The decision by the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, KY to ask White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave has drawn a firestorm of comments from across social media, some siding with owner for acting in accordance with her moral objections to the policies of the Trump administration, while others say it is unfair and discriminatory.
My first reaction was positive -- Good for the owner. She disagrees strongly with Trump and was simply standing up for her principals. I probably would have done the same thing, I thought.
But then I considered it further.
Less than two weeks ago the US Supreme Court, in a narrow decision, ruled in favor of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because he is morally opposed to homosexuality. Importantly, that case turned on a technicality involving the state human rights commission's actions in the matter and did not go directly to the question of whether the baker has the right to discriminate against anyone based on religious or other grounds.
Nevertheless, it raised that question in the public mind and caused much consternation among the LGBT community and its supporters.
What's Fair is Fair
But if you object to a baker refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple because he doesn't like homosexuality, shouldn't you also object to a restaurant owner refusing to serve someone, albeit a famous someone, because she doesn't agree with the patron's political views or actions?
I just don't see the difference. Actually, I thought Sanders handled it pretty well. She was politely asked to leave and she did so. Then, however, she tweeted:
That incident was a bit different than the one earlier in the week when ice queen Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, was heckled while dining at a Mexican restaurant. (Given the fact that she was one of the "faces" of Trump's policy of caging migrant children and separating them from their parents, I thought she might better have chosen a cuisine other than Mexican, but that's just me.)
“If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace,” demonstrators shouted, according to a video of the confrontation shared on social media. That happened on Tuesday.
Last Sunday, Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president known for his hard-line stance on immigration, was described as a “fascist” by a protester, also while at a Mexican restaurant. (What is it about these Trump people? They just like the food, not the people?)
The difference, in my mind, is that Nielsen and Miller were the subject of demonstrators; they were not refused service in a public restaurant. Those demonstrators were guaranteed their right of free speech under the Constitution.
But my thought about the Red Hen vs. Sanders matter is simple. If you don't think it's OK for a baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because he disapproves of gay marriage, then how can it be OK to refuse service to someone because you don't like their political views or actions?
What's the difference?