to get AIDS from heterosexual contact, aside from those 20+ million heterosexual Africans who are dead from AIDS among numerous others.
4. The lifespan comments are from a study done by Paul Cameron who was discredited LONG ago.

15 jasonjohn { 01.30.12 at 6:59 pm }

BOOHOO!

Campfield gets booted out of a Restaurant for his actions, yes ACTIONS, as a state senator and all of the sudden the Left is just as bad as the Right.

Yes, hmm, the Left invented Lynching, Jim Crow, and the Virginia Slave Codes, yes, hmm, hmm, just as bad.

No wonder you’re a libertarian.

16 Chris { 04.26.12 at 3:13 pm }

The liberal attack on the freedom of association is only getting worse. I remember a case from a year or two ago where a woman posted an ad on a bulletin board at her church saying that she was looking for a Christian roommate. It turned out that she violated housing laws that prohibit “discrimination” based on religion…even if it is a cohabitant.

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