Sunday, February 21, 2010

Porno Theaters and Aryan Coffee Shops: The Libertarian Case for Legalized Discrimination (Part III)



 
(Part I, II)  

 

This relatively recent redefinition of rights as protecting not just one's physical person, but one's own personal emotional well being, is one of the foundational hypocrisies of modern liberalism and a death blow to a free society. The moment we are allowed to bring non-empirical psychological suffering then all of a sudden I have a case against the sinful women of Nevada. It bothers me that such things are allowed in this country. I am kept awake at night worried about what sort of hurricanes my zealous patriarchal deity might bring to this country and if we will stop viewing us as his special chosen nation with the right to bomb other countries at will. Scott Lively will finally be able to do something about all the homosexual activity that bothers him and will be able to push through the sorts of laws that he has been helping pass in Uganda.

As John Stuart Mill understood, if liberty, as the right to pursue your own good in your own way as long as it does not interfere with the liberties of others, is to mean something, interference with the liberties of others, in essence harm, must be very narrowly understood. Living in a society, every action affects someone else and can thus open itself to the charge of harm. If harm is understood in the sense of causing psychological harm then all actions interfere with the liberties of others and therefore there ceases to be any such thing as pursuing your own good in your own way. In essence there is no meaningful difference between modern liberals, with their psychological harm, and historic conservatism, which denied the principle of liberty to begin with. At least conservatives are not hypocritical enough to pretend that they are offering anything else put privileges for select groups.

From this perspective, a major plank of the civil rights movement collapses. School segregation ceases to be an inherent violation of civil liberties as long as there is equal funding. It would simply be the absurd and immoral attempt to maintain a racial version of medieval hierarchy in the modern age. Blacks attempting to demand service in white restaurants where not fighting for liberty. On the contrary, they were trespassing on the property of others in the attempt to force their values on other people and violate their right to property, association and the pursuit of happiness. Our legal system and federal government failed in their role as they chose to pursue a series of fake manufactured rights over real and legitimate ones.

Granted, I am hard pressed to find a more deserving group for this to happen to. As all civil libertarians know, you protect the rights of those who do not deserve it, such as drug dealers, child molesters and terrorists, knowing that this harms society. You do this because you would rather be in court defending drug dealers, child molesters and terrorists than your child, your neighbor or your best friend, with the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting on the bad side of the wrong public official.          

Make no mistake about it; we are paying a price for violating the civil liberties of segregationists and white supremacists, no matter how much I think we are better off for them getting what they "deserved." We have allowed the left to abuse the rights of others and it is not stopping with the "bad guys." Now we have a gay rights movement taking up the mantel and claiming group victimhood and the protection of their "right" to have their lifestyles validated by society through marriage. (Note that I support gay marriage on libertarian grounds as long as it is not considered a civil right.) Our debate on same sex marriage has long since devolved from whether it is a good thing to whether someone can oppose it without being a bigot out to oppress others. By going to the courts and arguing for gay marriage on civil rights grounds, gay rights supporters have committed themselves to demonizing their opponents and using the power of government to force their values on other people. With hate crime legislation, this becomes all the more ominous. Will I lose my job or even any future theoretical children on the grounds that I am known to believe that gay sex is a sin like eating pork or, even worse, that I deny that there sex can define people any more than eating and that therefore homosexuality is about as meaningful for our discourse of rights as pig eating?     

  
(To be continued …)

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