Defending the Right to Discriminate
The Orwellian perversion of language by the left is intended to keep us from thinking clearly. As Orwell predicted in 1984, the destruction of distinction in words is at the heart of this thought control. The vocabulary in Oceania was collapsing into a tight prison lexicon, which deprived its subjects from even grasping vital ideas.
Evidence of this can be seen in the venom spat by leftist cadres at the word “discriminate.” We must not, leftists tell us, “discriminate.” What sickness, and what madness! Discrimination is the very heart of freedom and the very essence of morality. The only way we can use our minds and our souls as individuals trying to seek what is good and what is true is by discriminating.
Unless we live in an ant colony or in Oceania, the independent mind and personal conscience are dead if forced into uniformity with the truncheon of government power. What this means is that old laws that banned homosexual relations have the same problem as new laws that ban public adherence to Judeo-Christian morality. Both take private conscience and compel that conscience to follow majority rule (or political power).
Fifty years ago, Blue Laws in most states banned not only homosexual relations, but all forms of oral sex. These same laws very often banned adultery and extramarital sex. Prosecutors never enforced these laws, and when they were either stricken down by state courts or abolished in periodic re-codification of state criminal codes, no one ever cared.
Social conservatives assumed that by allowing individuals to engage in behavior they considered immoral, provided that the behavior was consensual, social conservatives would retain as a complementary right the ability to limit consensual relations when those relationships violated their consciences.
This was a logical expansion of freedom of religion. The American Christian majority had no right to force a Kosher deli to stay open on the Jewish Sabbath if it granted the right of a Christian bakery to close on Sunday. Beyond respecting the Sabbath, Jewish dietary laws, which most Orthodox Jewish delis follow, prohibit the food from being prepared by a Gentile and ban non-Jewish wine, cheese, and bread.
What would we call political activists who tried to force Orthodox Jewish delis to stay open on Shabbat or compelled a family-operated Jewish deli to hire Gentiles to prepare food on the grounds of “discrimination”? We ought to call these creeps bigots, just as we ought to call political activists who try to compel Christians or Jews or Muslims to violate their religious beliefs also creepy bigots.
Markets also allow people to be faithful to sincerely held religious beliefs without risk of oppression of others. Chick-fil-A closes on Sundays – even when its competitors stay open – because its management is Christian. It loses potential customers and profit and does not care.
Likewise, a Jewish deli that closes on Shabbat or hires only Jews to prepare food or buys products only from businesses certified as Kosher loses potential customers – not only that of Gentiles, but also that of many Jews who would not be particularly picky about where they get a bagel or chicken soup.
This is the difference between “discrimination,” which is morally neutral if based upon sincere belief, and “bigotry,” which is hateful in its very purpose. Businesses grounded in bigotry do not last long. Political activists, on the other hand, often thrive with bigotry. In the South fifty years ago, it was not business that wanted Jim Crow laws. Rosa Parks had a quiet ally in the bus companies, who wanted as many paying customers as possible. Parks and the bus companies had a common enemy in government trying to impose moral values on others.
What about “discrimination”? Do any of us have the right to judge the morality of other people making free choices? Well, are these “other people” allowed to judge the morality of us? Every single act in the marketplace involves discrimination, and that discrimination not only does, but ought to involve our personal values. Moreover, businesses constantly cater to our values at least as much as our perceived “good bargain,” and we buy goods and services because we like or support those values.
The buyer-seller relationship requires mutual consent, or it is not consent at all, but coercion. When the right to discriminate is taken away, and the common liberty the market provides is throttled, then the ugly face of government, the true enforcer of bigotry, with its ugly process of politics, will become the only battleground for values – and all of us will lose.