I suppose everybody knows about Sarah Sanders being asked to leave the Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington Virginia last week. A lot has been said about the owner’s decision to throw out the White House Press Secretary, though Sanders (and other family members) simply wanted to patronize the business and enjoy a meal.
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” owner Stephanie Wilkinson told the Washington Post. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.” She said she explained that the restaurant has certain standards that she felt it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation. She also said everything had taken place with decorum. Decorum?
Is this an example of free speech gone awry? In her June 24, opinion piece, Lauren Debellis Appel wrote, “By the owner’s flawed logic and approach to business management, anyone who isn’t a socialist shouldn’t serve Bernie Sanders because socialism has ruined many countries and cost countless lives. Yet, if I owned a restaurant I’d gladly serve Senator Sanders and a table full of his socialist friends because I’m running a business, as countless other businesses who don’t subscribe to socialism have done.”
The owner’s actions also speak of a culture that deplores tolerance when it doesn’t fit their views. Are we setting a dangerous precedent or is it already too late? Bullying used to be isolated to schools but it is now commonplace to be bullied for one’s opinions. Wilkinson believed she was right in refusing to serve a person that did nothing more than wish to eat in her restaurant. Is this one more example of a country descending into incivility? Will it come to the point where we can no longer breath the air of someone with whom we disagree?
Maybe, there is hope. Sanders reaction to the insult is one to be considered. “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” the press secretary wrote in a tweet. “Her actions say far more about her than about me.”
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