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Cab Fair

A couple of incidents recently have, for some reason, given me reason to think about taxis.

The first was the Minneapolis Airport story, where Muslim cabbies were starting to refuse passengers who, they felt, "offended" their Muslim sensibilities. Blind people with "unclean" seeing-eye dogs, people carrying liquor, folks with ham or sausage -- basically, the cab was being declared "Muslim territory" and all who entered had to abide by Muslim law and tradition. And the airport was on the verge of making concessions and accomodations to indulge this conduct.

The response was quite fierce. Passengers started refusing to ride with Muslim cabbies. There was talk about boycotting Muslim cabs entirely. There was even talk about lawsuits against the cab companies who allowed their drivers to act thusly.

Eventually, enough pressure was brought to bear and the airport changed its mind about yielding to the cabbies.

Now, I am normally not a big fan of "anti-discrimination" laws and lawsuits, and tend to favor market pressures and private actions to counter such behavior. I think that, as a general principle, folks have the right to a certain level of bigotry and bias and prejudice -- such things tend to be their own punishment.

But in this case, the law is clear: if you provide a public accomodation, you have to accomodate the public -- all of the public. A cabbie, like a restaurant or hotel, has NO right to refuse passengers purely on the basis of religion -- either the customer's or the provider's. Cabbies that wish to serve the public damned well better take ALL of the public, or surrender their hack license and find a new line of work.

Also this week, a friend of mine told me a story. He's a cabbie here in lovely Manchester, New Hampshire, and is becoming more and more politically aware. (I claim a smidgen of influence in the matter.) He recently picked up a young lady and started chatting her up while taking her to her hotel.

It turned out that the lady in question was a lobbyist, in town to work our legislature on "immigration reform." She had come to the state where local sheriffs had (briefly) taken to arresting illegal aliens under local trespassing laws until a court put an end to that practice. She wanted us in New Hampshire to be more "welcoming" and "tolerant" and "understanding" of illegal aliens.

My friend had no truck with that notion, and started politely disagreeing with her. The discussion continued, with (he says) him remaining calm and polite, while she grew more and more incensed. It came to a climax at her hotel, when she got out with a firm, decisive, irrefutable "Screw you!" and slammed door -- and no tip.

He says it was worth it.


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Comments (15)

I must respectfully disagre... (Below threshold)
kevin:

I must respectfully disagree on the first point- I don't believe that anyone offering services to the public is obligated to provide services to the entire public in a nondiscriminatory manner. I believe that it should be a businessperson's right to run their business in any manner they see fit. Let the market forces run them out of business. (and I acknowledge that in some businesses where demand is fairly inelastic, this is probably impractical).

On a related matter, I am interested in starting an airline called "No Muslim Air"... who's with me?

Interesting issue.... (Below threshold)
Weegie:

Interesting issue.

I'm trying to figure out how the Muslim cabbies' exclusionary policies should be considered vis-a-vis the conscientiousness laws that allow pharmacists to not fill birth control or abortion pill prescriptions and allow doctors to refuse to do abortions, etc.

I'm not attacking conscientiousness laws at all - I believe it is wrong to force people to do things contrary to their beliefs. But do cabbies have less rights than pharmacists or doctors?

I'm just wondering how much public accommodation laws are forcing people to act contrary to their beliefs and if they are truly compatible with the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

I am leery of all these laws that diminish the rights of the owners of private businesses and properties "for the public good."

Could you imagine the uproa... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

Could you imagine the uproar if a 'Christian cabbie' refused to take a woman to an abortion clinic?

If these guys are working out of an airport, they should be mandated to serve all customers. If their beliefs wont allow them to do so, maybe they can get a job in Riyadh doing ssame thing, as we know their faith is most important in their lives.

There are a lot of Muslim o... (Below threshold)
Imhotep:

There are a lot of Muslim owned liqour stores around where I live.

So, is this conscientiousness just random or what?

Actually, Imhotep, I think ... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Actually, Imhotep, I think some of the more radicalized Muslims have attacked their so-called "moderate" bretheren, who operate such establishments.

Meanwhile, against my emotional grain, I find myself agreeing with both kevin and Weegie regarding the cabbie thing, although I find the idea that a cabbie would refuse to serve a blind man because he uses a seeing eye dog to be despicable.

So instead, I will amend my behavior, albeit in a way that perhaps the Muslim cabbies who enforce sharia in their cabs: I will make sure I am carrying a bottle of wine or beer with me, in a bag, when I go to use one, and I will make sure the driver knows that the contents of the bottle are alcoholic. That way I will be sure to let the sharia heads lose my fare for me.

If I don't have a bottle, then I'll ask the cabbie if he would carry a blind man with a dog. If he answers no, then neither will he carry me.

So yes, let market forces naturally select the sharia crowd out of the cabbie profession.

"She wanted us in New Hamps... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

"She wanted us in New Hampshire to be more "welcoming" and "tolerant" and "understanding" of illegal aliens."

"It came to a climax at her hotel, when she got out with a firm, decisive, irrefutable "Screw you!" and slammed door..."

How welcoming, tolerant, and understanding!

RE: Defending Muslim law an... (Below threshold)
kevino:

RE: Defending Muslim law and tradition
I'll state the obvious: Taxis are a heavily regulated business. In particular, not taking people with seeing-eye dogs or other animals for assistance is a violation of that person's civil rights and is expressly prohibitted by law. In addition, customers who call for a cab have the right to be served without having to pass some kind of external test. (The only exception that I know of are rules that allow a driver to regect a fare based on safety concerns.)

Bottom line: When you apply for a "hack license" you agree to the terms. If you violate those terms, as these actions probably do, you pull their license and put them out of business.

I can just imagine what wou... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

I can just imagine what would happen if a christain cabby refused to drive a islamic or new age earth worshipping pagan the liberal left-wing news media would be all over this with big front page headlines and articles in all the major secular rags

A taxicab is a PUBLICLY LIC... (Below threshold)

A taxicab is a PUBLICLY LICENSED common carrier and, as such, is REQUIRED to be non-discriminatory in its practices. They operate under a license from ALL OF US and therefore they must serve ALL OF US. It is not a matter of "opinion" or "interpretation" - it is a matter of LAW. End of discussion.

Where do you go and dig up ... (Below threshold)
Desi:

Where do you go and dig up this crap? I travel a lot and thus I've been in cabs all over the country, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, NYC and have never heard or seen anything like this.

And being a Hindu, I'm sure I come closer to offending "Muslim sensibilities" as you say than most.

Moreover most cabs are not operated by individuals. Taxicab medallions in NYC, SF etc are highly coveted and cost a big pile of money to get. Which is one reason why you find most cabs in big cities operated by big companies.

You'd have to be a serious moron to run a business and run a discrimination lawsuit for not letting people with a BLT in your cab.

I don't doubt that the example you pulled out is real. I really seriously doubt that it is even marginally indicative of reality.

Desi, the guide dog inciden... (Below threshold)
Sandy P:

Desi, the guide dog incident was in either Ozland or England, IIRC.

It's good to see Ozland and England paying attention and I would think the MN airport people were quite surprised they got responses from that country.

Remember, these cabbies are... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Remember, these cabbies are part of a company. Unless the company forwards rules that favor these discriminations, it is not their right to refuse passengers. Just as it is not my right to take a 6 hour lunch from work if it's against company policy.

In New York, If I hail a cab, and mention I'm going to Brooklyn before I get in, many times the cab will drive off. They don't like to go there because they worry they cannot get a fair on the way back into Manhattan.

If I take their number down, they can be fined for that. I see this case as the same thing. It's a personal gripe, but it's your job. If it offends your delicate sensibilities to serve a blind man, find another line of work.

I disagree with you, Jay. A... (Below threshold)

I disagree with you, Jay. As for civil rights, should all cabs be required to carry around a six hundred pound man? And why draw the line at cabbies and religion? There are all kinds of "public services" that discriminate against all kinds of people.

I thought the "I'm a devout... (Below threshold)

I thought the "I'm a devout Muslim" indicator lights were a fabulous idea.

It would have made it entirely acceptable for *passengers* to decide which cabs not to take.

At the risk of being snide,... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

At the risk of being snide, let me suggest that those Muslim cabbies would let Lee and his ilk ride for free.




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