The Arkansas Senate overwhelmingly approved on Friday a Republican-backed bill whose authors say is intended to protect religious freedoms but critics contend could allow businesses to refuse service to gay people.

The Republican governor of Indiana signed into law a similar “religious freedom” bill on Thursday, prompting protests from human rights groups and criticism from some business leaders.

The bill advancing in the Republican-led Arkansas legislature says “governments should not substantially burden the free exercise of religion without compelling justification.”

Supporters say a business should not be forced to, for example, cater a same-sex wedding if doing so would violate the religious beliefs of the owner.

Well, umm, shouldn’t you be allowed to turn down business if you want to?

49 thoughts on “Hmm”

  1. Not always, Tim, no. Could a high street bakers, say, refuse to sell buns to black people….?

    That does not stop the baker from refusing business by closing the shop for an afternoon, say. But that is entirely different.

  2. It’s a fine line. You can bar specific imdividusls from your business, but not whole groups.

    It’s ok for a restaurant to pretend they’re fully booked to a customer who isn’t dressed appropriately. It’s ok for pubs to have a panel of photos behind the bar labelled “Do not serve these people”.

    It’s not ok to put a sign outside your business saying “No blacks, no Irish, no gays, no Jews”. However you can say “no gingers, no adulterers, no non-believers”, because the law doesn’t consider them groups in need of protection.

  3. http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/03/27/not-so-free-speech-street-preacher-fined-for-quoting-the-bible-told-to-use-alternative-verses/
    In the above story the judge who found the leviticus re homosexuality quote offensive is called Shamim Quresh who also happens to sit in shariah courts in his community. I daresay had the street preacher quoted the Koran, it would be to an entirely different outcome.
    All hail Arkansas, time to tell offendees to grimace and hear the offensive.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ve often wondered why some groups want to give their money to people they know hate them. I suppose there is a bit of rubbing their noses in the dirt, but if I knew some business hated me for something that was irrational, or even rational, I wouldn’t want to give them a single penny of my hard earned cash.

    It gets a bit tricky if its the only game in town, but that just opens up business opportunities.

  5. The distinction between this sort of thing and the ‘no blacks’ sort of thing is that the ‘no blacks’ policies were widespread enough that there was justification for ‘something to be done’. There is no proud history of caterers refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings, so I’m not convinced that the heavy hand of the law needs to step in. Let the market have a go first, and all we get is a few people willing to cut their noses off to spite their deeply held convictions, then there’s no need for the law to try and arbitrate between these conflicting belief systems.

  6. Well, umm, shouldn’t you be allowed to turn down business if you want to?

    Yes, but the problem is that those who make the law are too stupid to understand the difference between “I don’t want to carry out that work” (acceptable) and “I don’t do work for gay people” (unacceptable)

    Then again, I’m in favour of outlawing all forms of discrimination and letting the market work it out.

    Mr. Smith at number 26 has a sign in his shop window saying “No blacks or foreigners?” – fine. Mr. Smith gets barred from the pub because he’s a bigot.

    Society was working fine before discrimination laws and it would work fine again without them, certainly there would be issues (as there were in the 1950’s and 1960’s), but that was caused by fear and ignorance and the flames were fanned by the usual suspects.

    Without discrimination laws I suspect we would have still become as liberal a society as we are today and someone, somewhere would still have baked a gay cake.

  7. The Proggies are the most discriminatory people on Earth. If they disapprove of you, you’ll be no platformed, you and your products barred from campuses, they’ll start campaigns against you in every medium they can find. The gay cake nonsense has nothing to do with preventing discrimination, but with reinforcing their policies of discimination; discriminating in favour of groups they prefer, and against groups they dislike.

    Tim Cook of Apple, who has apparently decided that lacking Jobs’s charisma he’s going with Gay as his trademark, has declared how businesses shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate. Apple do not allow anything they consider “adult” in their App Store. Is this not also discrimination against sexuality?

    Absolute hypocrites, the Proggies.

    Back in the 90s, I worked with a gay building firm. Mostly gay clients. Lots of fun and banter about me being the honorary gay and “don’t mind him, he can’t help it” and so on. Somehow I wasn’t traumatised by such references to my minority status. Nowadays I get accused of being a homophobe for supporting the right of bakers not to bake gay cakes. Hey ho.

    We were the free market solution to clients seeking a particular service compared to other firms that might have been a bit aggressively heterosexual. Markets work.

  8. You have a perfect right to put a No Whatever sign outside your business if you don’t mind the economic cost of losing the business. Because its yours and other people do not have any right to demand that you serve them or interact with them in any way . The Whatevers also have an equal right to put up a No You sign outside their business. Its called freedom.

  9. I can see the logic of protecting, say, West Indians from discrimination at a time when things were sufficiently difficult that but for legislation they would barely be able to work or find somewhere to live.

    My real problem comes when the statists insist that these laws are permanently necessary, not because of current circumstances but due to past events.

    It’s in line with the idea that there are permanent victim groups who need protection and sympathy whatever their current status.

  10. I can see the logic of protecting, say, West Indians from discrimination at a time when things were sufficiently difficult that but for legislation they would barely be able to work or find somewhere to live.

    And yet, they came here in droves. And if people were really refusing to hire immigrants, that must mean that companies could supply their labour requirements from natives, so why import the immigrants in the first place? The actual basis of the legislation doesn’t make any sense.

  11. I understand there are businesses fighting back by putting up posters/stickers saying they will serve anyone.
    Again the market having an impact – those who think a new law is daft or refuse to discriminate against others are making it known to customers and potential customers that they are not discriminating.
    One poster I have heard about – we don’t have gay customers and straight customers, we have customers.

  12. Those gypsy wedding reality shows are full of examples where reception hosting will turn down their business, it might be on this basis of their reputation of causing damage, but how is this any different?

    Wasn’t there a counterpoint to the “gay wedding cake” experiment, someone asked a number of bakers to make a cake with a distinctly homophobic message, and they all refused as well?

  13. TTG,

    “The distinction between this sort of thing and the ‘no blacks’ sort of thing is that the ‘no blacks’ policies were widespread enough that there was justification for ‘something to be done’.”

    How widespread? Everyone’s seen that photo saying “no blacks, no irish, no dogs” but if you notice, it’s always the same photo.

    And you can’t even measure the southern states. That was state-enforced racism – if a business wanted to serve black and white customers, it couldn’t.

  14. Andrew M – It’s not ok to put a sign outside your business saying “No blacks, no Irish, no gays, no Jews”

    It’s not OK, but it shouldn’t be illegal.

    I’d much rather know if a business I was thinking of patronising didn’t want my money, rather than be served grudgingly and behind a fake smile from someone who despises me.

    And I’m not black, gay, Irish, or a Jew, but know what I’d do if I saw a sign like that in front of a restaurant I was thinking of going into? I’d go to a different restaurant.

    And are we afraid that our fellow human beings are mostly evil bigots who would gleefully wreck their own businesses just to slight some group or other they don’t like? That the only thing stopping widespread irrational discrimination is fear of the law, and not basic human decency?

    Martin Davies – One poster I have heard about – we don’t have gay customers and straight customers, we have customers.

    This.

    Mr Ecks – The Whatevers also have an equal right to put up a No You sign outside their business. Its called freedom.

    The left thinks that we are savages who will tear each other apart if not for an army of clipboard-wielding government scolds to regulate our behaviour.

  15. Apple stores don’t have anything with an ‘adult’ theme.
    By which we mean they don’t sell anything with an adult theme. Whatever the rights and wrongs of refusing to sell to certain customers or certain groups, we do see the difference between our goods for sale and our customers?

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    Stig,

    “And you can’t even measure the southern states. That was state-enforced racism – if a business wanted to serve black and white customers, it couldn’t.”

    That’s different, as son as the State and/or its employees start to discriminate in any way whatsoever its down on them like a ton of bricks.

    Another reason for a small State, to limit their ability to discriminate.

  17. Thought experiment: would any Western state prosecute a Muslim baker who refused to supply a cake iced with a picture of Mahomet? I thought not.

  18. Can someone explain to me how this ‘gay cake’ case is sexual discrimination against the customer? Is there any evidence the baker refused to serve the customer just because he was gay? Indeed did he even know he was gay? Would he have refused to bake the cake if the customer was straight (I suspect this to be the case)? Surely it is case of ‘I’m not doing that’, regardless of the sexuality of the customer?

    The customer appears to be arguing that because he is gay, he can demand anything unrelated to his sexuality (support for gay marriage is not unique to gay people, indeed some gay people oppose it), and if refused claim sexual discrimination. Indeed do the reverse example – had a straight person gone and asked for the same cake design, and been refused would they have been able to claim sexual discrimination because they were hetero? If not, why can (or indeed should) a gay person be able to argue the converse?

  19. Jim

    Very good questions. Apple refuse to sell ‘adult’ material, buy doesn’t ask it’s customers about their orientations. Refusing to bake a particular cake is not the same as refusing to serve a particular customer.

  20. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who are desperate to do business with people who hate them /sarcasm.

    Seriously, if you are e.g. gay wouldn’t you want to know if your employer/supplier was prejudiced so you can work with someone more congenial?

    In my experience most candidates will spontaneously volunteer the information you aren’t allowed to ask about, e.g. if they are Jewish or particularly religious, or have children, they always find an oblique way to make sure you know, presumably on the basis that if you don’t want them, then they don’t want you right back harder.

  21. “That the only thing stopping widespread irrational discrimination is fear of the law, and not basic human decency?”

    Part of our Christian heritage I suppose; obey my law or suffer for eternity.

  22. Apple stores don’t have anything with an ‘adult’ theme. By which we mean they don’t sell anything with an adult theme.

    Not entirely true – Apple tries to prevent anyone else selling anything with an adult theme to users of Apple products.

  23. we do see the difference between our goods for sale and our customers?

    What difference? In both cases, the business is making a trading decision based on a (sexual) moral choice.

  24. @ nautical nick

    “Could high street bakers, say, refuse to sell buns to black people….?”

    They ought to be able to refuse to serve anyone at all. It’s a measure of how far this statist bullshit has pervaded that people even ask the question.

  25. It’s notable that all those against the law operating in the way proposed here are most unlikely to be refused entry/service/etc on the grounds of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation or whatever.

    It’s easy to take such a position when prejudice is unlikely to discommode you.

  26. IB

    Not really. But I’ve noticed you’ve made this point before as if it were some sort of ‘killer’ argument.

  27. No, it’s not intended as a “killer” argument, it’s just pointing out that people can get refused service for various reasons, even us members of the hegemonic elite who forget to check our privilege.

  28. Indeed they can, but while you may be only slightly irritated at being excluded for being “too straight’ doesn’t make it OK for others to be refused service anywhere else for being ‘too black.

  29. What difference?

    For real? Disney not selling adult material is no different to Disney asking the sexual preferences of its customers? Really?

    And there’s me thinking human beings all lived on the same planet; my mistake.

  30. Ironman,

    They actually refused to produce a gay product. As pointed out above, that is actually different to refusing a gay customer. The latter would be the case if, say, a gay man came in and asked for a Happy Birthday cake and they said, “we don’t serve gays, get out”. They didn’t. They refused a commission to produce a product which they did not feel morally comfortable with.

    Just the same as Disney has the right not to produce adult material, or anything else they are uncomfortable with. Disney has a particular moral stance which, as part of their company image, has been always very “innocent”. They have an absolute right to do that too.

    A man walks into a bakery and asks for a English Defence League cake. The man behind the counter says he’d prefer they take their custom elsewhere. Has he the right to do that?

    Look, I appreciate that you Social Justice nuts think you have an absolute certainty about what is moral, what should be obligatory and what should be prohibited, but those of us on the liberal side of things are more interested in people having the freedom to make their own moral decisions, even if you don’t like them. Do you not understand that?

  31. Indeed they can, but while you may be only slightly irritated at being excluded for being “too straight’ doesn’t make it OK for others to be refused service anywhere else for being ‘too black.

    The question of what is “OK” is different to the question of what should be criminal. The law should protect property rights, not impose violations of them to satisfy special interest groups.

  32. So Much for Subtlety

    Runcie Balspune – “Wasn’t there a counterpoint to the “gay wedding cake” experiment, someone asked a number of bakers to make a cake with a distinctly homophobic message, and they all refused as well?”

    http://www.gaypatriot.net/2014/12/13/turning-the-tables-on-wedding-cake-fascists/

    This, as with other laws against discrimination, is only aimed at White heterosexual males. It turns out that even clapping in appreciation may make British women so uncomfortable it should be banned. I doubt that a female baker would be forced to make a cake in the shape of some male genitalia with the words “World’s Greatest Gift to Women” written on it.

  33. @Bloke in North Dorset – “give their money to people they know hate them”

    if you want what they have badly enough to give cold hard cash, then you may well be prepared to tolerate a little hurt feeling on your own part.

  34. “shouldn’t you be allowed to turn down business if you want to?”
    Totally – in fact I am required by the FCA to turn down business if it involves a conflict of interest and a few years ago I turned down the offer of a job in Vietnam on the grounds that I could not cope with the heat.
    It doesn’t have to be immoral to turn things down. In my youth I was an amateur boxer and just twice I was asked whether I wanted to accept a bout – the first time was when the team we were boxing had an inflated idea of my abilities and instead of matching me with one of its own boxers asked a nice lad fom a local club who was a weight above me: I had a look at him and saw he didn’t have longer arms and said OK – he gave me a boxing lesson while pulling his punches (he later turned pro); the second was when London University wanted to box us and suggested a guy who had two bouts when I had had sixteen and I refused because I was no good at powder puffs and might (probably would) have hurt him.

  35. JeremyT
    March 28, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    By coincidence I have just read a lawyer claiming that there is an unintended consequence for progressives if the bakers lose their EU appeal.

    It will then become legally possible to prosecute a Muslim baker, with the full weight of European law, if they refuse to make a cake with a cartoon of Mohammed on it.

    I do hope he is right.

  36. Of course, here in Ukay we had a famous case regarding a christian hotel who refused to rent a room to a gay couple. The question is, should business owners be allowed to make any moral judgement about the use of their property? What if they do not allow rooms to be shared by unmarried heterosexual couples? Is that prohibited too, or is that “discrimination”?

    (IIRC in that case their actual rule was indeed no unmarried nookie).

  37. So Much for Subtlety

    Stuck-Record – “It will then become legally possible to prosecute a Muslim baker, with the full weight of European law, if they refuse to make a cake with a cartoon of Mohammed on it.”

    I will bet some money that it won’t work out that way. After all, can a hotel refuse to host a BNP convention? I hope so. I believe that actually this has happened in the UK. Something like it has certainly happened in the US where not only BNP-like groups have been denied hotel bookings but even a Men’s Rights group was recently “un-booked”.

    We probably have a precedent here. The National Union of Students maintains a No Platform policy for “hate groups”. Not Hizb-ut-Tahrir I note. Discrimination is a one-way street. It is not aimed at favoured groups. It is only used against non-favoured ones.

    But still, there may be an upside. English-language publishers are boycotting Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s last book on Russia and the Jews. It may be anti-Semitic. I don’t know, I don’t read Russian. But I would like to read it because Solzhenitsyn was a major figure in modern Russia and whatever he has to say should be interesting. So can we all sue because no one will publish it?

  38. The problem that I have with these “No gays or dogs” businesses is that they don’t have the courage to actually be up front about it. The refusal is always an embarrassed whisper. I’d be fine with replacing anti-discrimination laws with a law saying that you had to put your terms of service on a sign clearly and legibly visible from outside the shop.

    Letting the market decide is fine, but markets run on information. Make them provide that information to a potential shopper first, and then let the market take it from there.

  39. Ian B,

    I don’t think it’s a problem if you’re upfront about it and it doesn’t stray into people’s privacy.

    So, I’d say that “no 2 men sharing a room” is fine, but “2 men can share a room, but no action” isn’t. You also have to work with the thing of conditions being unusual, so, as most hotels allow 2 men to share a room, a hotel that doesn’t has to be upfront about it. Book a room, use the website, that must be clearly stated. It would be unreasonable for someone to book a few days off, arrive at your hotel and find you can’t stay.

    The problem with most “identity” laws for me now is that it becomes about victimhood rather than empowerment. I read a story about one of the gay bakeries that it was struggling to survive afterwards. Not because of prosecution, but because their regular customers like wedding planners stopped placing orders with them.

    I’d argue that most discrimination legislation is pointless because if your society has reached a point that it thinks that racial or sexual discrimination are bad things, the market will sort out the racists and homophobes. All the law needs to cover is racism/homophobia by the state. I started working in the mid-80s and there were a few racists in the office, but mostly old blokes.

  40. So Much for Subtlety

    Matthew L – “I’d be fine with replacing anti-discrimination laws with a law saying that you had to put your terms of service on a sign clearly and legibly visible from outside the shop.”

    You seem to want people to be honest and yet you also seem to want laws to force people either to be open or to be quiet (preferably the former)?

    Wouldn’t it be easier just not to pass any laws at all? When there is no threat from Mr Plod, I expect that most people will find a way to let you know if they are a friend of friends of Dorothy or a friend of Ian Paisley.

  41. @GeoffH

    “It’s notable that all those against the law operating in the way proposed here are most unlikely to be refused entry/service/etc on the grounds of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation or whatever.”

    Firstly, you cock, it’s about freedom – yes, the freedom to be unpleasant and stupid if you so wish. You’re a twat but Tim doesn’t bar you from commenting.

    Secondly, have you patented the detector that allows you to identify the racial origins and other characteristics of anonymous internet commentators? The advertisers would love it.

  42. So Much for Subtlety

    Interested – “Secondly, have you patented the detector that allows you to identify the racial origins and other characteristics of anonymous internet commentators? The advertisers would love it.”

    Just in passing I have been told that Facebook has a nice algorithm that allows them to tell reliably if someone is Gay or not in a surprisingly small number of posts. I dimly remember it is under 12.

    I am fighting the urge to make any jokes about Glee

  43. SMFS,

    A lot of that stuff is probably about word/link matching (similar to Bayesian spam filtering). You work out links/words that are more likely used by gay than straight people and score people’s choices of words against it.

  44. (IIRC in that case their actual rule was indeed no unmarried nookie).

    And what the Bulls were actually done for was discriminating between “married” and “civil partnership”.

    Just in passing I have been told that Facebook has a nice algorithm that allows them to tell reliably if someone is Gay or not in a surprisingly small number of posts.

    One of my Facebook research nyms is, according to the ads Facebook serves up to ‘him’, gay. I think this is because he is “in a relationship” with our late feline overlord. Who has a Facebook nym for reasons too complicated to go in to. Which I probably ought to shut down now as the relevant moggie has very definitely joined the choirs invisible.

  45. So Much for Subtlety

    The Stigler – “A lot of that stuff is probably about word/link matching (similar to Bayesian spam filtering). You work out links/words that are more likely used by gay than straight people and score people’s choices of words against it.”

    Sure. Hence all the jokes I was fighting about linking to Glee fan sites. I am still surprised that it would take so few posts though. Seriously? Most Gay people I know are so boring it takes years to figure it out. But on Facebook they let it all hang out, so to speak? Maybe it is just me.

    Surreptitious Evil – “I think this is because he is “in a relationship” with our late feline overlord. Who has a Facebook nym for reasons too complicated to go in to.”

    A Facebook page for a cat? I hope neither you or anyone else takes this the wrong way, but yep, I guess the algorithm might pick that one up.

  46. SMFS,

    “I am still surprised that it would take so few posts though.”

    It may even be that gay people use words differently. It’d be fascinating to grab the tweets of a few thousand gay people and straight people and compare which words get used more.

  47. The boffins are able to identify someone from the way they type; it only takes a few sentences so I’m told. Facebook is more revealing I would have thought.

  48. SMFS,

    No, the cat doesn’t have a Facebook page. It has a nym who has a Facebook page. As I said, “for reasons too complicated” …

    But, basically, creating a fake Facebook identity so you can go off and “cyber-stalk” people is actually quite hard work if you are going to do it properly.

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