Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Business License Does Not Include Right to Discriminate

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Business License Does Not Include Right to Discriminate

Article excerpt

A news story said a landlord in Mississippi rented a trailer to a married couple, but, when he found out the white woman with whom he signed the lease was married to a black man, he promptly evicted them. It didn't matter to him that the husband was a responsible man in his 13th year of service with the National Guard, because, he explained, the people of his church didn't go for that. While they tolerated mixed-race couples attending their church, they weren't allowed to become members. Ironically and coincidentally, this incident occurred right around the beginning of Mississippi's Confederate Heritage Month.

This, following stories about restaurants and a gun shop declaring themselves "Muslim Free Zones" and refusing service to anyone they believed to adhere to the Islamic faith.

Putting aside for a moment how morally reprehensible this is and instead focusing on economic justice, here's the deal, my "religious freedom restoration" friends: You are free to discriminate in your business against anyone you choose - homosexuals, inter-racial couples, brown and black people, non-fundamentalist Christians, etc. - just as soon as you pack up your business and move to a private piece of property not part of America.

You see, what you fail to understand is that you have no "right" to open your business. Your ability to operate your business within a society and utilize the amenities that society provides is a privilege granted by the state.

You could not survive as a business without the streets, mass transit systems and sidewalks that your customers utilize. You could not advertise your business on television or radio that rely on the digital spectrum and publicly owned airwaves to carry their signals. You couldn't function without the power grid that brings electricity to power your machines, computers and credit card systems, or the Internet that makes it possible for you to connect to the rest of the world, or the water lines that make it possible for you to cook your food, mix your paints, wash your tools, or flush your toilets. …

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