Is it Discrimination for Office Depot to Refuse to Make Copies of Pro-Life Flyer?

Office Depot initially stated that a pro-life flyer that a customer wanted to make copies of violated their policy, which prohibited “hate speech” and “graphic content.” Now, after the media had picked up the story, Office Depot decided that they could accommodate the customer after all, even though the customer found another business to serve her.

The customer had claimed that this scenario showed that Office Depot discriminated against her because of her religious beliefs. The Blaze reported

Maria Goldstein, 42, ordered 500 copies of “A Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood” from an Office Depot location just outside Chicago with the goal of distributing it at her church the next Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The pro-life prayer was authored by Rev. Frank Pavone and takes aim at the nation’s largest abortion-provider, Planned Parenthood.

But, Office Depot refused to fill Goldstein’s order.

A spokeswoman for the retail giant, Karen Denning, told the Chicago Tribune company policy prohibits “the copying of any type of material that advocates any form of racial or religious discrimination or the persecution of certain groups of people. It also prohibits copying any type of copyrighted material.”

“The flier contained material that advocates the persecution of people who support abortion rights,” Denning reportedly added.

Goldstein, however, said the material wasn’t meant to persecute anyone, but instead change hearts.

“The intention of the prayer is to ask for conversion,” Goldstein told the Chicago Tribune. “The conversion of the staff, employees, everybody who is part of this at Planned Parenthood. It means they will recognize life has dignity and that it is valuable and not a commodity to be bought and sold.”

“I feel discriminated against,” the 42-year-old added.

You can read the flyer in its entirety here. The specific excerpts that Office Depot objected to were things like, “the killing of children in the womb” and “the grisly trade in baby body parts.” Office Depot’s lawyer wrote, “Nor do you address the strong language presumably condemning those who perform and obtain abortions. Indeed, the prayer characterizes those individuals as ‘evil,’ and it advocates for the closure of the ‘death camps in our midst.’ It is this type of language that led to the decision to refuse your client’s copying request.”

Not long after they had refused to make the copies, they decided that it wasn’t a violation upon closer examination of the flyer’s contents.

So, was this discrimination? Perhaps. But isn’t it within Office Depot’s rights to refuse to serve any customer for any reason? Was this something that actually warranted getting lawyers involved?

If Christians want to make the point that businesses should be able to cater to some individuals and not others based on the owner’s religious faith, then we should expect the same in return. Not that Office Depot was necessarily refusing to serve this customer for religious reasons (they were, in a sense).

A cake business should have the right to refuse to cater a same-sex wedding. Likewise, an office supply business should have the right to refuse to make copies of material that they don’t agree with. As we learned for this story, the woman went elsewhere to get her flyers copied. That should have been the end of the story. There was no need to get lawyers involved and cry discrimination.

The problem is that when a cake business does exactly the same thing as Office Depot did in this story, the “victims” cry discrimination and sue the owner until the business is forced to shut down. We shouldn’t stoop to that level. Doing so only gives credence to laws and court decisions that we claim we’re against.