Why I Support the Right of a Business Owner to Refuse a Job
My progressive friends may be shocked. But even though I'm a staunch supporter of gay and lesbian rights, I actually side with the owner of a video duplication service who is being sued for anti-gay discrimination because he refused to duplicate a film on the early gay rights movement.
The service owner, Tim Bono, found the content of the film offensive. I don't happen to share his taste--but I totally agree that he should not be forced to do work that violates his moral code, even if it's quite opposite from my moral code.
When I get an inquiry from a new prospect, I respond with an e-mail that says, among other things,
Please note that I reserve the right to reject a project if I feel I'm not the right person for it. This would include projects that in my opinion promote racism, homophobia, bigotry or violence--or that promote the tobacco, nuclear power, or weapons industries--or if I do not feel the product is of high enough quality that I can get enthusiastic about it.
And yes, I have turned down a few jobs because they promoted ideas I feel are reprehensible--including at least one job I turned down because of homophobia.
I grant Mr. Bono the same right to follow his conscience that I claim for myself, even though we choose to exercise it for opposite philosophies. I would presume that if Lilli Vincenz came to him with a different project that was within his value system, he wouldn't reuse to serve her because she's a lesbian. To refuse her on the basis of who she is would in fact be discrimination, and she'd have every right to bring the Human rights Commission or the courts into the fight. But a principled rejection of her content is a different matter than discriminating against her because of who she is.
No one should be forced to do work that goes against their own conscience.