Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Opinion

March 13, 2014

Giving businesses choice is not legalizing discrimation

Athens — The bar owner was blunt. A couple of weeks ago, he announced that people of a certain persuasion would not be allowed into his establishment.

To demonstrate his seriousness, he had head shots printed of those who are not welcome to make sure that his security team would deny them entry.

“I want to send a message to all those people out there … we don’t want your kind here,” he said. “I’ve learned that I can’t stop crazy, ignorant or stupid, but I can stop it from coming through my doors.”

And to that, I say, no problem. More power to him. If he wants to pass up paying customers, that’s his business. It’s not like those whom he labels “your kind” don’t have anywhere else to get a drink.

Given today’s hyper-sensitivity about name-calling and bigotry, I expect some of you might think I’m endorsing discrimination against those who happen to be different. You also might think there would be a ferocious backlash in the community – perhaps even a lawsuit - demanding that any establishment open to the public should have to serve everyone, regardless of their persuasion. You know, tolerance, celebrating diversity and all that.

But you would be wrong. There has been no backlash, no threat of lawsuits. As you may have guessed, this is not a watering hole in Arizona. It is a gay bar – The Abbey Food & Bar – in West Hollywood, Calif. The people on founder David Cooley’s enemies list are state legislators who favor letting other businesses do exactly what the Abbey is doing – choose who they want to do business with.

Cooley isn’t just making a statement on his own, either. The Los Angeles CBS television affiliate reported that he is trying to get other area restaurants, hotels and retailers “that appreciate their LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) customers,” to impose similar bans.

Again, I say, more power to him. If his was the only bar in LA, then maybe there would be a case to require him to open his doors to everybody. But the city is awash in bars and booze. It’s just being pro-choice, and we’re all in favor of that, aren’t we?

Uh, well, there’s the problem. You are allowed to choose only if you make the politically correct choice. In today’s America, it’s OK for Cooley to follow his conscience in discriminating against certain people, but it's not OK for those who disagree with him to do so.

The Abbey also declares itself “The Best Gay Bar In The World,” with no community backlash. Imagine if another bar called itself “The Best Straight Bar In The World.” That would be considered exclusionary, thinly veiled hate speech.

Cooley’s move, of course, is in response to bills in states including Kansas, Arizona, Idaho and Ohio that would grant businesses the same freedom-of-conscience protection granted to individuals. In Arizona, the bill that has created such a firestorm, until it was recently vetoed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, would have amended the state’s 15-year-old Religious Freedom Restoration Act so that it would cover businesses.

That law was modeled on a similar federal law signed by noted gay hater and bigot Bill Clinton after large (and clearly hateful) bipartisan majorities supported it in both houses of Congress. The amendment would have allowed small businesses to decline work that violated their consciences, unless the government could show a compelling reason why their refusal was unreasonable or unjust.

That is a sensible way to treat matters of conscience. But you would have thought the proposal was a companion to Uganda’s recent law making homosexuality illegal. There were stories about it every night on network television news, declaring that it would grant carte blanche discrimination.

The National Football League threatened to change the location of next year’s Super Bowl, scheduled for the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Hispanic National Bar Association announced it would not hold its 40th Annual Convention, scheduled for September 2015, in Phoenix.

Multiple business leaders wrote frantic letters to Brewer, begging her to veto the bill so the state’s economy wouldn’t crash.

All because of a proposal that would allow every business owner the freedom to do what David Cooley is doing.

The same sort of dangerous absurdity is on display in Colorado, where a baker faces imprisonment because he declined to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, in a state where gay marriage isn’t even legal.

Obviously, Jack Phillips is not the only baker in Colorado. The couple could easily have gotten a cake from another vendor. Given the reach of today’s social media, they could have hurt Phillips economically by going on a site like Yelp and giving his bakery a scathing review. That’s the way the market is supposed to work.

But, instead, a judge has ordered Phillips to provide a service the couple could easily obtain elsewhere.

Understand, this is not institutional discrimination. It has no connection – none – to shameful acts like requiring blacks to ride in the back of municipal buses.

I recall, not long ago, when my gay and lesbian friends were arguing for “tolerance.” Now, the demand is for endorsement. Instead of gays being in the closet, those who disagree with them are being forced into the closet, lest they face economic damage or even prison.

Is that really what the gay rights movement wants to be about?

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Wilson mug.JPG Rolling into something new

    She did it.
    My baby girl rolled over for the first time this past week while daddy and mommy were watching closely.
    As other major news broke across the county, watching my baby roll over for the first time was by far the biggest news of the week for me. Odd.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joe new mug.jpg Fanfare is a time to prepare for another season

    I love to see the talent our student athletes have across Henderson County. To know that each player puts in the blood, sweat and tears to play for a district championship and hopefully a state title is something special to see.
    Another great in the world of sports is a player who is retiring this season in New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
    Jeter once said, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do — and I believe that.”

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • kathi New  copy.jpeg The greatest country in the world has hungry children

    No child should go hungry. We are the greatest country in the world, yet we have hungry children.
    An article I recently read said that if a child in school can't afford lunch, they will be given a sandwich and water. I was told the sandwich is cheese between two pieces of bread.
    I hope everyone realizes that is what they serve in the county jail. Not that I know this from personal experience. I was told from someone who did know from experience.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase

    Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
    Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze.
    It means no worries for the rest of your days.
    It's our problem-free philosophy.
    Hakuna Matata!
    Congratulations, if you have watched the Lion King a couple of times you now have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg It was a week in the depth of heat, then cooler

    Sunday and Monday of this week have been very uncomfortable.  The air conditioner at our house has been down, and the temperature outside and in the house have been way up.
    Thank God for the blessing of the cool temperatures and the rain that fell on Tuesday, then on Wednesday.  It changed things just a little bit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Time away is necessary for everyone

    I can remember as a kid writing essays on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” As the years pass, and we are more in-tune with the workplace, those vacations get shorter and shorter.
    Do you ever have those days  when you just need a vacation? Sometimes you just need to get away.
    Taking time off work should be fun and rejuvenating. We all need a recharge every now and then. But vacations aren't what they use to be. We rarely disconnect ourselves from our jobs.

    July 12, 2014

  • Joe new mug.jpg Student athletes: Time to wake up and get to work

    Hey student athletes, it is about time for you to wake up and get to work.
    Your summer is coming to an end, and the early morning wake up calls for practices are right around the corner.
    I am talking to the football players, volleyball players, cross country kids, band members, drill team members and cheerleaders.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Remember who you are

    Are you running so fast that you have forgotten why you started the race in the first place?
    Life moving at a blistering pace that it is tough to keep up?
    Maybe it is time to stop, take a deep look into the pool of water and remember. Remember who you are.
    On numerous occasions, I have had to do just that. Ironically, various movies have caused me to look inside.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg CSUMC provided a memorable experience

    My wife Jean and I went to a very interesting, and what I consider a very unique event last Saturday night.
    I had heard that the church where we are members, Carroll Springs United Methodist Church, was having an event in which people sitting in the audience would sing their favorite hymns into a microphone.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich mug.jpg Independence ultimately won on battlefield

    I always enjoy celebrating Independence Day, and hearing some of the stirring words written in the Declaration of Independence.
    Thomas Jefferson wrote that our Creator has given us certain rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The way I see it, if I have life and liberty, that gives me a pretty good start on the third one.
    But as eloquent as our founding fathers were, and how moving the texts they left behind, one fact can’t be overlooked. Our independence was ultimately won and secured on the battlefield.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA