The quiz itself has little to do with the fact that Michael Turner is the kind of bad American, bad neighbor, bad community member and jerk who makes Ebenezer Scrooge seem like a mensch, but ponder on his conduct anyway. If you are one of the residents in Skowhegan, Maine and you call Turner LP Gas in Skowhegan, Maine to buy propane to heat your home, you get this message from the owner:
“If you voted for Donald Trump for president, I will no longer be delivering your gas. Please find someone else.”
No, it’s not a hate crime, it’s just hate. It gets cold in Maine, and Skowhegan, like the rest of the state, has a lot of poor people among it’s 8500 or so residents. It also has many who are elderly and poor, for whom having to find another propane supplier may be not just inconvenient, but life-threatening. This is why we have public accommodation laws: To protect us, especially the vulnerable among us, from bigots and bullies like Michael Turner.
He is no different in his lack of decency and the void of ethical values in his soul than the racists who refused to allow black citizens to frequent their establishments before the Civil Rights Act, bridal shop owners who won’t sell wedding dresses to same-sex couples, and the innkeepers who turned away a pregnant woman and her husband long ago, on a night we celebrate soon.
Ethics Alarms has discussed this ugly phenomenon many times. The Bush administration tried to validate it by approving the so called “workers’ right of conscience, ” that permitted a wide variety of health care workers to refuse to administer treatments they found morally repugnant. President Obama, to his credit, restricted that wide-open door to division and bigotry, then allowed the rest of his years in office to exacerbate societal schisms to the point that we have large numbers of a political party trying to overturn a legal election while calling Americans who dared to vote differently than they did racists, sexists and fascists.
A recent Ethics Alarms post titled, “Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late,” about a Washington, D.C. restaurant that publicly apologized for letting an alt-right group to eat there, asked,
Are all groups, families and individuals now going to be required to declare their political and ideological positions before being allowed to order a lasagna? What is an acceptable group? If there is a protest over a Black Lives Matter dinner, will Maggiano’s apologize? If Mike Pence and his family eats there and the “Hamilton” cast protests, does that mean they will refuse to serve cannoli members of the Trump administration? Despite the fact that the protests came from progressives, the attack on the restaurant is totalitarian in substance. What is being commanded is conformity of thought.
Ah, but the persecutors are the good guys, don’t you understand? They know they are right, so they can rationalize hurting anyone who isn’t like them. Michael Turner is this breed of citizen. I must admit, when I warned that electing Donald Trump would turn the U.S. into a nation of assholes, I didn’t anticipate that it would be assholes like Michael Turner.
There’s no quiz on this topic, for it is settled ethics that his practice of punishing neighbors for their political views stinks. No, the quiz involves the conduct of Turner’s customers:
Today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is this…
If Turner required customers to state that they voted against Donald Trump in order to buy propane from him, would it be unethical for Trump voters to lie?
Some additional facts of varying relevance:
1. Undoubtedly because Skowhegan is overwhelmingly Republican and conservative, Turner told reporters that “It’s just a statement. If you voted for Trump, don’t tell me and I wouldn’t cut anyone off that was freezing.” In other words, he is grandstanding. He’s telling people that their business isn’t welcome, but giving them leave to ignore his announcement. BOY, is he a jerk!
2. The Maine Human Rights Act bans discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, but has not (yet) added political beliefs to the law, as Washington, D.C.and Seattle have. Writes a Maine blogger, “So while it may not be good public relations, Turner’s move is legal.” Legal but wrong: I guess they don’t teach ethics in Maine.
3. Like so many others, including a large swathe of the Democratic Party, Turner appears to not comprehend the election principle. He says Trump is “despicable” and “the Antichrist,” much as Wendell Wilkie supporters described Franklin Delano Roosevelt, much as Walter Mondale voters felt about Ronald Reagan, and Bob Dole voters regarded Bill Clinton. Since John Adams, however, Americans have accepted that someone has to lose in free elections, and united as a people behind the elected President no matter how fervently or justly they opposed him. Democracy doesn’t work any other way.