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Consumer Confidential: Conservatives are all for businesses calling the shots — except when it's about Trump

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

The Trump administration didn't hesitate to side with a Colorado baker who nearly a decade ago insisted that his religious beliefs allowed him to refuse service to a same-sex couple seeking a wedding cake.

"An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play and a poet cannot be forced to write," the Justice Department said in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Supreme Court in 2017.

But President Trump and his allies were livid when Twitter exercised its own commercial prerogative and banned him — not to mention tens of thousands of his conspiracy-minded supporters — after Trump's incendiary words helped spark last week's rioting at the Capitol.

They were equally incensed by Amazon using similar reasoning this week to remove the conservative social media site Parler from its web-hosting servers.

"Free Speech Is Under Attack!" screamed the president's son Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter. "Censorship is happening like NEVER before!"

Hypocrisy much?

 

The message from conservative quarters is that a company has every right to refuse service to customers it doesn't want, except when those customers are people conservatives like.

"It's inconsistent, of course it is," said Anne Marie Lofaso, a law professor at West Virginia University.

"The common-sense perspective," she told me, "is that if you believe a business has a right to dictate terms to customers, then you believe a business has a right to dictate terms to customers."

That inconsistency is reminiscent of how conservatives are all for states' rights, except when it concerns things they have strong feelings about — in which case, let's defer to good old Uncle Sam.

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