Should it be illegal for a privately owned business to discriminate against people?
People discriminate every day. What instantly comes to mind with something like this is color of skin and gender. Discrimination can be any range of areas though, from looks, to speech, quality of clothes, pitch of voice, physical strength, etc. There are many things here that are discriminated against that people cannot control. Should we employ a bad singer over a good singer in order to avoid discrimination? Should we employ a weaker person over a very strong person to do a job that requires a lot of physical strength, just to avoid discrimination? How about the modeling business, isn’t that entire industry built on discrimination against ugly people? What of all female book clubs, doesn’t this discriminate against males? Scholarships that go to only black people? Businesses that will not hire people with visible tattoos or those who cannot pass a drug test but never show up to work inebriated?
What are we to do about all of this discrimination? We can’t simply pick and choose which discrimination to make illegal and which to not make illegal. Any time someone doesn’t get hired because they have a visible tattoo, should that business should be sued and fined for discrimination? Any time an all-woman book club doesn’t allow men in, they should be sued and fined? Any time there is a scholarship fund that is given solely to blacks but not other groups of people, they should be sued and fined? Seems like a lot of trouble to go through in order to prevent people from dealing with the people they choose. Also this opens the door for businesses and people to be sued all the time over false allegations of discrimination.
If someone opens a business, or even allows people to come in off the street into their private residence, there is no difference between the two, the owner has every right to deny entry of other people to their property, be selective about what people get which services, which people get what jobs, etc. The reasons for denying people entry to your property are vast and all of them are forms of discrimination. There’s no infringement of rights though since no one has a right to a business’ services or products.
To quote a woman’s perspective on this subject:
I believe that the entire human race, including both men and women, have the equal right to their lives, liberty, and property. But there is a difference between rights and legal privilege. Legal privileges are often granted by the state to one group at the expense of the genuine rights of another group. In my opinion, this act is immoral.
For example, what if a man owns a business and he prefers the company of other men and wishes only to hire men to work for him. Does he not have the right to make this decision? It is his business, after all. And is the state not violating his right to be the sole decision maker in regard to his property by requiring him to hire a woman against his will? The feminist would argue that she has a “right” to have a job at that location. But does she? I do not think so. I believe that she has the right to seek employment anywhere, and I believe that any potential employer has the right to turn her down for any reason including gender bias. It may be an ugly attitude, but his attitude does not violate her rights to her life, liberty, or property.
Now, for anyone who is at this very moment grinding their teeth over my remarks I will ask you to turn the situation around and consider if it were your business in question. For example, I have been to see female OBGYN’s who only hired women. Their offices cater to women who wish to deal only with women for their female medical needs. Now suppose that the law required the doctor, who ostensibly owns the clinic, to hire a certain number of men. First, the Doctor who runs the clinic has had her property rights violated by a legal privilege granted to men that requires her to hire men to work for her against her will. Second, her customers, who prefer to have their feminine medical needs taken care of by only women, have been harmed as they now must subject themselves to the presence of men when they are at the Doctor’s office having their needs met.
So why should women be granted a legal privilege that are denied to men? Should not the purpose of the law be to protect the rights of all? I do not believe that modern feminism seeks to promote equal protection under the law, but in fact seeks to promote legal privilege for women, which often comes at the expense of the rights of men. This is wrong. True equality protects the rights of life, liberty, and property of all and does not grant legal privilege to some at the expense of the rights of others.
When people take a question like this into consideration they tend to get some things confused, especially when they reflect on history in order to decide their answer. Many are getting confused about discrimination in the past and the effects it had.
Take for example this. When someone says, well if purple people are discriminated against by a majority rendering them unable to do business with a majority of the people in an area due to the discrimination, and they aren’t allowed to transport themselves to somewhere else, and others aren’t allowed to come to the area and do business with them, this is an infringement of rights because they have no recourse. In making this argument they fail to realize though that anytime something like this has happened, it has always been coupled with institutionalized force, that being government backed laws that actively discriminate against a certain group of people.
It’s not a free market and it has nothing to do with private businesses being selective of their customers and employees when there is use of government force to discriminate. During the Jim Crow era, blacks could have built a counter economy and began accumulating wealth had they been treated equally under the law, however the use of government to implement discriminate laws largely prevented this from happening. So people look back on history and say well this is what happens when we allow people to discriminate, so we need to go 100% the other way. They think all of this without taking into consideration that the government laws were the problem, not people being discriminatory. If you think the blacks could not have built such a counter economy due to the sheer amount of discrimination, think back to all of the people who had to start with nothing and build up. The early settlers of America were one such group, and they prospered so long as they were not prevented from going about their business to make a living for themselves.
Someone is always willing to do business with those who are being discriminated against so long as there are no laws preventing them from doing business with them. This is why discrimination ultimately fails because it isn’t lock-tight and cannot prevent the people that are being discriminated against from doing business with others who will trade with them. As long as people are not prevented from going elsewhere for employment and trade by those doing the discrimination, then that is liberty since no one is preventing anyone from doing business with the people they choose. It all comes down to whether or not the law discriminates, which should never happen. Everyone is equal before the law. Think of it this way as well, if there are enough people to make it illegal to discriminate, there are enough people to build a private sector friendly to those who are discriminated against. Businesses who want your money and know they can get you to buy from them by catering to your needs where others won’t will do so without having to be forced by law.
Now I know this doesn’t take into consideration valuable resources such as water, as it could be argued that someone could buy up all the rights to the water in an area and then discriminate against others. However natural resources are an entirely different subject and I differ in my view on these natural resources a bit from other libertarians. That is a discussion for another time, as this focuses primarily on groups, services, and products that are created by people.
What it comes down to is that people should have the ability to discriminate and it should be noted that opposition to a law does not equate to support for an action. It makes it easier for the rest of us to identify the discriminators and punish them accordingly with boycotts and bad PR. Besides, would you want to know if you work for or do business with a bigot so that you can change what you’re doing? Maybe it’s my pride, but anyone who wanted to discriminate against me due to a disability, I don’t want them getting anything from me and I want to know who they are so I can bring them down. We just don’t need laws that require people to participate in discrimination, as that is the real problem.