Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Law professors argue that freelancers need to be able to turn down work that contradicts their personal or religious values

Given the recent furor over the idea that some small businesses might not want to support openly gay customers (as with the recent flap over a law in Arizona and Jan Brewer’s veto), Eugene Volokh and Ilya Shapiro have an important perspective on p. A15 of Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, “Choosing what to photograph is a form of speech”, link here. The specific context is obviously about a photographer’s refusing to work a same-sex wedding. 
The authors say they back gay marriage and actually the specific circumstance they talk about occurred in New Mexico.
They draw a distinction between a company open as essentially a public accommodation discriminating, which they would oppose, and a freelance writer or artist turning down work that contradicts his or her values.  That is certainly the libertarian position.
I certainly have to fight this battle in another way.  It’s actually hard to earn a living with your work and avoid the “conflict of interest” problem that I have explored often in the past.   I can’t let my own life be hijacked into being forced to say someone else’s message.  Yet, I’ve heard at least one pitch from a possible pseudo employer, “We give you the words”.  That was back in 2002, but the presented became downright defensive when I challenged him.  The problem is that the need to provide for others can draw one into mandatory hucksterism.  

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