Photographers ARE the public. Holding a camera does not set one apart from the mass of humanity
Sorry, bad word choice on my part. What I meant by public is the people that don't go to the dog park with very expensive, "professional" equipment. I agree that holding a camera doesn't set us apart from humanity completely, but by going into public with a big white and making pictures of things near people, you are certainly in a way different from those around you, and representing the rest of our kind, per say. Photography is an art with a community, is it not?
For example, the Hobby Lobby near my house has pretty poor customer service. I consistently have bad experiences there. Now, if I were to go to a different location, I might expect the employees there to be rude. I would expect that because I automatically, if unconsciously, associate Hobby Lobby employees with bad customer service all because of my bad experience at one location.
It's neither good nor fair to the employees, but It takes several good experiences with a few members of a group to erase a single bad experience.
As to your crucifix comment: same deal. Just because it's not fair to judge an individual and apply it to the group does not mean it doesn't happen.