Back to Goldwaterism

Rand Paul comes out against the public accommodations provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership.

Of course, that logic would apply equally well to private employment discrimination, or private discrimination in rental housing.

Actually, I believe Paul when he says he’s not a racist. (His father, and some of his voters, not so much.) But Paul is a completely consistent libertarian: consistent to, and past, the point of lunacy. Let’s hear all the Republican politicians who are so happy to align themselves with the Tea Party explain whether they agree with Rand Paul about allowing private discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and disability. It’s not an incomprehensible position, but it is – or ought to be – well outside the mainstream of public discourse.

Footnote Paul also thinks that Sarah Palin is “absolutely” qualified to be President. Sorry, but I think he’s absolutely out of his mind. And so do most voters.

The civil rights stuff is at the end of the tape.

Comments

  1. SP says

    "I believe Paul when he says he’s not a racist."

    Maybe you need to reconsider that view if you haven't seen this in which he defends holding his victory rally at a members-only golf club:

    "I think at one time people used to think of golf and golf courses and golf clubs as being exclusive. But I think in recent years now you see a lot of people playing golf. I think Tiger Woods has helped to broaden that in the sense that he’s brought golf to a lot of the cities and to city youth, and so no, I don’t think it’s nearly as exclusive as people once considered it to be."

  2. Fred says

    R.Paul last night on Rachel Maddow equated racial discrimination in private business with refusing service to patrons carrying guns. As if the two issues are indistinguishable. If you require restaurants to serve people of all races then of course they must also serve a naked person pushing a wheelbarrow full of manure, right?

    The trouble with libertarians is their insistance on liberty being absolute to the point of absurdity. It is such a simplistic philosophy that it is useless.

  3. Brett Bellmore says

    Yeah, I suppose you can distinguish between discriminating against somebody on the basis of pigment, and discriminating on the basis of whether they exercise a civil liberty… Look, I just did! Hey, guess what: I can distinguish between blacks and latinos. Guess discrimination is bad against only one of them.

    You missed the point, though I suppose that's like saying somebody in dodge ball missed the ball hurled at him. Rand Paul doesn't think that businesses should discriminate against people who carry concealed. It's foolish, a (minor) moral wrong, and bad policy.

    But does he think the law should compel business owners to admit people packing heat onto their premises? No, and that's the point.

    Look, Rand Paul is RIGHT. It is central to the idea of freedom, that you have some space between what people ought to do, and what they can be compelled to do, between what they ought to refrain from, and can be compelled not to do. Believing in that space doesn't mean you approve of what exists in it, it merely means that you don't want to live in the "All that's not forbidden is mandatory" dystopia, and are refusing to set foot on the path that leads to it. A path we're sprinting down at the moment, because of people who DO want to take those first steps, and wake up every day, ready to take more first steps in that direction. Imagining, I suppose, that Zeno's paradox will protect them from every arriving at their destination.

    The civil rights movement started out good, but took a horrible wrong turn early on, when they stopped fighting to repeal laws which demanded discrimination, and started fighting for laws which demanded people not discriminate. (And eventually, predictably, got around to laws requiring people to discriminate in the opposite direction…) Believing this doesn't mean you think people SHOULD discriminate. It means you want to live in a free society.

  4. Suzii says

    The other thing Paul told Maddow is that he agrees that businesses that receive government support can be required not to discriminate.

    So Woolworth's, which relies on public sewers, roads, enforcement of shoplifting laws, enforcement of contracts, must open its lunch counter, right?

    No, apparently Paul doesn't think so.

    Maybe. For such a straightforward bright-line libertarian, he seemed pretty panicked at the idea of answering a yes-or-no question with anything other than a tangential question.

  5. Henry says

    It would be an even greater intrusion on freedom than prohibiting racial discrimination if the government were to take from retailers a portion of their profits. I guess that taxes are out.

  6. Thomas says

    Meanwhile Mark works for an institution that actually discriminates based on race. Maybe "private" is doing all the work in Mark's complaint? Or maybe Mark's a hypocrite?

  7. Pug says

    Believing this doesn’t mean you think people SHOULD discriminate. It means you want to live in a free society.

    Free to discriminate against people based on race or religion? That's what freedom means to you?

    Why can't this rigid idealogue, Mr. Paul, just come out and say that discrimination based on race or religion should be illegal, as it already is? Is it really that hard? He should save himself a lot of trouble by using just a small bit of common sense on this one.

    This is the problem with Libertarianism. Some of it makes sense, but it is so simplistic and so absolute that it becomes flat-out stupid sometimes.

  8. The New York City Ma says

    On All Things Considered last night, Rand Paul went out of his way to caveat his objection to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the proviso that he was "opposed to institutional racism." Repeatedly, Rand Paul said that he hoped that he would have been brave enough to "march with [MLK]", but, after Robert Siegal gave him the chance to say that he would have followed Barry Goldwater opposing CRA 1964?! "I am opposed to institutional racism." "There are a lot of things in there that, I haven't read a forty year old piece of legislation[....]"

    This guy is a dissembling racist and liar. The son is the fruit of the father. Ron Paul gave speeches with coded language to far right racist groups, and the son follows in his footsteps by doing the SAME DAMN THING.

    In the same interview, Rand Paul mealy-mouthed a resort to parable about a two story business giving a ground floor office to a handicapped person instead of being forced to build an elevator, as his way to localize and "common sense" interpret the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities act. It other words – to gut its normative intent and restore genteel local prejudice.

    When glibertarians like Brett Bellmore demand that private businesses be free from being compelled not to discriminate, they are demanding the privilege of discrimination.

  9. Anderson says

    Look, Rand Paul is RIGHT.

    Ewwww. So much for Brett Bellmore.

    … Re: Palin, she is over 35 and a natural-born citizen, so I guess she's "qualified" in that sense.

  10. DavidTX says

    Business is not private, it is public. Just like you do not get to impose your pollution on me or others (if you want to pollute your own property, that's fine, but when it spreads beyond your property is no longer an issue of private behavior and private property rights) you don't get to impose your bigotry beyond the boundaries of your own property. The economic and social effects of discrimination in hiring and providing service spill out beyond one's business property because business is part of the larger economy and social structure and thus such activities are properly regulated by the state. Discrimination is not a passive act in the context of business activities, but an active one that actively imposes burdens on others. Paul is wrong and so is Brett.

  11. says

    "The civil rights movement started out good, but took a horrible wrong turn early on, when they stopped fighting to repeal laws which demanded discrimination, and started fighting for laws which demanded people [correction: businesses] not discriminate."

    Yeah, that was a pretty f$^&in' horrible wrong turn, all right. Almost as bad as that f$^&in' Fourteenth Amendment, "due process," "equal rights" for all b.s. (Nations, like business, are made up of people, after all, and people should have the right to discriminate.)

    I put it to you: why can't we just go back to the good old days, before these misbegotten activists screwed up our laws, when people at least had the option to discriminate on the basis of the color of a man's skin? (Not that they should, mind you; that's a Different Question, of course.) We had so much more freedom back then.

  12. Josh G. says

    Fred: "The trouble with libertarians is their insistance on liberty being absolute to the point of absurdity. It is such a simplistic philosophy that it is useless."

    Libertarians only advocate "liberty" in a stilted, formal sense. Their definition of the term is different than what virtually everyone else uses. When an organization starts to come up with its own definitions for commonly used words, you know you're dealing with a cult.

    Case in point…

    Brett Bellmore: "Yeah, I suppose you can distinguish between discriminating against somebody on the basis of pigment, and discriminating on the basis of whether they exercise a civil liberty…"

    Free speech and freedom of religion are also Constitutionally protected civil liberties. But if you try to go into the local diner and harangue the patrons with political or religious monologues, you'll be kicked out promptly. And rightly so. Reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the exercise of freedoms do not violate the Constitution.

    As to discrimination – in your own private home, you have the right to freedom of association. You can choose your own friends, associates, and/or romantic partners. But if you run a business that is open to the public, then you must admit people without discriminating on the basis of race. This is not a particularly difficult burden to meet. You live in a society, and as part of the social contract, you can't exercise the same level of unfettered action that you might be allowed on a desert island. In exchange, you enjoy the many benefits provided by an advanced Western civilization. This is Social Contract theory 101, not at all difficult to understand, except for the willfully obtuse.

  13. Joe S. says

    I never thought I would defend Brett Bellmore, even in part. But here goes . . .

    Freedom of association is very important–a cornerstone of liberal society. Brett's right on this, folks, for most of the reasons he mentioned, and some he did not. Since I'm not a libertarian, I'll add one he missed. Intermediating institutions are very important: churches, corporations, charities, guilds, clubs–you name it. We can't live in a society composed only of individuals and the state–the loi Le Chapelier was one of the great insanities of the French Revolution.

    On the other hand, unfettered freedom of association is not an individual right of the sort which libertarians are most comfortable with. It is a collective right, bearing with it the correlative power to shun. Atomistic individuals can't shun; collectivities can. Shunning is an exercise of non-statal power that can approximate–or even exceed–the state's monopoly of violence. What if all grocery stores collectively decided not to sell you food, all gas stations collectively decided not to sell you gas, and public carriers collectively decided not to let you out of there? You'd starve, with zero exercise of state power.

    This means that the collective right to shun must be regulated by the state, even though the right to shun is correlative of the freedom of association that the state must respect. It's a balancing test, which leads to different results in different cases. Sometimes, the state must uphold it in full: a heretic may permissibly be shunned by the faithful. Sometimes, it must be permitted but regulated: antitrust law or union law are examples. And sometimes–such as creation of a caste system–it must be strictly forbidden.

  14. Barbara says

    Here is what I don't get: is there a big constituency demanding a return to the pre-1964 public policy of allowing businesses to refuse to serve customers or hire employees on account of race, religion, etc.? Is there some groundswell of feeling oppressed among business owners because they actually have to serve additional platrons who happen to be Latino or Muslim or whatever else?

    I am not only not interested in refighting this fight, but for the life of me, I don't understand why anyone, even rabidly conservative politicians, think it's worth revisiting at all, even in principle.

  15. says

    Joe S., that was very good. Although trying to sort out the cockamamie in so many libertarian ideas is a legitimately difficult task because they so consistently fail to acknowledge the obvious logical implications of their theories. Thus, for instance, explaining why exactly unfettered racial discrimination might be a *really* bad thing is necessary.

    The trouble with extreme dogmatism is that it leads straight to unconscious intellectual dishonesty: it isn't a conscious choice, but a framework of thinking that has evolved to avoid honest engagement with the issues.

  16. Henry says

    Josh G. writes, "Free speech and freedom of religion are also Constitutionally protected civil liberties. But if you try to go into the local diner and harangue the patrons with political or religious monologues, you’ll be kicked out promptly. And rightly so. Reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the exercise of freedoms do not violate the Constitution."

    Josh G. is confused. The First Amendment limits only governmental entities; it does not restrict private businesses, so private businesses are free to engage in content-based restrictions on speech as well as time, place, and manner restrictions. They could refuse service to anyone who wore an "Obama for President" button, for example. The only discrimination in which they may not engage is discrimination that is prohibited by statute, such as discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin. No statute prohibits discrimination based on political opinions.

  17. Henry says

    And, since private businesses are not limited by the First Amendment, they may impose UNREASONABLE time, place, and manner restrictions. They could discriminate against anyone who does not enter the premises wearing a backwards baseball cap at a multiple of 13 minutes past the hour. No statute prohibits such discrimination.

  18. Barbara says

    But Henry, how would businesses enforce those rights? The whole concept of a property right — or even any right other than the right of might — depends on a governmental policy to defend or protect those rights. You can talk about your rights all you want, they are meaningless unless there is a policy apparatus that backs them up with the implicit threat to another's freedom for having refused to honor those rights.

  19. Henry says

    Barbara, you're right. If an Obama-button wearer forced his way onto the premises, then the business owner would depend on the police to enforce the law against trespassing. I did not mean to imply any view as to whether this fact refutes the libertarian argument against anti-discrimination statutes; I just wanted to set things straight about the First Amendment.

  20. Barbara says

    Henry, I guess where I have always found the libertarian project problematic is its blatant refusal to acknowledge government (of whatever kind) as the foundation for any notion of "rights." Libertarians aren't so much "anti-government" as they are "pro property rights," that is to say, they are picking and choosing among what rights they want to see enforced by a strong government. In other words, the idea that libertarian equals a preference for less government is really quite misplaced — they are perfectly fine with strong government so long as it only enforces the kinds of rights they value. You can never get away from the balance between "rights" and government enforcement policy. For someone like me, it is insane that a police force that is financed by all taxpayers should be deployed in defense of someone whose main grievance is that he only wants his otherwise open to the public business to serve some taxpayers. But because Paul can say that use of government force upholds "property rights" he is presumably okay with that.

  21. Henry says

    Barbara, you write, "it is insane that a police force that is financed by all taxpayers should be deployed in defense of someone whose main grievance is that he only wants his otherwise open to the public business to serve some taxpayers." Does that mean that you believe that ALL discrimination should be banned, and not merely the sort of discrimination that Title VII bans? Should discrimination based on political views (my Obama-button wearer, for example) be prohibited? What about people who engage in disruptive conduct or who stink enough to drive other patrons away? My point is that some discrimination must be permissible. Therefore, although I agree with you that discrimination based on race should not be permissible, your argument goes too far.

  22. Barbara says

    I am not arguing against no discrimination in the way you are defining discrimination. I think I disagree with yoru definition. If you read what I said, I said that his "only" complaint is that he only wants to provide services to a subset of the public (assuming that all members of the public are approaching him on otherwise equal grounds — they just want to buy lunch), and "discrimination" is generally defined as treating similarly situated people differently — so, escorting a white shoplifter out the door and telling her never to come back while calling the police on a black shoplifter would be discrimination. That kind of discrimination is almost impossible to legislate against. Refusing to serve people who walk in the door with a loud radio blaring isn't discrimination if one serves someone else of the same ethnicity who isn't bearing loud and obnoxious music. So you are reading into my "argument" things I never put there.

  23. Henry says

    Barbara, you are right that our disagreement was over the definition of "discrimination." You were using it in the common way to refer to something bad, whereas I was using it in the more technical way to mean treating people differently on whatever basis. I would reword your penultimate sentence to read, "Refusing to serve people who walk in the door with a loud radio blaring isn’t BAD discrimination if one serves someone else of the same ethnicity who isn’t bearing loud and obnoxious music." I add "BAD" because it is, in fact, discrimination.

  24. Brett Bellmore says

    "Henry, I guess where I have always found the libertarian project problematic is its blatant refusal to acknowledge government (of whatever kind) as the foundation for any notion of “rights.”"

    This is rather similar to the blatent refusal to acknowledge religion as the foundation for any notion of "morality"; Just as the latter makes the morality of religion a tautology by robbing you of any independent measure of morality, defining government as the foundation for "any notion" of rights makes the idea that "governments defend, not violate, rights" into a tautology, by robbing you of any basis to say that a government is violating rights.

    If you can't see any basis outside of government for any notion of rights, how could you ever find a way to criticize what a government does?

    Shorter me: You've just demonstrated that you worship the State.

  25. Henry says

    Brett, you are referring to natural rights, whereas Barbara was referring to legal rights. Problem solved. A separate question is whether natural rights exist or whether to say that "X" is a natural right is another way of saying, "I feel strongly that no one should interfere with my doing "X."

  26. Barbara says

    Brett, no, not really, because I accept that the State isn't going to enforce every kind of "right" I would like to exercise — I am however noting that a "right" isn't worth much if it can't be backed up by legal enforcement, and this is perhaps especially true for property rights, which are the kind of rights that Rand Paul accepts without equivocation.

  27. Henry says

    Brett, I do not understand how the "refusal to acknowledge religion as the foundation for any notion of 'morality' … makes the morality of religion a tautology by robbing you of any independent measure of morality." If the refusal to acknowledge religion as the foundation of morality robbed us of any independent measure of morality, how would that make the morality of religion a tautology? Wouldn't it instead leave us with no basis to determine the morality of religion?

    In fact, of course, the refusal to acknowledge religion as the foundation of morality does not rob us of independent measures of morality. I am an atheist and believe in universal moral rules that are not arbitrary but have as their foundation the desire of sentient beings to live and to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. I judge the morality of religion by the extent to which it adheres to these rules.

  28. Joe S. says

    Barbara and Henry:

    For my sins, I have read a lot more libertarian literature than I should have. A lot of it talks about self-enforcing rights (such as loan collateral) and private alternatives to public enforcement. Some of it is astute; most of it I find very unrealistic. But you can't accuse radical libertarians of having ignored the enforcement issue.

  29. Barbara says

    I will amend my statement: they ignore any realistic enforcement mechanism. Having a bank employee living in my house until I manage to pay off the mortgage doesn't sound like a realistic alternative for a commercially viable society. And how do you take "collateral" in the form of someone's brilliant idea or business plan that you want to invest in?

  30. Joe S. says

    Barbara:

    A lot of their self-enforcement mechanisms are woolly indeed. But some, like reputation, are quite sound, although much more narrowly applicable than they would like them to be.

    I basically agree with you: radical libertarians are nuts. (I also suspect them of being virgins.) But other libertarians (such as those who populate the "Unqualified Offerings" blog or Radley Balko or Julian Sanchez) add a lot to the mix.

  31. Anderson says

    What about the liberty of a hotel owner who wanted to rent rooms to blacks, but couldn't under Jim Crow?

    Remember the last time you heard a libertarian complain about Jim Crow's infringement on liberty?

    Me either.

  32. Barry says

    Mark: "Actually, I believe Paul when he says he’s not a racist. "

    Under what evidence?

    Barbara says:

    May 20, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Here is what I don’t get: is there a big constituency demanding a return to the pre-1964 public policy of allowing businesses to refuse to serve customers or hire employees on account of race, religion, etc.? Is there some groundswell of feeling oppressed among business owners because they actually have to serve additional platrons who happen to be Latino or Muslim or whatever else?

    I am not only not interested in refighting this fight, but for the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone, even rabidly conservative politicians, think it’s worth revisiting at all, even in principle."

    I would say that yes, there is a chunk of the American people who actively wishes that. But more than that, there's a large chunk who looks at the first chunk and thinks 'they're my kind of people'.

  33. Brett Bellmore says

    "Remember the last time you heard a libertarian complain about Jim Crow’s infringement on liberty?"

    That would have been back when Jim Crow was still in force, libertarians figuring that it's a waste of time complaining about infringements on liberty of the past, there being no particular shortage of infringements in the present to complain about. But, as a matter of fact, I do frequently complain about at least one of Jim Crow's infringements on liberty: Gun control. Just because Democrats decided that they'd branch out to attacking everybody's right to keep and bear arms, instead of just blacks', doesn't change the fact that gun control got it's start as part of Jim Crow.

    "I am not only not interested in refighting this fight, but for the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone, even rabidly conservative politicians, think it’s worth revisiting at all, even in principle.”

    You'd probably better understand, if you had some, of your own…

  34. John G says

    Brett, that last comment ("if you had some [principles] of your own") was nasty and uncalled for in what has been a very civil debate. Barbara was expressing surprise that some people appear actively to question the basic principle of the 1964 statute, that businesses open to the public may not refuse to do business with someone on the basis of the prospective customer's race, religion, sex or national origin. Is that still a live question, she asked? I am similarly surprised and shocked that it is – well, shocked but not so surprised, perhaps, following US politics over the past several years.

    But asking it does not mean she has no principles. She does not have libertarian principles – if there are consistent principles with that label, which question is part of the debate.

    OTOH I think Henry misread your statement about morality and religion (or maybe I did). I think you compressed your comment a bit much, in saying “refusal to acknowledge religion as the foundation for any notion of ‘morality’ … makes the morality of religion a tautology by robbing you of any independent measure of morality.” I think that the subject of 'makes' is not 'refusal' but 'acknowledge', so that the sense of the sentence is that claiming that religion is the foundation of any morality is a tautology and prevents you from judging, among other things, the claims of any religious precept to be good.

    If that's what you meant, then you and Henry and I all agree on the point. If not, then I'm still with Henry but not so much with you.

    There is more validity in Barbara's argument about the role of government than you admit too. Government has to enforce some rights. Choosing just a few and criticising 'government' in general for enforcing others is dishonest. It could be honest to say that government should choose only a few, and no doubt some libertarians do that, and can figure out arguments for enforcing the ones they like to see supported. The language of the debate is often not so nuanced, and Barbara is right to call them on that.

  35. Henry says

    Adding to John G's final paragraph, I quote Ezra Klein, whom Andrew Sullivan quotes from the Washington Post's website: "Can the federal government set the private sector's minimum wage? Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants? Can it tell oil companies what safety systems to build into an offshore drilling platform? Can it tell toy companies to test for lead? Can it tell liquor stores not to sell to minors? These are the sort of questions that Paul needs to be asked now…."

  36. Joe S. says

    Brett @ 4:45 PM,

    Are you saying that there were no libertarians in the 1950's? I think there were, and I think that those are the ones Anderson@2:18 was referring to. I don't remember my 1950's libertarian literature all that well, but I do recall having read some Austrian economist types, who are pretty close cousins to the libertarians. I don't remember them talking much about racial discrimination. Murray Rothbard, IIRC, supported Strom Thurmond in 1948. And everybody knew what Thurmond meant when he said "states' rights."

  37. Tony P. says

    A couple of questions I would like to ask Rand Paul (or more proximately, Brett):

    In a Libertopia wherein government is forbidden to discriminate by race, but non-government actors are free to do so, would libertarians have a problem with a Harvard or an MIT reserving a set quota of admissions FOR black people?

    In that same Libertopia, were your local mom-and-pop restaurant to put up a "Whites Only" sign, would YOU (Dr. Paul, or Brett) patronize the place?

    –TP

  38. billP says

    I think Dr. Paul is simply learning that libertarianism is a difficult box from which to make public policy. That's always been a problem.

  39. Thomas says

    Tony, I'm no libertarian, but I know some, including some prominent ones. And a libertarian like Richard Epstein has no problem with affirmative action at private institutions (and generally thinks it's ok at public institutions that are market participants, so Mark's university would have no problem to continue with its racial discrimination).

    I don't know anyone, libertarian or otherwise, who would patronize a restaurant with a "whites only" sign.

  40. CharlesWT says

    "I don’t know anyone, libertarian or otherwise, who would patronize a restaurant with a “whites only” sign."

    Well…maybe I would if it wasn't after Labor Day.

  41. Brett Bellmore says

    Ok, first off, I don't really know, from personal experience, what libertarians were saying in the 1950's about Jim Crow, not having been around in the 1950's, save for a bit of 1959. I do have some knowledge of what libertarians say about Jim Crow today, and I think David Bernstein sums it up pretty nicely. Jim Crow was maintained by massive violations of libertarian principles.

    As for the principles remark, look: I took Barbara to be asking why somebody would defend their principles in a case like this, where defending your principles would enable you to be cast in a bad light. And I do think that's evident to anybody who HAS principles: That's what you do with principles, if you have them: You defend them if challenged.

    And Paul didn't raise this issue himself. He WAS challenged. He was silly enough to accept an invite by a hostile journalist, who concentrated on a line of questioning he though would be helpful in enabling attacks on Paul, and answered the guy honestly. I suppose it demonstrates his lack of political experience, but his willingness to do this is actually somewhat admirable.

  42. Brett Bellmore says

    Oh, and Palin IS absolutely qualified to be President: She's old enough, and a natural born citizen. Are there other qualifications I'm unaware of?

  43. Anonymous says

    Brett -

    Religion is not the foundation of all morality and ethics and has not been – in the western world – for 2500 years. Read Aristotle, for starters. Or Plato.

  44. DavidTX says

    ". . . gun control got it’s start as part of Jim Crow."

    Gun control arose independently in different states as the result of many different motivations.

    Any attempt to claim that modern gun control laws are all the direct descendants of Jim Crow laws is just more dishonest rhetoric from the pro-gun crowd.

  45. Brett Bellmore says

    "Brett -

    Religion is not the foundation of all morality and ethics and has not been – in the western world – for 2500 years. Read Aristotle, for starters. Or Plato."

    I quite agree. Religion is no more the foundation of all morality and ethics, than government is the foundation of all rights. BOTH claims are nonsense.

  46. Mark Kleiman says

    No, government is merely the foundation of all rights claims you get to enforce against people you can't personally beat up.

  47. Barbara says

    "Jim Crow was maintained by massive violations of libertarian principles." I totally agree with this, and this is why Rand Paul's answer is so wrong, even on principle: it's not as if proponents of Jim Crow were libertarian in their adoption and implementation — relying on libertarian principles when the CRA was passed as a basis for opposing it was, for most people, completely pretextual, because Jim Crow wasn't just the sum of thousands and millions of freely wrought choices. What they really wanted was to dictate everyone's choices. I mean, just for one example (though it's a public one): my locally elected school board decided to desegregate after the Brown decision, so the state abolished locally elected school boards and appointed one that would maintain segregation instead. Many businesses went along with Jim Crow because they were too afraid not to. What sane business man spends twice as much as he needs to on plumbing and waiting rooms, or turns away perfectly nice paying customers? (That was the economics uber alles argument and you see how well that worked in practice.) These people might have been cowards but they certainly weren't exercising libertarian freedoms. I think even a moderately libertarian society can only exist when most people really are willing to live and let live with other people's choices. Where a large majority of people not only exercise their own choice but, in effect, are prepared to punish others for exercising a contrary choice, you just have tyranny of the majority by some other means, and when you add active state participation and enforcement, you basically have Jim Crow.

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