Monday, February 22, 2010

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


(Part I, II, III) 

As with the houses of sexual sin, there is a defense against establishments of racism such as my Aryan coffee shop. Obviously, citizens of good will would have the right to congregate outside my Aryan coffee house to protest as long as no physical harm is done to any of the patrons. If white supremacists are desperate enough to walk through a protesting mob and bear their shouts (but not the spitting) in order to enjoy my Aryan coffee then that is their right. A pro-tolerance mayor would be allowed to lend his voice in moral indignation and send out the police with sandwiches to make sure that the protestors can fight for justice in orderly comfort. Besides for this, the local government would be free to put non-discrimination laws into the zoning ordinances. It is reasonable for the city to say that it is in their interest that all businesses agree to serve everyone. If the city could not guarantee blacks that they could order a cup of coffee anywhere in the city without looking out for any "whites only" signs, then blacks might choose to take their business someplace else. Furthermore protecting white supremacists from angry protestors costs money and the city has the right not to take on added expenses. (This is one reason why the city of New York has the constitutional right not to allow the Klan to march through Harlem.) The city would not, though, be allowed to close down my Aryan coffee shop out of any interest in tolerance. The government has no more interest in tolerance than they do promoting Christian brotherhood and love of Christ. This would simply be the government stuffing their morals down people's throats and violating their liberty.

Before we breathe a tolerant sigh of relief, I will warn you that there is a price to pay for allowing the use of zoning laws to eliminate segregation. The moment we acknowledge that cities can go after segregation out of purely monetary concerns, we must also acknowledge the right not only of private businesses, but local governments as well to practice segregation as long as there is some reasonable monetary justification. If Mobile AL wishes to put blacks to the back of the bus then it should be their right as long as they can show a valid city interest is at stake such as getting more whites to use the bus system or decreasing fights on buses. (If blacks wish to boycott and bring down the economy of that city then that is there right.) Obviously the city would not be allowed to bring in segregationist laws out of any concern for "protecting the Southern way of life" or "the natural order of things." Also the police would have to treat integrationist protestors no differently than any other non violent group that violated city ordinances so no hoses and attack dogs.  

The main Ohio State University campus is next to a large black neighborhood with high crime statistics. Naturally this crime spills over. During my years there I had three bikes and a front tire stolen, one assumes by a youth from this neighborhood. Now I personally believe that a tolerant racially integrated society is more important than a few bikes stolen and I am willing to pay this price, but other people might not be so generous and moral and that is their right. They may wish to pass laws saying that no black male teenager without a proper student ID is allowed to be on school grounds after nightfall. (There actually was a debate in the Lantern about neighborhood youths being allowed to use school basketball courts.) I might protest such laws, but I would essentially be in the same position as if the school had voted for free student sponsored strippers. I would have the right to sit in my room and blog about how sinful Ohio State and contemplate moving to a more godly campus like Michigan.   

Just as the government has no business getting involved in things that offend popular religious sensibilities, they have no business getting involved in general moral sensibilities. Our southern town is not doing any direct physical harm to blacks by putting them at the back of the bus or in different schools. It is not this town's problem if blacks cannot get a better deal. If blacks wish they are free to form their own black racist towns. A group that is unable to do that probably does not really deserve rights to begin with and should come back when they have further developed as a group. (This is one reason why Zionism is so important for Jews. It shows that we are capable of being full citizens and gives us something to negotiate with in terms of our host society.) I may not like it, but as a religious person in a free society I am used to people using their liberty in all sorts of ways that I cannot approve of.



1 comment:

Chris said...

You know, Ben, I've been thinking about this a lot, and I actually think you've persuaded me on this Aryan coffee shop issue. As long as conspiracy to commit felonies is prosecuted, I guess I'm willing to allow establishments like these the legal (though not the moral) right to exist.