The latest sign of political divide: shaming and shunning public officials

Anger and division in American politics are creating a rising phenomenon: the public shaming and shunning of political figures while they are going about their private lives.

Few laws expressly prohibit a business from refusing service to a customer because of political views. Civil rights lawyers said that while there have been many cases in recent history involving establishments barring black people, women or members of the LBGT community, shunning people for their political ideology or affiliation has been relatively uncommon.

Until now. And in a time of intense political division, social media is magnifying the confrontations.

Within hours, millions of Americans knew that White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant Saturday. She had been out for dinner with friends, the cheese course already on the table, when the owner pulled her aside and requested that she leave. The owner and her employees said they were offended by the political views represented by the White House spokeswoman.

Pam Bondi, the Florida attorney general who often appears on Fox News and is closely aligned with President Trump, was shouted down at a movie screening in Tampa on Friday. “You are a horrible person,” one protester screamed at Bondi. The local newspaper reported that Bondi was escorted out of the theater by police.

Hecklers shouted “Shame!” at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a public face of Trump’s immigration policies, hastening her departure from a Mexican restaurant near the White House last week. Protesters even posted video of that encounter on Facebook.

Trump adviser and immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller also was confronted at a restaurant last week and called a “fascist.”

Many who disagree with the policies and tone of Trump and his administration believe silence is complicity.