First, I should clarify that I’m no fan of Donald Trump or the administration as a whole.
That said, the booting of Sarah Huckabee Sanders from the Red Hen restaurant leaves me unsettled. Granted, political affiliation, ideology, and occupation are not officially protected classes like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., are. The latter are physical characteristics beyond a person’s control while the former are consequences of personal choices and actions. But I’m afraid of that proverbial slippery slope rearing its ugly head in establishments. I wonder how currently rejoicing liberals would react if Hillary Clinton or the ‘other’ Sanders (Bernie) find themselves escorted off business properties in the coming weeks by conservative managers.
Because Sarah Sanders carries controversial beliefs and “lies” on behalf of her boss – and ultimately to the American people – seems like the ongoing presented argument in favor of the discrimination. But then here comes the slope: Trial lawyers are mouthpieces of the murderous and rapist clients they represent in the court of law, certainly bending the truth and playing mindgames to jurors (the “American people”) in the process. Shall they be legally ejected from restaurants? What about “legit” but controversial jobs like porn stars, prostitutes (in Nevada), cigarette manufacturers, etc.? Taken further, what about anyone with an unpopular viewpoint, questionable value, and/or prior criminal conviction? There go countless politicians, athletes, rockers and rappers, Hollywood celebrities, and so on and so forth, all candidates for “No (enter demographic here) Allowed” signs on restaurant entrances.
A libertarianish side of me wants to support the private owner of a business to do what they please on what’s essentially their property. But as we saw during the Jim Crow era, the ugly divisiveness in the public sphere – where these private business operate and play – is not worth that level of “freedom.”
The Red Hen now has millions of dollars of free advertisements in the past 48 hours. Not sure how this will affect business – their town is overwhelmingly liberal, so they could be finding packed houses during upcoming weekends by townsfolk and like-minded passersby. Although the surrounding county is staunchly conservative.
Public protest and some level of civil disobedience is fine. But requiring political adversaries to leave restaurants feels like another symptom of a society grown too accustomed to “shock n’ awe” debate and snappy memes. Ultimately, I hope this is not the beginning of a trend.
– Alan Morley