Friday, May 05, 2006

You must say that?

The lawprofs at the Volokh Conspiracy are off on a debate about whether and why the law should ban sex and nudity in public. "Because" is apparently not an acceptable answer.

But I'm interested in this story from Arlington, Virginia. A small merchant offering video duplication services refused to duplicate two Gay Pride films. He thinks homosexuality is a sin and does not want his business involved with it. The spurned customer filed a complaint with the Arlington Human Rights Commission which ruled that the merchant was in violation of the County's anti-discrimination law and that he must either duplicate the video or pay for the cost of having it done elsewhere.

You can go to Volokh for a bit of agrument about whether this is constitutional or not? Is application of the ordinance here tantamount to "compelled speech," i.e., forcing the merchant to communicate the message of the Gay Pride films? In other words, is it like the Hurley case where the Court held that organizers of a St. Patrick's Day Parade had the right to exclude gay marchers? Or is this more like the recent Rumsfeld case in which the Court said that the first amendment rights of law schools are not violated by a requirement that they accommodate military recruiters?

I have a more basic point. Doesn't this strike you as a tad ... repressive?

Strictly speaking, the case doesn't involve disrcrimination against people on the basis of a "status" or other presumably immutable characteristic. He was not refusing to serve gay people. He just wouldn't duplicate a gay film as he apparently would not duplicate pornography or other material he found morally objectionable.

Why shouldn't he have that right? Is it enough to say that he can still believe that homosexuality is wrong? Do we really want a society where he cannot act on that belief as long he does not interfere with the lives of others?


Billiam said...

Rick, he should have that right. Unfortunately, this isn't the America fought for in 1776 anymore. As we've seen so many times, the Constitution has been perverted and diluted. This is not America anymore.

Dad29 said...

IIRC, there was a similar case a number of years ago--I think it was a print shop.

Unfortunately, the gray cells are no longer capable of naming the citation, but I THINK the court preserved the rights of the print-shop owner.