Oklahoma State Senator Joseph Silk didn’t expect death threats against himself and his four small children when he filed a religious freedom bill in the Oklahoma Senate but perhaps he should have. Militant homosexuals get a little overheated whenever it’s suggested that other people have rights too.
Senator Silk struck a nerve when he mentioned in an interview with the New York Times that homosexuals “don’t have a right to be served in every single store.” The senator is now claiming that the reporter didn’t accurately reflect his remarks. What he said, according to Silk, is that no one has a right to be served, including himself and his family.
I couldn’t agree more. The current debate we’re having over wedding cakes, wedding flowers, B&B’s, and a variety of other services is not about discrimination; it’s about sovereign individuals being able to engage in economic transactions on a voluntary basis.
Which is why homosexuals, if they really want a cake for their mockery of a wedding, should find someone who actually wants to make it for them. My advice is this: do business with people who want to do business with you. To put it in terms that homosexuals might understand, economic transactions should take place between “consenting adults.” If one party doesn’t consent, the deal is a non-starter.
The concept of voluntary economic transactions is essentially what Silk was trying to articulate before the New York Times trimmed his quote, seeming to suggest that homosexuals have no right to be served but everyone else does. What he was really trying to say is that no one has a right to be served. That’s no small distinction.
Like Joseph Silk, I believe that any private business should be able to decline my patronage for any reason and they don’t owe me or the government an explanation. That’s their right, just as it’s my right to shop with their competitor. Anything else would be involuntary servitude by definition, which is prohibited by the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution.
Advocates of coerced economic transactions find this line of reasoning hard to refute so they resort to accusations of hypocrisy as a means of avoiding it entirely. As angry lesbian columnist Sally Kohn sneered in a recent Daily Beast column, “Those championing the right to discriminate generally want the right to discriminate against others, but for others to not be able to discriminate against them.” She cites zero examples.
Newsflash for Sally: I have been denied service on account of my nationality and I didn’t run crying to the government. It happened a few years ago in Tokyo when I walked into a small neighborhood diner and was brusquely “greeted” by a grouchy old Japanese woman, probably the owner, who informed me that she only served Japanese customers. Shaking my head in disbelief, I left and spent my money at a restaurant that actually wanted it. Yes, I was shocked and perturbed, mostly because my American upbringing bequeathed me a sense of entitlement to this woman’s labor. I grappled with the concept that she had the same right to choose her customers as I had to choose a restaurant. We had the opportunity to make a deal on terms agreeable to both of us but alas, we reached an impasse and the deal fell through. I had no legal recourse because there’s no law against refusing service to gaijin (foreigners) in Japan. Nor should there be. The Japanese have the right idea.
It’s called freedom. I kind of like it.
Most people, I believe, know there’s something intrusive and authoritarian about forcing Party A to serve Party B, and yet they’ve been socialized to feel icky for even entertaining the thought. That would mean admitting that some of the old segregationist dinosaurs who resisted forced integration, such as Georgia restauranteur Lester Maddox, had a valid point. Which they did, by the way—about property rights, though not about race. A lot of people shrink from this conclusion, even if they can clearly see that it means maximum freedom for the maximum people because it feels too much like Jim Crow.
But is it? Hardly. Jim Crow laws did not grant private businesses latitude to serve whomever they wanted; they mandated that certain people not be served, or at least not in close proximity to other people with different skin tones. Besides being an injustice, it was also absurd.
So we overcorrected and passed a law called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which obliterated Jim Crow once and for all. The Civil Rights Act was exactly the wrong remedy, an overreaching behemoth of a law that jammed the federal government’s nose into the business transactions of private parties. Suddenly, Party A had no right not to labor for Party B. Simply by going into business, Party A supposedly forfeited his right to determine whom he would serve. Yes, Party A could still decline service in some situations, but he had to give the “right” reason, which was determined by the government.
‘Then don’t go into business!’ say the advocates of coerced transactions. But that argument is a loser. People start their own private businesses specifically because they want to be their own bosses. That’s what “private” means. Look it up. Nor does anyone else forfeit their right to engage in voluntary economic transactions merely by entering the marketplace. (Where else would an economic transaction take place?) No one tells a laborer that if he seeks a job he must work for anyone offering one. No one tells a hungry family looking for a restaurant that merely by entering the marketplace they give up all free choice.
I wonder where this silly idea originates that private establishments are obligated to serve anyone who walks through their door. As someone who used to believe it myself, I will venture a guess. It comes from the vaguely Marxist notion that businesses exist to serve the public, which is why leftists so often refer to private businesses as “public accommodations.” Speaking as a victim of the public schools myself, I can attest to the fact that this idea is pounded into young brains. But it’s unfair and unrealistic to think that entrepreneurs will start businesses, with all of the associated risks, to “serve the public.” They do it to serve their own enlightened self-interest—that is, to provide for themselves and their families. And that’s fine. Enlightened self-interest is the engine that powers the only economic system that really works.
People who don’t understand this basic concept of individual sovereignty are not opponents of discrimination, as they would have you believe. They are advocates of involuntary servitude, and as such, are a veritable menace to freedom.