Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bigotry or Liberty?

So I stopped at a kosher deli and ordered a ham sandwich. They refused me service!

Then I went by the Halal meat market and ordered a ham sandwich. They refused me service!

I tried to hire Jackson Pollock to paint a family portrait. He refused me service!

I stopped by the Washington Post and asked to buy advertising space to run a full page editorial criticizing the Washington Post's liberal biases. They refused me service!

I went by the Catholic Church and tried to get the priest to perform a bar mitzvah. He refused me service!

I visited the Baptist Church down the street and asked for some transubstantiated communion. He refused me service!

I slipped on a yarmulke and tried to get into a Neo Nazi meeting. They refused me service!

Suddenly, it struck me! This Nation is filled with bigots! The American University Women's Association, the National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People, La Raza, the Ku Klux Klan, Girl Scouts USA, etc etc etc.

And it's not just private clubs!

Businesses refuse to sell me the products I like.

Jewish delis and halal meat markets inconvenience me by not carrying ham. Artists inconvenience me by claiming a right to control their creativity. Editors oppress me by refusing to adopt my messages in their papers.

Or. perhaps, this Nation is filled with people who have the natural right to LIBERTY. A right not granted by the State (sorry Chris Cuomo) but by God. And encompassed within that right is a freedom to associate with others and to associate with ideas.

How meaningless is the right to associate and to associate yourself with ideas if the government can come along and compel you to associate with those that you do not freely choose to join with, or to express ideas that you have not freely adopted for yourself.

Do I think that Denny's or Kinko's should deny service to whites or blacks, straights or gays, Catholics or Protestants? No.

If I go into Denny's and demand that they serve me a product they don't carry, however, that's not discrimination. And, when it comes to printing, if I go into Kinko's and demand that they make 100 copies of a copyrighted work belonging to another, and they decline, that's not discrimination. Denny's isn't in the business of serving Big Macs and Kinko's is not in the business of copyright infringement.

Now, oftentimes, there is no particular exercise of natural rights to liberty at stake when a person seeks to have the benefit of another's entry into a business or offering of a service. And, for most businesses, a foolish insistence on the right to refuse service is a foolish commitment to less foot traffic, lower volumes and, subsequently, reduced income, 

So, some folks will prefer not to do business with me, or you, or another. Given our distaste -- ensconced in law -- for monopoly, the unwillingness of one to do business with another only means that the person denied service will get their product or service from someone else, someone that has no such strong sense -- whether founded in religion, morality, politics, ideology, or just stupidity -- that it's better to lose a sale than to compromise a view, an opinion, a belief or a conviction.

There is more than hubris in the current brouhaha over the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. There is a terrible shortsighted ignorance of how the ruination of the freedoms belonging to others ruins our own freedoms too.

Sure, we'd love the day when Klansmen invite African Americans into their homes for kindly discussions over dinner. We'd all love the day when vitriolic demagogues in the Democratic Party and rascally radicals in the Republican Party worked together for the common good. But who is fooling whom when it is the jackboot on the neck that obtains the cooperation of all?