Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, February 28, 2014

TGIF: We Can Fight Bigotry without the Politicians

Should the government coercively sanction business owners who, out of apparent religious conviction, refuse to serve particular customers?
While such behavior is repugnant, the refusal to serve someone because of his or her race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is nevertheless an exercise of self-ownership and freedom of nonassociation. It is both nonviolent and nonviolative of other people’s rights. If we are truly to embrace freedom of association, logically we must also embrace freedom of nonassociation.
The test of one’s commitment to freedom of association, like freedom of speech, is whether one sticks by it even when the content repulses.
But does this mean that private individuals may not peacefully sanction businesses that invidiously discriminate against would-be customers?
No! They may, and they should. Boycotts, publicity, ostracism, and other noncoercive measures are also constituents of freedom of association.
Read it here.

3 comments:

Jim Wetzel said...

"Such behavior" [refusal to serve particular customers] is "repugnant?"

Is that supposed to be self-evident? It isn't, you know.

Sheldon Richman said...

It's not self-evident in the sense that denial is a logical contradiction. But it is self-evident in this sense: If I entered a store ready to accept the terms apparently offered and was told, "Get out. We don't serve your kind here," I would not find it repugnant. The golden rule is a reasonable rule.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheldon,

Thanks for another great article (I read all of it at FFF). I wish more people understood that social cooperation and market preference do a much better job of punishing "bigotry" than legislative fiat. However, I have to agree with the first comment. Even with your qualification, it is not self evident that refusal to serve particular customers is repugnant.

You state:
"But does this mean that private individuals may not peacefully sanction businesses that invidiously discriminate against would-be customers?

No! They may, and they should. Boycotts, publicity, ostracism, and other noncoercive measures are also constituents of freedom of association."

I agree completely that this tactic is valid and socially useful. However, may not a business owner employ the same strategy? As a business owner, can I not boycott customers I find to be morally objectionable? For an easy example, if a customer walked into my store wearing a "God Hates Fags" T-shirt, I would ask them to leave. For a more difficult example, consider the possibility that a self-organized business boycott of "particular" people may be socially beneficial in the same manner as a customer boycott of business. Imagine that the "particular" people being boycotted comprise anyone who chooses to be employed in a profession that requires the rights violation of others (policeman, soldier, DEA agent, IRS agent, prosecutor, etc...).

Kind Regards,
Jeremy