February 22, 2018

Duck Dynasty A&E dispute proves Civil Rights Act obsolete

Duck_Dynasty_s800x265TAMPA, December 20, 2013 – Immediately after A&E put Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson “on hiatus,” the blogosphere exploded with reactions. Liberals decry Robertson’s alleged bigotry. Conservatives defended his right to free speech and freedom of religion.

99% of the commentary is wrong, of course. First, Robertson’s comments were not bigoted. Robertson merely quotes the Bible on homosexuality. He then says that it is not for humans to judge anyone. That is reserved for God.

You can’t be prejudiced if you don’t judge. He believes homosexuality is a sin, but nowhere does he indicate that anyone should be treated differently, either by the law or by individuals, because they are homosexual.

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or religion, either. Those principles relate to government suppression of speech and religion. The government hasn’t threatened Robertson.

In fact, A&E’s response was the textbook libertarian answer to this kind of dispute. A&E’s management, representing the stockholders, exercised their own right to freedom of association. They have a right to terminate their business relationship with Robertson for any reason, provided it does not violate the contract they signed with him.

The other cast members have now released a statement implying they won’t do the show without Phil. The statement indicates that they are negotiating with A&E on what the future of the show may be.

It’s possible that the show will be canceled. Or, A&E might back down. Most likely, a compromise will be reached where the show goes on, Phil Robertson makes a public statement expressing regret for offending anyone, but standing by his Christian faith, and A&E welcomes him back on condition he doesn’t make public statements on this subject in the future.

Does anyone notice anything missing from these scenarios?

If you said “the government,” you’re correct. If this little media drama has proven anything so far, it is how unnecessary government is in resolving issues of racism or bigotry. The market does just fine.

It would do better if Titles II and VII of the Civil Rights Act were repealed.

Most of the Act prohibited discrimination based upon race, color, religion or national origin in either state or federal governments. There are legitimate constitutional concerns about giving the federal government these powers over the states, but even most libertarians aren’t losing much sleep. If ever there was a place to compromise strict constitutional principles, prohibiting bigotry in government is it.

Titles II and VII of the Act are another story. In those, the federal government is given power over the personal choices of the individual. Title II prohibited private business owners from discriminating in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and “all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce.” Title VII prohibited employers from so discriminating.

This redefined the very idea of private property. No longer could individuals “dispose of their persons or possessions as they saw fit,” as Locke would put it. In effect, the government made itself part owner of all private property.

One does not have to be a racist or a bigot to be concerned. The response at the time was that American culture was so deeply ingrained with prejudice, especially towards blacks, that only the government’s heavy hand could solve the problem.

There are certainly cracks in that theory. For example, if there weren’t private business owners in the south who wanted to serve blacks, then why did they have to make it illegal to do so?

Questions only libertarians think to ask.

In any case, this is 2013, not 1964. The power given to the federal government isn’t necessary now, if it ever was. The Duck Dynasty incident proves that. Voluntary contracts will resolve that dispute and consumers will reward or punish that resolution with their decisions to watch or boycott.

Like all government solutions, the Civil Rights Act has largely achieved results opposite of its intentions. Affirmative Action spawns resentment against blacks when they get jobs because of their race over more qualified applicants. There is also resentment when the black is more qualified, because the white applicant quite reasonably suspects that race was a factor, even when it wasn’t.

Check black unemployment statistics during the fifty years before and after the Act was passed. The government has defeated black unemployment about as well as it’s made health care more affordable.

The market, if left free, would be an efficient dispatcher of racism. Employers who routinely hired less qualified employees based upon their race would soon find themselves outperformed by firms that hired purely based upon ability. In business terms, racism would be rendered extinct.

The same would hold for hotels, restaurants and other private firms that serve the public, in terms of their decisions of which customers to serve.

Not convinced? Here is a wager. Repeal Titles II and VII of the Civil Rights Act and allow individuals to make personal decisions based upon whatever values they hold. In the unlikely event that someone puts up a “Whites Only” sign on a restaurant, this writer – likely the worst restaurateur on the planet – will open for business across the street the very next week. My sign will say “Everybody Welcome.”

We’ll see who is still in business a month after that.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Black robed high priests to rule on gay marriage

TAMPA, March 26, 2013 – No satire could approach reality when it comes to the federal government. While its two “polar opposite” political parties continue their standoff over whether the federal budget should increase $2.5 trillion or $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, its supposedly apolitical arm will begin deliberating over who is allowed to get married.

After that, they will take up the question of which end of the egg Americans may break.

Only a full century of government mayhem could have led to this. The court will consider two laws that together make up such a tangled mess that it’s fitting that the body that found Obamacare to be “a tax” should be assigned to sort it out.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is the federal law that stipulates that no state is required to recognize a same sex marriage from another state. It also defines marriage as being between a man and a woman for all “federal purposes,” meaning any benefits normally paid to spouses in a federal retirement or entitlement program.

DOMA itself is a quagmire. Proponents of federalism have read the interstate portion as a protection of states’ rights, but is it? If this is an area that is beyond the power of the federal government, then why does Congress have to pass a law to say so? Why are they allowed to pass such a law at all?

Read the rest of the article on Liberty Pulse…

Rick Santorum is Unelectable

Since the beginning of the Republican Presidential Primary race, we have heard that Ron Paul is unelectable. While many conservatives like some of Paul’s ideas on domestic policy, his non-interventionist foreign policy is supposedly a deal-breaker. Even in articles praising Paul on particular issues, reporters have without exception felt compelled to remind us that there is absolutely no chance that Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination for president.  This “unelectable” label has been used exclusively against Paul.

With only four candidates left in the race, the lead has changed hands several times. The current leader is Rick Santorum, fresh off primary wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri. Since those victories, the media have been trumpeting Santorum as the new frontrunner while completely ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room – Rick Santorum is unelectable.

With a plethora of debates behind us, we have had a chance to get to know the Republican candidates pretty well. All of the Republican candidates except for Ron Paul support some sort of federal government prohibition on gay marriage. Paul actually wants to get even the state governments out of the marriage business, taking the libertarian position that marriage is just a contract like any other. This has visibly upset Santorum, who not only opposes gay marriage but seems completely obsessed with homosexuality in general. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t believe, deep down, that Santorum wouldn’t support making homosexuality illegal again if he thought he could get away with it?

Most Republican voters put the federal budget at or near the top of their priority list as far as their political positions are concerned. Not Rick Santorum. The issues page on his website has the budget thirteenth on the page. What is the number one issue? “Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography,” which Rick says “causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.” Queue the eerie music because we’re just getting started. Update: Since this article was published, Santorum’s staff has changed the order of the issues on his issue page. He has moved “Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography” to last on the page, moving the federal budget up to 12th by default. Gay marriage now comes in at Number Two.

Number two on his list is “No More Leading from Behind for America,” which is basically the standard Republican Party line that the U.S. military should be deployed in just about every nation on earth. I happen to think that is crazy, but most Republicans don’t. However, number three on the list is gay marriage. So, out of the top three issues listed on his page, pornography and homosexuality are two of them.

To say that Rick is “a little uptight” is a gross understatement. Santorum has stated unequivocally that he believes that the federal government can and should regulate the bedroom. In fact, he has also said that there is no area of life that is beyond the government’s reach. Outside of the few states where evangelicals can allow him to get away with these positions, he simply cannot win. Voters in the more moderate states like New York and California – which control the bulk of the delegates – will find these ideas repugnant.

The media has often supported the “Ron Paul is unelectable” narrative by criticizing his supporters. I’m not sure what the beliefs of some of his supporters have to do with Paul’s fitness for the presidency, but the punditry believes it is a valid line of inquiry.

So, some of Ron Paul’s supporters believe in elaborate conspiracy theories. The most prevalent revolves around quasi-secret organizations like the Bilderbergs and the Trilateral Commission. The theory is that very wealthy families like the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers use these organizations to further a plot to establish a world government. Some people think this theory is “a little kooky.” Not all or even most Paul supporters hold these views, but let’s say that a significant minority do.

Now, let’s consider the views of a significant minority of the evangelicals that support Rick Santorum. They are fierce supporters of the U.S. government’s wars in the Middle East because they believe that if Jewish people do not control the city of Jerusalem, then…wait for it…Jesus will not return to earth during the “end time,” which they also believe will occur any minute now. They are willing to elect leaders who will take America to war based upon this belief, which ranks up there with the “precious bodily fluids” theory from Dr. Strangelove.

I’m not even 100% sure that Santorum doesn’t believe this himself. Someone should ask him. Certainly, there have been much sillier questions put to candidates during the debates. I for one would like to at least get this crossed off the long list of idiotic theories that inform the president.

Regardless of Santorum’s answer to that question, which it is only fair to assume would be “no,” his other positions still nullify any chance of him becoming president. From all reports, Santorum is a decent person and a good father, and there is certainly nothing wrong with having strong religious convictions. However, the vast majority of Americans do not believe that those convictions should be imposed upon other people with the force of law. Rick Santorum does. That alone makes it obvious that Rick Santorum is never going to be president. So why hasn’t the media proclaimed him unelectable as they have Ron Paul?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.