Freedom of association

Pretty much everyone agrees that a private person be able to pick friends free from interference. I see a lively argument going about the right to give or refuse business free of interference as well. Let me postulate these hypothetical situations:

A person runs a business — retail or consulting or some other, doesn’t really matter — and feels that a particular customer is unwelcome. Should they be forced to serve that customer? The reluctance could be based on credit history, political disagreement, just a hunch that the customer will cause trouble. Yes or no?

If you say yes, the person should be forced to do business with everyone, would you still hold the same view if the customer is Lon Horiuchi? The Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan? Someone else that you and the proprietor both hold reprehensible?

Businesses already legally discriminate by age, even though that’s a characteristic over which people have no control. If discrimination by sex, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, plain personal dislike are all to be illegal, why should discrimination by age or citizenship or any other factor remain legal?

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20 Responses to Freedom of association

  1. Jim R says:

    A faculty many people don’t seem to possess these day: thinking about what if the shoe was on the other foot.

    Personally, I think that a business ought to be able to serve / refuse to serve whomever they want, whenever they want, for whatever reason that seems sensible to them. The market will decide if theirs is a prudent decision.

    • vince says:

      Yep, I agree – Refuse service to anyone. The recent suits of a photographer, a cake maker and a videographer were nuts and the courts were WRONG. It’s a private business – if it is not OWNED/Funded by the public, the government should stay out of it.

      It’s a risk – I also think the people refused have the right to post on Yelp or what ever social media they prefer that you refused them – that’s free speech. The are not free to make libeling statements. Two edged sword.

      In the cases of gay activists vs artists – the smart thing would be to LIE – sorry scheduling conflict – can’t help. But in a retail business – well be ready to take your lumps.

  2. Ray says:

    This government “forced equality” is like “gun control”. It has nothing at all to do with anything but CONTROL. It is about thought crime, forced belief ,forced conformity. It is a reeducation camp without the gulag. Y’all think that this (“gay rights”) is the goal? Just wait till the “inclusive” community wants to force you to be nice to NAMBLA.

  3. Erin Palette says:

    I honestly do not understand why anyone would eat a cake that someone was forced to bake, against their will, under threat of law. I would reasonably expect such a cake to be tasteless, made with the bare minimum of effort and material.

    Similarly with the photographer and videographer, I would expect the bare minimum of “I was there and took photos/turned the camera on.” No attention to composition, no having fun or engaging with the wedding party just *click click click okay done.*

    These people have already said they didn’t want your money. Why should they expend any effort on your behalf because you forced them to do what you wanted? I’d much rather spend my money on someone who wanted to be involved, because I could reasonably expect they would do a good job at it. Just seems like common sense to me…

  4. staghounds says:

    The examples you cite in your first paragraph are all, if honestly applied, perfectly lawful reasons to refuse service, because they all speak to the specific conduct of the person.

    Some of the ones in the third- political affiliation and plain personal dislike, age or sex in certain circumstances- are all legal bases to discriminate in service.

    Why are ethnicity, religion, race, and (soon) certain sexual orientations illegal bases?

    Because we the people decided it. In this case, that the benefits of allowing some of ourselves and our neighbours the right to put up “No People Like You Allowed” were less than living in a country where we and our fellow citizens had to walk past “No People Like You Allowed” signs.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Given that the choice religion is no less voluntary than political association or choice of employment, why should denying service to a TSA agent or a Republican or a Baptist be treated any differently?

      • divemedic says:

        Because we are nominally a Representative Republic, and the people (through their elected representatives) voted that way. This was a direct result of the “no coloreds allowed” signs that morphed into deed restrictions preventing blacks from being able to buy property in white neighborhoods, whites only seats on public transportation, whites only schools, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

        I once had the head of the Ku Klux Klan in my business (his name was Tom Robb), and I served him like I did any other customer, and although I find him and Horiuchi personally repugnant, I would do it again.

    • Dave says:

      Why are ethnicity, religion, race, and (soon) certain sexual orientations illegal bases?

      Because we the people decided it.
      Why were white people allowed to force black people to serve as farm implements for the first half of this country’s existence?

      Because we the people decided it.

      Why were women, black people, etc. not allowed to vote?

      Because we the people decided it.

      Why were black people required to sit at the back of the bus, use separate water fountains, etc.?

      Beware the tyranny of the majority; if you subject every decision to the political whims of 50% + 1, you may find yourself you really don’t want to be.

      • Oleg Volk says:

        Quite a few of the segregation methods were enforced by government edicts. I am not a fan of those at all. My question relates purely to private actions.

        • Dave says:

          I’m quite well aware that such things were the result of law; that was part of my point. First, that “the people decided it” is how rights become privileges, and second, that when “the people” decide, they take away the right of the individual to decide for himself.

  5. AnOregonian says:

    My first choice is free association, but since that ship has long since sailed and it’s not coming back, what I like to advocate for instead is that a public accommodation must serve ALL people who are there to peacefully engage in/conduct the business of that public accommodation.

  6. Paul Koning says:

    So who is a “public accommodation”? Oleg and others are right. It’s all about control, about forcing one group’s views onto all others, at the expense of those others.
    On the “other foot” comment: that is the approach I like to use whenever issues like this come up. It’s easy to use: simply replace each groupthink term by its opposite. For example, replace “black” by “white” (or vice versa); “man” by “woman”; “straight” by “gay”; “muslim” by “jewish”, etc. If the edited phrase seems just as good as the original, what you started with was probably ok. If you’re now cringing, that shows you should have cringed at the original, too.
    For example, imagine a club of Congressmen called the “Congressional White Caucus”. Or a lobbying group called the “National Organization of Men”.

    • divemedic says:

      Or entire neighborhoods filled with signs reading “No white males allowed,” or filled with businesses who won’t serve women who aren’t wearing a Burqa.

      • Paul Koning says:

        Oh, like can be found in various parts of Western Europe? Good examples, I’ll remember those.

  7. Jonathan says:

    I agree with the the “control” motive. Simply “the powers that be” attempting to force us all to get along and kumbaya because that’s how they want it.

    I firmly believe that a privately owned business can and should set it’s own practices. A private business should have the right to serve or not serve anyone they damn well please. The other side of that coin is, hey, my money is green and it spends anywhere! If I don’t like how you do things, I can go spend my cash with your competition.

    However, *IF* it’s my name on the door, and I’m the one paying for the business license, and I’m the one paying the taxes and dealing with all the other headaches that come with owning a business, YES I believe I should have the right to say “come on in” or “get lost” to whomever I feel like. My city passed a “smoking ban” I think is ridiculous, if for no other reason than I think it should be left to each business to decide *if* that’s something they want to prohibit. Government should have no say.

    The Arkansas woman who owns a gun store/range who has banned Muslims from her business? I’m totally ok with that. Her house, her rules.

    • Will says:

      If you go to her website, you will find her reasoning for the ban to be well thought out, for very practical purposes. Among other things, death threats were made prior to the ban.

  8. Simon says:

    If you have a local monopoly you should be obligated to take every customer that can pay. If you dont hold a monopoly you should be able to choose your customers, just as they can choose to whom they take their business.

    • Dave says:

      To this I would add that true monopolies are very, very rare, absent intervention from government to give them that status.

  9. jeff says:

    Bit late to this commentary…I’m just wondering why private business are allowed to discriminate against legal gun owners by placing “No Guns Allowed” signs on their doors. Isn’t that what the ‘left’ wants? Tolerance of others beliefs? Would be nice to see the NRA or ACLU (HAHAHAHAHA!) sue some of these places…

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