Dear Crabby, Is It Wrong to Refuse to Serve Someone?

Dear Crabby,

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the kerfuffle involving White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia. Is it ever OK to refuse to serve someone?

Patty Patriotic

Dear Patty Patriotic,

Normally, I wouldn’t be shy with my opinion, but this is a tricky issue that can’t be easily answered with a smart-aleck quip. In fact, I can already hear the vultures circling on this one, so I’ll proceed with caution as to not end up on the wrong end of a pitchfork!

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

Let’s start by looking at a few particulars. First, what happened to Sanders is nothing new and it will probably happen again at some point. Second, the situation isn’t the same as what I saw growing up when places were still segregated.

Wait. Put those torches down and hear me out. I’d say most places would tell you they have the right to refuse service to customers for a variety of reasons—especially if they are independently owned small businesses, as this Red Hen place is.

Remember those signs that used to be on convenience store doors: “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.” To my knowledge nobody ever looked at one of those signs and thought, “My civil rights are being violated.” Nope. Even if you’d just come from the neighborhood swimming hole you had enough sense to put on your shirt and shoes so the surly man behind the counter didn’t bark at you to get out before you could get your banana flip cake. Speaking of cake, this whole hullabaloo seems similar to that cake case the U.S. Supreme Court just voted on. You know the case I’m talking about. The Colorado bakers who didn’t want to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Well, the justices decided the owner didn’t have to bake a cake. While some folks saw this as a defeat … I say, go find a place that will take your order! It’s not like there’s just one bakery in town. Well, there might be in some places, but you know what I’m saying. Another example is this t-shirt place I read about called Hands On Originals that didn’t want to put a certain message on an order. Remember how I said most places have policies in place? Well, their mission statement says they serve people of “all genders, races, religions, [and] sexual preferences” but reserves the right “to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.” And that’s what they did. Just like they said no to the people who wanted t-shirts with Jesus dressed as a pirate. And I just bet ya, if were asked nicely, they would let a customer know of another t-shirt printer who would be happy to accommodate their request. Can it really be that simple?

Yes! If you ask me (and you did) a lot of this is just political mudslinging and finger pointing by both sides. Sanders wasn’t dragged out by her pearls or put before a tomato firing squad. She was asked one-on-one to leave. The restaurant hasn’t banned all Republicans or White House employees from dining there. If they or any business does something along those lines, that’s when it becomes more about discrimination, which runs the risk of spiraling into something like segregation. We’ve been there, done that, and I’m pretty sure most of us have that t-shirt. So, let’s collectively step away from Twitter and remember that sometimes life isn’t fair or equal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all get along or act like the adults we’re supposed to be. Otherwise, we might as well sit at the kid’s table.

Bon appétit!
Dear Crabby

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