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 broader issue of whether a business can discriminate based on religious grounds remains unclear," the University of Houston's Alderman noted.

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, said it's one thing for a small bakery to refuse to make someone a cake when there may be alternative bakeries nearby. It's another matter when you're talking about a social media site that may be the predominant venue for communicating.

"There is a public value to freedom of discussion and freedom of political activity," Volokh argued.

True. But does that oblige a private company to include your voice in any such discussion or activity? Most experts say no.

Nor is it very persuasive for Trump, members of his family and others to insist that the president has a First Amendment right to post his opinions on Twitter. ("Free-speech no longer exists in America," tweeted Don Jr.)

Trump does not have a free-speech right to tweet. Nor does anyone else.

The First Amendment right to free speech applies to government entities; that is, the government can't censor or limit your right to express yourself.

It does not apply to private companies.


In Twitter's case, the company decided after years of accommodating Trump's controversial opinions that he'd crossed a line the day of the Washington riot and immediately afterward.

Trump's tweets, including the one cited above, "are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on Jan. 6, 2021," the company said in a blog post. It added that "there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so."

No shirt, no shoes, no service. Or in this case: No peace, no civility, no tweeting.

"It's perfectly sensible, perfectly rational, to say that businesses can choose to deal with whoever they want," said UCLA's Volokh.

Anyone who cheered on the Colorado baker's right to turn away customers based on religious grounds should have no issue with Twitter turning away users based on public safety grounds.

Unless conservatives think rules they don't like shouldn't apply to them.

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