Tag Archives: discrimination

The Best Intentions Are Not Justification For Intervention

One of the biggest false narratives coming from people on the right, are that those on the left are trying to ruin America. Whether it be political correctness, socialized health care (Single-payer) and/or retirement planning (Social Security), business regulations, social engineering, anti-discrimination laws…the list is a mile long of ways that these folks want to improve America in a very meaningful and altruistic way.

It’s easy to just attack their positions if you look at it from the view of the people they’re trying to change. Political correctness stifles free speech. Socialized health care and retirement planning takes money involuntarily and by force from the earner, and often gives to someone who didn’t earn it. Business regulations cost entrepreneurs money, making it difficult for small businesses to compete when their funds are diverted from inventory, research, and development to compliance attorneys who do absolutely zero, from a return-on-investment scenario.

I’ve always staunchly argued that for something to be fairly deemed moral, one person cannot be remedied by wronging another, especially through force. So while I applaud the left for wanting to help promote compassion, tolerance, and general well-being for all Americans, it is my firm opinion, they’re severely misguided in many of their arguments.

While I could speak about the issues above ad nauseam, I want to discuss the anti-discrimination efforts specifically in this post.

From a scientific perspective, diversity (specifically genetic diversity) is paramount to our ecosystem. Having organisms with different genetic makeup insures that natural selection will continue to evolve past challenges that face all life on Earth. So attacking our differences as if they’re a flaw, is quite the fallacious argument. As such, I would never argue that somehow discrimination is a good or productive thing.

But that being said, there are varying types of discrimination. Instinctive discrimination for instance, is where a person subconsciously puts one person over another without even thinking about it, and with no ill will meant towards the person being discriminated against.

There’s also conscious discrimination, where people purposefully segregate themselves or others, but not through hate, just through a desire to associate with others like themselves. For instance an exercise club that’s only for women, or a golf club that only allows men. While I think there’s no benefit that really comes from that, it’s wrong for someone else to impose upon you that you may not do it.

There’s altruistic discrimination, such as organizations that help a particular race, sex, religion, etc., like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The National Organization for Women (NOW), or a myriad of different religious organizations. Such groups aim to help advance their own cause, while not working to degrade anyone else doing so. Typically, they argue that they’re not given the same opportunities as others, and therefore only want to level the playing field, not put themselves above anyone.

Then of course, there’s the ugly side—hateful discrimination like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, Westboro Baptist Church, and other groups whose intent is to advance their own kind at the expense of another. While all forms of discrimination can have unintended bad consequences, this one is by far the worst. Its negative consequences are precisely intended—being the only one specifically intended to denigrate others.

While there can be no doubt that hateful discrimination should be quashed in all it’s forms to the betterment of society, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

When you try to force someone out of that mindset, you may publicly suppress it, but you’re also quite likely to just make those folks even more hateful deep down inside. Occasionally, such oppression drives those with little self-control into a rage that leads to an act of violence. Such unintended consequences are the worst possible outcome, and the polar opposite of what helps the cause.

The other issue this often brings up, is that if it’s not your cross to bear, maybe those you’re trying to help don’t want your help. You have no right to dictate when someone else should be offended, nor to anoint yourself the arbiter of what is offensive to others.

For instance, several years ago, a movement to get the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change their name started brewing. Many people were altruistically trying to help end an example of what they saw as racism. But as it turned out, as shown in this poll published in the Washington Post, nearly 90% of the people these caring crusaders were fighting for felt it was much ado about nothing. If they aren’t bothered by it, then no one outside their community should be dictating that somehow they should be.

On a side note, I’d also like to argue that something meant as a compliment should not be considered an insult. The Redskins organization has never shown an ounce of ill will towards the Native American community. While those tribes certainly have a right to not like the name, and even speak out if they find it offensive, one should at least draw a distinction between something that might offend someone versus something that was meant to be an insult. It’s like the difference between manslaughter and murder.

While ending discrimination is a lofty goal to pursue, there are a couple of points people should keep in the back of their mind.

First: Are you the one being discriminated against? If not, feel free to support those who are. However, if they don’t ask you to fight alongside them, fighting for them anyway, is disrespectful instead of helpful. It effectively argues, “You don’t know what’s best for you, but I do.”

Most people neither appreciate, nor respect that. So you’re not helping anyone. Although your intentions are good, it’s discriminatory and disrespectful nonetheless to be a busybody fighting someone’s battle for them when they didn’t ask you to, nor want you to.

Second: Was the person doing the discriminating trying to harm someone else at the expense of helping themselves? If not, then it’s not worth starting a fight over. You can certainly engage in a conversation about why you think it might be a bad thing to do, but it’s important to remember that the reason we try to prevent discrimination is to prevent someone being harmed. So if no one is in fact harmed or feels like they were wronged, then there’s no reason to go on the attack.

Jungle Gym

Three: Gauge whether the person that said or did something you might find offensive actually meant offense. If you’re not sure, ask questions instead of assuming the worst. You might find that they just misspoke, meant well, or are just asking questions. Being easily offended isn’t helping anyone.

Decades ago, I remember reading a story about an older teacher in her sixties (light-skinned) who was supervising her elementary school class on recess. The playground had a jungle gym, and the kids were playing on it. The teacher, engaging with one of the kids who was dark-skinned, commented to that child that the child was “swinging on the jungle gym like a little monkey.”

Word of this got to the parent, and offense was taken. It was assumed the teacher was using a racial slur against the child. While we cannot know what was in the teacher’s heart, the fact is, swinging from trees is a pretty common practice for monkeys, and the comparison made by the teacher could have been 100% about what the kid was doing, and 0% about what the kid looked like. She may have said the same thing to a light-skinned child and this would have never been a story. If so, it wasn’t discriminatory in any way, and now the teacher being made to look bad, is the only victim in the above scenario.

Juvenile Borneo Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus swinging from tree branches Tanjung Puting National Park Kalimantan Indonesia

To be fair, it could also be true, the teacher was an incredibly racist person. I’ve met more than one sweet old lady, that felt comfortable saying some awful racist things because we shared a common skin tone. So I’m not arguing it wasn’t possible the teacher didn’t mean anything bad, I’m only arguing she could have meant nothing bad, and maybe asking questions about her intentions were more in order than assuming the worst of her.

(I tried to find a link to the story, but I think it’s too old, and not living on the internet. But as I recall, she was not noted as having any history of bigoted actions.)

We should all want to end discrimination, but it should be done through education, reasonable discussion, and sometimes, maybe even public shaming if combatting intentionally offensive behavior. But always remember that fighting for someone else must be done at the request of, or along side of the person being discriminated against. You may mean well for taking on the cause yourself, but you’re often being bigoted doing so, and don’t even know it.

Let them be jerks! Deregulating the Heinous.

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Imagine you’ve just left your local mom and pop hardware store and mom or pop treated you like an idiot because you didn’t know the difference between a ball peen versus a claw hammer. It happens all the time, right? We get bad service everywhere these days, and that’s part of life. How do we react to it? We don’t frequent that store again unless we absolutely have to.

Dick's Last Resort. The only restaurant famous for being rude. It's their thing.
Dick’s Last Resort. The only restaurant famous for being rude. It’s their thing.

So what actually transpires in this example? You have, in effect, fired that particular store. They work for you for a fee to make a living, and you’ve decided that you no longer wish them to do so. We often consider the firing of an employee a bad or immoral act if the person has committed no crime, but is this hypocrisy? Many of the same people who make such criticisms are the same people who lambaste a company for bad service, vowing never to return, to their friends.

So I want to go out on a bit of a blue-sky limb here with a unique proposal. There should be no regulations in the marketplace unless they fall under two basic parameters:

  • Laws that protect a corporation from violating a persons rights: These would be regulations against practices like dumping toxic waste; stealing intellectual property, patents, etc.; or laws preventing practices that risk the lives of patrons and employees alike not disclosed at the outset. For instance, people who change light bulbs on radio towers or people taking sky-diving lessons are certainly at risk, but they knew that before they agreed to do business together, not afterwards.
  • Laws that preserve competitive capitalism. Regulations such as anti-collusion and antitrust laws that ensure the marketplace remains competitive.

At first, this seems innocent enough, but when I outline what this potentially entails, you may think senility has overcome me. However, hear me out before you dismiss this off the cuff.

Laws that prevent discrimination, harassment, or any other behaviors commonly considered immoral may seem like the right thing to do, but as with any such laws they have unintended consequences.

One issue is that they mask a business owner’s true character, which may be one that you might avoid if they were allowed to be themselves. In doing so, we are affording a person you wouldn’t dream of doing business with greater success than they would get otherwise.

One look at the train wreck known as Amy’s Baking Company and their ensuing media meltdown after Gordon Ramsay had to walk away for the first time in the 100-episode history of Kitchen Nightmares is all it takes to see what free press, word of mouth, and social media can do to right a wronged marketplace of bottom feeders like this couple, and it’s happening without government intervention.

Imagine the New Black Panthers wanted to open up a “African-American Only” restaurant. Obviously I would not be allowed in, but would I want to? Even if the food is great, if the owners and customers are vehemently racist and really don’t like white people, then so be it. I think it’s morally wrong, but the government’s duty isn’t to legislate morality, it’s there to protect my rights—period. I’ll take my business elsewhere just like anyone else who would find this practice offensive.

Just as I never liked Augusta National‘s outdated racist/sexist policies of old, I never felt it was anyone’s right to dictate to them otherwise at the point of a gun, which is ultimately what government regulations are if taken to their ultimate conclusion.

But look what happened with Augusta. The press and people chastised them for being this way, and they eventually got sick of being hated by those of us who actually have a moral compass, and softened their stance accordingly. But to this day, and I know to some this is sacrilege, but if offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance of playing Augusta or TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, I choose the latter without batting an eye—I doubt Augusta cares though. Freedom dictates Augusta and Sawgrass both be allowed to exist as they wish and fight for market share without government getting involved.

TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole
TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole

Going back to Amy’s Baking Company, it was revealed during the show that the owner was not paying his servers the tips they had earned. He was pocketing it himself because he said he was doing much of the work, which was clearly debatable. To Gordon Ramsay’s credit, he announced this to the restaurant, and patrons were none too pleased. At this point, I have little doubt that many of them, as well as the employees and potential future employees and patrons, will never return to this little fascist bistro.

But what if there were laws preventing this? (Actually, I suspect that maybe there are and they just aren’t complying)

Why let the government hide an entrepreneur’s true nature just because it feels right? I want to know what kind of person I’m doing business with, and these morality laws hide that; making me an uninformed consumer in the process. If that business owner hates me because of my race, sex, or religious philosophy, I don’t want to do business with them. So I want them  free to show me who they really are so that I may choose to stay or go.

People often lose sight of what a business is—an investment property owned by an entrepreneur. Just as you wouldn’t want the government prohibiting you from enjoying a stogie in your car, the government shouldn’t be dictating whether the owner of a business can allow people to smoke there. If it were a restaurant and you liked the food, but not the smoke, you can carry out, eat outside, or find another restaurant. You can also suggest to the owner that you may not patron their establishment so long as they allow people to smoke, and let them decide how they wish to proceed. But you, and by virtue of the phrase, “We The People,” the government, have no right dictating to a business owner how they should run their business.US Constitution

So when it comes to business, let them be the jerks that they are, then let the market sort it out accordingly.