General Question

rockfan's avatar

I have a friend who thinks business owners should be able to turn away customers for any reason, and choose who they want to do business with. Do you think he's crazy?

Asked by rockfan (11973points) March 27th, 2015

Why or why not?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

I’m almost inclined to agree with him just so these business owners can feel the consequences of their ignorance.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Didn’t we get past this 50 years ago with the passage of the equal rights amendment? Remember the pictures of blacks not being served at the restaurant counter?
It’s like a druggist saying he’s not going to fill your prescription because you have an Italian sounding name and he doesn’t like the Mafia. Would that be ok with him?

I wonder what would happen if someone set up a Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc account that lists places who refuse service.

Mariah's avatar

Yes and the sad thing is that in America, such views are not just held by random citizens but also by elected officials.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh, cute little libertarians. They are so naive. Crazy, no. Potential bigot, yes.

hominid's avatar

Ask your Libertarian friend to elaborate. You’ll likely find that the right to discriminate ends with his or her business in their mind. Remember, they’ll be still paying taxes and benefiting from public services. They would likely not be willing to accept a local fire department that refused to put out a fire at their business because the fire department discriminates against assholes. There are other issues, involving public roads and regulatory agencies. Libertarians like to imagine that they live in a vacuum and they are solely responsible for their success. But in my experience, when pressed, these ideologues soften their stance when questioned for details.

girassol's avatar

I think that business owners can refuse to do business with whomever they choose, but that doesn’t mean that they should. It doesn’t go a long way in building great business-consumer relationships. Complaints can spread insanely quickly on social media these days, especially if the offended customer has a large follower base.

That said, I’m assuming that “any reason” is absolute. I think that business owners can and should turn away customers if they have a valid reason (e.g. unreasonable demands, and not because I don’t like the shape of your nose) – and be ready to step into the public eye to justify why in a reasonable and fair manner.

zenvelo's avatar

I am all in favor of that as long as they have a sign on the door saying ” I do not do business with -, -, -, or -.”

LuckyGuy's avatar

“No Shoes. No Shirt. No Religion. No service.”

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I think that he is from Indiana and maybe related to Gov. Mike Pence.
A mental diagnosis has to done by a Doctor; so he may or may not be crazy, a bigot YES !

keobooks's avatar

I believe businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone, except they can not do so based solely on someone’s race or religion.

I can’t kick you out for being an Evangelical Christian, but if you stand up and start preaching in the middle of my restaurant, and other patrons complain, yes, I CAN kick you out.

Several African American people have tried to sue Denny’s for kicking them out “for being black” but each time, Denny’s has won the case saying that the customers were creating some sort of scene at the restaurant and were kicked out because of that. I don’t think anyone has won against Denny’s yet, and they still post the “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” on their walls. Edited to add: I know someone who was kicked out of a Denny’s because he had too many piercings and tattoos and it disturbed other customers. Yes, it was discrimination, but not racial, gender or religious discrimination so it was OK.


The Indiana Religious Freedom Act is a preempted strike. With gay marriages being legalized, Evangelicals see that there is a strong possibility that sexual orientation will have the same protected status that gender, race, religion or (dis)ability is.

This law is BS. Either a status is protected or it’s not. You can’t say “You have these rights… unless people don’t want to give them to you.”

CWOTUS's avatar

I think that as a business owner he would be crazy to turn away business. (That is, paying customers without undue demands and never-ending complaints, etc.)

However, with that said, I don’t think he’s crazy that he should have the right to dissociate for any reason or no reason at all, and I agree that he should be perfectly free in that regard.

We should remember that the segregation that we started to overcome in the 1950s and 60s and beyond was the overturning and disestablishment of Jim Crow laws, which had been put in place and enforced by states and municipalities to enforce segregation. We started to overturn bad laws. We do not need to make more bad laws to force people into associations that they do not want – even if the people who want to make these dissociations are admittedly or obviously racist, sexist, prejudiced against certain ehtnicities or cultures, etc.

People should be free to be bigoted, even if we don’t particularly like it. That is, after all, the essence of “freedom of speech”: the freedom of others to make speech with which we do not agree.

RocketGuy's avatar

If certain customers are harassing other customers, or are too noisy/rowdy – yes. If they just look unacceptable to other customers (race, clothing, jewelry, etc.) – no.

The criteria should be written and available for anyone to see, though.

keobooks's avatar

CWOTUS – how far does this free speech go? As a real estate agent, am I allowed to refuse to show black people certain neighborhoods? Are neighborhoods allowed to put discriminating language in their covenants? The covenants can already disallow me to have a chain link fence or a mini-barn. I believe those are not illegal to own in any State or city government, yet these neighborhoods can strip me of my rights to own a mini barn.

Do I have a right to express beliefs by living in a “whites only” neighborhood? Seriously wonder, because if people have a right to be bigoted, why stop at the lunch counter?

CWOTUS's avatar

That’s the puzzle, isn’t it, @keobooks? I think that if we just let people have their head this would sort itself out relatively soon and discrimination would disappear more easily over time than it will by attempting to force it.

In your specific example, for instance, how likely do you think it would be that sellers wanting to leave an area would permit you to screen applicants for their property? And do you think that there’s an underserved market for large numbers of homeowners who want to restrict entry? (We can agree, I’m sure, that there are some people who feel that way. Do you think that there are enough, even now, who want to commit resources to ensure that?)

If it’s true, then I suggest we should allow it – because it can be done surreptitiously, anyway. We may as well be open and honest about it. When people who buy into such ghettos realize that they may have prevented their own children from joining them there, because of the amount of biracial marriages that occur nowadays, how likely are they to want to stay there? How likely are these communities to not only exist, but to thrive and grow? Not much, I think.

keobooks's avatar

.. So sundown towns .. perfectly legal, so long as the local government doesn’t enforce it? Should cross burning be protected by the first Amendment?

CWOTUS's avatar

Of course. Cross-burning already is legal, if you do it on your own lawn and in accordance with safety and environmental regulations.

marinelife's avatar

Yes. If he’s in business why is he turning anyone away?

jaytkay's avatar

Here are some appropriate pics for libertarians to display on their Facebook pages.

Show your support for property rights!

One

Two

Three

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Response moderated
Response moderated
LostInParadise's avatar

@keobooks got it right. You can turn people away, but you can’t discriminate based on such criteria as race, religion or ethnicity.

Suppose there is someone that the shopkeeper has good reason for disliking. Maybe the person bullied the shopkeeper when they were young, or maybe the person stole the shopkeeper’s wife. I don’t see anything wrong with asking the person to leave.

slyflux's avatar

I agree with your friend. No one, no form of government should be allowed to tell your friend what he can or cannot do with his business. He has the property rights, he has the freedom of choice and he has his freedom of speech. No customer is entitled to access the products and services of a private establishment. The owner decides that.

Also, there are all sorts of practical reasons why discrimination is necessary or else the business may fail. For example, in a nightclub, if the owner would be forced to start letting in fat and ugly customers, no one will go to that club. If a known religious business owner would be forced to start servicing gays, his local anti-gay community would boycott his business the business would fail. If a real estate agent would be forced to start letting black people rent apartments in white neighborhoods, there would be white flight and the neighborhood would turn to shit. If an exclusive black dating website is forced to allow whites and gays to register on the site, then it defeats the purpose of the business and it would fail. I have personally witnessed the downfall of these types of establishments for these reasons.

I would say whoever is against your friend is the one who is crazy or a fascist or some other form of authoritarian.

jerv's avatar

Given how much Indiana is losing as a result of their policies, I think it financially stupid to do so. Furthermore, I see little difference (in practical terms) between this and Sharia Law except that the resulting discrimination is based on the Bible rather than the Quran.

Fortunately, the people who embrace the right of unrestricted discrimination also embrace the free market, so they have no issues with many large organizations pulling out, many events that bring millions of dollars in revenue being hosted elsewhere, and otherwise turning money away.

Let us ignore for the moment that the states most likely to allow this sort of freedom are the states that take more federal money than they give in taxes, and are thus heavily subsidized by taxpayers in Blue states, and that doing business with gays and Atheists gives us enough money to not only treat our own people better, but also pay the bills for our less tolerant country-mates!

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther