Feminism (and Social Justice) Are Not About Equality

I have heard a lot of talk lately from people, really smart people even, who defend feminism as a movement advocating for the equality of women. They all love to go to the dictionary and read the actual definition of feminism. Fem·i·nism noun: feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. To be honest, this is a pretty weak definition because there are more than one type of equality. Depending on the lens in which you look at the world, that definition could mean vastly different things, polar opposite things even. Not to mention that almost mainstream feminists reject this definition, (until they are debating an anti-feminist and it becomes convenient to use it), and hold that there is no set in stone definition of today’s modern 3rd wave feminist movement. For the purposes of this writing, let’s just stick to the dictionary definition. I don’t intend to imply that the definition of feminism is wrong, just the worldview behind the movement itself.

What do I mean when I say “the lens in which you look at the world”, or “worldview”. They mean the same thing. The structure by which our societies are built, shape in a large way how we see the world. Worldview. In modern times, the two most prominent worldviews that shape western society have been socialism and capitalism. In olden times we could throw monarchy and theocracy in there, but those aren’t major players in western society anymore. I may get to them later though. Aren’t these just economic systems though? What does buying and selling stuff have to do with how we view equality? Well, based on which system the society you live in chooses, a government is formed and laws are written. These laws should, if done properly, protect the rights of people.

So what’s the difference on how socialism and capitalism look at equality? In America, our society has been built with the worldview of capitalism. We think of equality in terms of equal opportunity. This means that the government has one set of laws that apply to everyone in the same way. What you make of your life is your choice. Every citizen has the same opportunity to follow their dreams as every other citizen under the law. Yes, some will succeed while others fail. Yes, some have an advantage based on a multitude of factors. No one has access to laws that give them any advantage over another person. Capitalist societies use terms like egalitarian to describe equality.

In the socialist worldview, places like the old Soviet Union or modern Venezuela, the concept of equality is more in the line of equality of outcome. This means that the laws will favor people who have less over people who have more in an effort to make everyone more equal in what they have, compared to what everyone else has. To do this the government must have some way of determining who the laws should favor. The most popular way to determine who is privileged and who is not today is through a philosophy called Critical Theory, the Frankfurt School or sometimes Cultural Marxism. It takes privilege from those who need it less and grants privilege to those who need it more to create a balance of equal outcome in society.

Leaders in the modern feminist movement, as well as the larger social justice movement, have embraced the socialist worldview and developed a system of hierarchy, sometimes called the “progressive stack” to determine who is privileged and who is not. The stack itself goes something like: 1. Race 2. Heteronormativity 3. Gender 4. Sexuality 5. Ability 6. Class 7. Religion. The group with the most privilege using this hierarchy would be white, cis-gendered, male, straight, able bodied, rich, Christian. The devil incarnate. It’s hard to say who would be at the bottom of the list because there is a constant fight for who can claim the status of most oppressed. I’ve written before on Social Justice Warriors, and Why Feminism Fails.

Ultimately, the reason the social justice and 3rd wave feminism movements fail everywhere except college campuses, is because in western countries, women do enjoy political, social and economic equality to men. In fact, women enjoy more protection in many areas of the law. Women are generally given less jail time for the same crimes and child custody and divorce laws favor women, for instance. Feminists cling to myths like the gender wage gap where women supposedly make $.77 for every dollar a man makes for doing the same job. A myth that has been debunked dozens of times. Feminists don’t care that women work less hours, take more time off and generally quit working earlier, they just want them to make the same amount of money no matter what. Equality of outcome. Not equal opportunity. They cling to myths like the 1 in 5 sexual assault on college campus for women, which has also been debunked several times over. This study was debunked by the very person who created the myth in the first place. Doesn’t matter.

There are, in fact, places in this world that could use feminism. These are places that still rely on monarchy and theology as worldviews. These are places that take part in female genital mutilation, openly value women less than men by law and generally treat women as property rather than people. You will rarely see a modern feminist criticize these countries or their culture and practices. Islam is lower than Christianity on the scale, you see, so they are less privileged and more oppressed than all these social justice/feminist keyboard warriors and therefore can’t be criticized. Because of this it doesn’t matter that women who are raped get stoned while the man who raped her gets a slap on the wrist. It doesn’t matter that gays get thrown off buildings for being gay. It doesn’t matter that Christians get beheaded for being Christian.

I’m not a feminist because I don’t believe in their version of equality. I believe what is good for everyone regardless of race, herteronormativity, gender, Sexuality, ability, class or religion is the freedom of equal opportunity. Free markets make for a free people. Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried. I have hopes that the 4th wave of feminism embraces the free market and they see the fallacy of the segregation and regressive laws they are supporting. High hopes, low expectations.

The Problem With Corporations

“There once was a time in history when the limitation of governmental power meant increasing liberty for the people. In the present day the limitation of governmental power, of governmental action, means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations, who can only be held in check through the extension of governmental power.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve seen this meme, or some variation, floating around social media a lot this week. I guess it’s supposed to prove that Bernie Sanders is right and we need the government to control all these out of control corporations that control the government. I am assuming that it is supposed to carry more weight because Teddy Roosevelt was a republican, so republicans must think what he says makes sense. Well it doesn’t. It reeks of 100 year old garbage, said by a garbage president, and would only make sense to people who don’t bother to think about the words they read beyond the mouth that those words came from. In other words, a typical Bernie Sanders supporter.

So what’s so wrong with this statement? Let’s break it into its parts to find out.

The first sentence is ok. There once was a time in history when the limitation of governmental power meant increasing liberty for the people. ” That makes sense. When you limit the power of the government, the people under that government are freer. That is to say, a less powerful government would have less authority to make rules that would affect your life.

The second sentence is the problem. “In the present day the limitation of governmental power, of governmental action, means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations, who can only be held in check through the extension of governmental power.” This is a nonsensical statement. To explain why we first have to understand what a corporation is and does, generally, and the part the government plays in the role of a corporation.

A corporation is an independent legal entity owned by the people who have invested money into the business. These people are called shareholders. Usually, there are a main group of people that decide which direction to take the business of the corporation in order to make the most money for the shareholders. These people are called the board of directors. When people sue corporations, they are not suing the shareholders or even the board of directors, they are suing the actual corporation, which is legally considered a person. Some people have a problem with this, I don’t. The goal of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders. No more, no less. They have a self-interest in making the government work for them and they are very good at doing just that. I have a huge problem with that.

A government is wholly responsible for the existence of a corporation. Governments rely on experts in various areas of life for the purpose of regulating commerce for a variety of purposes. Since the government is not an expert at anything really, it makes sense that they would rely on bankers to draft banking regulations, and manufacturers to write regulations for manufacturers and farmers to make farming regulations. Of course, the experts writing the regulations have an interest in writing them in such a way as to make competition from new ideas easier to battle. New business regulations are easy to afford if you are already rich, it’s the little guy with a great idea that will have trouble getting off the ground due to these regulations. On top of these regulations, governments pass laws allowing people to copyright and trademark their ideas so that no one else is able to use them to improve on the products or ideas being protected by the government. The truth is that without government corporations would not exist.

So why the second sentence in Teddy’s quote nonsensical? Well, because without corporations the government could still function as it does today, but without the government corporations could not function as they do today. Corporations, at the end of the day, just want to sell you stuff. They can’t force you to buy their products unless a government helps them to create a monopoly, like with your internet/cable providers or your healthcare options. At the end of the day, you can tell the corporation no. With governments, they are able to write laws that force you to act in a certain way and to deem your behavior illegal, even when you are not hurting others. If you tell the government no, bad things will happen to you.

I ask you, which entity is more dangerous? The one with the power to control your life or the one that wants to sell you stuff? Is it a rational position to say that governmental policies have made corporations too powerful, so we need more governmental policies to make them less powerful? Wouldn’t a simpler solution be to eliminate the governmental policies that made them too powerful in the first place?

If it is a true statement that when a government is smaller people have more freedom, then making the government bigger to deal with a problem strictly created by the government cannot by definition make you freer and to the contrary, will make you less free. The truth is that you have much more control over the corporation than you do over your government. You vote for an American president once every 4 years, an American senator once every 6 years and an American congressman once every 2 years. We vote for and against corporations on an almost constant basis with our dollars. Corporations fear you more than your government does and it’s not even close.

When you hear politicians speak about the problems with big business controlling the government, listen to make sure their solutions are not making government bigger. When they start sentences with: “We will make those corporations…” what they really mean is that “We will make the government more powerful.” When the government gets bigger corporations get more powerful, no matter what they tell you. Who do you think is going to write all those anti-corporation laws?

Why I’m Not a Socialist and You Shouldn’t Be Either

I am writing this blog mainly for those under 30 years of age, who have no working memory of what socialism looked like in the world of grownups 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago. I’m not much older than you, 42, but I can still remember watching the news about the “arms race” and negotiations between the US and Russia. I wasn’t old enough to be scared, but the older people around me were.

Today’s socialism bears very little resemblance to the bad old days of the cold war. Nuclear bombs have been replaced with safe spaces, trigger warnings and social justice. Make no mistake, one is no less dangerous than the other. Socialism today has been made to feel safer because the word “democratic” has been placed before it, as if people voting for it makes it any better. I’m not going to be talking about the socialism that you see in the black and white films in your history class today, although the ideas you think are great did come from those people, no, I’m going to be talking about modern socialism. Hopefully, by the end of this you will understand why you should not be a socialist.

One of the main problems, I think, is that young people have no idea what socialism, or it’s opposite, capitalism, really are. Let’s take a look at each system and see if we can determine the attraction that each may have. The truth is that on the outside, socialism has much more appealing selling points than capitalism does. In actual definition there in only one word of difference between them. In the history of the world there has never been a bigger difference from just one word.

Socialism- A system where the means of production are controlled by the public segment of society.

Capitalism- A system were the means of production are controlled by the private segment of society.

Now that you have a basic definition let’s get a little more descriptive. Karl Marx described socialism as a system that “takes from each according to their ability, and gives to each according to their need.” That sounds really good on the outside. Everyone contributes, and is given what they need to live. But let’s dig a little deeper by asking the questions, who decides? Who decides how much I am able to give? Who decides how much I need to live? Your answer may very well be, the people we vote for will decide! Ok, fair enough, the people you vote for how much you work, at what job, at what wage. The people you vote for decide how much of that wage they decided you should make you get to keep. Do you see where I’m going here? In a socialist system, you lose your personhood. You lose your right to own property. You lose your right to be an individual. The collective group of the community becomes way more important than any single individual. “But we are all in this together! The community is more important that the individual!” I hear you saying this, but let’s just put that on the shelf for now and get back to in in a bit and talk about capitalism.

One of the people responsible for my becoming a libertarian was Dr. Walter Williams, he describes capitalism as a system where in order to reap the rewards of society, one must first serve society. Admittedly, that does not sound quite as enticing as the description of socialism on the outside. Making a person work in order to benefit from society seems mean. Let’s use an example to illustrate what he meant by that description. Bobby wants to buy some food. He goes to the store and asks for some BBQ chicken. The store owner asks Bobby if he has served society and Bobby says yes, he served society by delivering newspapers. The store owner asks for proof of this service and Bobby produces money given to him by the owner of the newspaper. With this money Bobby buys the chicken to eat. So who decided what Bobby had the ability to give? Who decides what Bobby needs? The answer to each of these questions is Bobby. A capitalist society empowers the individual to serve themselves. A community is broken down into interactions between individuals where both parties feel better off after the interaction. While socialism looks better on the outside, once you peel back the layers, capitalism is much better vehicle to freedom.

Still, this is not a perfect picture of modern socialism, Bernie Sanders socialism or Scandinavian socialism. Social justice and 3rd wave feminism are just trying to empower oppressed groups right? Well, let’s take a look at that and see what the connection is to what I have described above. To understand “social justice”, you have to google the terms, “Frankfurt School”, “Critical Theory”, “Cultural Marxism”. Yes, that Marx! The same guy who I used to describe socialism above. “Social justice” assigns a hierarchy to groups of people based on their standing in society. It’s a ladder system, the higher you are on the ladder, the less oppressed you are and therefore the less rights you have. It’s ok for any group lower on the ladder to attack any group higher on the ladder. If you don’t see the ugliness here, I’ll just go ahead and point it out. It’s a system not concerned with elevating the rights of the oppressed, it’s a system concerned with lowering the rights of the oppressors. Still don’t get it? It tears people down and punishes them if they try to build themselves back up. Until we all share the misery equally. “Wait a minute!” you say, “How can standing up for the oppressed be that bad!” you say. Well ask yourself some questions. Who decides which groups are oppressive and which are oppressors? That’s right! Your benevolent dictators do! Your elected officials that you have given all your individuality to get to decide where you belong on this ladder. “So what!” you say, “I’m a gay, female, ethnic minority and low on the ladder, I can only benefit from this system!” Yes, I guess for now you do. At least until your particular group passes someone else on the ladder, then you too will need to be brought down a peg or two. In this philosophy of life, you are giving away your freedom to a benevolent dictator because you feel like your group is too weak or stupid to take care of themselves. 3rd wave feminists think women are too stupid to compete in the job market and must be protected from evil men. LGBTAQ’s are too weak and stupid to get along in society full of straight people so they must be protected and sheltered from the evil breeders. This philosophy denigrates who you are. You make yourself less than in a grand competition to see who can get to the bottom first.

When you look at the big problems we have today in our government, like the corporate lobbying, special favors, bank bailouts, etc…, understand that crony-capitalism, where the corporations control the government, is actually a form of fascism and the government is really the one in control. The people who enforce the law are always in control. Fascism is just another branch on the socialist tree. The problem is not too much business, the problem is too much government.

This is why being separated from your individuality to benefit the collective is so bad. When you lose the power to decide what is good for you, society as a whole suffers. When you hear terms like “safe space”, “inclusion”, “multi-culturalism”, “patriarchy”, “rape culture”, “misogyny”, “trigger warning”, “micro-aggression”, “feminism”, “problematic”, and all the other “social justice” buzzwords, run the other way. As fast as you can. Learn the power you possess as an individual. These buzzwords do not reflect the reality of the world you live in. You are more important than the collective.

This socialist movement of “social justice” is more dangerous than the bad old days of the cold war because it entices free people to become slaves. You freely give up your liberty for social equality. What you are doing in essence is giving up freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, and all your other freedoms for free college, free food, free healthcare and free housing and all the other “free” stuff promised by the benevolent ruling class. I get that you are probably at an age where you have up to this point been taken care of most of your life and the dangers of what I have described are not immediately apparent, but one day you will understand what it means to be on your own. I know the notion that you can remain a child of the state is attractive, but once you give away your freedoms, you can never get them back. It doesn’t work that way. One day, the odds are that you will be working at a job that will allow you to take care of yourself and you won’t need the governments help. Do your future self a favor and learn earlier rather than later the dangers of modern socialism. Please don’t vote away you freedom, and mine, to the highest bidder.

Political Supersymmetry

I came across this video the other day and it got me to thinking. It seems like there is a parallel between the concept of supersymmetry in science and the abstract political philosophies we have about government and society. Specifically, I was thinking about our current systems of government. We have all these different types of state systems, but are there any “cousin particles”, or political equivalent, that we can look to? Surprisingly, I was able to find a “stateless” version of almost every type of “state” government.

In this visual representation, it becomes apparent that they are not exactly symmetrical. As you move left on the political spectrum the resemblance between the state and stateless options become less apparent. State communism and stateless communism, for example are interchangeable, there is virtually no difference between them. You can also see that the gap between anarcho-capitalism and classic liberalism is bridged by minarchism, which is allegedly where most self-described libertarians live. A minarchist generally thinks the state is irrelevant in most situations, but a few things such as the military and justice system are best done by a state of some sort, at least until a better alternative can be described without a state.

There are several major dividing lines between left and right philosophies that are symmetrical between state and stateless philosophies.

Private property-

As you move left on the scale, the belief that property can be owned diminishes on both state and stateless philosophies. Both leftist systems hold unions in high regard and consider the means of production in private hands as immoral. As you move right on the scale, the concept of private property and ownership become more important, for both rightwing philosophies.

Individualism vs. the collective-

As you move left on the scale, the concept of the individual diminishes and the importance of the collective increases. As you move right the importance of the individual increases and the collective decreases. This is true for both the state and stateless philosophies.

Positive rights vs. negative rights-

As you move left on the scale, the importance of positive rights increase. As you move right on the scale the importance of negative rights increases. This is true for both the state and stateless philosophies.

Of course, I left out a lot of different philosophies and each category can be subdivided countless times. I don’t have the space or patience to list every single type of socialist or fascist or libertarian. But you get the point. This thought does beg the question though: If something can be done without a state, why is the state necessary?

By the way, one of the reasons I find libertarianism superior to the main political parties, is that it forces me to think about things that democrats and republicans never do. A person’s political party is acquired much like their religion, by birth. You are what your parents are, until you rebel and become the other party. Not much thought goes into it. Very few people are born libertarian. It requires first, an epiphany that something is wrong with what you believe and second, research. That’s partly why I didn’t make each word in that word triangle a link to a further description, the other part was I’m too lazy to make that many hyperlinks. Happy researching!

If you are a republican or democrat, progressive or conservative, here is a little exercise to get you started. Answer these questions:

  • Do I own my own body, my time and my talents?
  • If I trade my time for goods do I own those goods?
  • Are my needs as important as the needs of my community?
  • Should my rights obligate you to serve me or take action? (positive rights)
  • Should my rights be able to be exercised without requiring action from others? (negative rights)
  • Should I be able to decide what is best for me and my family?
  • Is freedom more important than security?
  • How much freedom am I willing to give up to be secure?

When you answer these questions, take your answers to their logical conclusion and see if any of your answers contradict each other. They will contradict each other. At this point you will need to make a conscious decision about which way you want to go. Take that decision to its logical conclusion. Feel free to use the word triangle above to see where you place on the spectrum.

I would love to hear about your results. Tell me where you fall and why. Please feel free to ask me where I fall and why.

The Politics of “Rights”

In the coming election year we are going to be bombarded with promises of free stuff. It’s inevitable. Phrases like, “basic human right” are going to be bandied about like candy on Halloween. Let’s take a look at the most common things that are described as human rights, or natural rights to see if they would truly fit that description.

Before we begin, let’s talk a little about human rights. Not all rights are created equal. Rights fall into two camps, positive and negative. I know what you are thinking, “positive” sounds like a good word and “negative” sounds like a bad word, so positive rights must be better! Right? Well no, not exactly. Positive rights are things that, when exorcised, would require action from a 3rd party, whereas negative rights can be exercised in the absence of action from a 3rd party. To illustrate the difference, let’s say “I have a positive right to food”. If this were true and I could not feed myself for whatever reason, another person would be obligated or required to feed me. If I say “I have a negative right to food”, and for some reason I could not feed myself, no one would be required to work in order to feed me.

Hopefully, it is clear that rights that need no approval from anyone else to enjoy are superior to rights that require others in order to be enjoyed. This point is fairly well acknowledged by most philosophers and political scientists. Therefore, negative rights are the only true set of natural or human rights we have. Positive rights, in my opinion, are not rights at all. Positive rights are, however, very important aspects of living with each other, in communities, as human beings.

I should also point out that it is a much different thing when private companies use “rights” in their marketing campaigns than when governments do it. When you hear a commercial airline use the phrase, “passenger’s bill of rights”, they are marketing their services and not using the term literally. When advertisers tell you that you have a right to fast, friendly service, they are trying to get your business by insinuating that their competition does not give fast, friendly service. It’s a marketing ploy that I despise because it dilutes not only the word “rights”, but also the concept.

So what are the politicians going to tell you that you have a basic right to? Off the top of my head, I can remember hearing that I have a basic right to:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Healthcare
  • employment
  • Living wage
  • Speech
  • Bear arms
  • Privacy
  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Property

The list is truly endless, so I’ll stop here. So are all these things rights? Which are positive and which are negative? Conveniently, I put the positive rights in the top half and negative rights at the bottom half.

  • If I have a right to food and cannot feed myself, you must feed me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to clothing and cannot make my own clothes, you must cloth me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to shelter and cannot build it myself, you must build it for me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to healthcare and I am not a doctor, you must treat me. Therefore you are my slave. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to a job, you must hire me. Therefore you do not own your business. You have no choice, it is my right.
  • If I have a right to a living wage, you must give me that wage. Therefore you do not own the money your business makes. You have no choice, it is my right.

Let’s contrast these 6 rights with the next 6 rights on the list:

  • If I have a right to free speech, I may speak, but you have no obligation to listen to me. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to bear arms, I may purchase a gun, but you have no obligation to sell me one. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to privacy, I can protect that privacy, but you have no obligation to protect that privacy. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to life, I can defend my life, but you are not obligated to help me. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to liberty, I can defend my liberty, but you are not obligated to help me. We are both free.
  • If I have a right to property, I can buy whatever I want with the money I make, but you are not obligated to sell it to me. We are both free.

The dangers of empowering governments over positive rights are apparent. Positive rights are the main reason we are in $20 trillion in debt. The majority of the federal budget does not go to the military industrial complex or infrastructure (muh roads!). The majority of the federal budget goes to entitlements. Proving food, shelter, healthcare and a living wage to people who cannot or will not endeavor to provide it for themselves. The problem with this that government becomes the middle man between the people who endeavor to take care of themselves and the people who cannot or will not. Taking from one group and giving to the other, all the while telling them that they are “entitled” to what other people have earned through hard work.

In my opinion, only negative rights should be protected by the government. I say this because it costs nothing to exercise these rights. The proper role of government is to protect me if someone infringes on one of my negative rights. Positive rights are best left to the private sector, enforced through contract. Too much power has been taken away from private individuals and groups, and too much has just been given away freely. Churches and other social groups have given away almost all of the moral authority they once had to the government. Deciding what is moral and immoral used to be up to social groups and churches, now the government makes those decisions. The churches freely gave away that authority by lobbying for such things as marriage licenses and sin taxes. Charities used to be the ultimate decision makers as to who received their charity and who did not. Now the government decides who gets what. Charities don’t mind as long as they get their cut. Even charities with the best of intentions get government funding, but what hoops did they have to jump through to get it? Now that we have a government that has taken the power of moral authority and ultimate decider of what we need, we are all a slaves to the state. The recipient of the benefits because they need it to live and the citizen who gets their money taken because they no longer own what they produce.

As more and more people get into a situation where they are living paycheck to paycheck, the temptation to just let the government take care of certain things that they may not be able to afford gets stronger and stronger. Beware when a politician makes a positive right sound like a negative one. Beware when they demonize those who make more than you, stoking your envy. More than likely outside your own decisions in life, the politician is much more responsible for your financial situation than that rich person is. When you use the government to punish the wealthy, you do so at the risk of ceding your freedom. No matter what that politician tells you, you will not get richer by making a rich person poorer. But they will. I implore you to think about your own long term freedom over any short term comfort they might be promising you.

Religious Freedom and the Law

The big news this week is that the state of Indiana just passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The passage of this act caused an avalanche of bad press for Indiana, complete with boycott’s, outraged Hollywood actors and CEO’s who vow to never visit the state again. Apparently, they are in an uproar because letting people have religious freedom opens the door for religious nuts to openly discriminate against gay people. There are a few things surrounding this media circus that I have a problem with. My opinion on the matter may make both sides mad, but I’m going to risk it.

First, when it comes to private business, the freedom of association is more important than anti-discrimination laws. Period. If you have a religious belief that gay people are immoral, white people are the devil, black people are inferior or whatever other horrific thing you claim that your religion teaches you, more power to you. You should be able to sell your products to just the people you want to sell them to and refuse to sell to anyone else. The market place will sort you out. I certainly would not patronize any place that thinks that way and I doubt the vast majority of people would either.

Second, let’s be clear, the law in Indiana is very similar to what 19 other states and the federal government has. The law is not designed to allow the open discrimination of gay people. This is almost identical to the federal law that was passed by Bill Clinton. This was also essentially similar to the RFRA passed in Illinois that then state senator Barak Obama voted in favor of. The difference that the talking heads keep referring to is that the Indiana law puts corporations and businesses into the category of “people”. The problem with placing outrage in this particular basket is that all the other laws basically do the same thing. If they didn’t before, the Hobby Lobby decision means that they are that way now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After reading many points of view on this, I get the feeling that the opposition the Indiana’s particular RFRA is completely based in fear, and the perception that republicans are just bigots. Had this come from a democrat governor, I doubt there would be nearly as much outrage.

Let’s move on to the public reaction and my problem with the democrats. There was a boycott called for by large corporate CEO’s, musical acts, actors and others who are jumping on the bandwagon. In theory I don’t have a problem with private call for a boycott, but I wonder how trying to hurt private business people in Indiana for decisions made by the state government makes any sense. I don’t know how boycotting, “Indiana”, can possibly make any difference. Are these people boycotting the other 19 states also? No? No good press in that I guess. Are these people outraged at the federal government and president Obama who voted for a RFRA? No? I guess when democrats do it, it’s cool. Apparently the fact that these laws have been around for the last 20 years or so and there have not been any documented cases of businesses turning away gay people just because they can makes no difference to these boycotters. I might point out that being gay 20 years ago was not nearly as cool as it is today. Here’s an idea, why don’t you wait for something to happen at a local establishment and then boycott that particular business? Crazy right!

Republicans, don’t think you’re off the hook. I applaud the attempt at restoring the right of association. I applaud the attempt to transfer a bit of the power back to the people. What I can’t understand is that with one hand you want to reduce the size of government when it comes to religious freedom, but with the other hand you try to make laws against same sex marriage. Therefore, making government bigger for gay people. Small government is small government. Freedom is freedom. You need to be consistent, even if you don’t like it. Is there any wonder why people might be suspicious of your motivation when you have a history of treating people differently? How about if there are no victims, don’t get involved? Gay marriage does not affect anyone but the two people getting married. I get that gay marriage goes against your religion, but the government is not there to enforce your religious beliefs.

The other thing I have a problem with is that the republicans absolutely will not admit that the possibility exists that a business can use this freedom to discriminate against someone, anyone. The truth is a business would be able to do that. Instead of dancing around it, the republicans could use the opportunity to explain freedom of association and why it’s not a bad thing, even if discrimination actually occurred. Which it doesn’t. How can discrimination not be a bad thing? The short answer is that it would redirect money into the correct pockets. What I mean is, if a baker refused to cater a gay wedding, for no other reason than he hates gay people, that couple would simply go to a baker that would cater the wedding. Instead of forcing the first baker to take their money, they would be giving business to someone who actually wanted it. On the flip side, if someone found a niche’ in the gay wedding market, they could refuse to cater straight weddings if they chose, strictly because they were straight. Association, people, it’s a good thing.

The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with this law. I get why gay people would be suspicious, but the good thing about this is that they would have the exact same freedom to associate that the religious people would. I would not doubt in the least that this is a poorly written law, almost all of them are. Laws are written by people in government after all. Even if those evil, bigoted, homophobic republicans wrote this law specifically to allow the discrimination against gay people and their weddings, it still helps gay people. When power is transferred from the government to the people, even for nefarious reasons, it is good for the people. All of them. A government cannot say that some people have the freedom to associate and others don’t. Anti-discrimination laws are there so the government doesn’t treat people differently, not to force one group of private citizens to associate with another.

Freedom of Association is Hard

I’m going to take a break from my series on U.S. departments to discuss the freedom of association. There seems to be an all-out war on this, one of the most important freedoms that we have. The freedom or right of association is covered under the first amendment as the “right to assemble”. Being able to associate freely with like-minded people is a natural right that, like freedom of speech, life and liberty, predates government or man-made laws. Not many people besides libertarians talk about association as a vitally necessary freedom, but everyone likes to use the comfort it provides.

Freedom is hard. Part of the responsibility that comes with freedom, is not interfering with the freedom of others. Sometimes, this is not as easy as it sounds. Natural rights all come in the form of a two sided coin. If we take the right of free speech as an example, one side of the coin says we can say what we like, the other side of the coin says that we cannot force others to listen. In the case of freedom of association, we can choose to associate with whomever we wish, but we cannot force others to associate with us. Sounds pretty simple right? How is this so hard? A conflict arises when man-made laws interfere with natural rights. Like many laws, these laws came from good intentions. Consumer protection laws and anti-discrimination laws are being used to force association upon groups of people who do not wish to associate with certain other people.

Associations like the NAACP, labor unions, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street and countless others have been protected over the years to peaceably assemble. The NAACP has had to use the defense of freedom of assembly several times in the past to protect its members from the federal and state government. Where this becomes hard is defending the right to assemble for groups that one might find distasteful, like the KKK, or Black panthers. This is generally where liberals diverge from libertarians. Liberal’s typically only defend groups that they like or agree with. Libertarians , for the most part, defend the rights of everyone to say what they want. Nothing is absolute of course, but that is my general feeling on the issue. You will find many examples of liberal groups trying to get conservatives or simply non-liberals fired for what they might say on TV or radio, but not many examples of conservative groups or libertarians  trying to get liberal commentators fired.

This “war on the freedom of association”, that I mentioned earlier is coming from gay-rights groups. There are countless stories in the news where florists, photographers, caterers, etc… are being sued for not providing services to same sex couples, mainly for wedding ceremonies. They are using consumer protection laws and anti-discrimination laws as a basis for forcing people who have a moral opposition to same sex marriage to serve their needs. These small businesses are using religious beliefs as grounds for not serving these customers. In other words, they do not want to associate with a same sex wedding on the grounds that it violates religious principles. Regardless of my personal feelings on the matter, I have to believe that a natural law outweighs a man-made law on any subject. What is really disappointing is that the ACLU, which is supposed to be a watchdog for civil liberties, has decided that it hates religion more than it loves civil liberty and is starting many of these lawsuits on behalf of the gay-rights groups.

Some of you might be wondering what would happen if these consumer protection laws were redefined or eliminated. Wouldn’t it become ok to discriminate against minorities, or fat people, or gay people? The short answer is yes. A business should be able to hire who they want, and serve who they want. To illustrate why, let’s look at a few examples. A health food store, who’s owner decides that it only wants thin, fit women to work there in order to project a healthy, fit image, should have the right to not hire people he or she deems unfit. A bar catering to chubby chasers should be able to hire only overweight waitresses to attract the desired clientele. A Chinese restaurant should be able to hire Chinese people to keep with the theme of the restaurant if they wish. In each case, the owner of the business assumes the risk associated with his or her decisions. If the patrons of these establishments don’t like the hiring practices they can simply spend their money elsewhere.

Now it gets a little harder. What if a black business only wanted to serve black people and turned away whites, Hispanics and Asians. Is this ok? Yes. Again, the people would decide with their dollars to support or not the right of the business owners to only associate with other black people. This would also be true if you substituted for white, Hispanic, Asian or any other race to that business. In the end, all the people that were refused service would become a market unto themselves and businesses would sprout up to take their money for the service they were denied. I find it very hard to believe that any business deemed racist in current times would last very long in a marketplace that sees no distinction in the color of the money it receives based on the color of the hand from which it was received.

Should those laws be abolished? No. Anti-discrimination laws and the like should only apply to the government. No two citizens should be treated differently in the eyes of the law by the government. Discrimination in public employment should be illegal. Our government is supposed to be “by the people, for the people”. If this is true, then it needs to be for all the people equally, or not at all. What these gay-rights groups and the ACLU don’t seem to understand is the aspect of that two sided coin. If they can force Christian bakers to make them pro-gay cakes, then Christian groups can force gay bakers to bake anti-gay cakes. I get that some people will be offended by the choices of others, but we most certainly do not have the right to not be offended. Freedom is hard people, but that’s no reason to take it away.