What, did Sunshine close?
No, actually, Sunshine opened up... its political views:
On the northwest corner of the block owned by Sunshine, store owner Dan
Now Dan Roemen is not the only local businessman to use his property to promote his political views. My friend Dale Kringen has again allowed Russell Olson to place a big smiley billboard on the Kringen Plaza on Highway 34 on the west edge of Madison:
Eye doctor Michael Brooke is also in campaign mode, allowing the Jerry Johnson campaign to plant a couple signs on his office property on Highway 34 in town:
I disagree with all three of these businesspeople on how we should vote in November. However, I have no beef with their use of their own property to promote their views. I'm actually encouraged to see this eruption of political speech from Madison's businesspeople. I have had conversations with folks in town where I've asked for their support on an issue and they've said, "Sure, Cor, you have my support, but I don't dare speak up publicly. I've got to do business in this town." I am encouraged to see that Roemen, Kringen, and Brooke are not worried that their exercise of free speech might drive away customers.
Of course, I can't help noting that these brave souls are also backing conservative/Republican votes.
There evidently are folks in town who will discriminate based on political views. I've had folks decline to support me publicly in my political endeavors for fear of losing customers. I've publicly criticized the policies of the LAIC, and they now choose not to reply to my e-mails.
And at least one person I know is going out of town for groceries based on a political sign on Dan Roemen's commercial front yard.
Is free speech free? If I espouse universal single-payer not-for-profit health insurance (and I do!), and you think I'm a socialist (and some of you do!), do I have a right to be upset with you if you choose not to advertise on the Madville Times solely because of our political disagreement? If you are a Republican, can you justify refusing to buy eggs from Charlie Johnson just because he's a Democrat?
If you support women's rights and choose not to shop at Sunshine in Madison this month, are you making a principled decision to keep your grocery dollars from supporting a campaign for a bad law? Or are you being disloyal to your local economy?
Dan Roemen is free to use his property to declare his stance on Initiated Measure 11. I wonder—are his employees free to express their opinions as well? In particular, I am curious as to how Carol, Lisa, and the other women who work at Sunshine feel about working for a man who would vote to make women second-class citizens. (I know, some can argue I'm just as bad for refusing to make fetuses first-class citizens.) I may ask them next time I go to town for raisin bran.
We are free to express our political opinions. We are also free to shop and work where we wish... although when there is only one grocery store in town, that freedom to shop around is a bit restricted.
I'm still trying to sort this one out, readers. We have to live together in community, If we went around not doing business with anybody who disagrees with us on any political issue, we'd all be growing our own food and shoe-ing our own horses. How far can we go in standing for our views but still maintaining the fabric of commerce and community?
*I originally got Dan Roemen's name wrong. My helpful commenters have duly chided me, and I have corrected the spelling throughout. I apologize for the shoddy work!
Update 2008.10.13 17:40 CDT: Add another business to the roster of those willing to take their chances in the free market with free speech:
Freedom Financial of Madison makes it four businesses for the conservative side of the ballot. So will we see a local Chamber member step out with a Dems sign?