Law and prejudice 12

The Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, has vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners who held religious objections to homosexual practices to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

The issue has been confused by debate as to whether religious belief should trump homosexual “rights”, or vice versa.

That business owners should be able to choose whom they will serve and whom they will not, should not be a question of religious freedom but simply of freedom.

They should be free to withhold their goods and/or services for any reason or none. If they act on sheer whim, that is their “right”.

And if it is because of an opinion – even an opinion that is regarded as politically incorrect – so what?

When the opinions of individuals become the government’s business, government has become totalitarian. An orthodoxy prevails. As in Calvin’s Geneva, Catholic Spain, Stalin’s Russia,  Mao’s China, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.  The thought police are after you. They have ways of making you reveal the thoughts you are trying to keep private.

It is THE LAW that should not discriminate. Judgment in a court of law should be untainted by  pre-judgment – or “prejudice” in the true meaning of the word. (Though there are exceptions. The law rightly discriminates on the grounds of age, holding children less responsible for their actions than adults;  and on grounds of mental capacity, holding the insane less responsible than the sane.)

But individuals living  their private lives, can, do, and must discriminate in all their judgments. We are all prejudiced. Indeed, there is no way anyone could get through life without prejudices. We have numerous ways of quickly informing ourselves about other people. In a flash we have taken in his appearance, race, color, voice, accent, and so on, and in the secret chambers of our hearts and minds are bringing ready opinions to bear on him. It is a short cut without which we would be perpetually bewildered.

We all have first impressions, and what we make of them depends on our prejudices. We all find someone attractive or repulsive, interesting or dull on first acquaintance, and those first impressions are inevitably affected by prejudice. “Oh, he’s this or that, and I like it (or don’t like it).” But then you get to know him a little and find, perhaps, that he’s not this or that after all. We leap to instant judgment, but sensible people quite naturally make the reasonable decision to wait until they know the stranger better to see whether he is someone they want as a friend or employee or whatever.

In fact, no generalization about a person’s origins, race, nationality, descent, religious affiliation, sexual proclivity, age group, or anything else can ever reasonably be applied with certainty to any individual. But still and forever we will bring our vague associations to bear on our judgments. After that, intelligence should guide us to better judgment, because it is in our interest that it should. (Not because, for instance, some religious idealist issued an impossible-to-obey instruction to love everybody.)

Below we quote from an article by John Hawkins at Townhall, dealing chiefly with reasons why Christians who disapprove of gay marriage should not have to provide services for gay weddings. (The issue which gave rise to the Arizona bill.) But he does make a general point that people can refuse their services for any reason. 

John Hawkins writes:

Businesses should generally have the right to refuse customers: Because of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow and the other abominations Democrats forced on America, we did choose as a nation to treat race differently than most other issues. So, we do not allow businesses to discriminate based on race – and that’s a good thing. However, businesses can and do turn away customers for almost every other reason imaginable. Shouldn’t they be able to do that?

Shouldn’t the Super Bowl be allowed to decline an advertisement from a porn website? Shouldn’t the NAACP be able to turn away KKK members from a speech? Shouldn’t a movie theater be allowed to tell people who insist on using cell phones in the theater that they’re not welcome? Shouldn’t Wal-Mart be allowed to refuse to carry NAMBLA literature in its stores? Shouldn’t a nightclub be allowed to tell people wearing gang colors that they’re not welcome? Shouldn’t the Democratic Party be allowed to decline ads on its website from the Republican Party? On a personal note, at my website Right Wing News I’ve declined advertisements from porn websites, a dating service for “sugar daddies,” a dating service for people who are married, and even a t-shirt seller I considered to be homophobic. …  For every American with rudimentary common sense, these questions answer themselves.

Does the law at present allow that freedom? Surely whatever is not specifically forbidden in law is allowed. (It is obviously impossible to make a comprehensive list of everything anyone might ever do and declare that it must or must not be done.) If at present people are free, in these ever less free United States, to serve whom they will and not be coerced to serve those they’d rather not, then the law Governor Brewer vetoed was superfluous.

Customers choose which business they will patronize without having to explain why they chose that one and rejected others. Why should business not have the same freedom of choice? A businessman might be foolish to turn away someone who wants to give him dollars in exchange for the merchandise or service he deals in, but he certainly should not be forced to serve anyone against his will.

  • donl

    Incidentally, I totally disapprove of homosexuals stealing the word marriage. The male homosexuals have already destroyed the wonderful word gay…what they do, that’s gay?

    Since humans first realized there was a difference (ah, I can hear Maurice now), marriage has been inclusively defined as being between a man and a woman…there’s the notion of children in there too – not so much the product of homosexuality. Man and woman…period. Not metaphysical, moral or any manner of brainteaser…husband is a guy and wife is a gal…duh!!!

    Now, if the non-female-of-the species- and non-male-of-the species-behaving genetic-defects wish the same legal affectations as legalized marriage…find another name. I cannot see any reason why members of the GLBT community should be denied to be taxed as a couple, visit in hospitals, etceteras if they’ve formed a legalized bond.

    I’m fed up with minorities demanding SPECIAL treatment. Nobody’s rights are being denied…not the question. What’s happening is political maneuvering…how much can we get away with. Well, they can go fish!!!

    • Jillian Becker

      I applaud this comment of yours, donl!

    • REALBEING

      Interesting! Merriam-Webster (the recognized authority on word meanings) states the Full Definition of MARRIAGE
      (This definition is number one on their list!)
      a (1) :
      the state of being united to a person of the OPPOSITE SEX as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law

      This second definition disregards their first definition! (2) : the state of being united to a person of the SAME SEX in a relationship LIKE THAT of a traditional marriage

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marriage

      They then hang the “tag” of “same-sex marriage” on their second nullifying definition.

      A contradiction, if there ever was one.

      • donl

        Once upon a time I was of the impression that meanings didn’t change unless there was wide acceptance in a society. At best I’d give this an “unsettled”. Of course, their PC is “LIKE THAT OF…”.

        Now we can’t trust historians, economists, meteorologists and librarians!

  • donl

    among these are…The 3rd listed unalienable right: pursuit of happiness is 1776 for property rights. What’s yours is yours. It is the first right that must be destroyed that tyranny can succeed.

    Taxes…what you earn belongs to the government…they let you keep some of their money. Urban planning/zoning…do you think you own it. Just ask those homeowners tossed out for the tax generating privately-owned mall. And, banks…when you make a deposit in the bank, do you believe it is still your money? Fool, a deposit is a loan to the bank for which they are not liable for repayment…legally…another politician’s slight of hand. The fractional reserve central banking system provides, at taxpayers expense, the patronage/re-election funding and much much more.

    Own a business…sure you do…LOL. No smoking, no dancing…no right to determine because it is government’s business and they’ll control what goes on. It’s right there with Hillary’s “it takes a village”…the state owns the children.

    In a free-market world, serve or don’t serve at your economic risk. Public owned entities and services cannot discriminate.

    It was the Lincoln republican party, successor to the whig party, that created the hatred between black and white in the south…carpetbaggers and skallawags (do your own research and rid yourselves of the public school lies – or ‘The Real Lincoln’ by Thomas Di Lorenzo (among others).

    As with all things government central planning…the emotion of should masks the destruction of liberty. Your individual rights are meaningless in order that the We is served. And, Star Trek…Spocks line…”The Needs of the Many Must Outweigh the Needs of the Few or the One.” That is the essence of government take over…it feels good and it is as evil as can be.

    • REALBEING

      My greatest teacher told us in study groups that in all reality, “The only right you have is the right to give up your rights.”

      • donl

        Hmmm…this is interesting. Can you actually give up something that exists and is attached to you, unalienable, because you are human. You can choose to deny or ignore your rights intentionally or because of having been lulled and gulled by some ideological bent. And, you can be coerced or forced to not be able exercise your rights. Give them up…???

        I do understand what you mean; and, this probably doesn’t merit more thought. Just an interesting notion. And, thanks for the 2 terms line!

        • REALBEING

          This particular “thing” (rights) only exists if I myself, individually, consciously, or unconsciously choose to accept it. To have rights then is a personal choice.

          It was proposed to me that all rights are only offered through voluntary interactions of my good will with the good wills of other men, of their own volition.

          This comes from us both out of feeling respect for each others own personal rights. Any person can choose (has the right) to reject them (Give them up) by conscious choice, or unconscious choice.

          The authorities can also take these rights from you illegitimately against any of your choices with the thief’s claim that he is acting in the best interests of you, or the group.

          In the end, it is your choice (right) to live by all of them, or give them all up, unless they are stolen from you.

          Therefore, these rights come from our conscious self, and that of our fellow men. The proof is the next time that you are attacked by a panther, tell him that he cannot hurt you, as you have the right to be safe.

          The Christians try this tactic with prayer.

          Unconscious choice ( for losing one’s rights) would be breaking a law and thus being incarcerated, or put to death.

          These rights are then enforced by leaders.
          Their focus must be on enforcing the rights of everyone under their jurisdiction with equal force against the intruder or usurper.

          • donl

            Fight or fright…choice? To defend yourself seems to be innate…right to life! You can choose not to defend or run if the panther or a person attacks…smart thing to do?

            If you do not have a right to pursuit of happiness…you starve. You will die of exposure. People acting together isn’t the basis of rights it the basis of protecting the existing rights. Law/government doesn’t provide rights…they are are created to protect rights.

            What you do with your rights is up to you, but you don’t have a say in whether or not they exist.

            You can choose to ignore or deny them…they cannot be stolen. You can be killed, imprisoned or kept from your desires and property…but that doesn’t destroy the rights. How would someone steal your right to your life? I thought only god could be two people…LOL. Or is it three…geez he’s so powerful…he can exist as a whole crowd.

            Religion and socialistic ideologies begin early to distort thought…conditioning much like a Pavlovian dog…never think of self…only the collective has rights…etc. One can be lulled/gulled/deluded…but the rights are still there…incognizance doesn’t destroy them. Selfish is not greed, self-serving or self-centered…only concern for one’s self; for one’s interests. That’s usually the first distortion…guilt to think of yourself.

            So, do you accept or reject a right to live, to be free or to seek your own chosen goals in life. If you reject them as being somehow external things only being derived from others good will…seems like a collective mindset.

            • REALBEING

              It, like everything else in life, boils down to either a conscious choice, or an unconscious choice. There really is no other thing for a human in life.

              Some folks reject the pursuit of happiness, accepting the right to pursue an authentic life….effectively shunning happiness for authenticity.

              An authentic life means not chasing after happiness, and not making it your “object of your living.” Authenticity means looking for reality and accepting it as it comes.

              I think that people recognize their “rights” in other people, as we do not really see ourselves first, but in others first. We mostly treat them as we ourselves wish to be treated, out of respect for their rights. We always think of ourselves first, but we are always looking out, seeing others first.

              This to me is the basis for rights.

              I think that selfishness is indeed greed.
              Like anything else in life, a certain amount is healthy. IOW, you can only walk North so far before you start walking South.

  • liz

    Great point that “it should not be a question of religious freedom but simply of freedom.” The government should stay out of everyone’s business, period. But we’ve got a never ending interference, from the IRS, to the FCC, to the EPA, etc.., etc… well on the way to totalitarianism, I’d say.

    • REALBEING

      As far back as I can remember its always been “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

      And now, business’s business has become government’s business, in the name of “Equality.” Just like everything else under the sun with the Socialists!