Liberty Forged

the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. ` Nock

Discrimination. Complimentary or Durogatory?

Posted by Jesse on May 22, 2008

So I’ve been commenting on, another wordpress blog managed by several persons whom I think are all affiliated with Harding University. I spend time making comments there due to the fact that they have good posts, appear to take the issues seriously, and remain professional in the process.

But I think I’ve been a bit of nuisance, in that I don’t give up too easily and make multiple posts at times. As Walter Block says, libertarians are crazy and rabid about the non aggression axiom and are obnoxiously persistent in adhereing to the principles set forth. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The reason I bring this up now is because David Manes wrote a post about ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) and asked why people would oppose this legislation. Manes did cite a few reasons that are oft given in opposition but I found them to be quite insufficient. I think, so far, I am the only one who attempted to give some insight from another perspective.

David begins the blog post: “The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is one of those pieces of law with such a great name that you wonder how anyone could ever have a problem with it”
With a lead-off sentence like this, one can imagine how intrigued I was to state a case for discrimination, or more specifically, the decriminalization of discrimination.

One argument made against the legislation that Manes reproduces in his post is:
“ENDA gives special privileges to homosexuals.”
Now, I can see how people arrive at this idea. Basically, what rights could any group have if all people are created as equal? Only individuals have rights, not groups. That should be obvious to anyone. Hence, it is easy to deduce that this legislation must “give” special priveleges to those of a different sexual orientation.

Manes takes the position that the law doesn’t actually “give” anyone anything and it is only protecting people from discrimination. He posits that this is a defense from those who seek to harm people and therefore is a “negative right.” He concludes: “It would be nice if businesses would solve this problem for themselves, but once again, it appears that the only way we can guarantee protection from sexual orientation discrimination is by passing federal legislation.”

Of course, Manes is not upholding the right to freedom of association and the right to private property when advocating such policies. As a business owner it should be my choice about whom to hire or fire. It really is that simple. If a contract is at issue here, then the situation becomes a little more complicated. Discrimination is a matter of judgement. Whether good or bad judgement, in so far as no property rights have been violated, there is no crime. Discrimination on the basis of color, ethnicity, or gender is a vice, it does not make one a criminal.

Manes has stated that: “I believe that we can only solve some problems as a society through the mechanism of government.”

So essentially he and I resemble the tension that exists between individual and collective rights.
I am of the ilk that claims collectivism is slavery. Logic tells me that collective rights are contradictory and only serve to perpetuate issues like racism and other civil rights issues.


Walter Block, “Discrimination: An Interdisciplinary AnalysisThe Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 11, 1992, pp. 241-254
[mp3] Walter Block, “A Libertarian Analysis of Law“, Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama; January 9, 2008
Lew Rockwell, “The Economics of DiscriminationGeorgia State University School of Law in Atlanta, April 1994

6 Responses to “Discrimination. Complimentary or Durogatory?”

  1. […] Discrimination. Complimentary or Durogatory? […]

  2. Steve said

    Who’s Banes? lol. I think you mean Manes.

    I sympathize with your position of limited government and freedom of choice. David definitely border lines on Statist. I like to take the freedom of choice position as much as possible. However, I don’t think I’ve got enough Libertarian fortitude to oppose a bill like ENDA.

    I think David’s given up arguing with you over the freedom of choice vs. negative rights. I suppose if one considers discrimination as an illegal action, then ENDA is probable a good idea.

  3. Jesse said

    Manes….LoL. My Bad

    “I think David’s given up arguing with you over the freedom of choice vs. negative rights.”

    Personally I think that he is going to have to revise his definitions at some point in the future in order to effectively argue his case for what he calls negative rights.

    Even if one has a problem with discrimination the question is what one does about it. You fine them or jail them? Forced integration? What do you do? Ask government all day to carry out “justice” for you but ask yourself what you think will change things for the better and what you yourself would acually do to enforce anti-discrimination measures. Like the military…at what point is it justified to pick up a gun?

    This law doesn’t make discrimination illegal but it may as well. The issue isn’t discrimination under ENDA, the issue is emplyoment. What damages are incurred by refusing to hire or firing someone? Does it matter what the motive is? What contracts have been agreed upon?

    If one assaults another, that is a crime. If one is racist and assaults another, have you now committed two crimes or a worse crime? Either way there is a motive despite what the motive is. Should one recieve a harsher punishment? And if so, how much more punishment or in what way?

    Laws change over time. I guess believing in democracy allows changes in laws depending on the prevailing attitude at the time, despite what law is supposed be ideally. So while David may say its okay to decriminalize some drug laws, even though they may “harm” society or indivudals, he doesn’t think discrimination should be decriminalized. My question is in part curious at to where does one actually draw the line?

    Just passing laws don’t solve problems. Sometimes enforcement of laws make things worse. What laws will we allow to exist and to what extent. Obviously responsible peoples are the only society can work. Opinionated laws are not so much law as an example made by the culture. Without the historical background that is still fresh in the American psyche laws such as ENDA would not be considered. Are we asking for retribution for past crimes? Are we going to eradicate prejudice? Can we change minds by making thoughts illegal?

    I couldn’t help but think about child labor laws while discussing this topic.
    The Trouble With Child Labor Laws

  4. Jesse said

    freedom of choice is a negative right. that’s what i am arguing. Manes is saying one doesn’t have a right to freedom of choice or association.

    maybe another way to classify a negative right is by showing that negative rights don’t overlap one another. In that, if protection from discrimination was a negative right, then other freedoms like freedom of association would not be harmed by that protection from the “harm” of discrimination.

    negative rights are supposed to work together and support each other, not infringe on each other.

    Do I have a “right” to ‘not’ be discriminated against? I find that hard to believe. I may not like it, but can I slap the cuffs on a person for such action? I think it would warrant more serious conditions like assault, theft, etc. In which case discrimination may only be the motive, but cannot be punishable by law.

  5. Jesse said

    my (pseudo)-disclaimer
    just a point of clarification in my own defense on this subject.

    i did not ever vote for or against legislation like ENDA or ENDA itself. i am attempting only to talk about the subject to offer other perspectives. i have voted for individuals who may or may not have endorsed such legislation. it would require a little more homework and a whole ‘nother thread to cover the topic of elections and democracy and my part in said process.

    i would like to offer a spot on here for anyone to talk about this subject. i personally am not sure how much more i will write on my own regarding this topic, it’s not a pretty topic and i don’t like the idea of racism, and topics like it. i don’t endorse or practice it my life and i don’t plan to either. i apologize if i have offended anyone while posting on this topic.

    be good and take care……

  6. Jesse said

    (note to self: it seems so pointless sometimes….i should really go back and count how many times i get the last word. this predicament(?) has many implications….meanwhile people endorse and force everyone to pay for what they themselves don’t know how or don’t want to deal with….)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: