Rand Paul has won the Republican nomination in the race for the Senate seat in Kentucky, and since this has happened, all the mainstream media are being prompted to pour over what ‘Libertarian’ actually means (even though Rand Paul says he is not a Libertarian) in practice, and they are finding that it is to say the least not to their taste.
In particular, they have discovered the part of Libertarianism that, quite logically, extends the idea of property rights to the subject of restaurant owners excluding people from their establishments for what many feel are not good reasons.
The fact of this matter is simple; either people have property rights or they do not. If the government can mandate that a restaurant must accept me as a client, then the owner of that restaurant does not have property rights in his establishment; the state is the owner of that place because ultimately, they are able to force the owner to serve people he would rather not serve. They are also making the owner into their servant, by forcing him to work for someone he would rather not work for (the act of cooking).
If the state can do this to restaurant owners, then they can do the same thing to any person, for any reason, including you. This is the reason why we must accept the risk that there are people in the world who discriminate, and accept that we have to share the world with them. We cannot gang up against them and force them to believe what we believe; doing that is immoral, and there are no two ways about that.
The possibility of discrimination is one of the risks of living in a space where people are at liberty to live as they see fit and exercise control over their property. You are going to get some people who discriminate, who hold and publish opinions that we find objectionable and who we would not care to associate with. We cannot eliminate risk from the world, and we cannot eliminate behaviours that we do not like. We are obliged to live with these people just as they are obliged to live with us. As long as they do not use violence against us, or gang together to coerce us, there is no problem whatsoever with restauranteurs, who are to our minds, savage, behaving like savages.
Sadly, people in the mainstream believe many contradictory ideas simultaneously. They believe that censorship is wrong, but that there should be such a thing as ‘hate speech’. They believe that they should have the right to Home Educate without being licensed because bad home Educators are practically non existent, but restauranteurs should be licensed, because “someone might be poisoned”. Similarly, these people believe that the property rights of others should be nullified, whilst their property rights are enshrined and protected. This is illogical and irrational thinking.
People in the mainstream of thought are outraged that artists are forbidden from drawing depictions of religious figures, but at the same time, will not support other people who espouse ideas or draw pictures that they find distasteful.
Libertarians do not suffer from this contradictory thinking. Libertarians understand rights correctly; you cannot use the government to enforce your beliefs or ideas; it is immoral and coercive. Banning Facebook because it hosts ideas you do not like is exactly the same as putting someone in gaol because you do not like his view of history. Supporting restauranteurs’ right to ban people from bringing handguns into their premises (or even more likely banning smokers) means you must support the right of restauranteurs to ban anything or any person for any reason. You cannot pick and choose what rights restauranteurs should have based on your own personal prejudices and personal circumstances.
There is a distinction between the state and the private sphere that is not properly understood by ‘normal’ thinkers. If we are to take the premise of democracy and representative government at face value, then anyone who votes or pays taxes or who is a member of ‘society’ has, by default, the same rights to services and to serve as any other member of society. That means that as equal stakeholders in society, the state cannot discriminate against a person for any reason whatsoever, as each person is an equal participant in the collective. The state, with its monopoly on coercion and violence has an obligation to treat all people equally that private people and the businesses they own and control do not. This is the key difference between the realm of the state and the world of private property. Private people do not have the right to use violence to extract monies from individuals, and neither does the public have a quotal share in the property of private people. Private people are also under no obligation to be in service to anyone; any other position than this is to condone slavery. The state, on the other hand, has the power (but not the right) to use violence, has an explicit obligation to serve the electorate, and the public has a quotal share in it and by its own rules, has ‘rights’ granted by it. The two could not be more different, and it is crucial, if you are to understand why restauranteurs have the right to exclude types of potential patron, that you have a clear delineation in your mind separating the state and private spheres.
As this argument rages on, you will see bad thinking swirling around this subject, grouped by the type of speaker. You will hear the same arguments, smears and nonsense again and again from the violent, statist, anti-Libertarians, and they will look like this:
- Conflate the disturbing imagery and injustices of the past with the core idea that man has rights, including unpleasant people who own restaurants.
- Insist that the state is needed to remove the rights of some people for the good of the whole.
- Mischaracterise Libertarians as people who are against the rights of ‘minorities’, when the exact opposite is the case.
- Use an endless stream of straw men to try and stamp a mark of disapproval on Libertarians.
Libertarians are the most pure anti racists out there. The whole of Libertarianism rejects the idea that people have different or separate rights depending on what they look like, what they believe, or who they prefer to have sex with. They are also the most rights conscious and clear thinking. They are the sworn enemies of almost all conventional wisdom and every foul thing that comes from it.
The logic of Libertarianism is unassailable, civilised, and completely embracing of all people; this may be the reason why it is greeted by such hostility by self selecting groups who make a living out of defining themselves by artificial and false distinctions. These groups are on to a good thing, and widespread adoption of Libertarianism would shut them down permanently. They would no longer be in line for special treatment at the expense of others, neither would they be able to exert control over other groups in any way.
As Libertarianism continues to grow, we can expect more of these desperate and flailing attacks. When the mainstream gatekeepers of public opinion start to delve into the writings of Murray Rothbard, they will find much that is offensive to them, and they will try to use what they find there to demonise and discredit Libertarianism.
Unfortunately for them, the very act of exposing these ideas will cause hundreds of millions to embrace them, because Libertarianism makes perfect sense and is in perfect tune with the true nature of man.
When men are living in a state of liberty, people’s feelings are going to be hurt. There are going to be bad people. There are going to be people who discriminate. There are going to be people who offend others with their ideas. All of these things are a price worth paying for liberty, such is the sweetness of that condition.