The Will of The “Sheeple”

Dear Dr. Hurd:

It would be interesting to read your thoughts on something.  I’m talking about the incident that actually made AOL news, that of the waiter who refused to serve the people in the restaurant.  These diners had asked to be reseated, and are quoted as saying that people with special needs children should be seated in an area separate from others.  The child had Down Syndrome, and the people (damn their souls to hell!!) had hoped to enjoy a quiet meal without the shrieks and carrying on of a young child, who in this case happened to be a child with a disruptive problem.

The waiter was applauded for refusing to serve the couple who had complained about the disruptions of the Down Syndrome child. Apparently somebody felt this was newsworthy.

Dr. Hurd replies:

I see two major issues here.

One is private property. The other is objectivity.

First, restaurants belong to the owners. Owners are responsible for maintaining the restaurant, and are entitled to any profits they make and likewise for any losses they incur. If the owners are to be responsible for the business, they also possess the freedom to do with it what they will. No, they’re not free to poison people. That would be fraud and negligence. But they are free to please their customers in any way they see fit, including how to prioritize the needs of differing customers.

It’s possible that the waiter at this restaurant was acting on the wishes of the owners. If so, there’s no private property issue. But we all know that the owners would be subject to all manner of lawsuits—potentially enough to close their business—if they took any other position than the one they did. It’s likely that the owners of the restaurant, by accommodating the diners with the Down Syndrome child, were acting out of fear rather than their own authentic position.

The fact that the owners of any business are in such a position, in the first place, is unhealthy and wrong.  They should be able to please their customers as they see fit. Most diners in a restaurant, if not all, will prefer a quiet and undistracted place to eat rather than a disruptive one. I’d venture a guess that even those who would make sure that others see them applauding the waiter, in this case, would prefer that quiet seat and probably even demand one.

In the end, it’s the owner’s private property right to determine which customers to please, or in what way. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. If private property rights were more consistently respected in this society, the owners would be free to ask the people with the Down Syndrome child to move—thereby risking the anger of some people, who would likewise have a right to boycott the restaurant (or chain). They’d also be free to do the opposite.

Consider the recent flap involving the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A over its public dislike of gay people. Gay people, or anyone else sympathetic, have every right not to eat at Chick-fil-A and to urge their friends to do the same. But the restaurant has every right to exist, take responsibility for its product and select for their own kind of customers, if they actually think that’s rational or right. We forget that while people do not have a right to defraud or physically injure others, they do have a right to be irrational.

It’s the same issue with smoking. Personally, I prefer to be in a restaurant where there’s no smoking. Most agree with me, and probably even some smokers agree. But the state or federal government should not be determining, for all restaurants and bars, who may smoke or may not smoke. This is for restaurant and bar owners to decide, because the business establishment is privately owned property.

These laws, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act as well as state-sanctioned laws against smoking, are violations of private property, plain and simple. The same people who applaud these laws—and make sure their friends and peers see them approving of these laws—are, like I said, the same people who would shriek the loudest if the government prevented them from doing something they wished to do on their own private property or private business, something that did not defraud or physically injure an innocent party, of course.

The other issue in this case is objectivity. By ‘objectivity’ I simply mean facts; reality; and the plain truth. This case reminds me of someone I know, who used to teach sound recording at a major university some years ago. One day, a deaf student decided to take his class. It was preposterous. How can a deaf student possibly take a class on sound recording? The administrators of the university took measures to make it look like the university was accommodating the deaf student to … do what, exactly? Hear without hearing? No answer was ever provided. The imperative was to make it look like they were doing something. It was ludicrous and insulting, even to the deaf student, even on its own terms—but this shows the incredible lack of objectivity that exists in much of today’s society, especially in the so-called ‘progressive’ atmosphere of most universities and all of government. It’s madness along the lines of ‘the emperor has no clothes,’ yet these are the times in which we live.

It’s the same with the Down Syndrome child in the restaurant. Why would the unfortunate parents of a child with this disability even want to take that child into a place where others would clearly be disturbed? It’s an attempt to turn an ‘is’ into a ‘should.’ In other words: ‘Well, it’s not fair I have this disabled child. It’s not my fault. And it shouldn’t be like this.’ So everyone else must suffer, as well? Why must people be compelled, especially by government force, to share in the suffering of others? That’s what it all boils down to, if we’re honest about it. Voluntary benevolence and “compassion” have nothing to do with it.

What troubles me about the case in the restaurant is not so much the laws or the universities, but the fact that so many people are afraid to say the kinds of things I just said. It’s disheartening to see people act like sheep. It concerns me to live in a society where so many are metaphorical sheep (no offense to sheep) that they’re unwilling to state the obvious. I fear that the American people have, on the whole, become what some call the “sheeple”; it’s the stuff of which dictatorships and disasters are made. No individual or society will long last once abandoning reason.


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