Friday, May 30, 2014

A Few Words On 'Discrimination' And Freedom

(Credit: Big Earl's Restaurant)

Now here's a small item that caught my attention.

Apparently a gay couple stopped at a popular restaurant called Big Earl's Bait House and Country Store in Pittsburg Texas, a middling sized town in the corner of northeast Texas where the Lone Star State meets Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Their story is as follows; they stopped for breakfast,paid up and were told by their waitress not to return because 'we don't serve fags here.'

My, my.

Big Earl Cheney, who owns the restaurant has a somewhat different story. The waitress happens to be his daughter, and Cheney says her choice of words was her own.

“I don’t think I should have to discipline her. I think the parents of those children — or kids or being whatever they are — should discipline them or teach ‘em how to act in public. I don’t think it’s my place to discipline her.”

Cheney's story is that the couple were, shall we say, acting out in public.In other words, their being gay had nothing to do with it, but their behavior did.

“What I saw was one of them half way under the table with his legs stretched out into the other guy’s lap. And he kind of looked really possum eyed at me as they say it in East Texas, he kind of looked at me like ‘uh-oh’.”

“Homosexuality, Blacks, Hispanics — they all come in here — everybody comes in here to eat,” said Cheney. “I’ve served my country for over 20 years; I know what my freedoms are.”

He continued, “I’m not gonna have people coming in here with their butt showing; I’m not gonna have people coming in here naked; I’m not gonna have people coming in here having sex on the tables.”

Now, that is a rather different message than the one his daughter was sending with 'we don't serve fags here.' I'll leave it to the reader to decide which one applies.

The couple claims nothing inappropriate was going on. I can accept that at face value, but I also recognize that what's inappropriate might be very different for a gay couple in say, Austin than for an older, heterosexual restaurant owner in East Texas. I would also have to add that if the couple was just sitting there eating breakfast, one would have to wonder why anyone would single them out as gay. How would they tell? Were they wearing a sign?

Cheney has said he would refuse to admit the couple back into his restaurant. The gay couple maintains they were doing nothing wrong and were discriminated against.

As one of them said, “Nobody deserves to be treated disrespectfully at an establishment that just seconds ago accepted their money.”

Needless to say, the gay couple figured lawfare was the best response, but their attorney was unable to help out because of, in his words, local bigotry:

Gay Rights Attorney John Nechman says there really isn’t any legal recourse for Dewberry and his partner to take.

“We don't have protections in most parts of Texas for Gay and Lesbian people, other than in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso,” says Nechman. “There’s really no protections to go after someone because they’ve made a slur. Now if they made a slanderous statement, a libelous statement, where they claimed for example that the two were committing an act that they didn’t do, there would be legal action to take against them.”

Lawyers, of course, love the idea that people have a right to be insulted and to sue at the drop of a hat. It's called job security.As well as a plague on society.

But let's examine this from a different point of view.

Two people enter a restaurant. They're served. Something about their conduct during that transaction makes the owner of the business uncomfortable, and they're asked not to return, admittedly in non-PC language.

So there are two possibilities...either the couple's conduct was such that they were told not to ever come back, or the staff and owners don't like homosexuals.Actually, both take us to the same place.

Has anyone reading this ever been 86'd from a bar or restaurant because of their conduct? I have, once because I decked someone who was drinking and got aggressive with me that I later found out was the bar's manager and another time because the idiot I was with pinched and groped a waitress.

In both cases, a business decision was made by a privately owned establishment to forgo my future custom by the business in question. Paying money does not give you a license to behave how you please, especially if you're annoying the other patrons or the staff, and that is a decision only the business in question can make.Actually, many restaurants and bars would even tell heterosexual couples to cool it if they were being overly affectionate in public. There's a time and place for everything.

But what if the couple was 'doing nothing wrong' as they put it, and the restaurant in question is being discriminatory, and simply doesn't want homosexuals in their establishment?

Let's say that you own a restaurant and decide, for whatever reason, that everyone who comes in has to wear a tie. The Bel-Air hotel in Los Angeles demands a jacket and tie for all male patrons, and has some particularly gruesome specimens they force any man who comes in without them to put on if he wants to eat and drink there. Because of that, there are a number of people who simply avoid going there, especially in a casual town like Los Angeles.The hotel has made a business decision for a private facility they own to give up a certain amount of income to enforce this policy and ought to have a perfect right to do so.

What about clubs that refuse to admit people if they're wearing what could be construed as gang colors or gang attire, and clearly post those exclusions? That policy disproportionally affects blacks, but undoubtedly has an affect on safety. Are they being racist, or making a business decision that impacts on their possible liability for any injuries patrons might suffer?

Let's say you own a restaurant or bar and decide, for whatever reason, that you can't abide people with blond hair. Same thing. You are making a private decision to indulge your own bigotry at the cost of a fair amount of money, and possibly the hire of some excellent employees.

If Big Earl is telling the truth and he has no problem with homosexual customers provided they act in a manner he feels is appropriate for his restaurant, you can't call him a bigot,merely a business owner who had made a decision he is entirely entitled to make. If he's lying and doesn't want gays in his restaurant, the same thing applies. It is his establishment and his choice to make.

The gay couple likewise have a choice to make. If they feel they were insulted (and it seems they were) there are other places to have breakfast. And they can certainly tell their friends not to patronize Big Earl's as well.

That's how a free society ought to work.

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