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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Whence the Power to Enforce Anti-Discrimination Laws


Discrimination lawsuits have been in the news lately, and I find them appalling, probably because I am not politically correct. The Constitution says Public Service should be available to all, and lawsuits to enforce it are in order, but I have never understood why I have a duty to serve you in my privately owned place of business. If I want only red-haired male customers, why should I not have the right to do so? Why have you a right to force me to sell you goods and services? I have the same view on employment. If I want only Korean employees, why should I not be allowed that? Perhaps it would be a bad idea, economically, but what gives you the right to send armed men to force me to hire you? Again I am not discussing public employment or services; I mean private businesses. 
A free country would not be concerned with these matters. ....
Of course this is saying that private business owners have a right to discriminate, to be prejudiced, in their choices of employees and customers; and we don’t permit that, because that is racist or sexist or some such: and of course it can be racist rather than merely weird or unconventional – but that is a consequence of freedom. 
I would have thought people are free to associate with whom they wish, sell their property to whom they wish, employ whom they wish, so long as they do so in their private lives, not as public officials. The courts log ago ruled that discriminatory restrictive covenants in real estate deeds were contrary to public policy and would not be enforced. That is fair and proper. But whence comes the obligation to sell your house to anyone: registered sex offender, single parent, handicapped person, public drunk, notorious Lothario, blue-eyed blonde, Irishman, Polack, Gypsy, cross-eyed person—and to send armed public lawmen to enforce your obligation to sell to them? 
But, you say, it is unfair to discriminate! You can’t refuse to rent to someone because she is Jewish, or Black! The law lets me send lawyers to harass you, reduce you to poverty as the enrich themselves and me, and I shall do so. You can’t be racist! Anti-Semite! 
Now you might be able to infer some kind of residual sovereignty in the States that allows them to do this simply because kings, dukes, and lords once could do such things; but surely it is not in the Constitution to allow the Federal government to do it? No rational interpretation of the Reconstruction amendments gives that power to the general government, and it’s really difficult to find it in the States. 
Yes: discrimination hurts. Those who are discriminated against dislike it. But those who want to discriminate and are not allowed to dislike that, also. But, you say, they are bigots and deserve castigation, and I am free to castigate them. I will leave the rest of this paragraph as an exercise to the reader.

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