Free Markets, Free People

Tolerance is not a one-way street

Apparently T-shirts are a “human right” now (via The American Conservative):

The owner of “Hands On Originals,” a well-known t-shirt company in the region, declined to print the shirts for the city’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) because it would conflict with their Christian convictions.

The privately owned company is now accused of violating Lexington’s Fairness Act – which protects people and organizations from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

An attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund who is representing the T-shirt company says:

“No business owner should be forced to violate his conscience simply because someone demands it,” he said. “The Constitution absolutely supports the rights of business owners to decline a request to support a message that conflicts with their deeply held convictions.”

But the city says:

“Hands On Originals” will be “required by law to participate in the investigation.”

“We have subpoena power and have the backing of the law,” he said. “We are a law enforcement agency and people have to comply.”

Should the company be found guilty of discriminating against the homosexuals Sexton said they could be subjected to fines.

Yes, friends, a city has a “human rights commission” which is considered a “law enforcement agency” that can force compliance with a law that would do precisely what the ADF lawyer claims it shouldn’t have the power to do.

You’d think there’d be a solution that could be reached well before this is escalated to the use of government coercion, doesn’t it?  That is if all the GLSO wanted to do was buy T-shirts.

And, a solution was offered:

GLSO wanted “Hands On Original” to print shirts for the city’s fifth annual Lexington Pride Festival. The store offered to find another company that would honor its price – but that wasn’t good enough for the GLSO.

“Our feeling on that is, separate but equal wasn’t okay during the civil rights movement and it’s not okay now,” Aaron Baker told the television station. Baker is board president of GLSO.

That’s right, it is agenda time.  This isn’t about T-shirts at all.  It’s about forcing their one-way version of tolerance on someone.  The irony is that GLSO appears to have absolutely no tolerance for the principles of the owners of the T-shirt company.

Which set me to wondering.  Here’s a hypothetical for you.  What if the owner of the T-shirt company was gay?  And what if Westboro Baptist Church placed an order for 10 dozen T-shirts which said “God hates faggots” on them? What if the T-shirt shop owner refused the order because of his principles?

Same reaction?

I’d guess no.  In fact, I’d guess precisely the opposite reaction.

The T-shirt company owner wrote an op-ed for the paper explaining his point of view:

“I decided to pass on the opportunity because, as a Christian owner, I cannot in good conscience endorse groups or events that run counter to my convictions,” Adamson wrote in the op-ed.

Adamson, who has been in business for more than 20 years, wrote that he “does not expect, or even ask, people to agree with my view.”

“All I ask for people is to respect my right as an owner to not produce a product that is contrary to my principles,” he wrote.

Adamson called on people to stand up for the rights of small business owners not “to be forced into producing a product with a message that conflicts with their beliefs and consciences.”

The reaction was anything but tolerant or understanding of a differing view:

“Hands On Originals” has faced a barrage of attacks since the accusations were made public. More than 2,000 people have joined a boycott movement on Facebook. Another group is trying to buy the company’s mortgage so they can be evicted.

The Fayette County public school system placed a temporary hold on buying t-shirts from the company until the issue is resolved. The University of Kentucky is also reviewing its future business with the t-shirt maker.

Even Lexington’s openly gay mayor has condemned the privately-owned t-shirt company, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader “People don’t have patience for this sort of attitude today.”

“I’m against discrimination, period,” Gray said in a statement released to television station WKYT. “It’s bad for business and bad for the city. I support the Human Rights Commission in a full and thorough investigation.”

Real tolerance is apparently unacceptable.  The hypocrisy of GLSO is palpable.  And trying to use the coercive power of government is disgusting.

Tolerance isn’t a one-sided principle.  If  one wants people to tolerate their beliefs and lifestyle, it is incumbent upon them to do the same for others.  If they actually believe in true tolerance, that is.

What is clear here is GLSO doesn’t. 

More disgusting, at least to me, is the inclusion of this ridiculous city level “human rights commission” as a law enforcement agency and it’s obvious intent to force “compliance” against the conscience and principles of the owner. 

There was a problem (GLSO wanted T-shirts, T-shirt company refused due to conscience), an offered solution (T-shirt company offers to find another producer at same price) which was reasonable and a rejection of that solution because the group has an political agenda and wishes to force the company to violate its principles and conscience.  And which side does government take?

The side that wants to use its coercive power to force that violation.

Let freedom ring.

HT: papajj


Twitter: @McQandO

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28 Responses to Tolerance is not a one-way street

  • YOU must approve or pay the consequences.

  • “And what if Westboro Baptist Church placed an order for 10 dozen T-shirts which said “God hates faggots” on them?” Don’t you have hate speech laws to stop the traffic going the other way on Tolerance St?

  • This is NOT about tolerance. It hasn’t been for decades. It is about approbation…forced if need be…that REQUIRES everybody say “you are fine…just like everyone else”.

  • But it is kind of odd… Is there any obligation to sell to any given prospective customer? I know that in the past I’ve occasionally been given quotes that were just marginally so expensive over the upper-end of what could be reasonable it was clear that the vendor just did not want the business for some reason or another (probably time constraints) but did not want to just say “no” and have to provide explanation. Likewise where one doesn’t want to sell to a dubious or commercially sensitive customer one pitches the quote so high to make it clear they won’t get anything but not have to explain. So long story short, is there an obligation to sell in this case, or should the vendor have seen what was coming and just pleaded “too busy, come back in a month for three times the going rate”?

    • @DocD In some circumstances (housing especially) there would be a legal obligation to sell. Depending on the anti-discrimination laws in this particular city/county/state, there might be an obligation to not refuse service based on a customer’s sexual orientation.

      In this case, though, the shop owner is almost (but not quite) saying he refused service based on the content of his customers’ speech, which should (in theory) be protected as well. I suspect his attorneys will help him refine that argument once the investigators show up.

      It might be a different case if the shop owner had refused to print shirts from the group that said “Love Thy Neighbor.”

      • @bobsmith1978 Well, you are quickly establishing a record of stupid here. A publisher is not required to publish. That has nothing to do with the First Amendment (which you imply it does). Our proprieter in this case has no obligation to print for people he choses not to, and for whatever reason. As a “capitalist”, surely you know and support this, right?

      • @bobsmith1978 I’m not sure if you meant the owner or the potential customer in “…which should (in theory) be protected as well.” The 1st Amendment covers “government” censorship, not private business.

  • Buying their mortgage and evicting them. Yes indeed. Freedom.

    • @looker Ever so much more civilized than simply burning them out…though that rests in their back pockets.

      • @Ragspierre I hope they appreciate that particular style of activity can flow either way.

    • @looker How would buying their mortgage enable the holder to evict them? Clearly these clowns don’t know much about finance but I suppose that’s obvious.

      • @TheOldMan It’s sciency. They did the research by reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They’ll probably forgo wearing the traditional Simon Lagree outfits when they cast them out into the bitter cold.

      • @TheOldMan Now THERE’s a lawsuit I want a piece of…!!!

      • @TheOldMan Presuming the t-shirt shop rents its space rather than owns it, they could buy the property then refuse to renew the shop’s lease. If the shop owns the property, yeah, I don’t know how that would work.

        • @bobsmith1978 A group could do that but I doubt that when their own money is on the line, they will choose to lose rent money.

    • @looker Um, isn’t that just an extreme example of the free market at work? Or do you think the government needs to protect mortgage holders from the tyranny of mortgage consolidators and traders?

      • @bobsmith1978 It DOES, dummy. Good grief. A “wrongful eviction” lawsuit in many jurisdictions carries trebled damages. We don’t like oppression using property rights.

  • So those signs that state “No shirt, no shoes, no service” are illegal? And signs that read “Jacket and tie required” are illegal? If a business owner wants to limit his customer set, that’s his choice; another business would be wise to grab those other customers.

  • If you go to “Hands on Originals” website, it has a link with the words: Hands on Originals: Christian Outfitters. Why in the world would the GLSO go to them if they know they are Christian? I’m a Christian. I am certainly not going to go to a t-shirt company that makes t-shirts for gay activists for my youth group or choir t-shirts…and if I did and they refused, I would certainly understand!

  • DocD?
    How about this shirt?
    “Jesus is not a homophobe”
    But I’d add the following.
    “I don’t condemn you,now, go, and leave your life of sin”
    Just throwing that one out there.

  • Hang on a second — you’re lumping an official government reaction (a criminal investigation) in with a free market reaction (customer boycotts and negative publicity).

    Should the t-shirt maker be held criminally liable for refusing to print a t-shirt he doesn’t agree with? Of course not.

    But should that same t-shirt maker suffer the wrath of the free market for espousing views that his customers find abhorrent? Welcome to capitalism, folks. That’s how it works.

    The store has my sympathy for facing an out-of-control government commission, but not for complaining about the consumer backlash.

    • @bobsmith1978 “More than 2,000 people have joined a boycott movement on Facebook.” & “That his customers find abhorrent?”

      That’s not the same as 2000 people in LEXINGTON joining a boycott. If the community takes that action, that’s, as you say, capitalism. I hardly think 2000 people from goodness knows where across the country and possibly the world joining a boycott of a store they’ve never seen, in a town they’ll never visit is exactly ‘capitalism’ in action. That’s just activism in action.
      As to his customer’s finding it abhorrent, that’s a slant you’re taking on it. We have no idea how the majority of his customers feel, we only have an idea how a very vocal and organized group feels. I’d hardly call his request to find another vendor, and to help do so, is ‘abhorrent’.

    • @bobsmith1978 “Welcome to capitalism, folks.” Well…hell, bob. In capitalism I purchase (when I purchase) for value. I don’t care…or know…any-FLUCKING-thing about my providers’ religion, skin color, politics, mommy or daddy, etc. All those are extraneous to my needs. That is, in REAL capitalism.

    • @bobsmith1978 His problem was he was honest about why he declined. Had he muddled it by proposing a higher charge, this wouldn’t be an issue. As soon as he told them WHY he was declining their request, it went from simple capitalism to AGENDA.

  • Hang on a second — you’re lumping an official government reaction (a criminal investigation) in with a free market reaction (boycotts and negative publicity).

    Should a t-shirt maker be held criminally liable for refusing to print a shirt he doesn’t agree with? Of course not.

    But should that t-shirt maker suffer the free market effects of that decision? Welcome to capitalism, folks.

    If your customers find your views abhorrent, your customers are free to take their business elsewhere and tell everyone else why they’re abandoning you.