This past week, the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia made national news when it refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders because of the restaurant’s employees’ views on Sanders’ boss, President Donald Trump.
No matter how you feel about the president or Sanders, the move by the restaurant in a liberal Virginia enclave Lexington, Va. is typical of America in recent years. If we don’t agree with someone’s views, rather than live and let live, we want to squash, hide, and obliterate the opposing viewpoint.
In this case, the move came from the left. But the right is just as guilty of implementing this strategy.
Recently, in a 7-2 verdict, the Supreme Court absolved the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery, for refusing to make a same-sex wedding cake back in 2012 because of religous beliefs. The verdict fell short of resolving the issue once and for all about whether a business can deny services on religious, moral, or ethical grounds. Instead, justices focused on the hostile way that the baker was treated by a state civil rights commission that allowed other bakers to refuse to create cakes that demeaned same-sex marriages.
Frankly, there are too many examples of both sides reaching for dogma before turning the other cheek than are worthy to cite. And it seems to have become more intense thanks to social media where anyone can become an anonymous didactic troll.
“People think they have a right not to have their feelings hurt, not to have their sensibilities in any way exacerbated,” wrote conservative political columnist George Will in 2013. “I’d refer them to Jefferson who said, it does me no harm if my neighbor believes in 20 gods or one god, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
There seems to be a growing insistence that any voice that differs from that which dwells in our self-righteous minds should be—must be—silenced, eliminated, and never imagined in the first place. Both sides will justify their views by arguing they are benevolent and the others are malevolent. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barrack Obama, and Trump are either heroes or villains depending upon a person’s political beliefs. Democrats blindly criticize Republicans. Even if a decision is good, they argue that it wasn’t done quickly enough. If you ask a Republican, nothing good comes out of a Democrat. Nothing.
It seems that the only thing that the right and the left can agree upon is that it’s okay to be mean to customers if you don’t agree with their politics. This is a dangerous precedent when bakeries only serve “conservatives” and restaurants only serve “liberals.” It sounds to us like a terrible business model when a commercial venture refuses half of the world’s customers.Where does it end? Do we have bouncers at the doors of fast food restaurants? Do we have customers fill out questionnaires before allowing them into malls? If it’s okay to refuse service for different beliefs, it won’t be long before race differences and class differences become acceptable reasons, too. It’s a very slippery slope.
It says nothing about anyone’s character if they are only nice to those that agree with them. Even murderers and thieves are good to their friends. Even Hitler was nice to his allies. It’s the way we treat people that are different from us that determines our character.
The Red Hen did no favor to a free society. The Masterpiece Cakeshop did no favor to the world’s religions. And Sanders did not help matters with her subsequent critical social media posts. Unfortunately, outrage has become the driving force of the 21st century.