You may have heard that the government is forcing businesses not to discriminate. It isn’t. If you chose to run a business, you have to follow the laws. If you don’t, that’s a choice—and you choose to suffer the consequences.
Still, in the wake of the controversy surrounding Indiana’s law, conservatives don’t see it that way. Even potential Republican presidential candidates are getting in on the assertions. Rick Santorum recently said:
If you’re a print shop and you are a gay man, should you be forced to print ‘God Hates Fags’ for the Westboro Baptist Church because they hold those signs up? Should the government—and this is really the case here — should the government force you to do that? This is about the government coming in and saying, “No, we’re going to make you do this.” And this is where I think we just need some space to say let’s have some tolerance, be a two-way street.
There are two problems with Santorum’s reasoning. The first is that a printer doesn’t have to make such signs, under any law, because refusing to do so is not discrimination in any legally prohibited sense. A print shop can also refuse to print a poster that says, for instance, “F*ck Rick Santorum,” either because it disagrees with the language or the sentiment. Both are entirely legally permissible decisions any business can rightfully make.