retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of the "religious freedom" laws in Indiana and Arkansas that have come under significant criticism because of allegations that they would enable and essentially legalize discrimination against gay people, one MNB user wrote:

Interesting commentary going on regarding the Indiana legislation. I really like your quote "I would argue that at least one of the problems with America is that too many people can't distinguish between a legitimate argument and a specious one."

I'm sure not why we need legislation to remedy this situation. It seems to me the simple solution to the problem would be to pull that smart phone out of your pocket, pull up google, type in "bakeries/Florist(etc.) near me" and go down the street and get the service or product that you desire if this establishment would prefer not too serve you(the laws of supply and demand would quickly apply and hence, no problem). I don't believe in any kind of discrimination and I don't believe in religion. But it would appear that we have a group that is going out of their way to force their beliefs on a group that doesn't support their position. This group would rather go down to the courthouse instead of down the street (unless of course, the courthouse is down the street, but I digress), which to me, makes this argument "specious".

As an aside, I have been refused service on several occasions. In retrospect, I wish they had cut me off way before they did!! 🙂


Funny line.

I think one of the central criticisms of these laws from the business community is that they are unneeded and unwanted ... they looked to codify something that didn't need codifying, and that in the vast majority of cases, would have been taken care of by marketplace realities.

And we can't ignore the political components of this. The LGBT community feels - and I think with good reason - that these laws are crafted the way they are so they serve as a legal loophole that can counter the broader cultural acceptance of same sex marriage. I'm not sure that qualifies as "going out of their way" to pick a fight.

From another reader:

You wrote:

A Neo-Nazi group is never going to ask a synagogue...  The Klu Klux Klan is never going to ask an African American choir... A Quaker-owned business is not going to be asked to provide guns....Not gonna happen.

Sorry to disagree with you, Kev, and I see where your point is, but....

Trust me, there WILL be at least ONE of these scenarios to be played out, and maybe more than one.  I may not see it in my lifetime, but I would venture you may, and your kids for sure.  That's just the way history has taught us.  Someone, somewhere will want that 15 minutes of fame, and bingo, you got a fight on your hands.  Less that one year ago, I would have agreed with you, and would have also added No one will ever pull up to a McDonald's and fire a .357 thru the drive up window....

The sad part is, no state or federal government should be in the religion business, or the cake business, or the gun business, or the abortion business, or the....  Just butt the hell out.  Field a military, and a court system, and regulate ONLY what is necessary, and let the rest go.  Worry more about the Iranian Nukes and the North Korean Crazies, than an LGBT person buying a cupcake, for crying out loud.  Being black, muslim and gay are NOT mutually exclusive, so should I get three times the special treatment?  No, I should be treated as a person, a human being, pure and simple.  If the bakery on the east side of the street doesn't want my business, the one on the west will, or I'll open my own.  That is life, and we all need to just deal with it, instead of passing our responsibility off to some legislator.  Time to put on the big boy/ big girl pants folks.  Life is not fair, Not everyone thinks like you do, get over it.  Not everyone likes blacks, muslims, gays, teens, veterans, seniors, whiners, lefties, geeks, widows, you name it...

The world is that way, and no amount of legislation is going to fix it.  You can't legislate morality. The sooner we realize this , the sooner we can reverse the course we're on.... hell in a hand basket.

Obviously I'd like my name withheld, and I won't fault you if you edit this or not print it altogether.  However, We as a country seem to have lost what's important, and that is, no entity is any more important that any other. I have rights, so do you.  I have the right to be bigoted, racist, and belligerent, and you have the right to shun me for it.  If I have the cupcakes and you have the money, I have the right to NOT enter into a sales agreement with you, and you have no right to force me, but you DO have the right to take your money down the street.  This scenario happens all over America, even today.

People are not served because of their color, and it's overlooked by the community because they support it.  The only way to eliminate this is thru education, and we are making progress, at least I think we are.  But passing laws is just hurting that progress, and fostering the hostilities...


MNB reader Tom Herman wrote:

I am going to quote you on this and ask you a simple question…

The speed with which this debate has unfolded has been instructive ... and I think it ought to serve as a lesson to those who may be finding themselves on the wrong side of history.

Who is finding themselves on the wrong side of history?  People that have sincere deeply held religious beliefs?  I think it is clear bigotry.  The definition of bigotry is stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.  There are going to be deeply held religious beliefs of evangelical Christians, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews that you don’t understand or agree with.  Some of them may feel silly or strange to you or me.  As a free society we should respect each other’s beliefs and make reasonable accommodations for them.  As I said before, these people are worthy of tolerance, love and respect.  It is what makes America great.  The lesson I take from your comment is that if you find yourself on the “wrong side of history” as defined by you, the condemnation will be swift and severe.  I ask that you look in your heart and really reflect on your “wrong side of history” comment.  I find it to be illiberal, condescending and intolerant.  I only say these things because I have the utmost in respect for you.


Never been called "illiberal" before. Though I've been called lots worse.

In re-reading my original "wrong side of history" statement, and then reading it played back in your email, I would like to clarify my statement .... because I certainly didn't mean to suggest that people deemed to be politically incorrect will be swiftly and severely condemned. That's a lot more draconian than I meant it to sound, though I certainly can see why you took it that way.

Please understand that all I mean is that the cultural movement in this country suggests that same-sex marriage is going to be seen as acceptable both culturally and legally, and that people who oppose it, or try to find legal loopholes through which people's civil rights can be abridged, will simply find themselves on the wrong side of history. I'm talking about some sort of Inquisition that severely penalizes people who disagree ... just that as we become a more tolerant and inclusive society, it simply is going to be harder to be perceived as intolerant and exclusive.

I also understand that this becomes difficult because we are in a space where religious liberty is seen as at odds with civil liberty. Easy answers are not likely.

Finally, from another reader:

Yours is a blog about the grocery business, and it has devolved into a cocktail party argument about politics and religion.

As such, I am now quite confident that I know what political party you vote for. Not that it matters, but I come to this website for insight into the grocery business, and there is no one better than you at pulling this together.

There are plenty of websites to bloviate on the topics of politics and religion, and while this is your website that you can do with it as you please, I have never seen anyone change their mind regarding politics or religion based on another person’s online commentary.

It usually only serves to further polarize the participants, and possibly alienate some of your followers in the process ... I look forward to a MNB with no politics and just the content I came here to read.


Point taken.

If I thought this were only about politics, I probably wouldn't go there. But I think this is very much a business issue, as was illustrated by Walmart's decision to get involved in the debate, not to mention that when the issue gets discussed, it always seems to come down to what bakers and florists can or should do.

But I also think that at least for the moment, the debate (here, at least) has run its course. So we'll probably move onto other things, though I reserve the right to re-engage in it if I think there is a good reason.




Two other quick emails this morning.

First, a comment from MNB reader Mary Schroder, who took note of a story about Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Oregon:

Lauren G.R. Johnson, "Leader of the Pack & COO," has the best title ever.

And she helps run one of my favorite stores - one definitely worth visiting if you're ever in Bend.

And this email from Gary Loehr, who had a real problem with my FaceTime video:

I cannot believe the blasphemy in your column today.  There are certain sins that are utterly unforgivable and you clearly will pay a heavy price for the content of your column today.  Not having a close association with the groups involved, I might be able to continue reading the column, but frankly, I will have to give it serious thought....

A Mets fan wearing a Red Sox cap.   Have you no shame, or is it the uniform of a new religion celebrating the legacy of Bill Buckner?  Personally, I blame Bob Stanley for the 1986 World Series loss, but that's just me.


To be honest, I grabbed the red cap as I took my daughter out for hot dogs ... and I thought it was my 2001 Brooklyn Cyclones cap. But I wasn't really worried about it. After all, the Red Sox aren't the Mets ... but they're also not the Yankees. (I won't wear a Yankee cap. Ever. That's against my religion.)

Am I a blasphemer? Probably. But as I said above in a different context, I've been accused of being worse.
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