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Property rights include your right to be a racist

Rand Paul said, in a nutshell, that while he opposes discrimination that maybe the government really has no business deciding what happens in a private business. It’s not a popular position because it requires thinking, and most folks aren’t good at that. It’s easy to say that racism sucks so we should force people to do what we want because it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And how dare they commit a thought crime. But a property owner should decide what otherwise lawful activity occurs on that property. If that property owner wishes to bar entry to his property to white/black/short/gun-toting people, it’s his business.

And this concept is difficult for some folks to accept. After all, who really wants to go to bat for racists? And some of my fellow gun nuts get all SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED at the thought of a property owner telling you that you can’t strap your hog-leg on and have a go at the salad bar. The simple-minded solution is to force those folks to comply with how you think things ought to be. That’ll show ’em. How dare they think differently!

But that’s the solution to most things these days. There ought to be a law. Can’t let property owners decide that stuff. They might offend us!

As Tam says:

For the record, I’m all in favor of letting idiots showcase their prejudices. It helps prevent me from accidentally spending money with someone whose pockets I’d rather not line.

102 Responses to “Property rights include your right to be a racist”

  1. Nathaniel Says:

    Then again, I’ll be a contrarian and start up again.

    We’re all talking about the government being able to prevent private businesses from discriminating in whom they offer their products and services too, but we’re forgetting that businesses (as well as people) already discriminate in practically everything. Take the example of a Chinese restaurant staffed entirely by Asians. Does anybody deny that a white or black person doesn’t stand much of a chance of getting hired there? And the owner of an appliance shop who was injured by a Maytag washer as a kid may hold a grudge and discriminate against the company’s offerings, despite their possible superiority over competing products or the public’s willingness to purchase them. That’s discrimination too.

    There are even murky examples when it comes to businesses choosing to deny their services to certain types of customers:

    Take the example of a gay bar that doesn’t feel its atmosphere is enhanced by straight men following a bunch of angry homophobes making a scene inside. Should it be allowed to discriminate against straight men and disallow them entry?

    What about a woman who wants to open a business called (say) “Womyn’s Maiden Voyages”, a travel agency exclusively for other women. Should she be prevented by the government from doing this and compelled by force to sell her services to men as well?

    I’m just trying to get away from the term “discrimination” being a codeword for “white people being racist against black people” and demonstrate that there’s a great deal of what is technically discrimination that society is actually okay with.

    So this debate isn’t really about discrimination vs non-discrimination; it’s about what types of discrimination are permissible and what types aren’t, which I would argue is a very subjective value judgement. Who am I to say that one kind is right and one kind is wrong? It all depends on your personal perspective. Might a black person in a predominately black town town not care at all that Chinese restaurants only hire the few Asians? And I’m sure curious straight white men who are not homophobes would feel discriminated against when they are barred entry to a gay bar.

    In terms of the law and punishments, what method exists to properly separate the acceptable discrimination from the unacceptable?

  2. tgirsch Says:


    I like and appreciate what you’re saying, but dollar bills only come in one denomination — one dollar. 🙂