The Michigan Saloon Legislator Lock-Out: Not Quite “Here Comes The Bride” Unethical, But Wrong All The Same

Michigan saloon, bar and restaurant owners are upset that the legislature passed a workplace smoking ban, so the advocacy group Protect Private Property Rights is fighting back  by organizing 500 bars statewide to ban state lawmakers from their premises, beginning September. 1.

This isn’t bigotry or gratuitous cruelty, like the New Jersey bridal shop refusing to sell a gown to a gay customer. It’s not illegal, either: state legislators aren’t a protected class, and discriminating against them isn’t invidious, since, well, they probably are hated with some justification.

No, excluding the lawmakers is unethical for other reasons. To being with, it’s un-American.

The idea that businesses should take punitive actions against individuals because of their differing opinions on social and governing policies is offensive to our sense of community, societal cohesion and democracy. It was certainly predictable that this behavior would begin to show up in some places, since our elected officials appear incapable of being professional and not making philosophical disagreements into personal vendettas. But even if they act like children—and bratty children at that—it cannot validate this conduct.

Refusing to serve a legislator who made a good faith determination regarding a policy that works against one’s personal interests is spiteful, nasty and punitive without any positive benefits at all.  It is like refusing to shake an adversary’s hand, or throwing mud on his house. Sure, the bar owners have a right to do it, but is this really the kind of society anyone wants to live in, with some restaurants that only welcome Democrats, gas stations that only give Republicans access to the pumps, with stores that ban abortion advocates and markets that refuse to sell anything to citizens who want to reform Medicare?

It’s a terrible precedent. It is recipe for social and national dissolution. About the only thing good about it is that the bar owners’ conduct isn’t motivated by bigotry, and thus it is a bit less offensive than what Here Comes The Bride did out of hate to a nice young woman who only wanted to prepare for what should be one of the happiest days of her life.That was only one incident, however. What Protect Private Property Rights is planning is far more extensive, and thus potentially much more dangerous.

Besides. being slightly less despicable than the homophobic bridal shop owner isn’t anything to be proud of. The owners should act like Americans and concentrate their efforts on changing the laws, rather than punishing the lawmakers.

9 thoughts on “The Michigan Saloon Legislator Lock-Out: Not Quite “Here Comes The Bride” Unethical, But Wrong All The Same

  1. And we don’t want to go backwards to the “whites only” rights that were espoused by racists for decades, either. THAT issue was solved legislatively. But all ethical/civil rights issues CAN’T be solved legislatively, though liberals would like to believe it.

    An ethical dilemma, to be sure. And I’m convinced that no amount of education can make some people think and act ethically. or even with good sense.

  2. Jack,
    Where you get the idea that boycotts and discriminatory business practices are un-American is beyond me. Ignoring for a moment that it’s been going on since even before the birth of our nation (British loyalists were regularly thrown out or made to feel unwelcome at Boston pubs, for instance), it’s protected in the Bill of Rights under freedom of association. Broadly put, people have a right to associate themselves and their property with anyone they see fit and likewise exclude anyone they don’t. No one can force their way into your home any more than they can into your place of business. Both are privately owned and both are (or, at least should be) equally protected. Unethical, perhaps, but un-American? Not on your life ..

    -Neil

    PS: Why is it okay for a bar to refuse service to people but not a bridal shop? Why is one under a special obligation that the other is not? I can see the argument in regards to doctors, policemen, firefighters, etc, those arguments don’t hold water when applied to wedding paraphernalia.

    • We’ve had the PS debate already, haven’t we?

      When I use the term “un-American,” I mean conduct contrary to American values, like free speech and free association, not “things Americans never do.” I hate boycotts, in any direction, a form of economic bullying. They are inherently unfair.If you like boycotts, you like blacklisting. It is essentially the same thing.

      • I see, Jack. So you were okay with Exxon just paying the government’s fine and not cleaning up their mess in Alaska back in the 80’s? Those jerk off un-American people who boycotted Exxon should have just minded their own business?

        • I’ve got whiplash from your change of topics and decade. Boycotts are almost always unethical, pointless, and stupid, like spraying machine gun fire around in all directions, but boycotts of oil companies are especially stupid, since the gas station operators are the ones who get hurt, and it is impossible to know whose gasoline is being pumped where.

  3. Jack,
    Yes, we have, but this post confused my understanding of your position on the matter. You seem to be arguing that stores like bridal shops should be held to a higher standard as opposed to bars in regards to who they discriminate against, but I can’t see the distinction. It might be one thing to argue people in crucial jobs such as doctors and the like can’t refuse to help someone, but why other businesses?

    As far as boycotts and blacklisting goes, as long as they’re not being backed by the state (as most of the blacklists in the 50s were), then you’re right, I am in favor. All people have a right to associate with whoever they desire, the flip-side of that being they also have a right to discriminate against anyone as well. So much of what defines a group of any sort isn’t only who they allow, but who they disallow. I would agree such petty distinctions as sexuality or race are silly, but no more so than holding someone’s religious or political ideology either.

    If it were up to me, we’d live in a world where people didn’t judge people based solely on their own preference, but I sadly lack that kind of fiat. Thus, people have a legal (and, I would argue) ethical right to believe anything they want. As long as the worst grievance they commit against others is refusing to take pictures of their wedding, or serve them a drink, I can’t see that society has been too irrevocably damaged. For ever business that refuses to someone for something silly, there are a handful of others more than willing to accept their money.

    -Neil

    • Clarification, though I think it should be unnecessary: the bridal shop is discriminating based on what someone is—that’s bigotry, and worse that discriminating based on a political view or action, which is what the bars in Michigan are doing. Both are unethical; the discrimination based on identity only is worse.

      I’d say, having known someone robbed of the ability to make a living in Hollywood because of pure association only, that both blacklisting and boycotts are antithetical to societal freedom, and clearly wrong.

  4. I salute the bars for doing this. Damn straight. It’s time for the legislatures to feel the pain of their obtuse and unfair laws. I would like to see much more of this. Maybe this is a great way we can get these guys to start thinking twice before banning yet another freedom.

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