Oppose Marijuana Legalization? Prefer to Not Do Business With Those Who Favor It? You’re a Bigot
By Ken K. Gourdin
Ron Morse, proprietor of a legal marijuana dispensary in Potland—er, Portland; sorry—Oregon, says that Yesco, a sign company which has outlets in several states and is headquartered in Utah, declined to make a sign for the dispensary because those who run the company are bigoted. See the following address, last accessed January 12, 2015: http://www.sltrib.com/news/2040443-155/oregon-medical-pot-dispensary-accuses-utah.
The dictionary at dictionary.reference.com defines bigot as follows:
1. a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
The same source defines bigotry as follows:
1. stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
2. the actions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., of a bigot.
By contrast, Mr. Morse apparently believes the dictionary definition of bigot is as follows:
1. anyone who refuses to do business with me, regardless of his reason for doing so.
2. anyone who refuses to promote my cause, regardless of his reason for doing so.
Admittedly, what I’m about to suggest might be a stretch; it probably is. But I wonder, given the preponderance of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who reside in Utah, along with the Church’s well-known stance forbidding the use of coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs that are still illegal in much of the country, whether attempting to select Yesco to make the collective’s sign might not have involved a calculation on the part of Morse or his landlord to make Utah, its people, or the Church of Jesus Christ look bad.
One might wonder what the difference is, if any, between someone who prefers to not do business with a marijuana dispensary and someone who prefers to not do business with someone because of, e.g., his race. While courts are quickly muddling this distinction such that, sooner or later, it probably will become meaningless, the former instance involves someone who enters that business by choice, while the latter involves a characteristic over which he had no control.
As for people and establishments who prefer to not do business with someone on the basis of sexual orientation, any attempt to compare such a situation that which existed in the Jim Crow south is, in my view, inapposite. It’s not as though discrimination against gays is nearly as well entrenched or as institutionalized as the racism of the Jim Crow south was. Freedom of association (and of dis-association) dictates that, just as businesses are free, on principle to do business with you (or not), provided an establishment exists which will provide you with a comparable product or service, you’re free to take your business elsewhere (and to advocate that anyone else who sympathizes with you do the same).
Indeed, while this legal concept quickly is becoming outmoded in light of the fact that anyone seeking sympathy for his cause simply has to throw out the b-word to describe anyone who disagrees, there still is—for the time being, at least—a freedom of (dis)-association in this country.