Discrimination: It’s good for business!

There are different types of conservatives out there. There’s just the run of the mill conservative, a person whose beliefs differ from my own liberal beliefs, but who isn’t an asshole or a bigot. Just different. Then there are the assholes and bigots, the ones who pick up on conservatism because it gives them an excuse to attack some racial or sexual minority. There are the True Believers (aka god-humpers), the ones so caught up in a religious ideology that they believe it without question and see implications of it in everything. There are also the plutocrats, heartless elites interested only in augmenting their own wealth and power, and constantly pushing for lower taxes even if it means the environment is raped and poor people die of preventable diseases. (Seriously, fuck those guys.)

But then there are the libertarian types. They’re generally easy to get along with in comparison to the assholes and god-humpers. They tend to be mostly rational and willing to see other people’s viewpoints. The points they have to make are not always irrational, authoritarian or just downright ignorant. They are often intelligent, informed and politically engaged. Honestly, if the libertarian types ran the Republican Party I wouldn’t find it loathsome like I do now. (Unfortunately, the plutocrats hold the real power in the party and the base is overrun with assholes and god-humpers. Hence the loathsomeness.)

But the libertarians do have one really, really, REALLY fucking annoying tendency. They have difficulty seeing the political, social, or legal value of anything apart from its economic value. If they get it into their heads that a law hurts the economy, then they’re against it, and their money-hardened brains don’t really even process the concept that it could be a good law apart from whatever (real or imagine) economic damage it does. Case in point, Joshua Steimle at Forbes.com, who recently spat out this bit of Libertarian Wankery:

Entrepreneurship Threatened By Ruling In New Mexico Gay Marriage Case

It should be noted that this case wasn’t about gay marriage per se. Gay marriage is in fact advancing in New Mexico and is already being carried out in some counties. But the case in question took place at a time when gay marriage was not allowed and the case is not about legalizing gay marriage. Rather, it’s a discrimination case about a photographer who refused to work at a gay wedding ceremony several years ago.

Steimle (I don’t have the foggiest idea how that letter-salad of a name is supposed to be pronounced) begins reasonably enough:

Whenever the law interferes with entrepreneurial activity it creates a barrier to entry and makes the practice of doing business less efficient. Some would say certain inefficiencies in an economy are good and desirable, as when bad people are prevented from doing bad things by laws and regulations that catch them before they do any harm. This realm of “positive law” includes laws against drunk driving and insider trading. These laws create criminals where there is no victim but merely the perhaps likely threat of harm, and reasonable people can debate the merits of such laws.

This is why I like the libertarians (Steimle doesn’t claim to be one, but comes across to me as one, so I presume he is). Even when I  disagree with them, I don’t entirely disagree with them. Part of what they say usually makes good, rational sense.

The recent ruling wherein the high court of New Mexico ruled against Elaine Huguenin, a professional photographer who refused to photograph a gay marriage ceremony due to her religious beliefs, goes far beyond merely attempting to prevent harm. Rather, it aims to criminalize behavior that has no potential to cause physical harm, but at worst can only be considered offensive. If allowed to stand, the consequences will be negative for all entrepreneurs whether straight, gay, black, white, male, or female.

And then he turns around and says something stupid. The worst harm discrimination can do is to be “considered offensive”? Do you know ANYTHING about the history of this country?

Elaine Huguenin is the co-owner of Elane Photography along with her husband. Their small business is based in New Mexico. In 2006 she refused to photograph a gay marriage ceremony for Vanessa Willock and her partner, citing religious beliefs. Elaine and her business came to national attention after the couple sued her, claiming discrimination. According to the New Mexico Human Rights Act, it is illegal for a business to refuse its services to an individual because of that person’s sexual orientation. The same law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry and gender.

On August 22nd, 2013, New Mexico’s highest court ruled against Elaine, stating “When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

It cannot be disputed that Elaine broke the law.

And now he’s being sensible again. Yes, she clearly violated the law. Whenever a god-humper talks about issues like this, that part is often lost on them. If Steimle were a god-humper, he would probably “dispute” it by regurgitating Bible verses and whining that he’s being persecuted just like the Jews under Hitler.

What we can dispute is whether the long term consequences of having such a law in place are beneficial for society.

After the ruling, Louise Melling of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement saying “When you open a business, you are opening your doors to all people in your community, not just the select few who share your personal beliefs.”

Were this reasoning to be applied equally to all cases, as blind justice demands, then a business owned by a gay individual must provide services to the Westboro Baptist Church, if asked to. A Jewish entrepreneur must provide services to a neo-Nazi.

And now he’s being stupid again.

Dear Mr. Steimle, would you please LOOK AT WHAT YOU YOURSELF WROTE JUST A FEW PARAGRAPHS AGO.

According to the New Mexico Human Rights Act, it is illegal for a business to refuse its services to an individual because of that person’s sexual orientation. The same law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry and gender.

Do you see “political affiliation” or “organization membership” on there? No. And that’s the law. What Melling says is not the law. She’s just someone from the ACLU who said something that doesn’t accurately represent the law.

The reasoning behind anti-discrimination laws is to protect groups that have historically been given second class citizenship on a basis of something that is either not under their control (race, sexual orientation, place of birth) or that is specifically protected in the constitution (religion). There is no history of persecution of the KKK–in fact, they’ve historically been the ones doing and promoting discrimination.

That’s why we need these laws. What Melling said is irrelevant, and you know this, because you said so just a little while. Please pay attention.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 85% of Americans believe Elaine had the right to refuse service to the gay couple. I suspect the percentage would be even higher if respondents had been asked not if a Christian woman could refuse to photograph a gay marriage ceremony, but if a business owned by an African-American woman must provide services to the KKK.

What do you think the percentage would be if it were a klansman refusing service to a black woman? People don’t exactly think very clearly on issues like this.

And a black woman refusing to serve the KKK is not comparable to a photographer refusing to serve someone just for being gay. The KKK actively hate and attack black people. Gays do not have anything against photographers.

It is important to reiterate that no harm was done to the gay couple other than to offend their sensibilities.

Utter bullshit. It cost them time and resources to find another photographer. If this practice were allowed to proliferate to other businesses, it could seriously impact the lives and well-being of gays by making it more difficult for them to obtain services than straights. Real harm, even ECONOMIC harm (since that’s how Steimle thinks) has been done here.

How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what happened to blacks back when it was allowed to discriminate against them. Ask anyone who played on an integrated football team in the 1950s who had to scramble to find a hotel for 80+ players and coaches when they learn that the one they booked didn’t allow blacks. Or any hungry black many who had to search around town to find a restaurant that would serve him. It hurts people.

If you are a Christian woman who a week ago was thinking of starting a wedding photography business in New Mexico, might you be thinking twice today?

I’d be impressed if you could think once.

If the Court’s ruling is allowed to stand, this sends a chilling message to entrepreneurs—if someone, anyone, doesn’t like you, your business, or what you stand for, then all they need to do is claim discrimination, and they can sue you.

Utter paranoia. Hypothetically, someone might attempt to abuse the law in this fashion, but whether they could actually succeed would require them to prove you actually discriminate.

It does not matter whether the entrepreneur is black or white, gay or straight, liberal or conservative, male or female. Anyone can be targeted. It’s only a matter of time before alleged inferior service, rather than outright refusal of service, is all that is necessary to claim discrimination and bring suit. To those who claim this is unrealistic and will never happen, I would point out this is exactly what I was told about the type of lawsuit Elaine Huguenin just lost.

“I was told this by my imaginary friend Steve the Wonder Chicken. He’s never done me wrong before!”

Entrepreneurs already face enough hurdles. They must deal with the IRS, The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare), and other city, county, state, and federal regulations.

Yeah, I’m sure wedding photographers are really struggling with Obamacare.

Add to this the threat of an expensive lawsuit based on your beliefs, even if you pick no one’s pocket nor break anyone’s leg, and for some it will be the difference between starting a business that brings us an innovative product or service that improves our lives, and getting a safe job working for someone else.

Anti-discrimination laws are bad, because people who want to discriminate won’t do business in your state. Think of the economy!

So should we allow discrimination against blacks or Hispanics or Muslims or Jews so that people that want to discriminate against them will do more business in our state? According to Heimle’s stupid argument, that’s exactly what we should do.

But the argument is utter nonsense. For one thing, there is more at stake here than merely who’s doing business in one’s state. There’s also the interest of protecting the rights of a class of people who have been historically subject to widespread discrimination. Even if that means a few bigots won’t do business in your state, it’s still worth it. But libertarians simply can’t process this. They see something that might hurt business and immediately conclude it’s bad without further consideration.

But even if we limit ourselves to economic arguments, it’s still stupid. Yeah, anti-discrimination laws might drive the bigots away, but so fucking what? Smart, educated people are more likely to favor gay rights and equality, and they also make for great entrepreneurs, and they would find a state that protects gay rights to be more attractive for business. And it’s not just entrepreneurs. Many big businesses today, including big ones like Google and Boeing, are actively pushing for protections for gays and lesbians and would find a state more attractive if it had laws to that effect. One could easily argue that protecting gay rights could improve the economy.

And as for a bigot who’s so petty and hateful that he/she wouldn’t open a business in NM simply because they won’t allow him/her to discriminate? Fuck ’em. Who needs ’em? Let ’em move to fucking Saudi Arabia and live in the repressive theocratic nightmare that they apparently think society should be. Let ’em move to fucking Russia, where discrimination against gays is now enshrined in federal law. I don’t see why we should need or want their business.

They’re probably shitty photographers anyways.

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