General Question

flo's avatar

Would an atheist have to print a t-shirt "atheists are ridiculous"?

Asked by flo (12974points) August 22nd, 2015

Edited: Or whatever text you can imagine that is hostile. And would a religious business owner t-shirt printing company owner have to print whatever text is hostile toward religion or his religion. If so why, and if not, why not?

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18 Answers

Berserker's avatar

It’s a business, you’re there to make money and meet the demands of the customer. As long as it’s not something like “kill all jews” or other hateful stuff that can actually get you in trouble, your religion, or lack thereof, has very little to do here, if anything at all. I think most business owners realize this. However, it can also be to their discretion, if they so decide.

flo's avatar

@Symbeline So, do you mean bottom of the barrel is what owning a business is about?

And re.” ”...stuff that can actually get you in trouble,...” what about the people who live in a country where the opposite would get them in trouble?

jaytkay's avatar

Sigh. This is misrepresentation of the issue. It’s frustrating trying to explain this.

You do not get into trouble for refusing to make/sell something.
You can refuse to make the t-shirt.

You get in trouble for refusing to treat classes of people equally.
You get in trouble for refusing to sell the t-shirt to one group while refusing it to others.

flo's avatar

@jaytkay This is not about selling what’s on the rack or the shelf.

Berserker's avatar

So, do you mean bottom of the barrel is what owning a business is about?

Without ever having owned my own business, more or less. Least so far as I can tell. I’m being as technical as I can. I will accept correction happily. I had a part time job in a screen printing shop for three years, and the owner did every single command that was asked of him. Of course, I’ve not once seen any customer ask for something insulting or hateful. There was a lot of perverted stuff though, which could be offending to some. After that I worked in another screen printing place, although that guy specialized in business logos, not much to say there.

what about the people who live in a country where the opposite would get them in trouble?

Well I’m talking about North America and some European countries. I have no idea how businesses work in places where freedom of expression is dodgier due to religious sensitivity and what regulations spawned from it.

Coloma's avatar

Business owners can refuse to serve anyone they choose. Look at all the christian bakeries that refuse to bake wedding cakes for gay couples. If you don’t mind losing business you reserve the right to serve whomever you choose with the exception of anything that could be in violation of civil rights or racially discriminating.

jaytkay's avatar

This is not about selling what’s on the rack or the shelf.


You get in trouble for refusing to serve people equally. Period.

LostInParadise's avatar

You cant discriminate against people based on religious belief. Saying that atheists are ridiculous could possibly be construed as a personal attack on the believer rather than the belief. However, saying, “Atheism is ridiculous” would be fine, as would, “God is redundant.”

Buttonstc's avatar

Obviously, this is an offshoot of the much publicized case with the Christian baker refusing a cake to a Lesbian couple. Ever since misinformation abounds.

Many people are still under the impression that the huge fine was imposed upon the Christian bakery owner simply because he refused to do a wedding cake for the marriage of two women.

That’s NOT why the fine was assessed.

In the process of posting on his Facebook page about the dispute he also published the order details which revealed the names, addresses, phone of the couple. This is private info.which he had no right to publish.

Because he did, they were subjected to an onslaught of threats against them from those in the public outraged by this whole thing.

This also prompted an investigation by Child Welfare regarding the safety of their child whose adoption was pending.

Were it not for his release of their real life info, none of this harrassment could have reached them at THEIR HOME.

THAT’S WHY he was fined. It was illegal for him, as a business owner, to publicize their confidential personal info.

So many people keep insisting it was due to discrimination against a same sex couple’s wedding which is legal according to the recent Supreme Court decision.

This whole case STARTED SEVERAL YEARS AGO. Many eople keep overlooking that salient fact.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma Not true. A restaurant open to the public can’t refuse to serve black people, or any other protected group.

To @flo‘s point, the discussion about refusing a service usually involves a special order of some sort.

I feel an owner can refuse to make a special item. Wedding cake, t-shirt, etc.

kritiper's avatar

Why not? The business is in business to make money.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Really? Wow..I was not aware of that. Go figure.

jerv's avatar

The law already dictates certain activities that are off-limits, as well as certain groups that are protected. While it is legal to discriminate against people for some reasons, such as not wanting a belligerent drunk staggering around your business, there are some forms of discrimination that are likewise prohibited.

Among the forms of discrimination not allowed are those based on religion, ethnicity, gender (including gender identity), sexual orientation or handicap (people in wheelchairs have just as much right to public restrooms as walking people). If someone does break those laws, then in addition to their legal troubles, they are now eligible to be discriminated against themselves as “being a bigot” is not a status that enjoys legal protections the same way having a uterus is.

”[W]hat about the people who live in a country where the opposite would get them in trouble?”

Historically, that really depends on how the dominated group treats their opposition in the past. For instance, given that slavery is a thing that happened in our nation, the blacks are entitled to certain liberties that whites are barred from. Try holding a White Pride rally somewhere and you’ll draw all sorts of flak that a Black Pride rally would not. Why do we allow that double standard? Slave owners were cruel to their slaves, and now we are obligated to be a little extra nice to the descendants of the slaves as compensation for the sins of our forefathers.

On the other hand, when relations between the two groups are less oppressive, you will find that the double standard ceases to exist. The balance of power has always been close enough to equal that a change in circumstance does not lead to any call for compensation, nor any need for legislation saying, “Hey, that shit ain’t cool no more!”. In such cases, neither side can get away with anything the other cannot as everyone is held to the same standard. Nerds never burnt comic books on the front lawns of geeks, so when society shifted and made being a geek actually cool, nerds didn’t have to worry about being lynched. Since there hasn’t been any real tension between the two groups, there has been no need to give either group legal protections, reparations, special liberties, or anything like that.

In your example involving Atheists, look at the behavior of Christianity in the past and you will see that Christianity has a lot of sins to atone for. And now that the world has changed such that Atheists can come out of the closet without fear of discrimination (and the power to sue those who do discriminate), we are allowing them a few liberties that Christians are not allowed. The double standard that allows Atheists to ridicule religion while prohibiting Christians from replying in kind is the result of many centuries of oppression and persecution.

You are entirely correct to point out and question double standards; I do much a lot of that myself. But sometimes the reason behind a double standard is nothing more than a pendulum reaction to the past. When there has been little disturbance, the pendulum barely moves. Where there have been many disturbances, that pendulum will swing pretty far to one side for a while before swinging far to the other side, and will take a long time to settle down and stop swinging.

With that in mind, think about how our society has treated anyone other than heterosexual white Protestant males in the past and ask yourself if you can’t see quite a few things that would justify some form of backlash that may appear to be a double standard.

jaytkay's avatar

@jerv True, there is a double standard between the dominant powerful group and others. But the cake/t-shirt story is not an example.

You CAN tell customers you don’t want to print their Nazi/Christian/gay/whatever message because you find it offensive.

You CANNOT say you don’t serve Jews or blacks or gays or whoever.

No double standard. If you serve the public, you serve ALL the public.

jerv's avatar

@jaytkay The cake actually is a good example as gays are specifically and explicitly protected group, and if you’re offended by them then you’ll just have to suck it up and serve them despite your objections.

That leaves us in the position of having to decide who gets treated equally and who gets a few perks as compensation for the past. And when you have people like the judges who think that the First Amendment’s protections only apply to Christianity floating around, you know it’s going to be a heated debate.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here is what you can’t do: Person A buys a red shirt and walks out the door. Person B presents that same red shirt to the cashier, who refuses to sell them the shirt because he is black/gay/Jewish/ A Jelly, whatever.

As for my small business, I had a sign posted that read “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.” It was prompted by a male WASP asshole who tried to sue us for refusing to comply with impossible demands.
I could have amended the sign to, “We refuse to do business with Assholes.”

Strauss's avatar

I was once in a bar where the sign said: “Please don’t make us make ‘please don’t’ signs.”

flo's avatar

Thanks everyone.

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