Little Tikes Not Welcome Here: Where’s the Lawsuit?
Do businesses have the right to refuse service to a particular group of customers? For any reason?
Chris Shake, owner of Old Fisherman’s Grotto restaurant in California, says he has that right. There’s a specific clientele that Shake does not wish to serve.
Oddly enough, he has not yet been sued into bankruptcy or ordered by the state to submit to “retraining.”
Unlike Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop, Chris Shake has suffered no catastrophic legal or financial consequences for his decision, even though he isn’t making a principled decision to withhold his creative services based on faith or moral beliefs.
So just who is unwelcome in Chris Shake’s establishment? Children. Noisy, disruptive children, to be precise. Young children.
Not Welcome Here
Shake’s “Children’s Policy” reads like this:
No Strollers. No Highchairs. No Booster Chairs. Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room.
Says Shake, “We have never refused families with children but often times they do not come in because we are very clear about our policy. If their children become disruptive in the dining room, they will be asked to leave.”
Now, as far as I know it’s not illegal to be a jerk, so if Shake wants families with young children to feel they are not welcome in his restaurant, I suppose he can do that. He wants an atmosphere of undisturbed quiet, and a crying baby or a wound-up toddler or a merely lively family would shatter the desired vibe, so that’s it. No kids. Fine.
Personally, I would do an about-face at his door and take my family of six somewhere else. I have no desire to patronize a restaurant that snarls at young children.
But I wouldn’t sue him for emotional distress or discrimination or call him a hateful bigot. I may think his policy makes him a jerk, but so what? He wants a perfectly quiet atmosphere, and I can allow him the freedom to make business decisions to that end. (Come to think of it, I wouldn’t go there with my adult family members either, since we tend to laugh and make joyful noise together.)
Still, he is openly stating that people meeting a particular criteria will be asked to leave his restaurant and will not be served. Drunkards? Vandals? Violent, threatening types? No, just “disruptive” children.
I thought it was discrimination to refuse to serve a particular group of people? Why is he not fighting his case at the Supreme Court right now? I guess because he picked on exactly the “right” group of people.
Children are People, Too
If he had a policy about asking loud women to leave his restaurant, or loud black men, or — gasp! — loud homosexuals, well, we all know how that story would end. He’d certainly be facing ginormous lawsuits already. He’d be undergoing his mandated “sensitivity training” by now.
But children are easy and acceptable to pick on.
Let’s not be mistaken here: children are people. They deserve respect. They have behaviors that are typical and unique to them. It’s “who they are.” I’m not here to defend children behaving badly in public or parents who allow it. I’ll be the first to agree that children can and should learn to behave themselves appropriately in public, and there’s no reason a child of a certain age can’t sit still at a table and eat.
But guess what? Babies cry. Toddlers cry. They don’t have volume buttons, however much we might wish they did. They also don’t have an On/Off button. Then again, neither do you.
They are part of the human family, and their presence should not be considered undesirable.
Some Refusals are Perfectly Acceptable
Interestingly, many people support Shake’s policy and are even drawn to his restaurant for that very reason. One diner commented, “Just the thought that I would be able to have a peaceful meal with no kids yelling, sometimes it’s needed. In all seriousness, people need to not get so hurt by this.”
Shake says, “The policy has worked out very well for our guests and our employees. Many of our guests comment that our policy is the reason they dined with us.”
Go figure. I thought a policy that intentionally declined to serve a certain group of people was supposed to be abhorrent. Yet people are applauding Shake’s policy and chiding those who might feel hurt by it.
So why again is Jack Phillips fighting for his right to decline to participate in a same-sex wedding? Why is he being sued into ruin and compelled by the State to undergo “sensitivity training”?
Phillips didn’t want to be forced to participate in something that violates his religious beliefs. He refused to promote a message that violates his conscience.
Shake is openly and proudly sending the message that children aren’t welcome and will be asked to leave. Not for reasons of conscience or faith. Just because they’re noisy.
Phillips has been vilified and his livelihood severely threatened. Shake is free to refuse. He’s cheered by many, and he’s battling no lawsuits.
Why is Shake’s atmosphere sacrosanct, but Phillips’ conscience and faith repugnant?
Guess it’s all about who you refuse.