A lot of tongues are wagging about some comments made by freshman Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina who said that restaurant employees shouldn’t be forced by government to wash their hands after using the bathroom. To be clear, what Sen. Tillis actually said was a little more nuanced than how it is being portrayed by most people.
What Sen. Tillis said is that restaurants should be allowed to opt out of the requirement.
“I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,'” the senator said.
Tillis said his interlocutor was in disbelief, and asked whether he thought businesses should be allowed to “opt out” of requiring employees to wash their hands after using the restroom.
The senator said he’d be fine with it, so long as businesses made this clear in “advertising” and “employment literature.”
“I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom,” Tillis said.
“The market will take care of that,” he added, to laughter from the audience.
The idea here is that it would be okay to let Starbucks employees serve you lattes with fecal matter on their hands as long as the franchise owners warned you that they had no policy against their employees doing so. Left unsaid, but obviously implied by the remark that “the market will take care of that,” is that no Starbucks franchise would actually post a sign saying that they don’t require their employees to wash their hands because their customers would flee.
This is similar to the idea advanced by Rand Paul that restaurants don’t have to be told to serve black patrons because refusing to serve them would be bad for business.
This is the stupidest fucking line of argument in the history of the world.
In case you’re interested, the value in having a sign in the bathroom about employees washing their hands is to remind employees to wash their hands. It isn’t so people can be arrested for failing to comply. It’s to maximize hand-washing in order to minimize the spread of communicable diseases.
And, while this is the stupidest fucking argument ever, it still isn’t as offensive as Sen. Paul’s idea that every black person’s civil rights should be dependent on racist business owners making rational profit-maximizing business decisions.