The freedom to discriminate is essential to liberty
by Bob Livingston
You discriminate every day of your life.
You discriminated when you chose your neighborhood and your house. You discriminated when you chose your job. You discriminated when you chose your church — or when you made the decision to not attend church at all.
You discriminate when you choose your friends. You discriminate when you choose your doctor (or did before Obamacare), your barber, your travel agent. You discriminate when you choose your insurance agent, your auto repair shop, your in-home security monitor, your pest-control service.
You discriminate when you choose which movie to watch, which book to read, which electronic device to buy, which show to watch, which sporting team to follow. You discriminate in your choice of beer. You discriminate in your choice of car: American or foreign.
Life in a free country is about being free to make choices, choices based on your own criteria rather than one mandated by the state. Don’t like fried chicken? Stay out of KFC. Don’t like pizza? Avoid Pizza Hut. Don’t care for seafood? Red Lobster isn’t the only restaurant in town. Denny’s gave you lousy service? Stay away… and tell your friends.
Don’t like how Wal-Mart compensates its workers? Buy your cheap Chinese junk from Target or Kmart — or the local mom and pop store — and your groceries from Publix or Kroger.
Don’t like it that Chick-fil-A’s president supports traditional marriage? Buy your chicken sandwich from Burger King. They’ve gone all in on “gay pride.” Don’t like that Phil Robertson defends traditional marriage? Change your channel. There are probably 175 more on your dial.
Don’t like Muslims? Stay out of the Middle East, mosques, Louis Farrakhan rallies and U.S. prisons — and Deerbornistan, Michigan. Don’t like Jews? Stay out of Israel, New York, Massachusetts, California, synagogues and jewelry stores.
Don’t like kids? Avoid day cares, schools and playgrounds… and sexual intercourse.
Don’t like blacks? Move to Montana, Vermont or Idaho. There aren’t many there.
Don’t like whites? Move to Detroit; Jackson, Mississippi; Miami Gardens, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama; Baltimore; or Memphis, Tennessee. You will see some, but they’ll be the minority.
That’s discrimination. It’s also called liberty, freedom of choice and, in the concept of natural law, freedom of association as guaranteed in the 1st Amendment.
Of course, America’s no longer free… especially if you are a business owner; especially a Christian business owner.
There’s a lot of manufactured outrage over alleged “discrimination” of gays. Yes, it’s quite manufactured — by the bullying homosexual lobby and progressive agitators. Some of the most high-profile cases were begun by homosexuals “shopping around” for someone to turn down their request for services related to a gay “wedding” so they could feign offense and sue for compensatory damages or, in the case of the Indiana pizzeria, by a reporter with an agenda who blindsided a naïve store owner with a nonsensical question and then in her reporting twisted the response to promote a meme.
And if you are denied service by a business, what of it? Wouldn’t you rather shop a store that values you as a customer? Certainly, the service or product would be better. And only someone with a mental illness or a progressive or someone in government (pardon the redundancy) would consciously and continually force himself on others against their will.
But rather than go to another business that coveted their services, the bullying homosexual lobby sought to bring to bear the heavy hand of government to enforce their will on others. It’s an old tried-and-true practice.
But businesses are property; and as such, the property owner has all the rights under natural law to provide service or not based on whatever criteria he sees fit — even if one or the majority finds the criteria bigoted, shortsighted or just plain dumb. Opening a business doesn’t require one to surrender his natural rights. That’s found nowhere in the Constitution. And in fact, the magical (and not legally ratified) 14th Amendment that progressives and activists judges love to cite to create all manner of “rights” bestowed personhood on corporations (see Santa Clara Co. v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. and Citizens United v. FEC), giving them rights under the 1st Amendment.
Progressives would have you believe — and some have stated as much on Personal Liberty — that allowing business owners to operate in a discriminatory fashion would lead to wholesale discrimination against certain classes. To prevent such wholesale discrimination, progressives created laws — not the least of which is the 14th Amendment — to force businesses to operate in a manner contrary to their owner’s beliefs or conscience, a clear violation of the 1st Amendment’s “free exercise” and “freedom of assembly” clauses and state religious liberty laws.
Jim Crow is the cudgel progressives love pull out to beat about the head and shoulders of liberty lovers and supporters of laissez-faire capitalism. But Jim Crow laws were not societal or free market constructs. Instead, they were rooted in statism and efforts by racist progressives to restrict the free market from the period beginning in the early 1890s into the 1920s.
In his review of David W. Southern’s “The Progressive Era and Race: Reform and Reaction, 1900-1917,” Reason’s Damon Root wrote:
[T]he Progressive Era was also a time of vicious, state-sponsored racism. In fact, from the standpoint of African-American history, the Progressive Era qualifies as arguably the single worst period since Emancipation. The wholesale disfranchisement of Southern black voters occurred during these years, as did the rise and triumph of Jim Crow. Furthermore, as the Westminster College historian David W. Southern notes in his recent book, The Progressive Era and Race: Reform and Reaction, 1900-1917, the very worst of it — disfranchisement, segregation, race baiting, lynching — ‘went hand-in-hand with the most advanced forms of southern progressivism.’ Racism was the norm, not the exception, among the very crusaders romanticized by today’s activist left…
Take the Supreme Court’s notorious decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), a case that has rightly come to symbolize the South’s Jim Crow regime. In Plessy, the Court considered a Louisiana statute forbidding railroads from selling first-class tickets to blacks, a clear violation of economic liberty. In its 7-1 ruling, the Court upheld segregation in public accommodations so long as “separate but equal” facilities were provided for each race, setting off an orgy of legislation throughout the old Confederacy. South Carolina, for example, segregated trains two years after Plessy. Streetcars followed in 1905, train depots and restaurants in 1906, textile plants in 1915-16, circuses in 1917, pool halls in 1924, and beaches in 1934.
No doubt many of those businesses would have excluded or mistreated black customers whatever the law. But in a market free from Jim Crow regulations, other businesses would have welcomed blacks, or at least black dollars, forcing racist enterprises to bear the full cost of excluding or mistreating all those potential paying customers. (This was one of the chief reasons the segregationists pushed for those laws in the first place.) The state, in the eloquent words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, granted “free rein and the majesty of the law to mass aggressions that might otherwise have been curbed, blunted, or deflected.”
Christian business owners are clearly being singled out for attack by the progressives and their mainstream media propaganda machine in their current war to foist their homosexual perversion on Americans. Evidence of this is found in the fact that there is no media or progressive outrage over “gay-owned” bakeries refusing to provide “traditional marriage cakes” nor over Muslim-owned bakeries refusing to provide gay “marriage” cakes. These facts are not just glossed over. They are ignored entirely because they don’t promote the current progressive attack on Christianity.
For a Christian business owner, the idea of participating — even tangentially — in something the Holy Scriptures describes as sinful and perverse is committing sin. When the state forces a Christian business owner — or anyone for that matter — to provide labor or services against his will, it is nothing less than state-coerced slavery. When the state forces a Christian business owner to ignore his religious conscience, it’s a violation of his religious liberty.
The Christian florist, baker, photographer or restaurateur does not go seeking people to discriminate against. And in fact, evidence has shown they have not discriminated against anyone in the regular course of business. They simply want to be left free to avoid participating in so-called gay “weddings.”
One business denying service to a potential customer, whether because the business owner cannot fulfill the order due to workload, because the business owner doesn’t like the color of the customer’s hair or skin, because the person is a known adulterer, because the person is a homosexual, or because the business owner is simply in a contrary mood harms no one but the business owner. The customer denied service is free to take his business to any of a number of other shops nearby.
Left to its own devices and without government intervention, the free market will compensate.
However, when government uses force to require the business owner to provide a service against his will, government has become totalitarian. The answer to individual discrimination is not government-sponsored discrimination.
The freedom to discriminate is essential to liberty. It is not the role of government to determine which discrimination is acceptable and which is not — or to enforce its own form of discrimination to correct another. Though, historically, that is precisely what’s occurred.