on Cakes and Violence

Let’s consider these two opinions together:

  • A business shouldn’t have to sell a cake (or pizza, or medicine) to someone whose personal choices they don’t agree with
  • Social media companies shouldn’t be able to kick people off their platform, even if when they promote violence

We’re hearing from people who support both of these opinions at the same time. I’d like to briefly examine how this is the worst of four possible options.

Let’s look at each option:

Option 1: Neither Cakes nor Violence

Private businesses are not required to serve anyone. This is internally consistent. You can choose to do what you want with your own property and business, so long as your aren’t infringing on others’ rights. This is the “default” mode for liberal democracy & libertarianism.

Option 2: Both Cakes and Violence

Private businesses are required to serve everyone. This is also internally consistent. This treats businesses like a public good rather than private asset. For things like social networks, that means they act more like a public utility than private business (and may even be state-run and state-owned). This is the “default” mode for social democracy & state socialism.

Option 3: Cakes but not Violence

Private businesses can’t choose who to serve based on who people innately are (or perhaps even based on what those users/customers believe), but they can otherwise reject service to those that break rules of the business or break rules that endanger the polity/society. This is the “default” mode in progressive democracy.

Option 4: Violence but not Cakes

Private businesses can reject service to people based on identity, but may be required to provide service to those that are endangering others. This is the “default” mode of fascism.

Personally, I prefer option 1 (with some additional safeguards/protections) over 3 over 2 over 4. But regardless of your preference for options 1 through 3, I hope it is clear that option 4 is the most inconsistent and dangerous of all of the positions.

Todd Grotenhuis @toddgrotenhuis