The right of refusal is the legal ability to refuse to do something which has been requested of you. When a child is told by their parents to go to bed at their appointed bed time, they have no right of refusal. When a military man is commanded by a ranking officer to do his duty, he also has no right of refusal.
When a businessman is asked by a customer to do something he finds offensive, does he have a right of refusal? The most common assumption might be that, yes, he can refuse to do something he finds offensive. But this is not very clear in America today.
Every person on the planet has a sense of right and wrong. I am not saying everyone’s opinions agree, but every person has an opinion. If a customer asks a shop owner to do something that violates their own personal moral code, whatever that may be, do they have the right of refusal? Should they have the right of refusal?
Phrasing the question this way I assume most of you are saying, yes, they should. But understand this. When a person is refused there is someone on the other side of the counter who may have some question as to whether they are being treated fairly. Perhaps the shop owner is harboring some prejudice against the type of person that customer is. Maybe that customer is being discriminated against. It feels like the word maybe is killing us.
Let’s pick a few examples:
- A man goes to a kosher Jewish deli, and asks them to put bacon on his sandwich.
- A woman goes to a gay printer, and demands he prints fliers stating homosexuality is sin.
- A baker is asked to bake a wedding cake which is all angel food, he thinks the idea is tacky.
- An Islamic man is asked to make a custom ring which has a Star of David on it.
- A Christian photographer is asked to shoot a gay wedding, even though he believes it defies the sanctity of marriage.
Do any of these business owners have the right of refusal? Should they have the right?
Number three is different than the others because it is about personal taste, but the other four are about religious freedom. The question of the day is, when religious freedom encounters the right to be served, which gets the higher priority?
If you answer the same for all four, then congratulations you are consistent. If you said all of them have the right to refusal you chose religious freedom as the higher value. If you said none of them have the right of refusal, then you avoiding all possibility discrimination is more important than religious freedom.
But if you answered 1, 2, 4 and 5 inconsistently, then perhaps you are caught in the trap of discrimination. Namely that some groups deserve rights and privileges others do not have. What you chose reveals either, who you favor, who you disfavor or a combination of both.