Freedom for everyone or freedom for no one
10 July 2018
In 2009, a New Jersey bakery refused to bake a cake for Heath and Deborah Campbell. The married couple were celebrating their son’s third birthday and wanted a cake decorated with his name, an addition that the bakery objected to based on moral grounds. Sound familiar to you?
Businesses discriminating against customers is nothing new. We saw it with the Greensboro sit-ins, and now we’re seeing it with wedding goods and gay couples.
But there is a big difference between the Campbell case, the Greensboro sit-ins, and what has been going on with the Masterpiece Cakeshop and businesses like it.
Heath and Deborah Campbell are neo-Nazis who named their son Adolf Hitler. The Greensboro sit-ins succeeded based on economic pressure rather than litigation. And business owners like Jack Phillips of the Masterpiece Cakeshop are well within their right to free speech.
So think about it: a law that would make people surrender their beliefs when in business. It would force the religious to violate their conscience and force the sane to feed a family of neo-Nazis.
Nazism is a political ideology as much as being gay is a sexuality. If a business doesn’t want to serve someone, why should we force them? A devout Christian doesn’t want to bake a cake for a gay couple as much as you and I wouldn’t want to serve Heath and Deborah Campbell.
If we are to preserve liberty, we must allow businesses, including those of public accommodation, to retain the right to refuse service.
The government must not be allowed to step in and force you (under the threat of fines) to provide goods and services to people whom you hold a bias against, regardless of whether or not your views are largely agreed upon.
By trying to enforce anti-discrimination, we have inadvertently created a situation where business owners are unable to exercise their own morality in regard to who they feel comfortable serving. This is about the freedom of private businesses to live or die by their own values.
A situation in Oregon saw a business driven to closure after a barrage of angry online reviewers and boycott campaigns. But for some reason that wasn’t enough, and the state government stepped in to deliver a $135,000 fine. Market forces and public opinion were already taking effect without any intervention.
Dozens of nations are currently in favour of same-sex marriage, nations that are leaders in the global order, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, etc. Western societies are already leaning towards a particular side.
In the age of Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, and Instagram, there is no need for any government to use overbearing power to denounce a potentially discriminatory business.
Anyone on the wrong side of history will fade soon enough, and any business that sees in colours other than green will invariably be subject to criticism and public withdrawal.
A business owner does not have to serve everyone, and a homeowner does not have to invite everyone to the Christmas party. Such laws against this idea are limiting your freedom. A bar should be able to hold a ‘Ladies Night,’ and a movie theatre should be able to have a women-only screening of Wonder Woman.
Financial support and the provision of goods is a form of speech. Jack Phillips does not want to violate his Christian beliefs by using his talents to support a gay wedding. If you were asked to cater for a meeting of KKK members, you would refuse, right? Food is not an open declaration of support, but the provision of it can reflect on your own views, especially if you choose to abstain like Phillips did.
Ever heard of the phrase, ‘vote with your wallet?’ Well, that’s predicated on the idea that money means something.
Business owner: I don’t want to violate my beliefs, so I may have to deny service to certain groups of people.
Customer: I don’t want to support a business, and by denying them my money, I hope they will change.
Free speech is free speech. We have gone overboard in trying to protect minorities who are already backed by overwhelming public opinion. Money will persuade most, but for those who remain staunch in their beliefs, we cannot force them to change.
A bakery won’t serve you a wedding cake? Tell your friends, write a review, buy from a competing business. But please don’t impede on everyone else’s freedom just because you couldn’t go across the street to a different bakery.