February 10th, 2008

The Delusion of Anti-Discrimination Laws


photo credit: Idleeuw

Black. Homosexual. Short. Blind. Crippled. Female. Old. Muslim.

According to our government, the person who is classified by any one of these labels (among others) is granted certain rights that protect against discrimination. Crafted in an attempt to provide an “equal playing field”, anti-discrimination laws (such as these) state that a person may not be denied something (e.g. employment, a car loan, or easy building access) due to certain characteristics the government enumerates.

Civil rights advocates, minority groups, labor unions and others lobby for and support these initiatives in order to ensure that everybody has equal opportunity. Discrimination, in their eyes, is the tool of an employer (as an example) who might prefer to hire an educated, Caucasian male for a specific job. This is seen as entirely “unfair”, casting aside all those minorities who might be able to perform equally well in the job, but were not considered due to their race, gender, disability, etc..

But as Frédéric Bastiat has noted, when dealing with economic exchanges there are two effects produced. One is seen, and the other often is not:

In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

Thus, while the social justice and equality produced by anti-discrimination laws are initially seen, we would do well to analyze what is not immediately seen. In doing so, we will learn the true harm done by such laws, and therefore authoritatively surmise that they are more injurious than they are beneficial.

Anti-discrimination law negatively impacts the right to private property. If I were to start a business, one would think that I would be at complete disposal to use my money as I saw fit—hiring employees I trusted and preferred, purchasing the supplies I most desired, and compensating my staff as I thought best. However, anti-discrimination laws have essentially created a new type of property in the eyes of the state, free from the liberties associated with private property.

Whereas before there were chiefly two types of property (private and public), these laws have created a third type that might be termed “commercial property”. Referring to this new type and its ramifications, Lew Rockwell has written:

But U.S. political culture has created a third and far more insidious type of property. It is called commercial property. It includes all private and public property used for exchange in the free market. Included in this category is most everything but private homes and clubs, and secretive government bureaucracies. This means that the following institutions are so-called commercial property: hotels, restaurants, bookstores, manufacturing plants, computer retailers, universities, and so on.

Being classed in this way subjects this form of property to a variety of civil rights laws. When examined from a philosophical standpoint, such laws are nothing more than the legal right to trespass. A qualified individual may demand service against the will of the owner. He may demand to be hired, or not to be fired, against the will of the owner. He may demand a higher salary or a promotion, against the will of the owner.

If the free market embodies the idea of contract, civil rights embodies what Barry Smith has called the spromise. A spromise commits a third party to act against his will. As the owner of the business, you may wish to stop paying an employee and terminate his employment. Civil rights say you may not, without the permission of the government. (Lew Rockwell, The Economics of Discrimination)

As is illustrated, this type of property can be managed and restricted contrary to the wishes of he who supposedly is the owner. No longer can a store owner hire whom he wishes, nor construct an edifice as he desires. Instead, the government mandates that the entrepreneur submit his will to its own, thereby allowing bureaucrats to dictate who may and may not be employed, under what circumstances, for how long, etc.

Such “civil rights” laws, a progenitor of anti-discrimination laws, are equally as errant. They likewise create effects that are not seen, for any supposed right claimed by one person also creates a duty in another. H. Verlan Andersen explained this relationship:

Is it not apparent that it is impossible for government to “create” rights in one person or group without destroying the rights of another? When it gives special privileges to one it must deny them to someone else. This result is unavoidable because when government creates a “right” in one person, it must at the same time create a “duty” in someone else. A right is without any substance unless there is someone against whom it can be enforced. But the one against whom it is enforced is saddled with a duty he did not formerly owe. The law compels him to do something or refrain from doing something and punishes him if he refuses. But you cannot compel a person against his will, nor can you punish him, without taking from him either his right to life, his right to liberty or his right to property. Thus the law has destroyed his rights in attempting to create “rights” in someone else. (H. Verlan Andersen, via Quoty)

This is the “thing which is not seen”, as Bastiat would explain. In enforcing so-called “civil rights” for any group of people, the government creates duties that must be discharged by those against whom the rights may be demanded.

In the case of our store owner, it is now his duty to consider for employment those persons with whom he would otherwise not prefer to associate. Homosexuals, blacks, women, or whomever it may be, perceive that they are entitled to some supposed right in spite of their classification. Unaware of that which is not seen, they often do not know that their “right” creates a corresponding duty in another person that did not previously exist.

This new duty entails the abolishment of free association—the ability to choose what businesses you will patronize, with whom you will spend your free time, and what type of persons you will employ. The restriction of association, a direct byproduct of anti-discrimination laws, implies that the government has the moral authority to force you into associations that you otherwise would not choose.

Proponents of such restrictions would argue that all are equal under the law with anti-discrimination laws firmly in place. As an example, they might suggest that without such legal protections, a white restaurant owner might refuse to give service to a black customer simply because of his skin color. Opposing such an occurrence, they seek redress from the government for such a moral wrongdoing, thereby creating a duty in the restaurant owner to serve any and all who might desire his services.

This scenario, feasible as it may be, ignores another effect that might be produced without government intervention. Say, for example, that anti-discrimination laws did not exist, and this white restaurant owner could refuse service to a black patron. Without the option of government intervention, the black man weighs his options and decides to write a letter to the editor of his local newspaper to make the event known. Sympathizing with this man, hundreds of his neighbors boycott the restaurant. Word continues to spread, and the restaurant owner ultimately goes out of business as a result of his racial preference.

This example shows that preferences and associations sometimes have unintended consequences. The owner should be free to associate with whomever he desires, and personally held accountable for whatever prejudices he may or may not have. It is in his best interest as a businessman to serve any and all who might desire his food. However, it is he who will suffer the consequences should he refuse to serve a person based on a perceived discriminatory characteristic.

Civil rights champions may scoff at such an example, dismissing this possible outcome and demanding government intervention to enforce anti-discrimination. This is the sad reality of our world today—a reality where our economic associations are based on a victimocracy. Under this victimocracy, minorities and others demand certain rights be afforded them regardless of their lifestyle or defining characteristics, ignorant of or apathetic to the duties such rights also create.

What’s worse is that in an attempt to enforce “anti-discrimination”, the government actually demands that discrimination takes place. This was also explained by H. Verlan Andersen:

Anti-discrimination laws do not prevent discrimination, they compel discrimination. They do not protect the rights of either the employer or the employee but on the other hand destroy the rights of both by transferring control over jobs to government. There is no such thing as group justice. There is only individual justice. Rights and duties, punishments and rewards can be dispensed only according to individual merit and not at all according to membership or non-membership in any particular group. The idea of group justice is a mirage or an illusion because justice cannot be administered to groups. It is nothing but a clumsy fraud designed to increase the power of government at the expense of human rights. (H. Verlan Andersen, via Quoty)

It becomes clear that whenever government exceeds its moral authority and intervenes into affairs it should not, problems ensue. Unfortunately, these secondary and lasting effects are the things which are not readily seen, and therefore are not factored into the decisions made by those who craft our anti-discrimination laws.

Anti-discrimination laws, as has been shown, are a delusion. In the name of enforcing equality, they infringe upon the right to free association, restrict the right to administer private property, and ultimately compel discrimination—the very thing they intended to prevent. Government has no moral authority to intervene in economic exchanges of this nature, and therefore should allow individuals to determine for themselves what businesses they will patronize, where they will work, and with whom they will associate.

26 Responses to “The Delusion of Anti-Discrimination Laws”

  1. John
    February 10, 2008 at 11:40 pm #

    No longer can a store owner hire whom he wishes, nor construct an edifice as he desires. Instead, the government mandates that the entrepreneur submit his will to its own, thereby allowing bureaucrats to dictate who may and may not be employed, under what circumstances, for how long, etc.

    What sorts of good, moral wishes do anti-discrimination laws prohibit entrepreneurs from acting on?

    For what it’s worth, I’m generally for anti-discrimination, but not for Affirmative Action. There’s a subtle but important difference. One keeps businesses from turning gay jewish eskimos away simply because of certain labels, the other makes sure they get the job, regardless of qualifications.

    Say, for example, that anti-discrimination laws did not exist, and this white restaurant owner could refuse service to a black patron. Without the option of government intervention, the black man weighs his options and decides to write a letter to the editor of his local newspaper to make the event known. Sympathizing with this man, hundreds of his neighbors boycott the restaurant. Word continues to spread, and the restaurant owner ultimately goes out of business as a result of his racial preference.

    This is a bit more optimistic that would actually happen in some communities. I still know places where blacks have a hard time getting service in “public” places.

    I’m not sure the answer is just free-market principles – what’s to keep entire neighborhoods against holding to some outdated prejudice? I realize it’s just a hypothetical example, but I know many places where the letter to the editor would have been rejected by a polarized local press, let alone starting some sort of boycott.

    Most likely, any trouble makers would get run out of town.

    In such a scenario, the business owner might end up *losing* business if he caters to the black population.

  2. Jasonthe
    February 11, 2008 at 2:11 am #

    The problem with your argument here, Connor, is that you misinterpret (or misunderstand?) these laws (a fact made apparent within the first few paragraphs of what you’ve written here) as they are written and applied judicially.

    The laws do not legislate the hiring of or promotion of an individual based on minority status, but rather that you cannot refuse employment to a person, nor terminate employment, nor refuse service, nor make subject your offered service to any individual simply because they are in a minority. More simply put, business owners are only restricted in that they must act upon reason (and it can be any other reason… read the legislation itself) other than racism, discrimination, hate, etc.

    The foundation of your suggested idea is based on a misconception of such civil-rights legislation, and how it is applied within the legal system.

    And as one who has studied the economy (and economists) extensively, bare in mind that any attempt to foresee economic impact is akin to a roll of the dice at the craps table. Guesswork. Conjecture. Speculation. The best economists attempt to foresee, but still base their theory and policy advising to that which can be sighted in precedent, much like our system of law. Parsing the “economic impact” of legislation that relates to the balance of personal liberties is a horrible and dysfunctional method for achieving justice within a legal system, or understanding the correlation between “fairness” in a system and the overall health and stability of an economy. Look simply to any country with a wobbling economic structure, and you will see (always) an ongoing, or fairly recent history of civil-rights abuse against other races, women, homosexuals, coupled with battling factions of religious persecution.

    Your missing the forest for the trees here in what amounts to the straw man argument that I, as a business owner, will be discriminated against as a result of laws meant to stop me from discriminating against others. Ridiculous. I simply have to operate my business fairly, honestly, and without irrational prejudice or animosity toward my fellow man, and I will be free to prosper, despite these “horrible” laws you wish stricken down.

    It’s also the same argument the southern establishment used in the 1950’s and 60’s to defend their “right” to enforce segregation.

  3. Connor
    February 11, 2008 at 8:21 am #

    John,

    What sorts of good, moral wishes do anti-discrimination laws prohibit entrepreneurs from acting on?

    Morality is unimportant in the analysis of the entrepreneur’s decision, since government should not be the arbiter of moral choices. Individuals should be left free to act and choose as they please (within certain limits) and are ultimately responsible for their own actions. If a white person refused to serve a black person, they should be held accountable themselves instead of government enforcing some sort of equality.

    These changes are best left to society itself. Think of when forced integration took place in the 70s with whites and blacks. Forcing whites to permit blacks into their stores, onto their buses, etc., created havoc and disarray. It would have been better, in my opinion, had that transition occurred naturally and without government propulsion. Let society change itself as attitudes and perceptions change.

    This is a bit more optimistic that would actually happen in some communities. I still know places where blacks have a hard time getting service in “public” places.

    While regrettable, this is tolerable. Again, the government has no moral authority to force associations upon us. We may repudiate the actions of such business owners, as I do, but that does not empower the government to force them to serve somebody they would prefer not to.

    The market should be left to itself to handle these situations. As my example stated above, the customers can rally and boycott whatever store does this and ultimately cause the owner to either change his own policy or financially suffer. Regardless of whether this happens or not, it is not the proper role of government to interfere.

    Jasonthe,

    The laws do not legislate the hiring of or promotion of an individual based on minority status, but rather that you cannot refuse employment to a person, nor terminate employment, nor refuse service, nor make subject your offered service to any individual simply because they are in a minority.

    Contrary to your opening statement, I fully understand this and discussed it in my post. The point made was that government forces associations that might not otherwise occur, and compel discrimination by mandating that the employer refuse a job to another person (that which is not seen) because somebody else came along and qualified. What if a homophobe entrepreneur came across an application of a potential employee who was evidently homosexual. Should the government be permitted to mandate that this person be hired despite this characteristic—something that offends and disgusts our hypothetical employer? Sure, the person may have the right skill set. But that is not the only factor in the decision making process of employing another person. Private property theory dictates that this owner should be free to dispose of his assets as he sees fit, and therefore hire whomever he chooses to, for whatever reason.

    One major problem created by such laws is that the government is denying the freedom of association based on alleged motivation (that is, the psychological state of mind) of the employer. This cannot be proved, and so the business owner is targeted more for political reasons than for justice.

    And as one who has studied the economy (and economists) extensively, bare in mind that any attempt to foresee economic impact is akin to a roll of the dice at the craps table.

    This depends entirely upon what you are attempting to foresee. To be sure, foreseeing an upswing in a company’s stock price or a rise in consumption is difficult to do. However, foreseeing the effect certain principles will have is far easier, and entirely feasible. When analyzing the effects that certain decisions will have, one can study the underlying principles behind each proposed action and assess how they will affect the market, free associations, employer/employee relationships, etc., and thus make a wiser decision. In essence, the wise economist will analyze market forces based not only upon practicalities, but also principles.

    Your missing the forest for the trees here in what amounts to the straw man argument that I, as a business owner, will be discriminated against as a result of laws meant to stop me from discriminating against others. Ridiculous.

    This is most certainly no straw man argument. The categorization of such is an attempt to sidestep the entire argument and condone the laws I here repudiate. The argument is essential to free exchange and association, for despite wishes to the contrary, government is not morally authorized to compel me to pay people (with my own money) I would otherwise not wish to.

    Remember, government does not have any authority that we citizens do not inherently and originally have. Delegated power cannot assume new authority unless we the people first had it, and then granted it to the government. Since you on your own cannot force me to associate with somebody against my will, it stands that the government does and should not have this authority either.

  4. John
    February 11, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    Morality is unimportant in the analysis of the entrepreneur’s decision, since government should not be the arbiter of moral choices.

    The only moral decision government should make is to establish a level playing field — equality — for all. That’s why we can’t steal or murder – not because it’s wrong, but because we can easily show that it puts some people at a disadvantage.

    Making sure that people get hired based on their qualifications, rather than on a lack of the employers prejudices, is a step in the direction of equality.

    I don’t think anti-discrimination laws are enforcing some sort of false morality. They allow for equality of opportunity.

    The market should be left to itself to handle these situations. As my example stated above, the customers can rally and boycott whatever store does this and ultimately cause the owner to either change his own policy or financially suffer. Regardless of whether this happens or not, it is not the proper role of government to interfere.

    I suppose I’ll agree to disagree. I think allowing this sort of unfair behavior and prejudice to fester and grow will cause problems in the long run. Blacks won’t be able to find a hotel room in certain states. Mormons might not in others.

    It gives too much trust in the market – waiting too long for obvious problems to fix themselves slowly. I realize you wouldn’t argue for this, but it’s akin to allowing inner-city crime to run rampant with the idea that people will eventually abandon the crime-ridden areas. Or allow the criminals to create their own community.

    Allowing groups to forge their own homogeneous culture will fracture the nation. History shows that race (at least) has done it before.

    P.S. – What statutes apply to every business? I wonder which businesses actually are forced to hire/service in certain ways. Is it truly everyone?

  5. Connor
    February 11, 2008 at 9:46 am #

    John,

    The only moral decision government should make is to establish a level playing field — equality — for all. That’s why we can’t steal or murder – not because it’s wrong, but because we can easily show that it puts some people at a disadvantage.

    Equality is a broad subject that must be explicitly defined to be best understood and applied. Equality under the law implies that all citizens are treated equally with no exceptions made based on discriminatory characteristics. Equal opportunity however, implies that the government should provide an “equal playing field” so that each person has the same chance to succeed as the next.

    My argument relies upon the fact that the latter type is a farce. Government cannot provide equal opportunity. In order to do so, as I noted in my post, they must create rights in people and hence create corresponding duties in other, thus assuming the role of manager in determining who is not doing their duty, where it applies, how it should be enforced, etc.

    However, one might also define equal opportunity to be “equality of the potential to succeed and fail”. Under this definition, government is likewise not permitted to intervene, for in order to succeed or fail, the business owner must be left to make his own choices and suffer the consequences.

    I think allowing this sort of unfair behavior and prejudice to fester and grow will cause problems in the long run. Blacks won’t be able to find a hotel room in certain states. Mormons might not in others.

    I agree with your assessment that such things might occur. But the fact remains that government is not morally authorized to compel associations and force business owners to discharge their private property in someone’s favor. One might hope that in our day, these examples would be far and few between. But regardless of their frequency, they should not be remedied by government force.

    It gives too much trust in the market – waiting too long for obvious problems to fix themselves slowly. I realize you wouldn’t argue for this, but it’s akin to allowing inner-city crime to run rampant with the idea that people will eventually abandon the crime-ridden areas. Or allow the criminals to create their own community.

    I believe that your examples are not comparable here, in that you equate business exchanges with stealing, murder, and crime. Whenever the infringement of life, liberty, and property is in question, the government is morally authorized to intervene. Obviously, such crimes should not be permitted. However, nobody has the right to somebody else’s services or products (the result of the discharge of their private property), and therefore the right of refusal remains inherent in the owner. Since no liberty has been infringed, the government is not authorized to intervene.

    P.S. – What statutes apply to every business? I wonder which businesses actually are forced to hire/service in certain ways. Is it truly everyone?

    More info here.

  6. John
    February 11, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    Since no liberty has been infringed, the government is not authorized to intervene.

    The question is: do we have a right to the liberty of opportunity?

    I see your points, but I still want to explore this a bit. I can see how unfair it would seem to have the government decide how you hire and service the community.

    But at what point do we allow this to happen, and at what cost does this become an issue that requires government intervention?

    If a community rallies, prejudicially, against some minority how does this minority survive? I think the assumption that the market will alleviate the prejudice can be incorrect or in some cases take too long. Asking the minority to leave also may not work either. How does someone gather the resources to move if they can’t find a job or be a consumer in a community? Especially if the prejudice is wide-spread?

  7. Connor
    February 11, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    The question is: do we have a right to the liberty of opportunity?

    For an interesting exposition on the subject of “equality of opportunity”, I found this article to be enlightening.

    I think the assumption that the market will alleviate the prejudice can be incorrect or in some cases take too long.

    It is interesting to note that this same argument was and is often used by those condoning the Civil War in rooting out slavery. What should be noted, however, is that we are the only country in the world that did so—all others transitioned naturally and without violent force.

    I think we underestimate the goodness in people if we surmise that left to themselves, they would prejudicially homogenize and refuse to interact with diverse people. Bastiat had this to say about such a lack of faith:

    Our adversaries believe that an activity that is neither subsidized nor regulated is abolished. We believe the contrary. Their faith is in the legislator, not in mankind. Ours is in mankind, not in the legislator.

    Too often, the knee-jerk reaction is to seek government intervention to solve our problems. This sidesteps the source of the problem and the potential solution: peaceable, voluntary change. We need to have more faith in individuals, and by corollary, the market.

    Social change is least effective when it is forced. Just as a teenager cannot effectively be forced to love his little brother, so too a person cannot not discriminate due to legislation. This principle is reflected in scripture when we read:

    For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. (Moroni 7:8)

    The prevention of discrimination is, I believe, most effective—and morally sound—when brought about by natural, societal transitions free from bureaucratic mandates.

  8. Jasonthe
    February 11, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Connor,

    What is being sidestepped here is (as I argued) the application of these laws withing a judicial system designed (albeit imperfectly) to ensure ethical practice and reasonable action. If our justice system is not going to promote fair practice (in all aspects of life, including business) what exactly is it there to do?

    The application of these laws is not to tell you who you must associate with (quite a stretch of logic there on your part, by any means of understanding) but rather to ensure that you operate your business inside of a recognized state within the laws and values of that same state. If you were addressing “hate-crimes” legislation, you would get no argument from me (I find them redundant…and ineffective when the real problem with hate is human stupidity, and how each generation chooses to raise and educate the next). But you are pointing this gaping argument of yours towards equal rights legislation. Again, you are using the same argument the entrenched establishment of the south used to combat integration during mid-century civil rights battles. “If you tell me I can’t discriminate against a person for being black, gay, female, etc, then you are infringing upon my rights.” Damn right, and we should do more of it! When it comes to our judicial system, that is exactly, entirely, and without doubt the entire purpose of the application of legislation overall.

    When a governing body decides that discrimination is something it won’t accept, it has an obligation to it’s people to back that decision up with legislation making it a crime to discriminate. Without that obligation, we simply reduce ourselves to lawlessness, and become subject to the whims of trogloditic reasoning of fools.

    Consider how you would fair in today’s southern bible belt, as a Mormon. Evangelical Christians do not recognize the LDS faith as a Christian faith. They would most likely choose to not associate with you. Were you to move there with your family, the judicial system would protect you from the obstacle of finding unemployment when nobody wants you working for them because you are a Mormon. They can not hire you because you aren’t skilled, or because you do not fit their needs, but they cannot refuse you employment simply because of your choice of religion.

    Again, you are ignoring the application of legislation designed to promote fairness with was is indeed a straw man argument that legislating fairness infringes on the rights of business owners, and therefore hinders our economy.

    I draw you once again to the example of countries facing uphill battles in stabilizing their own economic potential. You will see, in each and every example, an ongoing or very recent history of civil-rights abuses in those countries, without exception. Fairness and the legislation of ethical practice (assuming one feels discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender, hair color, shoe size, etc is un-ethical) is an intrinsic part of any judicial system, and is a necessary component in a satisfied people, who are themselves a key piece of the larger whole of a healthy economy.

    Your depiction of this legislation is that it legislates the subjectivity of private property and free choice of associate “in someone’s favor.” The point you are missing (again by not recognizing the application of such legislation within a judicial system) is the question of who is in favor. To argue that not allowing business owners to discriminate irrationally within the laws of the state stacks the deck in “someone else’s favor” is, again, missing the forest for the trees. If you are going to argue the effects doing so has on the economy, you must also acknowledge the effects fairness and ethical business practices have on the economy. To say that these laws lead to economic downturn ignores the larger issue of economic stabilization that blossoms from a fair and ethical state.

    Bubba Joe Dirt may be quite upset when you tell him he can’t refuse business to a qualified customer or employee simply because of the color of their skin, but the economic impact of Joe Dirt’s frustration pales greatly in comparison to the economic impact of marginalizing an entire race, creed, or gender by not protecting their basic god given rights with legislation. So in essence, screw Joe Dirt. Infringing on his “right” to practice business unethically has but a tiny fraction of the economic impact that allowing the free range of archaic prejudices would have on longterm economic growth, freedom, and stability.

  9. Jordan Gunderson
    February 11, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    For a better understanding of Frédéric Bastiat’s quote from an economic standpoint, I highly recommend “Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy“. It eloquently details the negative unforeseen economic effects of heavy-handed government legislation in economic areas like minimum wage, rent control, taxes, and so forth. Basically, government intervention in the free markets almost always ends up backfiring and doing the exact opposite of what was intended.

    This book really is an interesting read, and I wish every voter understood its content. Too many politicians play to voter sympathies (and their lack of basic economic education), promising the world, and ruining the world for everybody as a consequence.

    I have the entire book on CD as well, so if you (or any of your readers) would like to borrow it. Just let me know.

  10. Connor
    February 11, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    The application of these laws is not to tell you who you must associate with (quite a stretch of logic there on your part, by any means of understanding) but rather to ensure that you operate your business inside of a recognized state within the laws and values of that same state.

    You’re arguing semantics here. By saying that I cannot not associate with people of a certain type, your are therefore saying that I must associate with them. Preference is not given to one group over the other, but the restriction of my personal preference implies that I must potentially enter into a forced association.

    When it comes to our judicial system, that is exactly, entirely, and without doubt the entire purpose of the application of legislation overall.

    You are then promoting a right that does not exist. No person can morally force another to discharge his/her private property in a way they do not desire. Why, then, does the government assume this power?

    When a governing body decides that discrimination is something it won’t accept, it has an obligation to it’s people to back that decision up with legislation making it a crime to discriminate.

    To what end does such legislation exist? What will be next? Will Hooters be forced to employ male waitresses? Will the Boy Scouts of America have to open its doors to homosexuals? Will Mormons be required to permit homosexual marriages in their temples?

    Your reliance in and obedience to a “governing body” enshrined with the authority to determine what may or may not be discriminated against is worrysome, as it fails to state from whence such a body derives its authority. Again, if we as citizens do not have such authority, the government we delegate our inherent powers to cannot either.

    Fairness and the legislation of ethical practice… is an intrinsic part of any judicial system, and is a necessary component in a satisfied people, who are themselves a key piece of the larger whole of a healthy economy.

    Your frequent mention of judicial implications is of little import, for the judicial system exists only to interpret the law. I am here concerned with the law itself—why it exists, what problems it purports to remedy, and upon what authority it is mandated. Only after such questions are satisfactorily answered do we need worry about what judges think.

    To say that these laws lead to economic downturn ignores the larger issue of economic stabilization that blossoms from a fair and ethical state.

    I’m here referring to the loss of liberty and freedom of economic association caused by anti-discrimination law—not a specific economic downturn. As Bastiat noted, the money that would have been spent in one direction (with government intrusion) will still be spent in another, thus maintaining economic integrity and progress.

    So in essence, screw Joe Dirt.

    This argument encapsulates the conventional belief enshrined in anti-discrimination and other laws. Screw individual liberty! We’ve got equality to promote, and force to use! Time to get busy!

  11. Jasonthe
    February 11, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    Your really reaching here, Connor.

    Your argument is that these laws hinder economic prosperity in that they do not allow business owners to have their personal prejudices protected by the laws of the state. The economic effect of protecting those prejudices by avoiding legislation that promotes fairness would have a greater economic impact. Again, if a state declares it will not support racism, homophobia, gender bias, etc, institutionally, it must back this up with legislation.

    The alternative is something you cannot serious be willing to promote.

  12. Connor
    February 11, 2008 at 4:46 pm #

    Your really reaching here, Connor.

    An example of a typical response by one who disagrees.

    Your argument is that these laws hinder economic prosperity in that they do not allow business owners to have their personal prejudices protected by the laws of the state.

    No, this is not my argument. Your assertion to the contrary shows that you have no understood the most basic point of my post. I am arguing nothing about the economic impact, for that does not worry me. The economy is impacted by a myriad of things, and just as you said earlier, a wise economist cannot specifically predict what forces will cause what things to happen. Or perhaps you don’t fully believe that since you here write that the repeal of anti-discrimination laws “would have a greater economic impact”?

    My sole concern, and the point of my post, revolves around the restriction of liberty, abolition of free association, and discharge of private property.

    The alternative is something you cannot serious be willing to promote.

    What is the alternative you speculate? I would be curious to hear your prediction, in light of your earlier assertion:

    And as one who has studied the economy (and economists) extensively, bare in mind that any attempt to foresee economic impact is akin to a roll of the dice at the craps table.

    The main alternative to the restriction of liberty is more liberty. So long as it does not infringe upon the liberty of another, more liberty in any realm cannot be a bad thing. So yes, if that is the alternative you see, I am willing to promote it.

  13. vontrapp
    February 25, 2008 at 11:40 am #

    Connor, kudos to you for standing up for liberty. I find it sad that there are those who would so vehemently appose liberty in any form. As for anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action laws, they are indeed different, and yet the same.

    “Redistribution of wealth” is a hot topic these days, perhaps we should coin the term “redistribution of liberty.” It’s an erroneous and an insidious ideal that a group should be made equal, for you can’t make anything equal but the individual. Where a shop owner may refuse credit to a man based entirely on individual merits, how is he to prove his state of mind to the law if that individual happens to be in group X protected by the ill-conceived law?

    I will reiterate for for clarity’s sake… “Rights can ONLY be protected on an INDIVIDUAL basis.” Note that right cannot be “granted” except by God, or derived as necessary from those God given rights. To find such words as “minority” or especially enumerated groups in legislation is to find legal and even mandated discrimination.

    3 a: the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually

    This discrimination may be spelled out such that it is discrimination in _favor_ of a group, but as all things must be balanced, this discrimination is necessarily in _hindrance_ of another group, specifically anyone not belonging to the favored group. I doubt anyone would be all gung-ho for anti-discrimination legislation in favor of caucasian white males. Such legislation would be immediately labeled as bigotry, so why the double standard?

  14. Connor
    February 4, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    This recent example reiterates the pervasiveness of the discrimination mentality, an offshoot of the entitlement mentality that makes people believe that they deserve an available job.

  15. Jeff T
    February 5, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Good thing I’m not hiring, or I’d be in legal trouble. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to hire someone who is going to take maternity leave a month later. It’s bad for business, especially if I need someone who can commit for a long period of time without break. And even if I am in the wrong, since when should anyone force me to hire someone I don’t feel is qualified? (especially if I’m looking for someone who I can rely on for a long period of time). Am I a terrible person for understanding an employer’s position? I know that this makes things hard for pregnant women… but I think employers should be able to make evaluations based upon what they want in their employees, even if those evaluations may be morally repugnant or make things difficult for others. Such is freedom.

  16. Carborendum
    February 5, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    I’m just wondering: If she was three months pregnant when she lost her job, how is she a single mom? Or is she?

    People are crying out against how irresponsible the octuplet woman is. Why are they crying FOR this woman for being irresponsible with her pregnancy. Double standard.

    If she does have a partner in her life, shouldn’t she be able to depend on her partner until she’s had time to bond with the baby?

    Doesn’t the mantra “best for the children” apply here? No, only when it helps the liberal/socialist agenda. This won’t help that agenda, so we want her to get a job at a time where she can cause the most damage to a business. And if she can’t, then we can use her to sue the business and bankrupt it.

    I honestly don’t understand why it is so important for EVERYONE to be working. Oh, right. So the totalitarian rigime can have more slaves. But I digress.

    Face it. Anti-discrimmination laws are not about including everyone. They are not about providing opportunity. They are about destroying the human spirit. They are about eliminating free speech. They are about making government the ultimate power rather than the people.

    At least those injustices of the recent past (or even today) were due to human stupidity not about power. Now, we have the stupidity of government enforcing the same thing they claim to banish while encouraging the struggle for power.

  17. Carl Youngblood
    November 11, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    Connor, I mostly agree with you, but I’m curious about how you feel about the LDS Church’s recent statement in favor of anti-discrimination laws:

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/church-supports-nondiscrimination-ordinances

    Do you support this or oppose it? I’m interested in the extent to which you are willing to stand by your principles, even if your ecclesiastical leaders take a different position.

  18. Connor
    November 11, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    …I’m curious about how you feel about the LDS Church’s recent statement in favor of anti-discrimination laws.

    I oppose the proposed ordinances, since they violate basic property laws and freedom of association. This is not to say that I think homosexuals should be fired or evicted, but I do believe that employers and landlords should retain that right if they choose to exercise it.

    This statement by the Church relates, in my view, to the specific issue at hand in Salt Lake City, and was made in direct response to the city. It is not counsel given to all members of the Church to support similar laws in their own communities, nor is it direct communication of any kind to church members. I see it as the Church taking a step to be nice neighbors, rather than taking a generalized position that all members in all areas of the world should likewise pursue.

    I remain, then, in opposition to so-called anti-discrimination laws.

  19. J
    March 15, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Thanks for posting about the LDS Church’s statement on non-discrimination law in SLC.
    While I understand your argument against these types of laws, which I am assuming stem from a “less government involvement the better” perspective, I do not necessarily agree.
    I think that the meaning conveyed in these laws is deeper and more complex than you have articulated. Not once have you mentioned issues of power or oppression. Something that these laws intend to change. You may say that these issues are best left to the market, but you need to understand who controls the market, the hegemonic leadership that dominates individuals through various mechanisms, such as the methods of manipulation to inoculate individuals with the bourgeois appetite for personal success (Paulo Freire). But I digress. The main issue is the opportunity for individuals to maintain life as they see fit, not as it is prescribed by the powerful elite.
    There are countless examples of individuals/groups, that use the power they have to exercise unrighteous dominion. Non-discrimination laws seek to provide equal opportunity.
    I understand your issue that this may imply that landlords, business owners, etc. then thereby may become oppressed because of the restriction on their freedom to choose or freedom of association. As Freire stated, “It is essential for the oppressed to realize that when they accept the struggle for humanization they also accept, from that moment, their total responsibility for the struggle.”
    I think that non-discrimination laws attempt to get at legitimizing the humanity of us all, despite how anyone likes it or is ready to understand that there are deeper structural problems embedded in our society that have been reinforced by the dominant ideology and at the expense of others.
    I think that your comments on the Church taking this as a step to be nice neighbors is more important that you give credit for, and that no matter what actions the Church takes, it exemplifies what the members later do. Although it may not be official doctrine, they are at least providing a typology on the subject of equality and treating all individuals with respect and dignity, the actual Christian thing to do, other than perpetuate hatred and malice towards individuals operating from a different paradigm.

    Nonetheless. Thank you for your comments and this blog as it provides us with opportunities to discuss matters civilly, even if we disagree. Keep it up.

  20. Lynda
    May 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    I worked with a (forgive me for being descriptive) black woman. Every time any little thing went wrong she used the prejudice card. One day a pen was missing and someone said that they thought she might have it. She got angry, started ranting and said that they were accusing her of stealing because she was black. She put in a complaint with the manager about the incident. We looked in her drawer the next morning before she came in and it was there. It mysteriously showed up back where it belonged later that morning. Anyway she got moved from unit to unit because she was always overreacting to any tiny little thing.

    One time we had a job opening for a manager. The top 3 applicants were a white male, a white female, and a black female. The white male was the most qualified, but we all knew that they would give the job to the black female (and they did). I think that it is more discriminatory to give a job to someone with lower qualifications just to supposedly prove that you are not discriminating.

    I had a friend whose mother was Mexican. My friend didn’t like anyone to know she was part Mexican, but she used it at work because it helped her move up faster.

  21. Jim Davis
    May 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    I have witnessed a lot of similar situations. Human beings naturally follow the path of least resistance. If using the race card is the quickest/easiest way for a person to get what they want then naturally many people will use it. Although it is more than the race card- it’s anyone with an ‘alleged’ minority status who gets special treatment under law. What kind of double standard is that! We’re all minorities. Favoring one group at the expense of the other is ridiculously unfair. It perpetuates racism and all sorts of other prejudices. It also handicaps individuals who learn to see themselves and others in groups rather than as individual beings.

    I share Martin Luther King’s Dream when he said:

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    AMEN! I don’t believe MLK wanted reversed racism or any other form of racism at all. But here we are perpetuating racism by the very laws they are meant to diminish. Affirmative Action Laws judge man by the color of his skin. These laws force employers to “diversify” their staff, not based on qualification, but on minority status. WOW!

    On a side note- I am half-Mexican and I think it’s so ridiculous that there are rules/laws which favor me over others. I REFUSE to receive any special treatment because of my heritage or what the color of my skin is. For those “minorities” who do accept special treatment or pull the race/gender/religion/age/orientation/I’m-different card… It’s not fair to believe everyone in their particular minority group are non-principled moochers. It’s a human defect, not a group defect.

  22. Adamo
    February 8, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I actually want to know which businesses practice discrimination. Then I would know where not to take my business. With laws prohibiting discrimination it is more difficult for me to figure out who is a racist butt-wipe. But let’s take a similar case: Equal pay for equal work. These have the effect of hurting those they are designed to help. Suppose there is a job that actually could be performed better by one type of group. Then you’ve taken away the only thing the other groups could have done to negotiate for the job (a lower wage makes the less efficient candidate more attractive). But suppose there isn’t a difference (as is in the vast majority of cases) and an employer is merely prejudiced. Well then we’ve reduced the costs of his prejudiced to zero. Now he has no incentive to ignore his prejudice and hire one from another group. Since he would pay the same to both, he might as well be predjudiced.

  23. Pacificus
    February 8, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Another unseen negative result is that these anti-discrimination laws don’t really get rid of discrimination. Rather, all they do is protect certain groups whom the government feels should be protected, while leaving everyone else unprotected. For example, you correctly indicate that people cannot be discriminated against because of their skin color, ethnicity, gender or gender identification, sexual identification, age, or religion. But what about the rest of the outward characteristics of mankind that don’t necessarily represent one’s heart, worth, and abilities and talents that aren’t protected and are thus allowed to be discriminated against? For example, the poor, uneducated, socially unacceptable, funny-looking individual who has tattoos, piercings, scars on his/her face, walks funny, has hair that is unappealing to ones tastes (be it a mohawk or just curly, straight, or red hair, etc.), has a big nose, a big mouth, doesn’t wear a shirt and tie and slacks (if a man) or a dress, skirt, or pants-suit (if a woman) to the interview, and who has different personal opinions on different subjects of life than you do. Any one of these outward characteristics is not protected by law, and thus can be discriminated against in any “commercial property” setting, be it a business transaction or the hiring or firing of an employee. So in reality, these so-called anti-discrimination laws are merely unfair and hypocritical, in that they protect some individuals, a minority of individuals, if you will, that government feels need protecting but not most people, not the majority. Now, why do advocates of such anti-discrimination laws that are on the books laud these laws? Why, the answer is because DISCRIMINATION IS BAD! EVIL! SHOULD BE DONE AWAY WITH BY FORCE! But they say nothing of the discrimination that happens in the rest of life, including in “commercial property” situations, and indeed openly support and practice such “lawful” discrimination. The point of the matter is, these laws and their supporters put up a false facade that discrimination in general is bad, yet they allow, condone, and practice discrimination against other outward characteristics in these very same “commercial property” situations. Thus, if one is to support such anti-discrimination laws, the more consistent thing to do would be to prohibit all forms of discrimination against any outward characteristic whatsoever. If a black, transgender, bisexual, Hindu, 60 year old, wheel chair bound individual has a right to one’s property by forcing the business owner to sell to this individual through the almighty power of the state, or has a right to work for your business and not be not hired and not be fired because of those protected outward characteristics, then so should the uneducated, poor, white-trash, racist, atheistic tattooed and pierced hillbilly who shows up to his interview in his overalls, cowboy hat, and sandals, uttering swear words and racist slurs. These are merely outward characteristics of this individual’s worth as an individual. His lack of prestigious, let alone any type of higher education isn’t a correct representation of his abilities or his heart no more than his skin color, age, religious creed, or gender are. He/she could be a natural genius but merely lacks formal higher education, but could be trained easily to do his/her job, and you would pass his up because of this outward characteristic.

    In other words, if discrimination is bad, then abolish by law all forms of discrimination; be consistent, ye hypocrites. Or, if discrimination is not inherently bad, but rather there are justified forms of discrimination, as seems more likely the case, then where’s the justice and equality and fairness in outlawing some types of discrimination which the government or society sees as bad now, yet allowing others? It just puts the property owner at the mercy of society’s whims on what it perceives as good or evil at any given point in time. The better, more just and equal way to do things is to allow and tolerate any form of discrimination, as a natural extension of one’s property owner-ship and control rights, as well as one’s rights of conscience, in furtherance of protecting these two natural rights of property ownership and control and conscience, and preach on private and even public levels the justified verses the unjustified discrimination, yet coercively force or prohibit no discriminatory act-preach and persuade only, not force. The scriptures tell us plainly that there is such a thing as justified and unjustified discrimination when it says in John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Or when it says in the JST version of John 7:1-2, “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.
    “For with what ajudgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what bmeasure ye mete, it shall be cmeasured to you again.”

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a good talk on righteous judgment:
    http://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/08/judge-not-and-judging?lang=eng

    So in other words, judgement can lead to discrimination, and by such logic, it looks like there are good or justified forms of discrimination and bad or unjustified forms of discrimination. The important part is to judge righteously, meaning one must have a standard against which one bases his/her judgements (discriminations) on. And what is the best source or standard one could have to base his/her judgements on? What better standard to have than those very standards and words of the only perfect man to walk this earth, Christ Himself! Base your judgments on the judgments of Christ and on His words and teachings, as found in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and other modern day scripture, doctrine and revelation from LDS Church leaders, for no truly bad thing will come out of any judgment based on these standards. Or one could base his standards on and put his/her trust in the arm of flesh/man, basing his/her standards of judgment on what society happens to view as good or bad at any given time, or worse yet, what government views as good or bad-afterall, government is merely the creature of society, and as society thinks, so too will government, if not worse, government will begin to think for itself and abandon its master, society, and seek to become the master over society.

    Indeed, the words “judgment” and “discrimination” are in actuality close cousins, if not outright synonyms, for the original meaning of the verb “to discriminate” meant to “recognize a distinction or differentiate,” or to “perceive or constitute the difference in or between,” according to the New Oxford American Dictionary. And what more do you do in judgement that to consider two different things, differentiate between the two of them, and make a decision?

    Thus, if there be such things as good and justified judgment and thence discrimination and bad, unjustified judgments and and thence discrimination, isn’t it better to protect, tolerate, and allow, while the wheat and the tares dwell together (Matthew 13) all forms of judgement and thence discrimination so as to protect especially the good forms of such, and let Christ, through his Atonement take care of any injustice and cruelty man can heap upon man (inasmuch as these injustices don’t violate the equal rights of others, which can be punished by human government so as to protect the rights of society)? The unseen, negative results of these anti-discrimination laws are such that they establish a threshold for sometime in the near future legislatively banning good and justified judgments/discrimination, when the wicked take over government and seek to protect evil doings and punish good doings as happened with the Jaredites and the Nephites. Now that we have allowed and tolerated government and society to take control of private property and determine the conscience of individuals, banning what might now be bad, unjustified, and unrighteous forms of discrimination, in the name of stamping out the unjust forms of discrimination, it will be just as easy for the wicked to take power and using that threshold, to ban righteous and justified forms of judgment and discrimination while legislatively allow or even coerce unrighteous and unjustified forms of discrimination.

    Some might say this is impossible and can’t happen here in America. But it already has, and it will continue to do so. Some say the government will never require churches in America to marry homosexual or bisexual partners. But the fact of the matter is that America has already prohibited private-owned and operated bushiness from denying service or employment to homosexuals, etc. What’s going to stop society and government from seeing no difference between church property and so-called “commercial property?” Indeed, the LDS church has already been discriminated against by government with the polygamy issue, to the point where the US federal government stamped out the ability of the LDS church to act under the guide of its own conscience. It already happened once, so what’s to stop it from happening again, when we know from prophecy that the world, including the USA will continue to get more wicked, to the point where the wicked world will war against Zion and its members? These are additional unseen, negative result of anti-discrimination laws. They allow society and government to selectively choose what is good and bad forms of discrimination according to whims of changing times and attitudes, banning those it (discriminately, I might add) sees as bad forms of discrimination, itself being its own standard, while allowing other forms of discrimination that might be in actuality just as bad as those that are legislatively banned. They also establish a precedent or threshold of such selective banning of discrimination, opening the door to government, even if just a crack, for tyranny, AKA Satan, to waltz right in and oppress the righteous saints of God, or indeed, anyone for that matter, legislatively turning good to evil, and protecting evil while punishing good and righteousness. If can’t happen here you say? It already has, not only in the history of the USA, but in the history of those ancient inhabitants of America, the Jaredites, Nephites, and Lamanites, and it will continue to do so.

  24. Adamo
    February 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    I was listening to a story today on the radio about a wedding cake bakery that wouldn’t bake a cake for a lesbian couple. Now people think they should get legal action. I think this is misguided. By discriminating against gay couples, this bakery incurs a cost. If we force them to not discriminate we reduce their cost to zero. I’d prefer that people incur a cost for the discrimination. Just as the baseball teams before Jackie Robinson incurred great costs by not signing up the amazing athletes playing in the negro leagues. the market imposes a cost on discrimination. We should let it!

  25. Brian
    March 26, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    We often acknowledge that it is “wrong” to impose morals or values based on a religion, but it seems appropriate to enact laws through other systems of belief based solely on the virtue of the cause. Hence, you hear someone say how these laws are meant “to ensure that you operate your business inside of a recognized state within the laws and values of that same state,” you invariably come to the point that these laws are NOT about protecting individual liberties, but rather about imposing a state sanctioned value system. It’s a slippery slope hidden by the best intentions of what we feel is the right way to treat people.

    If the true intent of anti-discimination laws is to eliminate human suffering, the catch to it is that legislation, which is a use of force, is poor motivation to change the hearts of men. Such evidence is in that the greatest strides of the civil rights movements came before legislative acts, and that in the time after this legislation, discrimination still exists. This is in part because laws that provide special rights force us to categorize individuals onto groups in order to teach us to treat these special groups as individuals. It’s maddeningly backward thinking, justified by the concept of a “shared value set” of a state that, if it truly existed, would nullify the need for special rights!

  26. saxoclese
    March 26, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

    Anti-discrimination laws do not provide “special rights”. They insure that persons regardless of race, religion, country of origin, or sexual orientation have the SAME RIGHTS as those in the majority. Discrimination still exists in spite of the law because there are still those among us who live in ignorance and fear and choose bigotry which is often rationalized and justified by their tightly held cultural or religious beliefs.

    Question: Why are they just “rights” when they pertain to you, but “special rights” when they pertain to minorities who are discriminated against?

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