by Myles Kantor
So Clint Eastwood's being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act at his Mission Ranch hotel in Carmel, California. Imagine the inferences this could evoke from someone unfamiliar with the legislation: "Goodness, what did he do, attack an invalid?"; "The Harry Callahan in him finally came out, huh?" Surely Mr. Eastwood must have infringed upon another's liberty; why else would he be charged with a crime? Actually, Diane zum Brunnen (a disabled individual) has taken Mr. Eastwood to federal court for exercising his Americanism.
Consider this gem from the Associated Press:
"In opening statements, attorney John Burris said zum Brunnen's rights were violated because wheelchair-accessible rooms in the inn cost $225 a night, while others were as low as $85; the accessible bathroom for the inn's restaurant was more than 200 feet away, through a parking lot; and the main office could be reached only by stairs."
No, Mr. Eastwood didn't aggress against Mrs. zum Brennen; Mr. Eastwood committed the sin of proprietary prerogative. Yes, he had the audacity to set rates as he saw fit. (To rephrase in Statist Speak, "Mr. Eastwood behaved in a discriminatory manner.") To sink the final nail into this capitalist's coffin, Eastwood failed to provide proximate bathrooms for the disabled and a wheelchair-accessible route to the main office. Rack the miscreant!
This is what the contortion of liberty has wrought: a "right" to certain rates and services in private commerce. Rights used to be things like having security in one's person, one's propertyu2014simple and essential stuff like that. But these liberal values are passé; contemporary ideology has managed to contrive a compulsion for proprietors to emasculate their proprietorship. (This reminds me of a great sardonicism from William Marina: "You've denied me my right to a high school diploma. Why don't I have the right to shoot you?")
Eastwood's rates might seem improper to many and his lavatorial delinquency downright unconscionable; but the absence of uniform room rates and amenities for the disabled doesn't constitute an infringement of liberty. More importantly, what business does the federal government have dictating these policies? Shouldn't the Beltway Mafia concern itself with, say, lethal transgressions like executive aggression? I know, I know: I'm being uncouth by asking Congressmen to abstain from constitutionally groundless aggrandizement. (Let's remember it was George Bush who signed the ADA into lawu2014so much for Republican commitment to limited government).
The ADA's advocates don't deny its breadth; on the contrary, they celebrate it. The American Psychological Association includes the following on its website: "Many regard the ADA as the most sweeping piece of civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964." Uh-huh.
To his credit, Eastwood has refused to settle the case. "In my opinion, you settle when you're wrong," he commented. Give u2018em hell, Harry!
(For further discussion, see Lew Rockwell's "The ADA Racket," available at the Ludwig von Mises Institute website.)
Myles Kantor is a law student at Stetson University.