Anti-Discrimination Laws or the Culture of Freedom?

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"It’s
still safe to discriminate against gays in Maryland," Barton
Aronson writes deploringly regarding Maryland's
forthcoming referendum on the Anti-Discrimination Act
. The proposed
law criminalizes employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination
on the basis of sexual orientation.

The
Anti-Discrimination Act is nothing novel, simply the logical extension
of current anti-discrimination policy. If racial, religious, or
gender discrimination may be criminalized, there's nothing peculiar
about adding sexual orientation to the verboten class. (Many Congressmen
would like to nationalize the addition; see the proposed Employment
Non-Discrimination Act.)

Under
America's federal republican system, the people of Maryland (not
Congress) reserve the power to enact a law criminalizing discrimination
against homosexuals. Whether this is wise is another matter.

The
Maryland referendum is something of a local issue for me. I live
about an hour from Miami-Dade County in Florida and recently
joined WWFE-AM 670 in Miami to co-host a new program
.

In
1998, the Miami-Dade County Commission amended its "Human Rights
Ordinance" to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation in housing, employment, public accommodations, and financing.
(The city of Miami Beach passed a similar ordinance in 1992.) Calling
this amendment a "Human Rights Ordinance" is an oxymoron
indicative of how deeply leftist ideology has skewed American liberty.

Murray
Rothbard notes in Power
and Market
, "[N]ot only are property rights also human
rights, but in the profoundest sense there are no rights
but property rights." Human rights therefore accrue to a proprietor
or homeowner, one of these being the right to employ or rent on
any basis he chooses. After all, his business or home is presumably
his.

Does
this mean an employer may refuse to hire Hare Krishnas, Hondurans,
or homosexuals? Absolutely. Does this mean a homeowner may refuse
to rent a dwelling to Muslims, Mongolians, or midgets? Absolutely.
(I use "may" normatively, not descriptively. It is of
course currently illegal to refuse to hire or rent to someone on
these criteria.) There is no aggression in any of this, only proprietary
choice.

An
anti-discrimination law guts proprietary rights and criminalizes
non-criminal conduct. Akin to laws criminalizing sodomy or consumption
of certain narcotics, an anti-discrimination law implies a mandate
for government to prohibit any kind of discrimination. (It would
be unsurprising for there to one day be a "creed" addition
to Title VII or the Fair Housing Act making it criminal to have
a "No Communists" hiring or rental policy.)

A
"Human Rights Ordinance" that violates property rights
is like a cheerleader for Fidel Castro who esteems Ludwig von Mises:
It just doesn't work. Whereas the latter is only an incoherent individual,
the former invades the liberty of all.

Aronson
makes the valid and important point that "anti-discrimination
laws have cultural consequences." Indeed, they corrode the
culture of freedom and the liberal institutions underpinning it.
As society acclimates to their usurpations, freedom is concurrently
attenuated.

The
culture of freedom demands the defeat of Maryland's Anti-Discrimination
Act – for starters.

August
4, 2001

Myles
Kantor [send him mail]
Myles Kantor is editor of FreeEmigration.com
and co-hosts “On Liberty” on WWFE-AM 670 in Miami, Florida Sundays
from 9pm-10pm. Learn
more about “On Liberty” here.

Myles
Kantor Archives

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