Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Tow Trucks and The Right to Refuse Service

This story below caught my eye because (a) it occurred near a city where I used to spend summer vacations as a child and (b) there is so much in the news these days about this or that group trying to financially harm another group with whom they disagree. It has almost become a tenet of faith among some on both the left and the right that you should not do business with people who do not see the world as you do. Obviously boycotts and the associated right to refuse service are important tools which citizens and businesses can use to bring about change in the world. I agree with some boycotts. But sometimes these tools can be used in the wrong way. I was always taught not to spend my money with people who make it clear by word or deed that they do not respect me. It is a simple thing to take your business elsewhere or if you are so inclined to start your own business to fill an unmet market niche. But what seems to be more in the news these days is that people are very angry about the very possibility of spending money with people who do not see the world as they do on every little issue. That's a completely different kettle of fish. It's one thing to decide that you're going to boycott a business because they are doing something you find objectionable or which actually harms someone or something in the world. But boycotting them because their CEO said something with which you disagree or has revealed himself to be politically aligned with THEM is not something I automatically support. Similarly a business has the right to refuse service to a customer for any number of reasons. The usual exclusions to this right are the things a customer can't do anything about-race, sex, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion etc (although even in those instances there are occasionally valid reasons for refusing service along those lines). But most businesses are trying to make money and usually don't go out of their way to refuse service for arbitrary reasons. But North Carolina tower Kenneth Shupe had what he thought were very good reasons for refusing to assist a woman whose car had broken down.
A North Carolina tow-truck driver is defending his decision to abandon a woman on the highway after noticing she was a Bernie Sanders supporter when he arrived to help her with her car.
Cassandra McWade experienced a minor car accident outside of Asheville on Monday, and local tower Kenneth Shupe was dispatched to the scene after she called for assistance. Shupe was about to load up the car, but then he noticed that McWade’s car had Sanders bumper stickers on it, and told her that he wasn’t going to help her after all.
“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave,” Shupe said. “And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

I didn't know the Lord was speaking through damaged vehicles to tow truck drivers. I guess burning bushes are just out of style. Shupe is a Trump supporter and claims he's had bad experiences with "socialist minded people". So he told McWade to "call the government for a tow" and departed. As it turns out McWade was disabled but Shupe says that wouldn't have made any difference in his actions.

FOX Carolina 21

There are a few takeaways from this. It is not illegal to refuse service for political beliefs. And I don't think it should be. I think it is stupid though. I work every day with people who have worldviews and political beliefs which to put it mildly, I think are cretinous. But I'm not at work to debate or discuss politics or punish people with different beliefs than I. I'm there to make money. Why, absent being backed into a corner somehow, would I let politics get in the way of that? The other thing is, and there may be more written about this later, is that people who enjoy hearing about travel bans or boycotts launched at states who do not adhere to the latest NYT approved socio-sexual customs should remember that boycotts and service refusals can go both ways. The bad publicity that Shupe's business is receiving may cause him to rethink his policy of not helping self-identified Sanders supporters. Or it may not. He may get more business from Trump supporters. I don't know. What I do know is that as a culture and country we need to step back from the idea that we should only do business with people who think like we do. Or we're going to need to split up.

What's your take?

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