By Laurence Vance (www.lewrockwell.com), 30/6/2015
Jeb Bush, like his father and brother before him, and like all of the Republicans and conservatives who, although they may disagree with Jeb on Common Core and immigration, agree with him wholeheartedly on this issue, hasn’t the slightest idea what a free society is.
Bush officially declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this month in the small town of Derry, New Hampshire (the state that holds the first primary). Speaking at a small, historic opera house known for hosting political events, Bush promised that if elected he would create sustained national economic growth of 4 percent, simplify the tax code, and repeal Obamacare.
But when asked how he would balance religious and personal freedoms, Bush cited the Washington state flower shop that was sued for refusing to do business with a same-sex couple that was getting married.
In 2013, after florist Barronelle Stutzman refused to provide flowers for a gay friend’s same-sex wedding, she was sued by the two men and the attorney general of Washington for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law. She was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
If someone walks into a flower shop and says, I’d like to buy flowers, you shouldn’t be able to discriminate against them because they are gay. But if you’re asking someone to participate in a religious ceremony or a marriage, they should have the right of conscious to be able to say, I love you, but I can’t do it because it goes against my religious teachings. Does that make sense?
No, as a matter of fact, it doesn’t make any sense.
Is Bush saying that asking a florist to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding is “asking someone to participate in a religious ceremony or a marriage”?
If so, then he should choose his words more carefully because the two things are not necessarily the same. Buying something from someone ordinarily has nothing to do with asking someone to participate in an activity. One can buy flowers from a florist for a wedding or any other event and not have the florist do anything beyond handing over the flowers or delivering them to an address you provide.
If not, then he makes even less sense because his two statements would then not be related at all. Even the staunchest proponent of same-sex marriage would not say that someone should be forced to participate in a same-sex or any other kind of wedding.
Is Bush saying that if someone walks into a flower shop and wants to buy flowers, you should be able to discriminate against him for other reasons besides his sexual orientation?
If so, then why is it wrong to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation but not to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, or religion?
If not, then does he believe that no business owner should ever be allowed to refuse to do business with anyone? I can remember when certain businesses used to post signs reading: “No shirt, no shoes: no service.” Even now, some restaurants have a dress code. Heck, even prisons have a dress code for visitors. Would Bush allow these exceptions to his “no discrimination policy”?
For someone who has given countless numbers of speeches, press conferences, and interviews, Jeb Bush should be more clear when he speaks.
I want to say seven things about discrimination.
First, there is nothing inherently wrong with discrimination. Despite its demonization by the news media—and Jeb Bush—the word discrimination is not a dirty word. Discrimination involves choosing between or among options. To discriminate is to choose one thing and exclude others. Men used to be lauded for having discriminating taste.
Second, Bush is as guilty as anyone when it comes to discrimination. When he married his Mexican wife Columba in 1974, he discriminated against every American woman, every white woman, every blonde, and every other woman in the world. He discriminated against the Episcopalian church of his youth when he converted to Catholicism in 1995. He also discriminated against all other religions and denominations in the world when he did this. Bush discriminates every day of his life. He discriminates against one store when he shops at another. He discriminates against vanilla ice cream when he eats chocolate ice cream. He discriminates against one interviewer when he chooses to do an interview with another instead. He discriminates against Pepsi when he drinks Coke. He discriminates against Democrats when he votes Republican. He discriminates against English when he speaks Spanish. Bush can’t get through the day without discriminating against something or someone.
Third, why is it that customers can legally discriminate against businesses but businesses cannot legally discriminate against customers? Why is it that customers can discriminate against merchants for whatever reason they want—no matter how irrational, illogical, or unreasonable—and on any basis they want—no matter how racist, sexist, or homophobic—but not the other way around? Does Jeb Bush have an answer for this? No one is ever charged with violating an anti-discrimination law if he publicly announces that he will never patronize a particular business—because there are no such laws. Not yet.
Fourth, there is no right to service. Not if the concept of private property has any meaning. Not if the concept of freedom of association has any meaning. Not if the concept of a free market has any meaning. Not if the concept of freedom of contract has any meaning. In a free society, business owners have the right to run their businesses as they choose. Just as homeowners have the right to exclude anyone they want from entering their house for any reason, so business owners should have the right to refuse service to anyone—including Jeb Bush—for any reason.
Fifth, discriminating against someone is not aggressing against him. Discriminating against Jeb Bush on election day and voting for someone else is not an act of aggression against him. No one is entitled to a particular job. No one is entitled to rent a particular apartment. No one is entitled to buy a particular house. No one is entitled to enter anyone else’s property. Not hiring, renting, selling, or granting the right of entry to someone on the basis of his race, religion, sex, color, national origin, political views, or sexual orientation may be wrong, immoral, hatful, or nonsensical, it may be based on stereotypes, prejudice, bigotry, or racism, but since it is not committing an act of aggression or violence against him, it should not be prohibited by force of law.
Sixth, discrimination means freedom. A free society must include the freedom to discriminate, not only against someone because he is gay, but because he is straight—or obese, bulimic, attractive, ugly, handicapped, tall, short, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, agnostic, married, single, divorced, transgendered, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, young, old, pregnant, or named Jeb Bush.
And Seventh, to ban discrimination is to ban freedom of thought. In a free society, everyone has the right to think what he wants to think about anyone else—including Jeb Bush—and choose to discriminate or not discriminate against anyone on the basis of those thoughts. His thoughts may be erroneous, illogical, irrational, or unreasonable, but in a free society everyone is entitled to freedom of thought.
Jeb Bush and the Republicans and conservatives who want the government to criminalize discrimination are enemies of a free society just like the Democrats, liberals, and progressives they castigate for favoring more government intervention in society.