After Colorado bureaucrats ruled that government may punish a professional cake baker for refusing to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, the Denver Post editorialized, “If you invite the public to patronize your cake shop, you have to be prepared to put moral judgments aside and serve all those who walk through your doors.”

The Post is wrong. To rationally operate their businesses in the pursuit of profit, producers must exercise moral judgment in every aspect of their operations, including the crucial matter of deciding whom to work for and whom to serve. To the degree that producers “have to” act against their moral judgments in some way, that is only because government forces them to do so, thereby violating their rights to operate their businesses according to their own judgment.

It is absurd to suggest, as the Post does, that opening one’s business to the general public somehow obligates one to serve every individual who walks through the doors, regardless of context. Must a cake baker bake a “God Hates Fags” cake for the bigoted Westboro Baptist Church, or a swastika cake for a neo-Nazi group? Must a restaurant manager ignore his moral judgments and serve every drunken, unruly lout who walks through the doors? Must the Denver Post publish “all those” op-ed submissions that come through its doors, regardless of how poorly written, absurd, or ideologically corrupt they are? Obviously not.

Of course there is a big difference between immorally discriminating against a gay couple (as the baker in question did) and morally discriminating against the Westboro Baptist Church. The fact that individuals have a moral right to act according to their own judgment (so long as they do not violate the rights of others by initiating physical force or by committing fraud) does not mean that their moral judgments will always be correct. . . .

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