Biting the bullet

I’ve been a freedom of association absolutist for about as long as I can remember. Once, in high school, I shared this sentiment with a friend’s father “D”, who was generally sympathetic to this outlook. However, he’d managed to budge me from my hardline position with a simple appeal to decency and compassion. Consider a black family living in a small all-white town where there’s only one grocery store. If the owners refuse to sell them food, they’ll have nothing to eat and starve. At that point, I conceded that yes, in such a case I would want the government to intervene and force the private business to “serve all comers”.

Before conceding, I tried to argue that there is no essential distinction between me serving dinner to a group of friends (who will, after all, repay me in various ways at some point) and an establishment serving food to paying customers. These days, the SJW crowd appears to have fully embraced this logic — what with interpersonal (and even family!) relationships subject to diversity policing. But back then this notion was so far-fetched as to be a strawman, and so “D” argued that there is an essential distinction of scale: me deciding to exclude red-headed midgets from my private barbecue is different from Walmart banning all black customers.

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have held strong. Any compromise, any deviation from freedom of association absolutism eventually leads to this and this — and don’t be so sure that your private barbecue is safe, either.

what Sam Francis used to call “the harmless persuasion” prefers a sort of middle ground, arguing that leftist ideas are marvelous but that the government just carried them a bit too far.

There is a straight line connecting the Civil Rights Act (hailed by the good conservatives as a necessary common decency measure) and today’s brave new world, where Big Brother can pursue you all the way inside your skull.

[I have the “decency and compassion” philosophical angle covered as well, but that’ll wait for a future post.]

9 thoughts on “Biting the bullet

  1. One thing that must be utterly demolished is the notion that running a business is a PRIVILEGE. It’s not. The opportunity to make a living is a RIGHT. Demolish the PRIVILEGE assumption, and you can make a lot of headway towards restoring freedom of association to the economic sphere. Allow the PRIVILEGE assumption to remain, and you’ll never get much traction.


  2. I agree. I would argue that freedom of association is even more basic than freedom of speech. The latter has various exceptions while the former seems as close to an absolute, unconditional negative right as one can get.


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