As you've heard by now, Sarah Sanders was kicked out of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia because the owner and staff at the establishment hate President Trump. Sanders mentioned the encounter on Twitter. She was clearly and understandably unhappy with the way she was treated. And now the Left has seized on the incident in the most ridiculous way imaginable.
Vox, Huffington Post, USA Today, and many other leftist publications have drawn a connection between this story and the case of Christian business owners who refuse to serve gay weddings. They argue that Sanders is a "hypocrite" because, as Vox put it, "she's upset that a restaurant won't serve her" but she's "okay with it happening to gays."
More from Vox:
I happen to believe that food establishments should offer their goods to anyone willing to pay for them. Sanders does not. She thinks it’s okay, for example, for a business to hang a sign in their window saying they won’t serve gay couples. This is why, on one level, her very public dig at the owner of the Red Hen, which set off a torrent of hate tweets and threats her way, is ridiculous. It’s hypocrisy.
This argument is absurd on several different levels. Let's count them:
1) Putting aside one nutty hardware store owner in Tennessee, Christian business owners are not denying service to gays, nor are they arguing for the right to do so. They are merely trying to exercise and protect their right to refuse to participate in an event that they find morally objectionable. Jack Phillips at Masterpiece Cakeshop had served countless gay people and gay couples over the years without incident. He never refused anyone based on sexual orientation. He refused a particular event because his religious convictions would not allow him to be a part of it.
Already, there is no correlation between Masterpiece and Red Hen. Sanders wasn't asking them to cater Trump's birthday party. If she had — and they'd refused — then we would have something approaching a similar situation. But she didn't make that request. She simply sat down to eat some cheese. She was told that she, herself, as an individual, was not welcome in the establishment. The Red Hen owner was not discriminating against an event. He was discriminating against an individual, which is far more embarrassing, insulting, and demeaning.
2) But here's the main point: Sanders complied with the request that she leave the restaurant. She didn't sit at the table and refuse to leave like the two guys at the Starbucks in Philadelphia. And she didn't seek to legally punish the restaurant like the gay couple in the Masterpiece case. She didn't sue them. She didn't claim that they had no right to kick her out. There is no hypocrisy here.
Sanders believes that Christian bakers have the right to refuse to serve gay weddings. She also believes that Red Hen has the right to refuse to serve her. But just because they have the right to do it, doesn't mean they were right to do it, and it doesn't mean she has to be happy that they did do it. This distinction is not hard to understand. I think the folks at Vox, Huffington Post, USA Today, etc., are smart enough to understand it.
3) The real hypocrisy goes the other way. Conservatives argue that businesses have the right to refuse service. Many (including myself) believe they have the right, or should have the right, to refuse service to anyone for any reason. We also believe that if a business refuses service for a bad reason, we have the right to criticize them for it. We can criticize someone for taking an action even as we acknowledge that they had the right to take it. There is no contradiction here.
But the Left has largely argued that business owners don't have the right to refuse service. One of the most common arguments I have heard against Jack Phillips goes like this: "He's a baker. His job is to bake cakes. Therefore he should be legally required to bake cakes for anyone who wants one."
Well, it is not hard to see how that logic should apply to Red Hen: "They are a restaurant. People come there and eat food. Therefore they should be legally required to let anyone come there and eat food."
The Right can be consistent even while blasting the Red Hen for its actions — just as long as it does not advocate legal penalties for the restaurant. But the Left cannot be consistent while celebrating the Red Hen for its actions. Indeed, consistency demands that it advocate crippling financial sanctions for the owner of the restaurant. That is the logical application of its own arguments. If they do not make that argument here — which would be an argument I'd strongly disagree with — they are nothing but shameless hypocrites.