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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  1. kevin October 13, 2006
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