We don’t need another bad law
(My Clovis News Journal column for April 10, 2015)
The new “Religious Freedom Restoration” laws are wrong and misguided. But not for the reason you might think.
They are not wrong because they supposedly give people the right to choose to not do business with someone for religious reasons, but because everyone already has that right.
It's called "the right of association". No one can take this right from anyone, but government, armed with coerced-association laws, sometimes chooses to punish people for exercising it.
These anti-discrimination "laws" have been violating this fundamental human right for decades. The proper response, along with breaking the bad law, would be to repeal the anti-discrimination law, not to pass a new law. Getting rid of bad laws seems to be a hard thing for governments to do. Lawmakers- because their job revolves around making up laws- would prefer to manufacture a new law rather than eliminate an old one. Admitting they made a mistake goes against their nature.
When you keep trying to fix a bad law by patching it with new laws, you end up with a complete and utter mess. I call it "law pollution".
The last thing anyone needs is another law.
So, back to "Religious Freedom Restoration" laws. Everyone has the right to refuse to do business with anyone for any reason whatsoever- or for no reason at all. It's a two-way street. A business can refuse a customer's money, and a potential customer can decide to spend his money elsewhere. That's liberty.
I think it's silly to refuse money from a peaceable customer, just as I think no amount of money is worth dealing with someone who chooses to violate you or others, but it's not my decision either way.
No law can eliminate the right of association. Nor can public opinion. Someone may call you names or hate you for making a choice, and calling you names and hating you is also their right.
If I, as a business owner, think a business relationship with you will hurt me more than refusing to serve you, it's my business. If I, as a potential customer, disagree with your reasons for refusing certain customers I am free to take my money elsewhere, whether your discrimination directly affects me or not. And both are free to express their opinion of the other.
This is how a truly free market solves this problem. Businesses which alienate enough people will go out of business, and people who are so offensive no one will deal with them will either change or die.
Perhaps you believe that sounds cruel. It's better than the alternative, which is enslaving people by violating their right to choose with whom to associate.
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