Civil Society Defeats Bigoted Policy

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

When then-candidate, now-Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) got into hot water over his later-walked-back comments about the 1964 Civil Rights Act last year, there was some interesting intra-libertarian discussion about whether federal laws against private discrimination are still necessary, about whether they’re legitimate government interventions, and, if they are legitimate, about whether the Commerce Clause was the appropriate way of implementing them. (My own view: They were necessary in the segregation era (in part because of the effects of state enforcement of unconstitutional segregation laws), probably aren’t necessary any more, but should have been implemented by other means—like the 13th Amendment—to avoid eviscerating the Commerce Clause in the process.)

Outside of libertarian circles, there was much mocking and derision about how this could even be up for debate, complete with references to free market fairy dust and scornful ridicule of the idea that market forces could sufficiently deter businesses from engaging in bigotry.

It’s just one example, but here in Nashville, that magical free market fairy dust has in fact overturned a discriminatory policy, and in a place many people would probably find unlikely.

It all began last month, when the private Christian college Belmont University fired women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe shortly after Howe revealed to her players that she and her same-sex partner were expecting a child. Belmont has maintained that Howe was not fired for her orientation, and resigned on her own. But no one in town really believes that. Howe’s players say she told them she wsa pressured to resign because of her orientation.

Belmont is a very conservative school. All faculty members are required to sign a declaration of faith before they’re hired. Until 2007, the school was officially affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. And as a private institution, Belmont was well within its legal rights to fire Howe. Tennessee’s anti-discrimination law does not include sexual-orientation, but even if it did, such regulations often include exemptions for religious institutions.

But that doesn’t mean Belmont is immune from criticism and pressure from outside the government. And in the following weeks, a curious thing happened. Belmont students held protests in support of Howe. Faculty members spoke out on her behalf. The Faculty Senate passed a resolution in support of the school’s gay employees, and demanded that school administrators sponsor an open discussion about Belmont’s discrimination policy. Belmont benefactor, trustee, and Nashville music baron Mike Curb threatened to withhold his financial support for the school, and wrote a public letter praising the faculty for speaking out on what he called a “basic civil rights issue.” (Interestingly, Curb was the Republican Lieutenant Governor of California from 1978-1982. He is also a partner in the gospel music company World Label Group.)

The payoff: Belmont trustees announced just today that they are adding sexual orientation to their non-discrimination policy.

Again, this is just one example. But it’s a pretty compelling one. This conservative, Christian school in the buckle of the Bible Belt was convinced by private actors to explicitly protect homosexuals from discrimination in hiring, promotion, and firing decisions. And all without the threat of force stemming from a law or regulation.*

(*The Nashville City Council is considering a bill that would bar companies that have contracts with the city from discriminating on the basis of sexual preference. I don’t find these sorts of bills particularly objectionable. There are gay people in Nashville. There’s nothing wrong with the city refusing to give its business to companies that discriminate against some of its residents. But as a private school, it seems unlikely that the bill would have significantly affected Belmont.)

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113 Responses to “Civil Society Defeats Bigoted Policy”

  1. #1 |  Brian Despain | 

    You should keep in mind Radley that during segregation there were market forces that effectively prevented businesses from integrating and offering the same services to blacks and whites. It is interesting though how times change.

  2. #2 |  Radley Balko | 

    You should keep in mind Radley that during segregation there were market forces that effectively prevented businesses from integrating and offering the same services to blacks and whites. It is interesting though how times change.

    I’m not sure how you can say that, given that it was illegal for businesses in the south to integrate. There was no room for market forces to act on the matter at all. Yes, I’m sure there still would have been plenty of “whites only” establishments well into the 20th century (as was is the case in the north, where segregation wasn’t required by law). But there were also lots of examples of businesses in the south that tried to integrate but were prevented from doing so by state and local government.

    Again, I think the federal government was right in both overturning state segregation laws and in recognizing that their long legacy also required intervention in the private sector. I just wish they’d have gone about it in a way that didn’t open the door to federal involvement in just about every other facet of our lives.

  3. #3 |  Robert | 

    “Nashville music baron Mike Curb threatened to withhold his financial support for the school”

    I’d say that this was more likely the reason for the change in policy than all of the other stuff put together, but I’m a cynic…

  4. #4 |  Brian Despain | 

    Radley I am thinking of the activity of Citizen Councils to oppose integration through economic means. Those laws were in place because they reflected the wishes of the majority of whites – not because government forced segregation on those poor people. As far as federal involvement in every facets of our lives, the expansion of the commerce clause had been happening through out the 20th Century. To lay this solely at the feet of the Civil Rights Act means ignoring the tremendous growth of the state from FDR on.

  5. #5 |  t1 | 

    Okay, so there’s one example in support of your argument …

    The idea that market forces, alone, are sufficient to deter businesses from engaging in bigotry deserves all of the scorn, derision and ridicule heaped on it.

    Look in 2011 there are still places in this country that discriminate – even defiance of federal law _and_ the vaunted market forces.

    Let’s suppose a black man walks into a restaurant in [insert your favorite redneck locale here] and is told that “We don’t serve niggers here.” Without protections of the CRA, I guess the guy could try to organize a boycott or write some really nasty reviews on Yelp. But there are plenty of places in this country where that would make the customers like it even more.

    Not only that, there are private clubs in this country that don’t admit women and minorities as members. Where are these market forces? Why aren’t they working their magic fairy dust powers to stamp out that bigotry? Hmmm?

    Finally, the notion that the CRA was responsible for distorting the commerce clause is silly. Just look at the Wickard case in 1942 that held that a farmer growing wheat on his own land for his own use implicates the commerce clause. That was a long time before civil rights and it is an activity that has much less to do with interstate commerce than the practice of barring 10% of the American population from staying in certain hotels or eating in certain restaurants.

  6. #6 |  Radley Balko | 

    Where did I lay it solely at the feet of the Civil Rights Act? There were lots of contributing factors, but the cases that came out of the CRA certainly expanded it.

    But there’s also this sentiment on the left that an expansive reading of the Commerce Clause equates with support for desegregation. There were other ways to desegregate.

  7. #7 |  Tweets that mention Civil Society Defeats Bigoted Policy | The Agitator -- Topsy.com | 

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Broadsnark, FoxArtCultTech. FoxArtCultTech said: Civil Society Defeats Bigoted Policy http://goo.gl/fb/KyQa0 [...]

  8. #8 |  t1 | 

    “but the cases that came out of the CRA certainly expanded it.”

    How is barring a farmer growing wheat on his own land for his own use a more _restrictive_ application of the commerce clause than the CRA?

  9. #9 |  Danny | 

    I don’t think the CRA distorted the commerce clause by much, but hanging the CRA on the commerce clause tended to atrophy the constitution’s civil rights provisions, which, I think, should be robustly enforceable even against private actors.

  10. #10 |  Radley Balko | 

    Let’s suppose a black man walks into a restaurant in [insert your favorite redneck locale here] and is told that “We don’t serve niggers here.” Without protections of the CRA, I guess the guy could try to organize a boycott or write some really nasty reviews on Yelp. But there are plenty of places in this country where that would make the customers like it even more.

    Are you kidding? First, he could go to any other restaurant in town. Then, after dinner, he could call up any journalist in the country. The next morning, that restaurant’s name would on the front page of every newspaper in America. Look at the Denny’s controversy in the early 1990s. Look at the private pool in Philadelphia that kicked the black kids out a few years ago, and was forced to apologize days later when the story made national news.

    I’m not for a second denying that there’s still racism in this country. And yeah, there are still places left where bigots can congregate in private clubs and indulge in their bigotry over a steam. So what? Let them. But if you think systematic exclusion of black people could in any way still be part of a viable business plan in America, you’re out of your mind.

    I don’t really have a problem with gender-exclusive institutions. Do you think the Curves chain of women-only gyms is bigoted? How about Bryn Mawr or Chatham University?

  11. #11 |  Juice | 

    The commerce clause was eviscerated in the 30s and 40s.

    And I guess I can’t wrap my head around the 13th amendment argument. How is congress enforcing the 13th amendment by regulating housing sales?

    I can see exactly how the commerce clause could be used to empower congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1866 since there is at least some sort of commerce involved, but the 13th amendment has nothing to do with it.

  12. #12 |  Radley Balko | 

    And I guess I can’t wrap my head around the 13th amendment argument.

    Did you click on and read the linked article?

  13. #13 |  Righhhhhttt... | 

    “The idea that market forces, alone, are sufficient to deter businesses from engaging in bigotry deserves all of the scorn, derision and ridicule heaped on it.”

    Agreed. I grew up in the deep south – there are plenty who would turn back the clock in a second if they could. Market forces? A relative of mine recently died. Another relative was willing to travel 18 miles out of town and use the more expensive funeral home, because it was white owned versus the cheaper, closer black owned one. The bigot in question isn’t the exception, I’d say a slim majority of whites I knew growing up were at least as racist. Remove the civil rights laws, and let’s see exactly what happens with market forces. Pfft.

  14. #14 |  Righhhhhttt... | 

    “Do you think the Curves chain of women-only gyms is bigoted? ”

    Yes.

  15. #15 |  Marty | 

    I hope to see more of this- putting current events in perspective offers a much broader picture of what may be contributing to situations we’re seeing. This is why I’m a huge fan of Luis Granados.

    Great job!

  16. #16 |  Jesse | 

    It sounds alot like the free-market principle of follow-the-money was at work here, rather than any change in this organization’s core beliefs. I’m glad that the government wasn’t involved and that this organization made their decision based on their own free choice, but still bothered by the fact that they comprimised their principles, whether one agrees with them or not.

    Other than laws prohibiting government employment/services from being discriminatory (government enforces their taxes and services at the point of a gun, therefore they don’t get to choose) I disagree with the CRA movement as a whole.

    The trampling of the right of free association at the point of a government gun is far more repugnant than private (and often very unpopular) bigotry.

  17. #17 |  celticdragonchick | 

    The idea that market forces, alone, are sufficient to deter businesses from engaging in bigotry deserves all of the scorn, derision and ridicule heaped on it.

    I have to agree. Social hatreds trump the free market every time. So it costs me money to stick it to the guy with brown skin…and it will cost him more than me? Might even put him out of business and drive him and his family out of town? That sounds like a good deal to the racists of not so long ago. Having lived here in the South for nearly two decades, I have to firmly disagree with our esteemed host.

  18. #18 |  Highway | 

    There is a great divide in the thinking between the people who are disagreeing with Radley here, and in the thinking of folks like me who agree with him, and it’s shown in the answer to this question:

    Should people be allowed to discriminate for whatever reason they choose?

    My answer to this is yes. Does this inconvenience some folks? Sure. But I can’t see where any person has more right to tell another person “You MUST associate with this person” than that other person has to say “I will not associate with that person.” It doesn’t matter if someone has a business, or a private club, or a taco truck, or whatever.

    But the other side of this is that anyone who DOES discriminate basically has to take whatever bad press they get out of it. And the government *shall never* discriminate on ANY basis.

    So much of the history of racism in the country is the story of government colluding with racists to discriminate. Local cops helping harass activists, turning a blind eye to violence and retribution, participating wholesale, using local, state, and even federal laws as cover for their discrimination. Take away that legal cover, take away that abuse, and it’s nowhere near the scale.

    And you know what? Some people might not get to do what they want to do. That’s too bad. But you don’t have any right to make someone else do what you want. They should be as free as you are.

  19. #19 |  Highway | 

    Argh.

    I’d like to apologize also for the first paragraph in that previous post. Please do not think *I* am speaking for Radley Balko at all. I had intended to edit that.

  20. #20 |  MassHole | 

    I could see a religious nutjob benefactor actually giving them more money after standing up to the “gay agenda”. Again, it’s a private college, so they should pick and choose their students and faculty as they please. However, it’s great to see that even the people that support this institution these days draw the line at firing good employees over their sexual orientation.

  21. #21 |  mange | 

    But celtic….the government was to blame for Jim Crow laws according to Radley!

    http://www.theagitator.com/2010/05/25/morning-links-348/

    (4th link down)

  22. #22 |  Cornellian | 

    One can debate to what extent market forces would have achieved the same result as the Civil Rights Act, and how quickly that would have happened. But it seems to me that public support for the CRA is so strong, and the availability of other targets for libertarian ire so pervasive (e.g. the War on Americans who Choose to Take Drugs) that the CRA really ought not to be very high on the list of things to worry about.

  23. #23 |  luvzbob | 

    “probably aren’t necessary any more,”

    There are STILL market forces that result in discrimination. My realtor tells me it is common practice today in many areas of this country that if a realtor sells a house to a black family in the wrong neighborhood that realtor will never get a listing in the area again – that’s why he works only as a seller’s agent today.

  24. #24 |  Juice | 

    #12 | Radley Balko | January 27th, 2011 at 7:46 pm
    And I guess I can’t wrap my head around the 13th amendment argument.

    Did you click on and read the linked article?

    The wikipedia article? Yes.

    I don’t see how an abolition of slavery prevents racial discrimination in housing sales/rental.

  25. #25 |  Juice | 

    #21 | mange | January 27th, 2011 at 9:06 pm
    But celtic….the government was to blame for Jim Crow laws according to Radley!

    Yeah, what do governments have to do with laws anyway?

  26. #26 |  Mattocracy | 

    “But celtic….the government was to blame for Jim Crow laws according to Radley!”

    Yeah, and he’s right. People used government to force segregation. Then used government to end it.

    Being a southerner myself, I can say there is a lot of resentment from people who don’t like being told what to do down here. The intervention of the federal government often makes people more reluctant to change since no one likes to be bossed around. Forcing compliance makes people resentful regardless of the issue, whether it’s drugs, race, airport security, supporting terrorism, etc.

    What happened with this university is how the market works. Livelihoods are challenged because people withhold their business/funds. It might not change their minds or hearts deep down inside, but it definitely gives people a reality check that bigots are in the minority.

  27. #27 |  Dave | 

    I don’t think the government should be involved in modeling, changing, regulating, or trying to control social behavior period.
    The problem started with laws that caused discrimination, rather than getting rid of the bad laws that caused the problem, more laws were passed that decreased the rights of business owners.
    The answer to bad law is not to pass more bad laws.

  28. #28 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 

    Ultimately, if you support nondiscrimination laws, then you must also support legalized rape. After all, if someone wants to have intercourse with you, what right do you have to deny them? That would be discrimination!!

  29. #29 |  Joe | 

    Congratulations for those students, faculty, and benefactors that did the right thing in protecting a minority group.

  30. #30 |  Z | 

    But if you think systematic exclusion of black people could in any way still be part of a viable business plan in America, you’re out of your mind.

    Yes it can. See http://blackpoliticalthought.blogspot.com/2008/07/patrick-lanzo-owner-of-georgia-peach.html or google the peach oyster bar. Multiple that exponentially.

    And let’s change Black to Muslim. I could easily see a chain called “Christ’s Flying Cross”- a Christian based airline that charges more and requires ticket buyers to affirm their Christian faith: Their pitch could be along the lines of, its safer here, no Muslims.

    Or check out this lovely story: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/220862_sikh20.html

    There are thousands more.

    Now one could say “Fuck it, I’m not going to the Oyster Bar.” “Screw this, I won’t fly with CFC airlines. But to de facto require that of citizens is to say that they don’t have the same economic rights as the majority.

  31. #31 |  Radley Balko | 

    But celtic….the government was to blame for Jim Crow laws according to Radley!

    Who do you think enforced those laws? Who do you think passed them? Who was arresting the people who attempted to desegregate public facilities? Who turned fire hoses and dogs on civil rights activists?

    I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t the free market.

  32. #32 |  Brian Despain | 

    Radley there is absolutely no reason for a free market to favor equality of opportunity. Free markets are largely value neutral and tend to reflect the values of the society in which they operate. Jim Crow laws were a reflection of the existing social norms in the South at the time. They weren’t imposed from outside by the government. Since Jim Crow laws and Jim Crow etiquette were part of the society, the unregulated market (I would use the term free but that is hardly accurate) would then simply reflect the culture around them. You are focused entirely on the legal framework and you seem to dismiss the larger cultural framework. Whites would boycott any establishment that didn’t enforce segregation which would quickly result in that business either going out of business or changing. For the market to work against segregation, it would be necessary for it to be more profitable to run an integrated establishment than to run a segregated one. In the Deep South under segregation it wasn’t so the market reinforced segregation.

    To ask you a question – who elected the officials who passed these laws? Who asked the police to enforce these laws? Who poured drinks on the heads of black activists trying to sit at the counter at Walgreens? Here’s a hint they were participants in the free market.

  33. #33 |  FridayNext | 

    Is that the same Mike Curb whose “Congregation” sang “Burning Bridges” for the movie Kelly’s Heroes”? I always dug that song.

  34. #34 |  SJE | 

    Sorry, but I had to laugh when I read “Being a southerner myself, I can say there is a lot of resentment from people who don’t like being told what to do down here. The intervention of the federal government often makes people more reluctant to change since no one likes to be bossed around.”

    The “South” often talks a good game, but the politicians that get elected from the south are at least as, if not more, eager to intervene in people’s lives. The Bush administration and the Congress at the time was full of Southern Christian conservatives who were very eager to legislate how people should live. Drug laws, gay rights, etc.

    Then you had the whole Civil War. Last week I read a great extract from Ullysses S. Grant about the causes of the Civil War, in which he argued that while it was reasonable to ask to leave the USA, it was unreasonable under the circumstances that existed. The South had been very happy to use the power of the Federal government when it came to returning captured slaves from areas where slavery was illegal, and was very happy to take Federal money, noting that much of the South had literally been bought with the blood and money of the USA. Having been willing to use the Federal government to impose its laws on other states, and the blood and money of the other states, the South succeeded as soon as Lincoln was elected. Grant seemed pissed that the South wanted to share the benefits of Union, but only for as long as the slave owning minority got exactly what it wanted.

  35. #35 |  Travis Ormsby | 

    Jones v. Meyer actually illustrates how the 13th amendment would not do a particularly good job of serving as a basis to justify broad non-discrimination laws.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1866 (on which the court relied in this ruling) enforces the 13th amendment by removing the “badges and incidences” of slavery in support of non-discrimination against adult black males.

    There is no 13th amendment authority to protect other groups of people against discrimination. It is in no sense the case that shielding a white woman from discrimination is even tangentially related to removing the stigma associated with slavery.

  36. #36 |  Highway | 

    Z, So the existence of some people being racists and discriminating means that *everything* would be segregated? Or does it just irk you that someone could be doing something that they wanted to do with the people they wanted to do it with. It’s far less than ‘exponential’. And how much of the supposed viability of business plans that expressly discriminate is in direct result of backlash against people being ‘told what to do’? If you make a big deal out of how someone can’t choose who they want to deal with, then plenty of just plain ornery people are going to rebel against that *just to do so*.

    The fact that people win discrimination lawsuits still doesn’t mean that the laws are right or just. The real question with things like the ARCO lawsuit is why hasn’t it been publicized more? Don’t like the way a company treated you? Tell more people! If people think your story is interesting, they’ll spread it.

  37. #37 |  Highway | 

    Brian, no, they weren’t participants in the free market. They were bullies hiding behind the cover of laws. Laws that were passed to entrench a minority view that would have passed from the majority given time.

    “Democracy” is rarely the general will of the majority. What it is is the specific will of narrow interests, who align to get their legislation passed because the objection of those who oppose it is not as vociferously expressed as the advocacy of those who want it. Jonathan Rauch has an excellent description about this process in his book Government’s End.

    If people didn’t think that the attitudes which enabled Jim Crow style discrimination were under threat, they wouldn’t have needed to make laws to codify it in the government. If everyone thought the way they did, they wouldn’t need a law. It’s when that ‘common attitude’ comes under attack that the threatened run to the government.

  38. #38 |  CharlesWT | 

    “You should keep in mind Radley that during segregation there were market forces that effectively prevented businesses from integrating and offering the same services to blacks and whites. It is interesting though how times change.”

    We’ve been down this road before…

    The enemies of Jim Crow

    Ethnic Prejudice, Stereotypes, Discrimination, and the Free Market

  39. #39 |  Radley Balko | 

    Again, going back to reconstruction, there are plenty of examples of businesses that attempted to integrate, and were punished for doing so by state and local government. Rail car firms in the south fought segregation laws in the early 20th century, as did entertainment venues and other businesses that dealt with large numbers of people, like theaters and sporting venues (it costs more money to maintain separate facilities). (See here: http://www.jstor.org/pss/2121814 Or here: http://www.american.com/archive/2010/may/progressives-jim-crow-and-selective-amnesia) Yes, racism was certainly still prominent in the south from reconstruction on (and not just in the south, of course). But it was also reinforced, every day, by laws requiring black people and white people to remain separate. There is a reason segregation was enshrined into law. It perpetuated the bigotry. When people work together, live together, and do business with one another, it becomes more difficult for them to hate one another. Countries that have open trade laws with one another rarely go to war. Segregation laws, enforced by the state, stopped that natural process from ever happening.

    Some of you are saying the laws were reflective of the bigoted culture. Sure. But the laws perpetuated the bigoted culture. Racism is not a free market value. And over the long term, bigotry isn’t going to get you any sort of competitive advantage, save for in a few limited areas (yes, you could probably do well opening up an “old white guys club” in some parts of the country). But if you’re interested in making money, bigotry locks out entire classes of customers. And you’re shutting yourself off to large pools of talent based on artificial distinctions.

    Again, I still think federal intervention was necessary. And perhaps it would have been necessary even if southern states hadn’t passed segregation laws in the early 20th century. Although I doubt it. But it’s preposterous to say that segregation would return today if we were to repeal federal anti-discrimination laws. There’s just no toleration for it. Your business would rightly be boycotted and pilloried in a heartbeat.

    I have been to towns in the south that are still de facto segregated. I’ve reported from several of them. You know what black people worry about in those towns? Racist cops and DAs. Racist city councils. Racist school officials. Racist code inspectors and zoning regulators.

  40. #40 |  Z | 

    #36 and #39- as someone said above, the free market system is not value neutral. Free markets reflect the values of the societies they operate in. Do they sell more salmon in Purdhoe Bay, Alaska than in Phoenix, Arizona? My guess is yes. Would the hypothetical Christian Airline I proposed do better in Marietta, Georgia than Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? Again, likely yes.

    Normally there is nothing wrong with that. But civil rights is an exception. The entire premise of the U.S. is that you are not, as an individual, required to live at the tender mercies of society as a whole, particularly when that society differs from you.

    #36, I am not attacking “that someone could be doing something that they wanted to do with the people they wanted to do it with”. That’s called freedom of association. If Mr. Lanzo of the Georgia oyster bar wants to go to Klan rallies (they take Catholics now?) that’s fine. But when Mr. Lanzo operates a business, when Mr. Lanzo uses resources (land, water, etc) that, by virtue of being used by him, can not go to someone else, when Mr. Lanzo has a niche that may be vital (imagine for a moment that oysters are vital to sustaining life, no less so than water), Mr. Lanzo has obligations too. If Mr. Lanzo does not wish to meet said obligations to treat people fairly, the government can punish him.

    Civil rights laws were enacted, lest modern day tea partiers and Rand Paul forget, because wide stretches of the United States went out of their way to degrade, humiliate, disenfranchise and harm their citizens. That disenfranchisement was enthusiastically supported by the vast majority of white southerners, many of whose descendants see nothing wrong with what was done and try to put lipstick on a pig by calling the mistreatment states rights

    Here’s a fun thought exercise: Assume that all of the 13 Southern and border states effected the most by the civil rights and voting rights acts held a referendum on whether Black Americans should be required to pay a five dollar fee every time they came to vote and that the money from these fees would be used to reduce property taxes the following fiscal year.

    What would the result be?

  41. #41 |  PW | 

    “A relative of mine recently died. Another relative was willing to travel 18 miles out of town and use the more expensive funeral home, because it was white owned versus the cheaper, closer black owned one.”

    All that proves is that your relative’s bigotry causes him to make uneconomical decisions with his money. And you know what? LET HIM! And let the extra cost he’s inflicting on himself be its own monument to the stupidity of his beliefs.

    But there’s absolutely nothing about the situation you described that should ever merit the involvement of the government.

  42. #42 |  PW | 

    And let’s change Black to Muslim. I could easily see a chain called “Christ’s Flying Cross”- a Christian based airline that charges more and requires ticket buyers to affirm their Christian faith: Their pitch could be along the lines of, its safer here, no Muslims.

    So exactly what’s your point?

    If they’re a private company they should have that right. Nobody’s forcing you to fly with them, and there are plenty of other airline choices out there. So why not just let their higher prices and inevitably silly marketing techniques be its own monument to their stupidity? Why not let them do whatever it is they do to make their airline “Christian” and take your business elsewhere?

  43. #43 |  PW | 

    Having been willing to use the Federal government to impose its laws on other states, and the blood and money of the other states, the South succeeded as soon as Lincoln was elected.

    As with today, the “blood and money” flowed both ways back then. It’s difficult to fully convert who got what into a monetary form, but the evidence is pretty substantial that at least two measures – tariffs and the various federal canal and harbor spending programs – disproportionately benefited the North before the Civil War. The South disproportionately benefited from fugitive slave laws, as you note, and to some degree military spending on the frontier, their region being geographically broader and less populous than New England. But the point is it was by no means a one-way street as Grant’s letter seems to convey.

    Furthermore, even if one benefits from some parts of a previous voluntary arrangement, that should in no way preclude the voluntary exit at a later date so long as it doesn’t also attempt a precision raid on the former arrangement at the time of exit. And the South, for all its other faults and the glaring problem of slavery, really did not attempt much of anything other than a voluntary exit and a request to “let us alone.” The Confederates even sent negotiators to Washington to offer payment for remaining federal forts and properties in their borders, but Lincoln refused to even meet with them.

  44. #44 |  PW | 

    “But celtic….the government was to blame for Jim Crow laws according to Radley!”

    1. See above, paying particularly close attention to the bolded part.

    2. Look up the name Cecil Ray Price, and figure out who he worked for. Get back to us when you have that answer.

  45. #45 |  PW | 

    Here’s a fun thought exercise: Assume that all of the 13 Southern and border states effected the most by the civil rights and voting rights acts held a referendum on whether Black Americans should be required to pay a five dollar fee every time they came to vote and that the money from these fees would be used to reduce property taxes the following fiscal year.

    What would the result be?

    Unconstitutional.

    “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

    And it would still be unconstitutional whether the CRA and VRA were in effect or not. Your hypothetical “exercise” is therefore a moot point and, accordingly, an extremely weak place to build an argument.

  46. #46 |  JOR | 

    Government isn’t made of magic. It’s made of people, i.e. the same thing “market forces” are made of. Government is part of “the market” in the same way every other organization is. The fact that there were Jim Crow Laws, and the fact that they were so widely defended by white southerners, and the fact that to this day many white southerners resent the forceful abolition of Jim Crow, shows that “the government”, per se, was not the cause of segregation. It was caused by the majority of politically relevant whites, who wanted segregation enforced. On the other hand, it also shows that there were significant incentives for business proprieters (even genuinely racist ones) to to defect from the status quo and desegregate. Otherwise they wouldn’t have felt any need to have segregation enforced by law.

  47. #47 |  This Week in Good News: Gay rights in the bible belt | 

    [...] Radley Balko: Here in Nashville, that magical free market fairy dust has in fact overturned a discriminatory [...]

  48. #48 |  Highway | 

    Sorry, JOR, it doesn’t continue that way. The government *usually* acts in opposition to the market. If it truly was what the market would do anyway, people wouldn’t need to make laws to do it. But government action generally results in distortions to markets, leading to a different market with perverse incentives.

    Z, your argument is the same one people are using to justify government intervention in your diet and healthcare (because eventually you’d use Medicare or public hospitals). It’s just as false then as it is when you say that because people would use their property and their attachment to public utilities you can then tell them who they should associate with. You also make quite the leap of illogic when you say that someone’s going to lock down the only means of life (Oysters vital to life? Seriously?). If that’s such a likely scenario, why doesn’t it happen all the time? Race isn’t the only thing people discriminate about. Why isn’t some of the currently legal discrimination killing people because someone is withholding something ‘vital to life’. Why isn’t it happening in other countries that don’t have the Civil Rights Act?

    What *does* happen is that government thugs harm people. Like was mentioned up thread: It’s not the cracker down the street that folks are scared of. It’s the racist cops, the racist jailer, the racist DA, the racist City Council. All of them using the government power to actualize their racism where they couldn’t as individuals.

  49. #49 |  Marty | 

    a fascinating thing about the CRA- it caused the collapse of several black communities such as Kinloch, MO, because blacks started shopping in white communities, but whites wouldn’t reciprocate.

    The thing that makes me nervous about allowing ‘market forces’ to work in this democracy is that so many organizations- primarily religions and corporations- buy influence to give themselves an advantage. Laws are created to restrict tobacco usage, subsidize cotton farmers, restrict alcohol, etc. Codes are created to restrict residential and business occupancies (primarily affecting immigrants). Some real estate companies still encourage redlining to artificially increase property values in desirable neighborhoods. The drug war has ravaged minorities.

    Poor public schools must carry part of the blame. The government being manipulated must carry most of the blame. Religious bigotry still restricts gay rights. IRS codes still work against gay people and unmarried couples.

    To me, the answer is radically reducing and restricting the government. Allowing idiots with money to buy influence makes us all much poorer.

  50. #50 |  Juice | 

    Speaking of the 13th amendment, here’s an interesting article by Robert Higgs.

    http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2589

  51. #51 |  Robert | 

    “Countries that have open trade laws with one another rarely go to war.”

    Germany’s biggest trading partners in the 1930′s were France and Russia.

    I’d say that in almost every instance of war, there was fairly free trade between the combatants in the recent period of time before the war. Any trade barriers that existed probably came in the very short term just before the war started.

  52. #52 |  Z | 

    A good chunk of today’s R’s and tea partiers advocate changing the constitution because, according to them, legions of brown skinned harlots are hopping over the border to squeeze out “terror babies” (Louie Gohmert of Texas used that term.) The fact that it would also disenfranchise other minorities by putting their citizenship rights on the line is just a bonus. So if you want to repeal the CRA just remember what Faulkner said about the past not being dead.

  53. #53 |  Highway | 

    Z, so whose point does that prove? That the majority of people in the US would agree with that, so therefore ‘democracy’ is the will of the ‘market’ to discriminate? Or does it show that a small loud minority will use the needle point of their narrow interest to get their legislation passed, thereby making EVERYONE live with their narrow vision of reality?

    Do you honestly believe that the majority of people in the US are racist *to the degree that they feel it is right and just and acceptable to disenfranchise those people*? That’s quite a stretch.

  54. #54 |  Brian Despain | 

    Just as an aside Radley are you familiar with the culture that existed in the South, what is now called Jim crow etiquette? I mean I agree the laws and the governmental enforcement of JIm Crow was the larger problem as government is a pretty terrible weapon.

  55. #55 |  Marty | 

    #50 | Robert-

    I’m not seeing any causation- Germany was also dealing with restrictive terms of an unfair treaty imposed upon them.

    ‘I’d say that in almost every instance of war, there was fairly free trade between the combatants in the recent period of time before the war. Any trade barriers that existed probably came in the very short term just before the war started.’

    relations were fairly normal between combatants? and then the relationship went bad? the dysfunction wasn’t the relationship, it was the countries in the relationship. why would someone go to war with someone they had no contact with? I would think that would be the much rarer scenario…

  56. #56 |  very infrequent commenter | 

    “…given that it was illegal for businesses in the south to integrate…”

    Hey Radley. This particular statement is overly broad, and misleading to those who don’t know the whole story. If that’s your intent, then fine; but otherwise you might want to rephrase.

    It’s true for some kinds of businesses in some places. But for most ordinary retail/trade commerce, it wasn’t.

    It’s kinda like saying “It’s illegal to hold a pistol in your hand in the US.” In some places it is, so the statement’s literally true on its face – just misleading. I hope that wasn’t your intent.

  57. #57 |  Mattocracy | 

    #34 | SJE |

    I’m aware of the hipocrisy people exibit. Like Gov Perry of Texas signing a no pork pledge while his state received 6 billion in federal dollars. Or the bible beaters trying to legislate bedroom behavior. And you know what, it pisses people off! People don’t like being told what to do even if they themselves are guilty of the same thing from time to time. We all have our hipocritical moments and doesn’t make wrongs suddenly right.

    How about another example. We’re in the middle east doing our best to force these people to be nice to us and all it’s doing is making muslims hate us even more. It’s a self defeating policy. It doesn’t mean that Terrorist and bigots aren’t dicks. It just means that dickheads respond aggressively when provoked regardless of if they deserve it or not. Going to war with muslim countries isn’t justified just because they do asshole things too.

    There is a reason why MLK used non violence and peaceful protest. It gives you the high ground and it prevents your enemies from justifying their own violent response.

    As soon as some lawmaker tries to write the Belmont University Law of Acceptance all of the conservative pundits will get invovled and turn this into a firestorm. But thankfully, no politicians have managed to throw gas on this fire yet.

  58. #58 |  InMD | 

    I don’t think that the 13th Amendment would necessarily be a strong basis for the Civil Rights Act and similar legislation. The 13th Amendment is interpreted to give Congress strong authority to remove the vestiges of slavery. This would essentially limit it to black Americans and possibly to some degree Native Americans but it would seem hard to apply it to groups who had never been enslaved in the United States.

    I also think it’s important to note that commerce clause jurisprudence, despite the mythology, didn’t expand out of nowhere in the 1930′s and 1940′s when the modern welfare state apparatus was built. Really this began back in the 1880′s when the seeds for the federal administrative “branch” were planted with things like the Interstate Commerce Commission. That doesn’t mean what happened in the 1930′s and 1940′s wasn’t novel but it also wasn’t the sudden flip of a switch many people regard it as.

    I think it may be worthwhile to debate whether the CRA is something we still need in its current form (I tend to think it is). However I’ve often thought that with policies like the war on drugs and war on terrorism going strong its a very questionable battle to pick. Libertarianism always strikes me as at its strongest when dealing with modern problems from a clear-headed policy perspective and at its weakest when trying to relitigate long decided issues of federalism (if for no other reason than it’s never going to win that way). Even if you disagree with it, of all the problematic government policies out there, I can’t imagine the CRA would be particularly high on your list of things to get fired up about.

  59. #59 |  Marc | 

    Time will tell whether Belmont’s policy change is anything more than window dressing. I have not looked into specifics, but I have read suggestions that the policy as stated may be nothing more than a DADT-type of thing. The coach in question had shared with her team that she and her partner were going to have a child, so it’s possible the policy would not have helped her.

    It also may be misleading to cast Belmont as too conservative. I have heard from a former student who attended Belmont 20 or 30 years ago that back then, shorts were prohibited except during things like sports practices, school dances were forbidden, as was hand-holding, etc. He opined that he thought Belmont’s moves over the last few decades to get rid of these kinds of things was part of a conscious decision to appeal more to the general public and attract a national student population and national recognition. And of course, Nashville itself is a Democratic party bastion — pull up a map showing how counties voted in statewide or national elections and it will jump out at you.

    I also wonder if Belmont was concerned about how all this might affect the pending ABA accreditation for their new law school.

    I suppose all of this could fall under a “free market” umbrella, since none appears to be direct government action, but the story is larger and more complex than some protesters and Curb.

  60. #60 |  Starts Bad, Gets Better | Truth and Justice For All | 

    [...] women’s soccer coach who had revealed that she and her same-sex partner would have a child.  Radley Balko reports now that under pressure from students and teachers the College has revised its non-discrimination [...]

  61. #61 |  random guy | 

    In general I agree with Radley, times have significantly changed, and America is a very different place from the times of segregation. Is racism still present in this country? Sure, but thats a cultural problem, one that can only be overcome with time and subtle changes to public opinion. But government enforced segregation, or integration for that matter, frequently just generates resentment. Let people make their own decisions and deal with the consequences. There was a time when such protections were necessary but I think we as a society have moved past it.

    Anyone else noticed how the phrase “I lived in the South…” comments in this thread are starting to sound a lot like “I have black friends…” comment found in racist posts. Racism is not just a southern problem, as others have noted the non-segregated north had de facto policies just as bad if not worse than those in the south. Lets not pretend this problem is unique to thirteen states.

  62. #62 |  Z | 

    #53 have you ever lived in the South? I have. I do not believe that the U.S. majority is “racist *to the degree that they feel it is right and just and acceptable to disenfranchise those people*?” I DO however believe that the majority of the majority (that is the majority of Whites) in the southeastern united states IS in fact “racist *to the degree that they feel it is right and just and acceptable to disenfranchise those people*?”

    Their forefathers have done it before and many of them are still hankering for the “good old days.”

  63. #63 |  PW | 

    These sorts of conversations are almost always illustrative of the absurdly distorted perspective that most people have about what truly constitute “civil rights.”

    It could be gleaned from the comments of Z and others through their numerous anecdotes, somewhat silly hypothetical, and abundance of haughty moralizing that the truest expression of the “civil rights” issue boils down to none other than the franchise, that is to say voting.

    While I do not denigrate the right of anyone to vote in any way and certainly concur that it is wrong to deny this right, I do have to admit that I find this “civil rights” preoccupation with the franchise rather silly in the grander scheme of things. We know with absolute statistical certainty that voting is a fruitless exercise where the individual voter has virtually no chance of impacting the direction of the government in any meaningful way.

    Voting serves as an inconsequential exercise in self-important delusion or a diversionary act of personal entertainment, though it literally has NO OTHER VALUE beyond that. Indeed, many libertarians consciously abstain from voting for this very reason and those that don’t abstain usually participate for entertainment purposes alone.

    But talk of “civil rights” and suddenly voting is paramount – a supposed representation of the essence of what it means to be free?

    That’s kinda like saying “Well the government rapes me every day, but I’m okay with that because I got to cast my one vote against it but that was canceled out by 100 million others, and the rapists in charge won fair and square.”

    So my message to Z & others on the “civil rights” franchise kick: unless you’re willing to acknowledge and do something about the actual and meaningful aspects of civil rights, unless you are willing to stand up for Americans being abused by cops, judges, prosecutors, petty bureaucrat regulators, tax collectors, zoning boards, HOAs, and every other manifestation of government that deprives them of their rights, their basic freedom to live without fear of physical harm at the hands of the state, and their right to be secure in their own person and possessions every single day, STFU about your stupid franchise.

    And quit moralizing over the rest of us about non-existent hypothetical threats to “voting rights” that, even if true – which they are plainly not – would at absolute WORST deprive somebody of their ability to feel all gushy and “civic-minded” for doing something of absolutely no real consequence or value on a single day that comes once every four years. If you want to talk about crimes against civil rights, look to places where people being robbed, harmed, and killed with impunity. Because those crimes are real and they have real and deadly consequences for the victims. They also come 100% from the government itself – either by direct perpetration or indirect sanction – and have for as long as government has existed.

  64. #64 |  Z | 

    #63- Oh absolutely. I will definitely “STFU” about voting rights unless I am willing to single handedly attack “cops, judges, prosecutors, petty bureaucrat regulators, tax collectors, zoning boards, HOAs, and every other manifestation of government that deprives them of their rights” because, after all “Voting serves as an inconsequential exercise in self-important delusion or a diversionary act of personal entertainment, though it literally has NO OTHER VALUE beyond that.”

    You know, its sentiments like that which 1) allow ” “cops, judges, prosecutors, petty bureaucrat regulators, tax collectors, zoning boards, HOAs, and every other manifestation of government that deprives them of their rights” and 2) make voting, on occasion a meaningless exercise.

    I know nihilism is fun (for many reasons including the fact that by being a nihilist you are absolved of personal responsibilities since everything is shit anyways) but it is not a sustainable way to live.

  65. #65 |  sqlcowboy | 

    As a counter-example showing how news reports and boycotts don’t actually cause a business to change its bigotry, El Coyote restaurant in LA is still going strong despite it’s public support of Prop 8.

    Examples go both ways on stuff like this….

  66. #66 |  Z | 

    #65 boycotts and the like only work if the majority is helping out: after all, boycotts depend on having a significant impact. If 100 people eat at a place with KKK gear and 20 decide to stop eating there, it may hurt but it won’t be fatal: plus, there may be 20 others who think “wow klan stuff!” and will make the trip to eat there.

  67. #67 |  PW | 

    #53 have you ever lived in the South? I have.

    Well guess what, Captain Franchise. So have I. And in almost three decades of living there I have never once seen a black person, or any other person for that matter, deprived of his or her rightful access to the ballot box.

    By contrast, I have seen people try to vote with fake IDs. And every election there’s usually a news story about using their dead grandmother’s certificate to vote more than once, or filling out multiple fraudulent vote-by-mail applications for “Micky Mouse” and the like. And I read on an almost DAILY basis about people being abused by cops, robbed by the administrative state, and deprived of their livelihood or life despite doing absolutely nothing wrong.

    But never once have I seen a person in the South or anywhere else deprived of his or her franchise in modern times. That’s not to say it doesn’t or couldn’t happen. It simply doesn’t happen anywhere remotely often enough for me to give a damn vis-a-vis the far more grievous and frequently occurring wrongs that do happen every single day.

  68. #68 |  Radley Balko | 

    If 100 people eat at a place with KKK gear and 20 decide to stop eating there, it may hurt but it won’t be fatal: plus, there may be 20 others who think “wow klan stuff!” and will make the trip to eat there.

    and…

    As a counter-example showing how news reports and boycotts don’t actually cause a business to change its bigotry, El Coyote restaurant in LA is still going strong despite it’s public support of Prop 8.

    Wait, so we’ve gone from advocating that the government force private businesses to integrate to advocating that the government force private businesses to shut down because the place has “KKK gear” or because its owners oppose gay marriage?

    Wow. That didn’t take long.

    I wouldn’t patronize either place. But Jesus, people. You’re now advocating a policy in which the state closes down businesses because of the political opinions of the owner. Do you realize how dangerous that is?

  69. #69 |  PW | 

    #64 – Show me the last time your vote – as in the one you yourself cast – ever did ANYTHING meaningful to prevent the abuse of people at the hands of agents of the state.

    And don’t say “I voted for Obama and he hoped and changed things for the better!” I want an example of where your specific vote changed the outcome of an election. And that outcome actually did something tangible for the better, rather than making you “feel” better about yourself.

    So yeah, unless you can do that and thereby validate that the franchise is indeed the premier expression of civil rights, and therefore the most effective way of correcting injustice, quit your moralizing about that petty, ineffective, meaningless and wholly symbolic expression of gushy feel good “civic minded” idiocy, and STFU.

  70. #70 |  Z | 

    I’m not advocating anything except that we stop upholding boycotts as the little blue pill of civil rights.

  71. #71 |  PW | 

    #70 – And I’m saying to stop holding up the virtually non-existent threat of “disenfranchisement” as the bogeyman of civil rights, which by implication also makes the silly and ineffective mechanism of the franchise into a magical antidote for all civil rights problems in America.

  72. #72 |  fwb | 

    Necessary maybe but not proper. The feds have no authority over individuals except in a few minor cases. The Constitution deals with legitimate activities of the feds and allowable controls over STATES not the People.

  73. #73 |  fwb | 

    Forcing associations is as bad as or worse than forcing nonassociation. Yeah, at first some laws prohibited persons of different races from association. So here we have someone advocating forcing association.

    Freakin BS

  74. #74 |  Brian | 

    “Wait, so we’ve gone from advocating that the government force private businesses to integrate to advocating that the government force private businesses to shut down because the place has “KKK gear” or because its owners oppose gay marriage?

    Wow. That didn’t take long.

    I wouldn’t patronize either place. But Jesus, people. You’re now advocating a policy in which the state closes down businesses because of the political opinions of the owner. Do you realize how dangerous that is?”

    Some of us realize how dangerous that is Radley and we’re generally scoffed at for pointing it out. I’m never disappointed in my fellow citizens of this once good land to prove why Democracy is vile and contemptible. Whether it’s the Right wing who labels everyone they deem not sufficiently patriotic as part of the “blame America first crowd”, (whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean) or the Left who are absolutely intolerant of any point of view not approved of by them, they will use any means necessary to get into power and force their will on the rest of us. Why? Because they know what’s best for society and the rest of us are just bigots anyway.

    Brian,

    P.S. – I will now and forever refer to you in my little click as “Sir Radley the Bald”

  75. #75 |  Rob in CT | 

    “I have been to towns in the south that are still de facto segregated. I’ve reported from several of them. You know what black people worry about in those towns? Racist cops and DAs. Racist city councils. Racist school officials. Racist code inspectors and zoning regulators.”

    Right, local government can suck as much or more as the Federal government can. Federal intervention can, therefore, be a good thing.

    I get it – you would rather it had been done in a different way in order to avoid (further) weakening of the commerce clause. Ok. That means that you were still fine w/Federal intervention (just in a different form). Many commentors appear to disagree.

    “the silly and ineffective mechanism of the franchise ”

    WTF?

    I think there’s a way of pointing out that voting isn’t magic pixie dust, but damn.

  76. #76 |  Rob in CT | 

    “Wait, so we’ve gone from advocating that the government force private businesses to integrate to advocating that the government force private businesses to shut down because the place has “KKK gear” or because its owners oppose gay marriage?”

    I think you misread Z’s #66. He wasn’t arguing for laws about it. He was simply pointing out that boycotts have limitations (which should be obvious: a boycott is only going to work if a *lot* of people, maybe not a majority, but a very healthy %, support it).

  77. #77 |  JOR | 

    “Sorry, JOR, it doesn’t continue that way. The government *usually* acts in opposition to the market.”

    Nothing acts in opposition to “the market”, since “the market” is just the sum of what everyone does in economic terms (that is to say, in terms of costs and income). There’s nothing mysterious or special about the fact that the government often acts in opposition to some other market actors; market actors oppose each other all the time.

    “If it truly was what the market would do anyway, people wouldn’t need to make laws to do it.”

    I think this is partly true (I made a similar point myself, if you’ll notice) but confused. Nothing that happens is “what the market would do anyway”; if you remove the people doing some particular thing then that thing isn’t being done anymore, at least not by those people.

    “But government action generally results in distortions to markets, leading to a different market with perverse incentives.”

    Speaking of ‘distortions’ and ‘perverse incentives’ just begs the question. The government doing what it can with the ability at its disposal no more “distorts” the market than anyone else doing so; neither the government nor the market are made of magic. It’s all just people maximizing their preferences in the circumstances they find themselves and with the resources they have access to. I agree that government usually acts immorally (to the extent that violent resistance is usually morally justified, if unwise) – hell, I’m an anarchist – but trying to mask what are really irreducibly moral arguments in non-moral (in this case, economic) terms encourages profound error.

  78. #78 |  delta | 

    “Civil Society Defeats Bigoted Policy… It’s just one example, but here in Nashville, that magical free market fairy dust has in fact overturned a discriminatory policy, and in a place many people would probably find unlikely.”

    Civil society made this happen, yes — with organized group political action and pressure, and voting, within the community of the college. That’s not the same thing as a “free market” of individual, private consumer choices conjuring an “invisible hand” that makes wonderful things happen.

  79. #79 |  delta | 

    “Racism is not a free market value. And over the long term, bigotry isn’t going to get you any sort of competitive advantage, save for in a few limited areas (yes, you could probably do well opening up an “old white guys club” in some parts of the country). But if you’re interested in making money, bigotry locks out entire classes of customers. And you’re shutting yourself off to large pools of talent based on artificial distinctions.”

    This is an idealized argument that flies in the face of data about how institutionalized racism has worked for hundreds of years. The power of ethnic biases (and a whole bunch of other stuff) flat-out trump the free market of rational individuals. Was slavery itself not a free-market production?

    The overall argument reminds me of Kant writing that suicide was not physically possible, due to a moral contradiction. It’s an argument that is fundamentally disconnected from reality.

  80. #80 |  Radley Balko | 

    Civil society made this happen, yes — with organized group political action and pressure, and voting, within the community of the college. That’s not the same thing as a “free market” of individual, private consumer choices conjuring an “invisible hand” that makes wonderful things happen.

    This really shows a fundamental misunderstanding of free market principles. There’s much more to a free market system than exchange of money, goods, and services. Consumer activism, boycotts, speaking out against immoral practices — none of these are incompatible with free markets, libertarianism, or the idea of civil society. In fact they’re all a pretty integral part of all three. It’s about the absence of government coercion.

    And what does “within the community of a college” mean? There’s nothing anti-market about a private college.

  81. #81 |  Radley Balko | 

    Speaking of ‘distortions’ and ‘perverse incentives’ just begs the question. The government doing what it can with the ability at its disposal no more “distorts” the market than anyone else doing so; neither the government nor the market are made of magic. It’s all just people maximizing their preferences in the circumstances they find themselves and with the resources they have access to.

    No. The fundamental difference is that only the government has the power to use force sanctioned by society to compel people to do what it wants them to do. The free market, or civil society, is people interacting with one another voluntarily. The power to use force to make people do things against their own will certainly disrupts and distorts what people would have done voluntarily.

  82. #82 |  BSK | 

    Sorry, but I’ve heard of far too many examples of companies engaging in bigoted practices that haven’t been harmed a lick by market forces. I understand the logic behind the argument presented here. But I don’t think there is enough evidence to conclude that such a theory works in practices. Especially when you look at the high barriers to entry in many areas of the country or in certain fields. If you live in a small town in Iowa with only one grocery store and they won’t sell to lesbians, what options do the lesbian residents of that town have? I’m sorry, but “Pick up and move,” is not an acceptable response, as it’s simply not a possibility for many people. While many will sympathize with their plight, will they, too, go hungry in support? My hunch says no. And this ignores the people who will have no issue or will support the store.

    Ideally, market forces would crowd out bigoted business. But they don’t. And we can’t presume that people will act in their own self-interests and willingly check their bigotry at the door in pursuit of the almighty dollar. I know of at least one story in which a man chose not to sell his house rather than sell it to a black family, even though they were offering far more than anyone else.

  83. #83 |  BSK | 

    Miley Cyrus, Pizza Hut, Cracker Barrel, Charlton Heston, KFC, L’Oreal, “The Last Airbender”… all individuals, businesses, and a movie accused (not necessarily rightfully, especially in Heston’s case) of engaging in bigoted practices. With the exception of the last one (which failed largely because it sucked and everyone realized Shyamalan sucks), I don’t know that any of these have paid any real consequence. Maybe a bit of PR work, but otherwise, they’re all still going strong (again, with an exception to Heston, may he rest in peace).

    At the end of the day, most people just don’t care enough to make a difference, especially with huge companies. So bigoted practice will continue. At least right now, the laws offer remedy to most victims of it. Remove them and you relegate entire groups of people to de facto second class citizenry.

  84. #84 |  Highway | 

    Market forces *do* crowd out bigoted business practices. Your argument is that because it doesn’t happen in *every* case, that justifies immoral government action in the other direction. Just because something doesn’t happen as fast as you’d prefer doesn’t make it right to force it along with government power.

    And again, why do you think you have the right to demand that everyone act free of bigotry? Here’s a tip:

    Everybody discriminates.

    Yes, they do. And forcing people to associate with people they would rather not associate with doesn’t make those people who want to act on their bigotry ‘see the light’ or have some sort of epiphany that “Hmm, maybe I was wrong and those folks aren’t so bad.” No, it builds resentment and perpetuates those feelings.

    Lawsuits don’t expose the bigotry in those companies. They settle with no admission of wrongdoing. They hush up the suit and the settlement. They continue on. Maybe they change a practice or two, or maybe there’s some internal discipline for the person who caused the problem. But the lawsuit doesn’t change anything. Maybe Jesse Jackson comes around with his shakedown gang and extracts some concessions or sweetheart deals for his family and friends. That’s not helping the little guy.

  85. #85 |  Radley Balko | 

    BSK,

    Miley Cyrus? Charlton Heston? So you think people should have to pay out compensation for making bigoted statements?

    Wow.

  86. #86 |  Radley Balko | 

    I know of at least one story in which a man chose not to sell his house rather than sell it to a black family, even though they were offering far more than anyone else.

    And you don’t think he should be allowed to do that? What if he didn’t want to sell it to them for other reasons that had nothing to do with price?

    Do you think people have a First Amendment right to be bigots? Do they have a right to express their bigotry out loud? To only associate with other bigots?

    Is it only race? Or would you outlaw other forms of bigotry, too? What if he didn’t want to sell to them because they were conservative Republicans? Mormons? Convicted felons? Scientologists? Pro-lifers? Witches?

  87. #87 |  BSK | 

    Radley-

    Did I say that? Fat chance. That is a strawman’s argument. But Miley Cyrus didn’t suffer with regards to her marketability or drawing power. That tells me that the market didn’t force her to suffer. I never said that anyone should have to pay out compensation. Only that existing laws allow victims (presuming their are victims) the opportunity to seek remedies. Perhaps I was sloppy to lump individuals make bigoted statements in with companies engaging in bigoted practices, but my point was that the American public has shown a remarkably high tolerance for bigotry.

    Highway-

    Please provide evidence business that have gone under because of bigoted practices. I gave examples that saw no problems.

    I agree that there is no reasonable expectation of a world free of bigotry. But because of how country’s history of concentrating power, wealth, wealth, and property into select groups’ hands, we have left ourselves with a legacies whereby offering those groups unfettered ability to further exclude people from enjoying or pursuing those ends, we end up denying too much to too many. A majority of businesses in this country are owned by men, are owned by white folk, are owned by straight folk, are owned by Christians… all disproportionately. Do you think this is solely a function of the market? No. It is the result of sexism, racism, homophobia, and religious persecution, much of it government sactioned. As a result, most bigotry that still exists in business is going to continue to work against those previously marginalized groups. With power so unfairly concentrated, certain protections are required. The government unfairly stacked the deck and now must be involved in undoing that damage.

    I’m not saying that anti-discrimination laws will make people see the light. Or cure the world of bigotry. Rather, I believe that they allow (at least theoretically) all people to pursue the same ends, which I think is fundamental to equity. Not everyone will achieve the same ends, nor should they, but everyone should have the same opportunity to do so. As soon as you allow discrimination, you cease to do that. Too many people already have too few options that to further limit them by things that are out of their control is simply wrong.

  88. #88 |  BSK | 

    Radley-

    I never said that the man’s choice of what to do with his house should be illegal. Only that it demonstrates that the oft-repeated mantra that money conquers all does not hold.

    I would say “yes” to all the questions in your first block of questions. As to the latter block, I think it depends. Not on the group being marginalized or discriminated against, but on who is doing the discrimination. The fact remains is that there is a difference between the rights of an individual citizen in how he lives his private life and in our a public business operates. If you want to keep blacks or gays or democrats out of your home, so be it. If you want to keep them out of your store, sorry, not okay with that.

  89. #89 |  PW | 

    #83 – From “Miley Cyrus does something un-PC” to “entire groups of people become second class citizens”? That’s quite the logical leap…and yet it’s a leap that racial marxists make frequently.

  90. #90 |  PW | 

    “That is a strawman’s argument.”

    Or just a freudian slip. You are, after all, the same person who started ranting about “racist” security cameras at Costco, only to backtrack and pretend it didn’t happen when everyone realized how absurd you were being.

  91. #91 |  Highway | 

    BSK, your assertion that those people or organizations “Saw no problems” is completely unverifiable, as is the counter-assertion. You don’t know if firms like KFC or L’Oreal lost business or didn’t, or whether a firm like Anheuser-Busch lost or gained share when they were rattled by Jesse Jackson over racial issues. Maybe there were quite a few people who decided that “Well, I’m not going to listen to Miley Cyrus anymore because she made fun of asian people.” Or maybe people realize it was a stupid kid joke and don’t care.

    Additionally, your test of whether market forces matter by saying that a company *must* go out of business is 1) stupid and 2) unrealistic. Lots of companies would do fine with 80% of the business they had and survive with just 50%. Whether a huge company manages to stay in business through a minor racial spat has absolutely no bearing on whether people in general are more or less racist, nor whether people who are racist are willing to deprive others of their civil rights (because there’s quite a bit of distance between “I don’t care for being around those people” and “We should harass and lock up all of those people”).

    Basically, you’re holding up the lack of measurement of the unmeasurable as ‘proof’ that you’re right, and ‘proof’ that we need the government to punish people that you don’t like because they aren’t punished enough by the rest of society.

  92. #92 |  BSK | 

    Highway-

    The argument I often see put forth is that market forces will punish the bigoted companies, leading either to A) their downfall, B) enough support for better acting rivals to gain a foothold, or C) a change in practice, and, therefore, CR legislation is not required. Perhaps that is not what is being argued here, but that is the larger argument I am responding to. My belief is that there are few instances where either A or B happened. This example given in the initial post is evidence of C. I’m sure there are examples of A and B out there as well. My point is that there is also ample evidence of neither, A, B, or C happening. I concede that I exaggerated in saying the companies/individuals felt no ill effects. It is likely that they did. But likely not enough to have made any difference for those people targeted by their bigotry.

    FWIW, I don’t believe so much in punishing the bigoted. I don’t, for a second, believe that an individual should be legally punished for holding certain beliefs, no matter how deplorable I think them to be. I don’t think Miley Cyrus should be jailed or fined or publicly flogged or prevented from recording music. I don’t think Cracker Barrel should have been put out of business or blown up or their CEO jailed. But I also don’t think the people who pursued jobs at these companies or services who were denied because of their gender or sexual orientation or race should be shit out of luck because of how and where they were born or live.

  93. #93 |  BSK | 

    My focus is more on the victims of bigotry and discrimination and less on the agents. Belmont University changing its policy (if it indeed does so in meaningful fashion) is little consolation to Howe or whomever else was harmed by the previous policy.

    I also still think there is an important conversation with regards to the barriers of entry into a market. Suppose tomorrow that every law school in America decided to stop accepting women. One can’t simply open a law school overnight, no matter the demand. There are simply too many barriers to entry.

  94. #94 |  delta | 

    “This really shows a fundamental misunderstanding of free market principles. There’s much more to a free market system than exchange of money, goods, and services. Consumer activism, boycotts, speaking out against immoral practices — none of these are incompatible with free markets, libertarianism, or the idea of civil society. In fact they’re all a pretty integral part of all three. It’s about the absence of government coercion.”

    Your argument requires changing the meaning of the words “free market” in a nonstandard way. See here or here for more standard definitions.

    Sure, civil activism is not incompatible with a free market. But neither are they integral or equivalent or reinforcing of each other. The free market is equally compatible with an ongoing slave trade, for example.

    (See also: “No True Scotsman” argument.)

  95. #95 |  supercat | 

    In a free market, the absence of laws forbidding discrimination, there will be some businesses that openly discriminate; the proportion of businesses that do so will tend to mirror the proportion of consumers who would favor such a business. The free market argument is not that discrimination will disappear entirely (it won’t), but rather that in an open marketplace, people won’t be harmed by the existence of businesses which don’t serve them. If someone is never going to visit 90% of the bars in his area, how will that person be harmed if some of the bars he’s never going to visit anyway would refuse to serve him?

    BTW, a business which turned away people who showed up dressed in “ghetto attire” might be called racist, but the business would welcome a respectably-dressed black person while turning away a “ghetto-dressed” white person, such an action would not be racist even if 99.9% of the people in respectable attire were white, and 99.9% of the “ghetto-dressed” people were black. Falsely claims of racism on the basis of such correlations are a tool for great mischief, and do great harm to both whites and blacks.

  96. #96 |  BSK | 

    supercat-

    The problem is, there is no guarantee that what you claim the free market will offer will actually come to pass. And you operate from the assumption that most people have a bevy of choices. That’s not the case for all. If you live in a one stoplight town with one grocery store, one gas station, and one bar, what happens if the owners of those establishment decide to discriminate against you? You’re SOL. It is possible that the town cannot support a second business in all these sectors.

    In big cities and highly developed areas, I’m confident that most people would be able to go about their lives with little impact from the absence of discrimination. But not everyone lives in such areas. Not everyone has the luxury of choice. People can have their lives severely hampered by legalized discrimination. In my mind, those are the people of most concern.

  97. #97 |  BSK | 

    supercat-

    And while I agree with your second point, that some prohibitions are in place regardless of race/gender/etc. and that we should avoid empty cries of racism, often times businesses will come up with such “codes” to get around discrimination law. I’ve been in bars where white guys in ratty, torn up jeans are let in while black guys in a pair of nice boots are turned away. I’ve seen bans on basketball jerseys (even with t-shirts underneath) but not football jerseys. I’ve been told that I need to wear my ballcap forward in many bars (I typically where it backwards). So, yes, often times bars or restaurants or other establishments will have legitimate dress codes, there are also instances where they are not-so-thinly-veiled attempts to limit the culture (moreso than strictly race) of the clientele. They want THESE people, not THOSE people, so they simply ban what THOSE people most often wear. When THOSE people change their style, suddenly the dress code changes. But this is really getting of a tangent. I’m not so bothered with dress codes of any kind so long as they are posted and consistent. I hate them, personally, but as long as people know what is okay and what is not okay and this is enforced without regards to other factors, so be it. I’m more concerned with discrimination based on immutable characteristics.

  98. #98 |  PW | 

    I also still think there is an important conversation with regards to the barriers of entry into a market. Suppose tomorrow that every law school in America decided to stop accepting women.

    Your hypothetical is sufficiently absurd and unrealistic as to place it in the same category as the “what if the south decided to charge black people $5 to vote” query from earlier in this discussion.

    Neither has even the remotest possibility of happening today. And yet you’d apparently rather talk about that, or whose “feelings” Miley Cyrus may have “hurt,” than actual real instances of cops violating the basic rights to life and liberty of people of all colors (other than blue, that is). I’d say your priorities are sufficiently skewed by your race obsession, BSK, that you cannot see beyond skin color and the silly marxian identity politics it invites.

  99. #99 |  Highway | 

    That’s not the case for all. If you live in a one stoplight town with one grocery store, one gas station, and one bar, what happens if the owners of those establishment decide to discriminate against you? You’re SOL. It is possible that the town cannot support a second business in all these sectors.

    And if they happen to not like you because of who your parents were, or because you happen to be good at music, or because you have red hair, or because you wear glasses, well, you’re SOL too. But Civil Rights legislation doesn’t cover that, either. Why is skin color or sexual orientation any different than those other things?

    And so you pass a law that says they can’t discriminate on those bases? They’re still not going to like you. And now they’re ticked off because you had the gall to tell them that they have to act against their expressed wishes.

    There are going to be some situations where, you know, you’re just going to have to face the fact that it’s move or live with the discrimination. Because there are plenty of other places. And you don’t need to be rich to move. The Okies weren’t. People moved all over the place during the depression. Moved their whole families, even. Was it a hardship? Yeah. But they did it.

    Life’s hard. Sometimes it’s not so great. But that isn’t a reason to make immoral laws.

  100. #100 |  CharlesWT | 

    Well, minority, female and gay business owners could just hire and do business with their minority, women or gay people…Oh…wait…

  101. #101 |  BSK | 

    Highway-

    I’m pretty sure that businesses can’t just turn individuals away for no *good* reason. I could be wrong on that, but I’m pretty sure if I walked into a store, they couldn’t legally deny me service because I was wearing a green shirt. If I’m right, than all those forms of discrimination are also outlawed. I’ll look more into it.

    I’m sorry, but the move or be discriminated argument is just nonsense. Why couldn’t I flip it around to you and say move or deal with the “immoral” laws? The fact is, one should not be forced to up and move because the only grocery store in walking distance decided they didn’t want to sell to gays and they don’t own a car to drive to another one. If that is the world you want to live in, I want no part of it.

  102. #102 |  BSK | 

    CharlesWT-
    Perhaps if we had laws for 200+ years that ensured power, wealth, equity, and property would be concentrated in the hands of black lesbian women, that’d be an option…

  103. #103 |  CharlesWT | 

    I welcome the redundancy of our black lesbian women overlords.

  104. #104 |  BSK | 

    Well played, sir.

  105. #105 |  Highway | 

    BSK, why can’t they? There’s no law against it. Is there actually a law that says to every restaurant “You have to serve every person who can walk in that door”? Obviously not. They can turn away folks that they think are causing trouble, or that don’t pay, or that smell bad. That’s the point: You have no *right* to service in someone else’s business.

    But legislation like the CRA invents a right to that, whereby some people have more rights than other people. It doesn’t give them immediate access. It gives them a huge bludgeon to use after the fact – to “punish” and “set an example” with.

    People don’t put up signs that say “No Gingers!” because most people don’t think that red-headed people are causing them harm. But are red-haired people any different from black people? There was *no good reason* for blacks to be excluded from those businesses. It was just because they were perceived to be different.

    But they didn’t pass a law that said you had to have a good reason to exclude people from your business. They passed a law that said you had to serve a protected subclass of people. That’s not the same thing at all.

    As for your other challenge: I do make the decision between moving and ‘dealing with immoral laws’. Everyone does. Nobody lives in their own utopia.

  106. #106 |  Radley Balko | 

    The free market is equally compatible with an ongoing slave trade, for example.

    I wish you had indicated much earlier in the thread that you aren’t really interested in having an intelligent discussion.

    Would have saved us both some time.

  107. #107 |  delta | 

    Radley, your work on policing issues is good and important. Continued good luck with that.

  108. #108 |  BSK | 

    Highway-

    See here on the right of businesses to refuse customers: http://www.legalzoom.com/us-law/equal-rights/right-refuse-service

    Seems like there are a lot of vagueries in the law but, generally speaking, you can’t simply turn a person away without good reason. Stealing or disrupting the business are legitimate reasons. Looking different is not. So, yea, the law does extend to pretty much everyone. You should probably check the facts before assuming that CR legislation bequeathed a right to some that is otherwise not enjoyed by others.

  109. #109 |  supercat | 

    BSK–Certainly there are some businesses that practice racial discrimination and try to come up with any excuse to refuse service to black people while ignoring the same ‘offense’ when committed by white people. If the business owner would in fact serve a black person who showed up in a football jersey, a rule forbidding basketball jerseys would not be racially discriminatory.

    Like it or not, there are some people who would, if allowed into a business, disrupt operations or otherwise cost the owner money. Any business owner who wants to be successful has to keep out such people. If a grossly-disproportionate portion of people who show up in basketball jerseys would disrupt the business, and if the troublemakers would rather disrupt someone else’s business than wear some other attire, a policy forbidding basketball jerseys would be entirely rational, even if the vast majority of people who would want to wear basketball jerseys happen to be black. Such a policy may not be the optimal way of separating trouble-makers from customers, but if a disproportionate number of would-be trouble-makers happen to be black (as is the case in some geographical areas) any good policy must weed out a correspondingly disproportionate number of blacks.

    As for the question of whether markets will resolve everything, they won’t do so quickly, but businesses who needlessly shut out those who would be good customers or good employees will hurt themselves financially by doing so. Further, an environment in which people who feel discriminated against have to prove their worth is apt to work out better in the long run for all concerned than one in which people are allowed to claim that anyone who doesn’t overvalue their worth is “discriminating” against them. Baseball teams certainly discriminated against blacks in the past, but Jackie Robinson was able to break through the color barrier by playing so well that fans wanted to see him. The fact that a team was willing to hire him despite his being black let people know that he really was something special. By contrast, if every team had been required to have a black player, it would have been much harder for any black player to be regarded as anything other than a “token black”, and it’s unclear that Jackie Robinson would ever have had a chance to stand out.

  110. #110 |  BSK | 

    Supercat-

    In my experience, dress codes are rarely the ideal way to create a desired culture in a bar/restaurant/etc. If your establishment is otherwise catering to or invites assholes, limiting a certain attire will not likely keep them out. Of course, businesses are free to enforce whatever dress code they like, so long as it is consistent (though I would add that a dress code that violates religious liberty, such as banning Jewish yamakas, should be prevented). I just think there are probably better ways to do it that also avoid the potential for abuse and discrimination.

    I just don’t think we have enough evidence to conclude that businesses will ultimately seek equitable practices, either because of social pressure or finances. If that was the case, why do companies still engage in unjust practices, when it is not only (supposedly) socially unacceptable, financially irresponsible, AND illegal to boot? I also think about far smaller minorities of whom there is often universal or widespread disdain. I think of the Roma people in much of of Europe (Italy, in particular, in my personal experience). At the risk of getting into a discussion on how Roma culture interacts with the local culture, the fact is that if discriminating against the Roma was legal (and it very well may be), they would likely find themselves with few to no options and little support. I know that is not the most pertinent example for America, but I think it demonstrates how small minority groups that are not accepted by the majority and larger minority groups my simply find themselves with no way to life. Do we resort back to the take-a-hike mantra then?

  111. #111 |  supercat | 

    Dress codes are far from perfect as a means of distinguishing customers from troublemakers, but in a geographical area where a grossly disproportionate percentage of troublemakers happen to be black, it’s hard to formulate a policy which will turn away troublemakers while allowing in customers without such a policy being declared “racist” for turning away mostly black people.

    I’m not familiar with the Roma people you mention, so I can’t comment on them, but will suggest that in the absence of forced-integration laws, excluded groups will be pressured to conform to the norms of others; anti-discrimination laws convey the message that such conformity is unnecessary. If black people acted in a way that was indistinguishable from white people, racial stereotypes and racial discrimination would fade away rather quickly. Many blacks, however, deride conformance with cultural norms as “acting white”; such attitudes reinforce the stereotypes they’re complaining about.

  112. #112 |  BSK | 

    supercat-

    Roma are more often referred to with the pejorative gypsy.

    Personally, I’m not comfortable with the idea that a majority culture can essentially demand that a minority culture abandon it’s culture through segregation . It is one thing if there is something inherently disruptive about the culture (which is potentially the case with the Roma, as they are generally a nomadic people who, in Italy at least, have taken kindly to panhandling; however, it is hard to know which is the chicken and which is the egg there) but if it is simply different, or perceived to be different, I find that incredibly disconcerting. If you want to keep violent or verbally abusive people out of your establishment, that is understandable. But if you want to keep people out because they speak slightly different or dress different but, otherwise, are no different than the rest of your clientele, I have a problem.

    I find your last statement troublesome… the notion that blacks are deriding conformance implies that African-American culture defines itself through what it is not (white). That ignores all that is inherent to it. There certainly is an element of avoiding “acting white”, but that is not how the culture is defined or how it came to be. To define it as such is to reduce it to being simply contrarian.

    I find the argument that people either A) move, B) abandon their culture, or C) live under segregation and, by extension, oppression quite antithetical to the notion of liberty. Especially since either of the alternatives to segregation is no guarantee to end it.

  113. #113 |  supercat | 

    For people from different cultures interact, it is often necessary for them to set aside certain aspects of their own culture during the interaction, but there is nothing compelling them to abandon their culture altogether. A group of people who would normally e.g. (abstract hypothetical example) dance naked prior prior to eating may be expected to refrain from such conduct while visiting a restaurant where such conduct is unwelcome. Having to refrain from naked dancing while dining in a restaurant in no way implies that members of the group would be unable dance naked before most of their meals, unless the group was for whatever reason only able to eat at restaurants that didn’t allow such conduct.

    There is a huge difference between government-enforced segregation, in its various forms, and the tendency of many people to want to associate with others like themselves. To the extent that groups wish to retain a unique identity which others would find disagreeable, they should strive toward self-sufficiency so that neither they, nor the others, would be forced to accept others’ norms. If the naked dancers want to be able to practice their culture, they should open up a restaurant to cater to other like-minded individuals. Of course, it’s entirely possible that governments may impose obstacles to the opening of a new restaurant, but that would seem a more fundamental problem than the fact that many diners would prefer not to have other diners dance naked in their presence.

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