Tue, 17 Oct 2006

Jim Crow and Anti-Discrimination

Today, somebody asked me what this meant: "Court thus concluded that places of public accommodation had no "right" to select guests as they saw fit, free from governmental regulation." ? I said "It means that a store-keeper has to subject himself to whatever whim politicians wish to impose on him." Then I noticed that Jim Crow laws and Anti-Discrimination laws are opposite sides of the same coin.

They both express the idea that the government can tell you who you must or must not associate with. I disagree with that. Just because you admit some or all people to your place of business doesn't mean that you should be forced to admit all or some people. It's unfortunate the the forces of good would be so willing to use the tool that the forces of evil used. I think it would be better if the forces of good would destroy the tool, lest it fall into the hands of evil.

Racism is evil; it used the tool of government coercion to force people to discriminate. Anti-racism is good; it used the tool of government coercion to force people not to discriminate. I'd prefer to see that tool destroyed, rather than used for good.

Private entities can still discriminate, or not discriminate. What is gone is the ability for good people to force everyone to be good, or for bad people to force everybody to be bad. Everybody agrees that it was bad when bad people were forcing everybody to be bad. Lots of people think that it's okay for good people to force everybody to be good. I think they're missing the fact that the idea of forcing everybody is the true danger. Just because the good people are in control now, that doesn't mean that they'll always be in control.

Sometimes discrimination is good. Suppose a black person wanted to hire only black people in her factory, to help give them a leg up? She couldn't do that; it would be illegal discrimination. Suppose a white person feels bad about slavery and wants to enact his own personal reparations program by paying black people more simply because they were black. (A black person might want go all cynical on me right now with a succinct "Ha!" Maybe they're right to be cynical, but we'll never know if a white person wanted to do that, because it would be illegal discrimination.)

If people can't be forced to discriminate (as Jim Crow laws did), and they can't be forced to not discriminate (as Anti-Discrimination laws do), then there will be some people who discriminate for evil, some people who discriminate for good, and some people who do not tolerate any kind of discrimination. I'd rather deal with that than a world where people accept that it's okay to force people to associate, or to force them to note associate.

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