Turning the tables

ledger gyllenhaal brokeback

 

A tribunal in Melbourne has decided that a local gay pub has the right to ban heterosexuals from its premises.

I initially heard the story on BBC this morning, and I did have to stop and think about it in order to decide whether or not I agreed with the tribunal’s decision. And in the end, I did agree. The factor that makes this situation different from the pre civil rights American south, or Nazi Germany, is that groups of heterosexuals had been going into the pub to ridicule and bully the gays. For any of you that have witnessed large stag groups and hen parties in Prague, you can imagine how offensive and frightening that could have been.

Later in the morning, I got an email from Opie, in which he asked me for my thoughts on the matter and on the fact that Australian civil libertarians were supporting the decision. He added:

I am pretty tolerant towards everyone, but this just strikes me as contradictory. (Can I now start a white lapsed Catholic, heterosexuals only club there? Feel free to start one for whatever group you so desire.)

I emailed him back:

I also heard the story this morning. As a libertarian and anarcho-capitalist, I am in favour of a private business being able to decide its policies for itself. And if hen parties and stag groups had been going into the bar to ridicule the gays, they deserve to be banned. Here in Prague, bars post signs saying “No stag parties”. We don’t have a problem with that.

The rest of the conversation went like this…

Opie:

So if private businesses bar blacks, gypsies, others, etc that’s OK?

My thoughts are that stag/hen parties should be incentivized to go elsewhere. Perhaps put a limit on the number of people allowed in and at the 1st sign of trouble, throw ’em the fuck out.

This just strikes me as a slippery slope and a bad precedent.

Max:

A private business should be able to bar whomever they want. But would you go into a bar that had a sign on the door saying “no blacks allowed”? I would not. Especially if the sign was instead “Juden verboten”.

The real answer is that groups of hetero women or men should not use the gays as a source of amusement. Gays are not monkeys in the zoo, after all. My feeling is that the bar owner should be able to decide whom he lets in, and it’s up to him how he does it. And all heteros would not be barred; the idea is to keep out groups that make trouble. And remember, barring the dominant social group in order to protect a persecuted minority group is different from barring that same minority group just because you don’t like them.

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2 Responses to Turning the tables

  1. ludovic says:

    best arguments in the last paragraph, Max. I don’t think that the signs should be tangible though – just like the ‘no gays’ sign at the wedding regsitry office in most places, the boardroon as Britain just found out, in the creches and kindergartens as NZers discovered. I say let ’em. Lots of straight women feel safe from harrassment from the very same straight men in a gay bar, and besides not all straight-oes are gay-bashers why punish the entire majority? But most of all I would say to all the big gym going pec pumped gay men, what have got all those muscles for? Give’m as good as they give. And if it isn’t a big muscle bar – put a door charge on it. Gaybashing is a cheap thrill. Surely these bogans wouldn’t pay for it?

  2. Max says:

    Ludo, you know Opie – it’s just that he wouldn’t let me use his real name. He argued with me about the issue later in the day, and I realised that perhaps I had not been clear enough.

    It would be nice if no one had to be excluded from anywhere and if we could all just get along – and if there were fluffy bunnies wandering around my fucking office… But we live in the real world and that is not how things are.

    My number one point is that I think that the owner of a private business ought to be able to make the rules up for his own business. I don’t think the owner in this case should have had to go before a tribunal to receive that right, but at least he got it in the end.

    In addition, the gays are deserving of extra protection because they still get ridiculed, beat up and worse for nothing more than being who they are. Remember Matthew Shepard — http://www.matthewsplace.com/

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