Thursday, February 27, 2003

Private Businesses and Individuals Can Discriminate
By Alexander Marriott
UNLV Rebel Yell: November 18, 2002

As April draws closer and closer, the debate gets hotter and hotter.

What debate, you ask?

The one surrounding the refusal of the Augusta National Golf Club, host of The Masters, to admit a woman into their ranks. All kinds of "civil rights" (in quotations because they don't seem to mind infringements on economic liberty) organizations have lined up to take on the golf club in an attempt to force a change of policy. But why are they so angered over this issue, which in the scheme of things, especially with all of the truly despicable governmental violations of individual rights, is miniscule and unimportant? I'll answer that question shortly, but before that one must address the concept of discrimination.

We all discriminate everyday, practically every hour of our lives, even during our dreams. The route you take to work or school is discrimination against every other route you could have taken. The food you choose to eat is discrimination against all the other food companies whose products you turned down. If you're writing a paper you discriminate between source materials. If you're reading this article you're discriminating against the others. If you ever have to hire people for a job you discriminate against people for any number of reasons including merit, competence, appearance, religion, politics, or if you're so inclined, gender and race. But we've been taught that this last example is wrong, bad, even against the law, haven't we? This is true, but it is a fundamental confusion of terms that has led to "civil rights" groups protesting against a private golf club.

What people were fighting against in the 1950s and 1960s was governmental discrimination, not the discrimination of private persons. This changed with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which defined public places as almost everything, save your own house, and has led to such pernicious and tyrannical actions as the "public" smoking ban in California or the Americans with Disabilities Act. I say tyrannical, not as a dramatic overstatement, but as the unfortunate reality of what has taken place in the last four decades. While getting rid of Jim Crow laws in the south was perfectly moral and just, they have been replaced with national laws that allow the government to dictate to those who own businesses who they can and can't serve and what accommodations they can and can't have. That is the exact opposite of securing civil rights, it is taking them away in the name of civil rights, trampling wholesale upon the rights of all individuals who start businesses or are already running them.

As to whether one should discriminate or not it depends on what type of discrimination you're referring to. It would be asinine and idiotic not to discriminate based on ability, as you would soon be bankrupt. It is also asinine and idiotic to discriminate on totally unrelated factors such as race, gender (except in positions requiring intense physical labor that most women couldn't do, such as firefighting, but that would have to be done on an individual basis, not in a blind general way), or anything else not germane to the task at hand. The reason this is so should be obvious, if I turn down the most talented guy because he is black then the next guy hires him and puts me out of business, or at least does better than I. There are also philosophical and moral reasons not to do so (primarily it is highly irrational and the sign of collectivist mind), but for those not so philosophically or morally inclined the economic reason should suffice. As for a golf club, who cares? If they don't let you in, then gather all of the women who wish to play golf in your area together, form your own golf club that admits everybody, get investors, and build your own course. The simple fact that you are alive doesn't entitle you to anything expect your own life and liberty.

The answer to my original question of why "civil rights" groups focus on this as opposed to eminent domain or economic regulation and taxes should start becoming plane. It's the same reason I've been putting the quotation marks around civil rights every time I refer to the groups claiming to guard them. They don't care about civil rights at all. They only care about persecuting all forms of private property that still exist into oblivion. If this weren't the case then they would have to, as part of being a civil rights organization, protect the rights of private property owners. And this, of course, they never do, and never will. Though I don't agree with Augusta National's exclusion of women, they have every right to do so, just as I have every right to discriminate against Augusta and not watch the tournament at all, as golf bores the hell out of me.

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