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NeoNote — Compulsion by law

Just for the moment, forget about who oppressed who.

No one would expect a kosher butcher to provide pork for a BBQ.

Why should some religions and beliefs be protected while others are not?

Why do we not have equality before the law?

This is not about past wrongs being redressed. It isn't even about equal rights. It's about controlling someone else's thoughts and actions. It's about politics. It's about granting privilege while denying rights.

Under what circumstances does the state or the people have the moral authority to compel someone to act against their beliefs?

OK, let's go with that for the moment.

What gives the state the power to decide for an individual who he must do business with under penalty of law?

How is that moral?

There are companies we know can't be trusted to do the right thing. There are people each of us knows who will not do the moral thing. Should we be required by law to do business with them? To associate with them?

I promise you, that isn't freedom. In fact, a gentleman named Eric July tweeted "You have the right to refuse service to anybody, for any reason. To suggest otherwise is an advocation of slavery."
twitter DOT com SLASH EricDJuly

It doesn't exactly sit right with me either, but that doesn't change the assumption. If government has the power to prohibit this thought, then government has the power to prohibit any thought. That should worry any minority. As yes it absolutely has to be all or nothing. It's not freedom unless the Other has it too.

It's also not just the current regime, but that is at least 17 other discussions that I am not going to get into here.

I'm enough of a romantic to believe the US can be a beacon of liberty. Americans try to make it better, that's what we do. It's been my experience that there is more racism in the metro areas, but I could be wrong.

I don't care what the Christian bakers and florists and photographers want. I want them playing by the same rules with no "legal" advantages.

I agree with one proviso.

People have the right to discriminate. It may not be moral according to society, but people have that right. It is just as much their right as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The law is wrong when it prohibits discrimination.

At the same time, people are responsible for their actions and their words. That means they have to face criticism and shunning and shamming (without force). That means they have to face the loss of business and the loss of income.

But we can't afford to let government be the moral arbiter. We can not give the force of law to moral proclamations. We can't trust politicos to do the right thing consistently and without oversight.

I've talked before about mala in se and mala prohibita laws. Mala in se means bad in and of itself, usually because it is measurable harm. Laws against murder, theft, and vandalism fall into this category. The key idea is measurable harm. Mala prohibita laws are against things that government has prohibited. Vice laws fall under this, as do laws against religion, recreational intoxicants, and forbidden words. The libertarian in me will tell you that mala in se laws have a good reason and mala prohibita laws don't. Anti-discrimination and public accommodation laws are mala prohibita.

ETA: from my lexicon version 3, not quite ready for prime time
neowayland DOT com SLASH lexicon SLASH mm SLASH #mala-in-se
neowayland DOT com SLASH lexicon SLASH mm SLASH #mala-prohibita

Of course they did.

BUT (and this is really, really important)

These things were a part of the law.

The government thumb is still on the scale, just on a different tray. If it was wrong then, it is wrong now. It's still mala prohibita.

You can't trust government to do the right thing. I could go into the whole bit of which behaviors we choose to incentivize, but it comes down to one thing. When government gives preferential treatment to any group, it makes things worse.

Uniform rule of law. All or nothing, in your own words.

And yes, that is Social Darwinism, except for one tiny little thing. Americans don't leave it at that. These days hardly anyone remembers, but long before Official Government Solutions®, Americans founded private charities left and right. Orphanages, worker's aid societies, libraries, widows and children's charities, the list goes on and on. Americans want to help. Show us a crisis and we'll bend over backwards on tiptoe. The only thing that stops us is when government is "responsible. Somebody Else's Problem.

Pardon, but people do have the right to refuse service, we've just made a law that said they don't.

If the customer was being a racist jerk, I'm pretty sure you'd agree with me.

So what the law has done has set up a situation where the privileges of some trump the rights of others, all because the law assumes that people can't be trusted to make up their own mind and do the right thing. Your government and your fellow citizens don't think you can be trusted.

How is that moral?

I'm sorry, but I do not trust in the wisdom of government.

If it doesn't bring measurable harm, I don't think it should be prohibited. Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is morally right. At one point, the Federal government had the power to prohibit the making and distribution of alcohol. That led to the birth of organized crime, something we're still struggling with today.

I am not saying that discrimination because of gender, skin color, creed, or sexuality is right. I AM saying that government seeking to control discrimination is more wrong than the discrimination itself.

I disagree.

The free market means voluntary exchanges between mutually consenting adults. I may be selling widgets but the customer doesn't have to buy from me. Likewise, I don't have to sell to them if I don't like the color of their socks. Or anything else.

We've told ourselves that the law is about freedom and preventing injustice. But it's really a bad law that takes away freedom and encourages injustice.

As I pointed out the other day, discrimination is not always bad. And a law that prevents discrimination isn't always good, even if we are told that it is. It's not moral to require business owners and employees to sacrifice their freedom.
NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

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