Right to Discriminate

“Daddy, where’s mommy?”
“She’ll be home later.”
“But daddy, today’s my birthday! Why isn’t she here?”
“She had to go somewhere, honey.”
“Where did she have to go?”
“Well dear, she had to go to ‘sensitivity training’.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s hard to explain.”
“Well, a while ago at her print shop she told a customer she wouldn’t print something she objected to, and she got in trouble for that.”
“So they made her go somewhere?”
“Yes, to sensitivity training.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, that’s where the government tries to force you to change your beliefs.”

The inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not collective rights. They are individual rights.

Each individual has the right to not have his life taken by another individual, group or entity, even by the government, except in cases where capital punishment is appropriate justice for crime.

Each individual has the right to individual liberty, which includes (but is not limited to) freedom of conscience, religious freedom, freedom of expression, and economic freedom, so long as the exercise of that liberty doesn’t deprive others of those same liberties.

Each individual has the right to pursue happiness, to choose their course in life, so long as their course in life doesn’t violate the fundamental rights of others.

There is no fundamental right to nondiscrimination.

In other words, discrimination is a right.

That doesn’t mean it is always right to discriminate. But, right or wrong, the right to discriminate is part of the inalienable rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Legislation against private discrimination is contrary to the liberties espoused by the Declaration of Independence, and, frankly, unconstitutional.

The United States Constitution guarantees that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech” [ref].

The government, of course, should not discriminate against citizens, whether on the basis of religion or some other criteria. However, as soon as the government legislates against discrimination, it has ruled against a person’s free exercise of conscience. It is using the force of law to officially discriminate against a person or group of people.

Yes, I realize that the point I am arguing is unpopular. But popularity often doesn’t correlate with correctness.

I personally disapprove of most discrimination, particularly racial and ethnic discrimination. I’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination before. But I’ve also been subjected to the “thought police”, when attempts have been made to use official (fortunately non-government) channels to silence my expression of my beliefs (after they’d been distorted, of course).

Frankly, I’d much rather be discriminated against by my fellow citizens, than to have the government strip away my freedoms of religious conscience, expression and speech.

In this article’s opening hypothetical dialogue*, a woman has been deprived of her liberties, specifically of her freedom of expression and religion, of her economic freedom, and, to make matters even worse, is subjected to compulsory re-education.

Why? Because she refused to use her resources — her time and her printing press — to produce printed material for a cause that she was opposed to.

It doesn’t matter what the cause was. All that matters is that it was something she opposed. Something she didn’t want to have any part in promoting.

The person she refused did not have an inalienable right to her services. His pursuit of happiness did not trump her pursuit of happiness. His desire for religious freedom, or freedom of expression, wasn’t more important than her desire for the same. His economic freedom to choose where and how to spend his money didn’t take priority over her economic freedom to choose from whom she would accept money to use her time and resources to serve.

She had an inalienable right to discriminate against him by refusing to serve him. Just as he had an inalienable right to discriminate against her by refusing to solicit her services.

Suppose this man chose not to buy from her because of her beliefs? Should she have recourse to law against him for his discrimination? Of course not. So why should he have recourse to law against her for not selling to him?

No, it may not be right to discriminate, but it is a right to discriminate.

* This hypothetical dialogue was adapted from dialogue recounted to me by a friend who had attended a town meeting where a speaker used a similar dialogue in making a point about an anti-discrimination ordinance.