Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Bathroom ‘Equality’

In Bathrooms for everyone a step toward equality, the South Jersey Times Editorial Board opined on the recent Starbucks fiasco in which two patrons who asked to use the store bathroom before they ordered anything ended up being arrested by police. TheTimes observed that “Starbucks executives apologized almost immediately, followed by the city's police commissioner. .” Other remedial actions were taken, including Starbucks pledging to give its employees “racial sensitivity training” (the two patrons were black).

The Times went on:

All good. But we wondered in an April 17 editorial why businesses that beckon people to come inside don't simply allow anyone who does to use the bathroom: "It's weird to think that a place that charges $7 or $8 for an upgraded cup-o-joe will suffer any economic harm from a few extra flushes of the hopper by non-imbibers."

Some readers accused us of wanting to force all businesses to let anyone in off the street to use the facilities. Not true. Other readers, more startlingly, linked our bathroom stance to off-the-point controversies about which public bathrooms transgendered individuals might be required to use. Huh?

Get this straight: Only certain businesses are places of public accommodation. An accounting office or newsroom should not be required to hang out a sign inviting the world to pee or poop inside. But, have you ever seen a "purchase required to use restroom" sign at Target or Kohl's? No. It would be ludicrous, especially now that brick-and-mortar stores depend on having people walk in and "look around" as one of their few advantages over online sellers.

I left these comments:

The editorial board loses me when it calls for a law, as it seems to do when it suports forcing “certain businesses . . . to hang out a sign inviting the world to pee or poop inside.” 

Private businesses have every right to hang out a "purchase required to use restroom" sign, regardless of whether or not they are labeled “places of public accommodation.” As long as no one’s rights are violated--such a policy, however stupid from a business standpoint or immoral from a personal standpoint one may think it is, violates no one’s rights--government coercion should be kept out of it. Free people have very effective individual rights-respecting ways to encourage social change, as the Starbucks episode shows. They can speak out against what they judge to be unfair (including racially insensitive) business practices, organize boycotts, or simply not patronize the business. The wrong thing to do is give government officials even more power to trample private property rights. There is no equality in the practice of some people using government force to impose their concept of good business on others who disagree.

Related Reading:

Property Rights—Ayn Rand Lexicon

How to Overcome Bigotry in a Free Society

Does rescinding laws banning private discrimination make a moral statement in support of bigotry?

Freedom, not Laws, is the Answer to Defeating Bigotry

Fighting Anti-Private Discrimination Laws: The Role of Principles in the Fight for Freedom

There is No ‘Right to Equal Treatment’; Only the Right to ‘Equal Protection of the Law’

Private Sector Anti-Discrimination Laws are Rights-Violating and Destruction

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