EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 9, 2014

Column: Giving businesses choice is not legalizing discrimination

The bar owner was blunt. A couple of weeks ago, he announced that people of a certain persuasion would not be allowed into his establishment.

To demonstrate his seriousness, he had head shots printed of those who are not welcome to make sure that his security team would deny them entry.

“I want to send a message to all those people out there … we don’t want your kind here,” he said. “I’ve learned that I can’t stop crazy, ignorant or stupid, but I can stop it from coming through my doors.”

And to that, I say, no problem. More power to him. If he wants to pass up paying customers, that’s his business. It’s not as if those he labels as “your kind” don’t have anywhere else to get a drink.

Given today’s hyper-sensitivity about name-calling and bigotry, I expect some of you might think I’m endorsing discrimination against those who happen to be different. You also might think there would be a ferocious backlash in the community – perhaps even a lawsuit – demanding that any establishment open to the public should have to serve everyone, regardless of their persuasion. You know, tolerance, celebrating diversity and all that.

But you would be wrong. There has been no backlash, no threat of lawsuits. As you may have guessed, this is not a watering hole in Arizona. It is a gay bar – The Abbey Food & Bar – in West Hollywood, Calif. The people on founder David Cooley’s enemies list are state legislators who favor letting other businesses do exactly what the Abbey is doing – choose whom they want to do business with.

Cooley isn’t just making a statement on his own, either. The Los Angeles CBS television affiliate reported that he is trying to get other local restaurants, hotels and retailers “that appreciate their LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) customers,” to impose similar bans.

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