The right to discriminate

Kansas says that if you own a restaurant, your property is your property, even if you refuse to serve gay and lesbian couples.  Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern feels that’s an “abomination,” and Salon’s Matt Breunig calls out conservatives and libertarians who believe that discrimination carries its own consequences.

Breunig specifically calls out one of the most consistently pro-liberty voices on the right, Tim Carney:

This fact is important to remember as the state of Kansas considers enshrining into its law the right of public accommodations like hotels, movie theaters and restaurants to discriminate against couples in same-sex marriages. Under this law, a manager who spotted a same-sex marriage party dining at his restaurant is empowered to refuse them service and demand that they leave.

In his never-ending quest to be on the wrong side of history on all things LGBT civil rights, Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner took to Twitter to defend this legislation, perhaps hoping that he will get a mention in future documentaries about the bigotry of this period.

Suppose a gay wedding party goes into a restaurant, sits down, and prepares to order. The restaurant manager comes over and tells them that they must leave because they are gay. Angered by this bigotry, the patrons refuse to leave. Now ask yourself: What happens next?

Here’s what happens: The police are called, and the trespassers are removed from the premises.  Then, the incident gets a write-up in the local paper, and people stop eating at that restaurant because they would call the police to kick out a gay wedding party that was otherwise well-behaved.  The restaurant closes down, and the restaurant owner who called the cops either changes his mind or he goes broke and starves to death.

The idea that anti-discriminatory values have to be enforced is absurd.  If you’re a store owner that doesn’t like black people, go ahead and ban them from your store and see how that works out for you.  Don’t want Hispanic shoppers?  Hang a sign out front that says “No vendemos a clientes Latinos.”  Go for it.  I dare you.

No business owner in their right mind would do that.  And if they did, the people who shopped there would get funny looks wherever else they went.  Laws that tell us how we should live can mask social problems, but letting people figure it out for themselves non-violently tends to actually solve them.