Many of my readers already know what I’m about to say, or can garner the idea from the headline alone.
After spending some time chatting on Twitter — an excellent place for cool, rational, civil discourse — it’s become clear to me that the majority of people are split between either promoting religious freedom, or promoting what they believe to be “civil rights” but are in effect forcing labor based on a specific group’s whims.
Either way, hardly anyone has considered the third point, and that’s to truly equal the playing field by taking government out of the decision altogether.
It’s my admittedly unpopular belief that a private business does not have to serve anyone it doesn’t want to. Should a store owner not wish to serve anyone, it should be his or her right to deny that service for any reason that person can possibly think of.
Let me say up front that I realize this leads to uncomfortable situations where race, religion, or sexuality will become a factor for denial of service, but the market has always been a better and fairer punisher than the government.
Let’s say a white chef refuses to cook a meal for a black couple who had come into his restaurant. It’s insulting, it’s racist, and it’s heinous. This is true. However, that couple could then take their money elsewhere, and give it to a chef willing to cook for them. Aside from their money, they could also take their story with them, and tell everyone who will listen that the chef at the first restaurant is a hateful racist.
The restaurant owned by the racist chef will now have a smaller customer base, and over time, may be forced to shut down because he refused customers based on their skin tone and the fact that many people would prefer not to give their money to a hateful, bigoted individual who draws conclusions about people based on their melanin levels.
It would be an odd punishment for the racist chef to be forced to take the money and be benefited by it in exchange for a service he doesn’t want to provide, and the black couple who doesn’t want to have any relationship with in the first place.
And this scenario can be applied to almost any group. Be it a black business owner who doesn’t want to serve white people, or a gay business owner who doesn’t want to serve Christians.
Now, to be clear, I do not believe that this should apply to government services or services with which the life of the person needing the service hangs in the balance. No one should be left to die because of the color of their skin, or their choice of sexual partner. The government should not get to decide who gets a driver’s license based on superficial reasons. It’s also my personal opinion that the government should not get to decide who gets to marry who.
In fact, it’s my firm belief that the government should get out of most everything that involves a person’s personal life, but I digress.
The problem with this Colorado baker story is that this goes beyond someone practicing religious freedom, or someone being forced to serve everyone equally whether he likes it or not. This, at its core, is forcing someone to utilize his private property to do work he doesn’t want to do by the government. This is tyrannical at its heart.
Just as a gay baker shouldn’t be forced to bake anti-LGBT products or an atheist producer shouldn’t be forced into creating pro-Christian programming, a Christian should not be forced to create products that work directly against his or her belief systems. The same goes for Muslims or any other religion.
Yes, this kind of pure market solution will cause inconveniences, heartbreak, and anger. However, these are the things that drive market choices. If a business repeatedly fails to deliver good service to me, I cease going to that place. I tell my friends about it. I’ll tweet about it for the world to see.
From there, those who heard my story will decide whether or not they want to take a chance on that business. The business may notice their business losing customers due to their service and either reform or crash. The last thing we want to do is reward poor service — and your definition of “poor service” may vary — with cash we’ve forced the business owner to take.
Live, and let live is the solution here.