Services and Discrimination

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Saito Hajime

Original poster
I want it to be absolutely understood that the views I am about to write about are not my own.

Someone I know raised the idea that if someone does not wish to provide a service to someone that desires them to create something against their personal beliefs, they should not be forced to do so. The case in point is the Northern Irish baker who was sued over their refusal to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

The person argued that in theory, this means that you can also sue if someone refuses to make a Nazi cake, or a sexist cake or whatever else. Thus, people should be allowed to refuse to make anything that conflicts with their personal beliefs, including anything that supports the idea of gay marriage or homosexuality in general.

So, reminding everyone that this isn't my argument, please debate and discuss.
I suspect my opinion will rustle a few jimmies.

Unless the service is absolutely necessary (ex: medical care), and/or is government operated (ex: crown corporation), it makes little sense to force the issue. I believe this is a self-correcting business model in a capitalist economy, and that it's not a morally black and white issue, for the following reasons.

  1. Businesses which discriminate on a meaningless basis lose money. Certainly you could refuse service to LGBT customers, but other businesses who don't refuse them will take their business and a "normal" (for lack of a better word) customer base, whilst you've just locked yourself away from an entire section of the market. Businesses which actively discriminate against minorities fuck themselves in the long run monetarily by lowering the number of customers they can receive by the tens of thousands, often times hundreds of thousands. Therefore, this business model is unsustainable in a competitive market, and will be out-competed and eventually eliminated in the marketplace by more tolerant businesses.
  2. Businesses which are forced to comply by law will still discriminate. It's not like murder being illegal stopped the KKK from lynching blacks. Any LGBT (or other minority) that ends up in a business that is filled with people who hate them, will know it, and most will understandably feel uncomfortable. Unless the service is absolutely necessary, there is little sense in prolonging their economic stagnation and subsequent deaths like this.
  3. Do you really want to be served by someone who hates you? Again, if the service isn't necessary for life, do you want to go to a restaurant full of service people who hate you? Or get married in a church where the priest is constantly glaring at you with hatred?
  4. I have a difficult time saying that one person's rights should go above another. I may not like a priest's anti-homosexual views, but if I force them against their will to marry people they don't want to be involved with in the first place, against their individual will, am I really in the right? "It's against hatred!" It's also a slippery slope that makes me feel queasy. It's one thing to get equal rights for everyone on the board. It's another to place the "equal" rights of one group above another, even if done with the best of intentions. After all, the road to hell is paved with them.
In short: Businesses that discriminate lose irrational amounts of money, will likely still discriminate regardless of what the law says, would create a hostile environment if forced by law to service people they hate, and it would violate their individual rights to disassociate from any groups they don't want to support.

In practice: If a church doesn't want to marry gay people, I wouldn't force the issue. You won't gain anything but a hostile environment from it. If a doctor refuses to perform an abortion because of their religion, however, disbar that doctor: A person's medical needs should come before the doctor's religious ones.
I am of the opinion that nobody should be forced to support causes, beliefs, ideologies, and so on that they do not actually believe in. Part of freedom of speech/expression is freedom to choose not to express things that others wish you to express; this is the other side of the coin to being able to express what you like despite others wanting you not to express it. A person should not be forced to make a racist cake if they don't care for racism, and for the exact same reason they should not be forced to make a cake for a same-sex marriage if that goes against their beliefs. The products of a private business are a form of speech and expression, so trying to force them to create a product espousing a view that they do not support is some rancid bullshit. It has nothing to do with the general acceptance of an idea, everything to do with the individual's beliefs.

This is not a matter of equality or discrimination, it's a matter of freedom of speech and in some cases a matter of freedom of religious practice. There's a bit of a fine line that has to be worked around though, that line being the divide between disagreement and discrimination. "I will not make a cake for a same-sex marriage because it goes against my beliefs" is not discriminating against homosexuals, it is refusing to express a view the baker does not believe in. "I will not make cakes for homosexuals" would be actual discrimination. As the woman in this case said, her problem was with the message on the cake ("Support Gay Marriage"), not with providing a service to homosexual people. That to me sounds like a completely reasonable exercise of freedom of speech, and in that regard the woman did nothing wrong.

However, for the particular linked case, the lady did in fact fuck up and break the law: she accepted the order and took the guy's money, then later called and told him she would not be completing his order. That falls under breach of contract because she should have refused the order before taking his money and saying it was done. The fact that people are trying to push legal action against her under equality laws irritates me. There seems to be a growing segment of people in the world that interpret disagreement as discrimination and oppression, and that does far more harm than good.
Most of my views come down to the following. Echo. Echo. Echo.

Also. I think what people don't realise is that, if this freedom did not exist, a gay baker would be forced to accept Westboro cake orders as well. Now wouldn't that be shitty? Turning things around gives you perspective, doesn't it?
Coincidentally, I've been reading about this stuff related to the tattoo industry a few times this past week from links my artist friends posted on Facebook.

One of the articles was a counter-point to a woman who was refused service because she wanted a neck tattoo done, because it was the shop's policy to not do neck and hand tattoos until most of a person is already inked because of the stigma surrounding visible tattoos, and the nickname surrounding such tattoos is Career Killer for a reason.

The woman's argument was she knew and understood the stigma associated with it, and if she's a paying customer they should have to honour her request. The artists' counter-point is that their reputation is on the line every time they do a new project and they have to uphold their standards, as well as the tattoo is a collaborative art project that both the artist and the client have to agree upon. Artists need work for their portfolio, and if somebody started to complain that the tattoo shop ruined their life and didn't warn them about the potential repercussions of getting a non-concealable tattoo, then it can damage the reputation of the shop and artist and potentially lose business. Ultimately, they have to uphold their reputation and be diligent about the work they do and sometimes that means refusing to do a piece because its a matter of covering their asses and stopping somebody from making a bad decision.

Likewise, I'm pretty sure a tattoo artist would refuse to do a piece they felt was tasteless, morally wrong, or hateful. The last thing anyone wants to be forced to draw an Auschwitz mural across some guy's back or whatever, especially since word would get out they were the ones who made it.
I think for once, most of us in agreement.

As Mrs. Ayn Rand once said "The abolition of human freedoms always starts with its least attractive practitioners". Say what you will about Rand, she was probably right about that one.
I would have tried to trick the person and just ask for a cake with rainbows and stuff like that but claim it was a cake for kids.
  • Bucket of Rainbows
Reactions: Gwazi Magnum
Basically the opinion already shared here.

People have a right to not express messages that they don't support. That falls under freedom of speech.

If what they're refusing to express is an actual good message like LGBT rights then they'll lose business by saying no.
If what they're refusing to express is a negative message like the KKK then they'd be losing business by accepting the contract because of reputation.

I may not agree with the bakers personally at all, but they have the right to express views that are different from mine.
Just as long as that doesn't turn into banning people from business period.
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