‘Em Hell, Harry!
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.
this gem from the Associated Press:
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."
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!
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 property—simple
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?")
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 law—so much for Republican
commitment to limited government).
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."
his credit, Eastwood has refused to settle the case. "In my
opinion, you settle when you’re wrong," he commented. Give
‘em hell, Harry!
further discussion, see Lew Rockwell’s "The
ADA Racket," available at the Ludwig von Mises Institute
Kantor is a law student at Stetson University.