By now, anyone who consumes conservative news has seen the story about President Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Sanders being asked to leave The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, VA. Needless to say, it’s turned into quite a controversy.
Since I originally published this piece on June 24, 2018, however, it appears new information has been revealed, so I have adjusted the commentary accordingly.
Depending on the outlet originally reporting, the reason Secretary Sanders was asked to leave (by Stephanie Wilkinson) is somewhere between the more genteel, “We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions,” to the more controversial quote below from the Washington Post.
Several Red Hen employees are gay, she said. They knew Sanders had defended Trump’s desire to bar transgender people from the military. This month, they had all watched her evade questions and defend a Trump policy that caused migrant children to be separated from their parents.
“Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave,” Wilkinson told her staff, she said. “They said ‘yes.’”
Quite frankly, I originally found the whole dust-up a little puzzling, first by the wait staff that thought it was a good idea to post the “86” sandwich board message to Facebook (as retweeted below), and second by the conservatives who wanted to complain about how Sarah Sanders was treated. My original commentary is still intact below.
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) June 23, 2018
Server updated the original FB post: pic.twitter.com/1bPAw02qoQ
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) June 23, 2018
It appears the militant wing of the LGBT community wants to have their cake (as in anyone who disagrees with them can be refused service – i.e. Sarah Sanders at The Red Hen), and they want to eat it, too (as in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop).
In similar fashion, it appears many conservatives want to afford conservatives the right to refuse service if it suits them (i.e. Masterpiece Cakeshop), but don’t want to extend that same right of refusal to others (i.e. The Red Hen), or at the very least they want to make a big show of the other side’s hypocrisy.
I have news for both sides. You can’t have it both ways! We all should either have the freedom of discretion regarding whom we serve – even in places of public accommodation – or we shouldn’t. The rest is just an excuse for repackaging “it’s fine for me but not for thee.”
For those who think this is written out of ignorance of the law, it’s not. See my previous article (here) regarding the misuse of civil rights to enforce discriminatory policies, which ultimately become reverse discrimination in many instances.
This is one area the courts and Congress need to step in to establish clearly defined boundaries for the freedom of expression and the rights of the business owner balanced against true civil rights without special protection for classes that were never intended to be granted protections, so society can work within the boundaries of a fair set of rules that considers the rights of all sides equally.
It’s also an area were conservatives could lead by example rather than trying to lead from behind. Instead of excusing their complaints of bias by pointing out the fault in someone else’s point of view or actions, maybe we should simply live by our own convictions despite how we are treated.
I remember someone saying something once about a speck in someone else’s eye…
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)
That doesn’t mean we never take a stand. It simply means we take a stand without making excuses of moral equivalency. And, we need to make sure our lifestyle meets our convictions.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
Keep your behavior excellent … so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:12 (NASB)
I still stand by what I stated above concerning a business owner’s right of refusal, but new information has been presented by Sec. Sanders’ father, former Governor Mike Huckabee, that, if verifiable, should change the outcome.
According to Gov. Huckabee (on Laura Ingraham’s radio show), Sec. Sanders and her husband went home after they left The Red Hen, but her in-laws and extended family went to a restaurant across the street where they had to endure protests, as Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of The Red Hen, followed them to the second restaurant and called-in people who began yelling at them from outside the second restaurant.
That type of behavior goes way beyond an owner’s right of refusal or even a 1st Amendment right to free speech. Ms. Wilkinson actions amount to harassment and should be actionable in a court of law, as Laura Ingraham intimated.
What happened to Sec. Sanders is symptomatic of a greater problem of extreme intolerance in our society.
When you have protestors at the residence of the Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (below), or leaving a decapitated, burned carcass of an animal on the doorstep of one of her staff members, I think it’s time to admit we have a problem.
When Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), an elected official who is supposed to represent everyone in CA district 43 (both liberals and conservatives), can incite people to protest public officials simply because they work for the Trump administration, I think it’s time to recognize we have a serious problem.
Worse, the Media is not holding her to the same standard they held former Governor Sarah Palin. Rep. Waters is intentionally inciting people, whereas Gov. Palin’s PAC simply indicated particular regions needed to be targeted, as in the target of campaigning, not the target of violence. Thankfully, Congress may hold Rep. Waters accountable, as Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced a motion to censure her and is asking for her resignation.
We need a return to civility in all our public discourse. And, we need honest reporting from all corners of the political spectrum. We need to return to our roots as a nation, recognizing God as the sovereign creator from whom we all receive life and liberty.