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Bigots have a right to be wrong with their own property

Iain Dale, the UK blogger and wannabe Tory MP, gets himself into a fearful mess in arguing as to why owners of privately owned businesses, such as hotels and the like, should be forced to accept any type of client, even if that offends the moral sensibilities of the owners. Much as I share Mr Dale’s dislike of bigotry, he’s just plain wrong when he writes:

“This is not about property rights. If you open your house to paying guests, it is no longer just your house. You are running a business, just the same as anyone else, and you should be subject to the same laws as anyone else. If you do not wish gay people, black people, Jews or anyone else in your house, don’t open it to the public. Simple as that. No one would accept a shopowner refusing to serve a particular type of person, would they?”

He’s wrong here. So Mr Dale imagines, does he, that as soon as a person sets up – at their own risk and cost – in business, and chooses to make money in a particular way, that they suddenly forfeit any right to choose with whom they wish to make a living if the powers that be decide that such reasoning is prejudiced in some bad way? How the expletive deleted does that work, Mr Dale? Does this mean, for instance, that a business owner should be forced to serve anyone? Suppose a nightclub, say, insists on a dress code for its clientele (as happens). Does this mean that the scruffy are being discriminated against?

I don’t like homophobia any more than Mr Dale, but as a supposed Tory, he ought to realise that the best protection any group of persons have against bigotry is competition and several ownership of private property. In a free, robust market unimpeded by state privileges and taxes, bigotry carries a significant economic cost to the bigot. And I think it was Voltaire back in the 1740s who observed, how people of all faiths, for example, could and did transact in the early London Stock Exchange of the time. Filthy lucre is often the most corrosive solvent of bigotry that there is.

There is also an ancilliary point here. As a free marketeer in favour of honest money and competition in currencies, I think it should be the right of any businessman to refuse to accept payment in certain currencies that he, rationally or otherwise, does not trust. If we adopt Mr Dale’s line of reasoning on how a business owner’s property rights go up in smoke the moment a client comes through the door, he’s all in favour of forcing people to accept payment in whatever the state decrees is the “proper” form.

Sorry Mr Dale, but you just don’t accept the concept of free association as it applies to commerce. Property rights is most definitely what the issue is about.

124 comments to Bigots have a right to be wrong with their own property

  • Amen. It just shows that the Tories simply do not understand the very basis of what makes civil society civil, rather than political… it is free association and property rights, and in one fell swoop, Iain trashes them both.

    Is not conserving civil society ostensibly what the Tories are supposed to be all about? If not, what is it that they think they are ‘conserving’? Oh, silly me… they are conserving the regulatory welfare State of course.

    Pah. They are just another bunch of rapacious control obsessed hogs demanding their snout space at the publicly funded trough. A vote for them is just a vote for more of what we have now.

  • Rick Bradford

    It’s perhaps more complicated than that, if they accepted a prior booking, like the Cambridge couple in the 1950s who accepted a booking from a fellow called Harry Lee, and when he arrived, rejected him because he turned out to be Chinese.

    He never forgot that racism, the man now known as Lee Kwan Yew, founder of modern Singapore.

  • It is not hugely more complicated because then there is an agreement in place and if the owner neglected to ask the race of the person making the booking at the time of the booking, well too damn bad… an implicit contract is a contract nevertheless.

  • Steven Rockwell

    Any business owner should be able to cut off his nose to spite his face, economically speaking. Hire a lesser candidate because the better one is black/jew/gay/whatever and reap the rewards when that candidate goes to your competitor. Don’t want to serve asians/muslims/drag queens/whatever, don’t, but watch your competition get their business. And those that get turned away for some arbitrary reason should remind the owner in question just how much money he isn’t making.

  • n005

    “anyone else”

    “no one would accept…”

    “any right thinking person”

    Iain’s article has the fingerprints of argument from intimidation just smeared all over it. Indeed, not one of his points could even bear the question “why?”

    It’s hardly even worth the time examining; there’s just nothing to see but plain, butt-naked unreason.

  • Let’s flip it around… Let’s say I run Nick’s B&B and I don’t like… [insert whatever] people. Well… Forcing me to grit my teeth and bear it is not going to result in guests that fit whatever category you just inserted there getting polite and helpful service is it?

    Ya’all must have walked into a bar or something and felt distinctly unwelcome because you or your mates were “not right”. Their loss. It happened to me as a first year undergrad. A load of us went out for a drink and the pub was run by knuckle-draggers who took umbrage at the fact two of our number were not white. Well, fuck ‘em we thought and took our business elsewhere. And considering it was c. 20 thirsty students on a spree it really was their loss.

    This is an absolute prime example of the market being the perfect solution. It’s why almost every eaterie in the UK offers a vegetarian option for example.

    Iain Dale – well, he’d make a perfect NuTory MP. This is a pissing about on the periphery issue which seems to be something iDave’s lot do in spades.

  • Vinegar Joe

    He never forgot that racism, the man now known as Lee Kwan Yew, founder of modern Singapore.

    It wasn’t so long ago that no quality hotel in Singapore would accept Taiwanese guests as the Taiwanese were seen to be noisy, dirty and “low-class”………the Singapore Chinese are extremely racist but will squeal like pigs at any perceived slight from a non-Singapore Chinese.

  • Dom

    But I think there is another consideration here. The currency that I have can be used in any financial transaction. It says so on the currency itself, and backing our currency is the government’s most important job, along with providing a military. Yet, for some reason, the money that I bring to the B&B can not be used to purchase a weekend’s stay, while the currency you bring can purchase it. Something’s wrong there.

    Look at it this way. You and I work at the same company, do the same job, make the same salary. That, at least is what our boss said when we negotiated a salary. He did not say to me, “you will be paid less because you are gay”, and if he did that clearly violates my rights. But now suddenly I find my salary is worth less than yours, in the sense that there are things you can buy, and I can’t.

    So, no, I agree with Dale on this. When something is for sale, the seller can not turn down a potential buyer as long as legal tender is used. Libertarians should understand why that is an important point.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Dom, the reason why your sterling can be used in any
    financial transaction is because we have legal
    tender laws that require any business to accept the
    coin of the realm. In a world of genuine currency
    choice, you could not force any business to accept payment in a currency against it’s will. In practice, most folk would use the same currency due to convenience but if they chose not to , well, they are not violating anyone’s rights. It all comes down to the idea that voluntary transactions should be respected.

  • Steven Rockwell

    But you can always tell your employer that if he isn’t going to pay you as much as your co-worker because you’re [WHATEVER], then you quit and will go somewhere where you will get what you deserve. Likewise, if this B&B says, “we don’t want no filthy [WHATEVER], ” you can take your money to their competition.

    What needs to happen is everyone that is turned away from a business because they are [WHATEVER] needs to constantly send a message about how much money that business isn’t getting because they are morons. Copies of receipts mailed to the business showing how much their competition got instead of them, billboards saying [WHATEVER] people spent X number of dollars in [TOWN] and bigots got none of that, competiton playing up the fact that they will gladly take the money of [WHATEVER] because Business Y doens’t want it, etc.

    And I don’t agree that a seller should be compelled to sell to a buyer at any time. It has to be a two-way arrangement that both sides agree to. It is very much a shorter distance than we think from government syaing “you must sell to [WHOEVER], regardless of what you want” to “you must sell to [WHOEVER] for [ARBITRARY PRICE], regardless of how it affects your business.”

  • Dom

    I’m a little confused. I used the terms “my currency” and “your currency” only as metaphors. You and I are paid in the same currency, but for some reason, the owner of the B&B acts as though they are different. He accepts yours, rejects mine. He should not be allowed to do this. Otherwise, what’s meant by “legal tender”?

  • RAB

    When I was taught Law there was a concept called,
    Invitation to Treat. This is an invitation to bargain.
    It covers all sales situations in the respect that you may see an article for sale at a certain price in a shop, or a sevice offered, but the seller is not obliged to sell it to you. They may change their mind if they choose to do so.
    That covers this situation. If the B&B owners refuse your custom it is, or should be up to them. If they want to cut off their nose to spite their face so be it.

  • Westerlyman

    Dom the currency is irrelevant to the central point which is that ‘transactions should be voluntary for both parties’.

    Just ’cause the B&B owners are bigots should not give any one the right to force them to do something they do not want to do.

    Making free choices and accepting the consequences of those choices is freedom.

  • Steven Rockwell

    That currency should only be accepted when a transaction you both agree on takes place. You agree to rent a room and he agrees to rent it to you. Your boss agrees to pay you a certain wage for certain work. You agree to do that work for that wage. If both sides of the transaction don’t agree to the deal, there is no transaction. In this case, some third party [read: The Man] comes along and tells one half of the transaction, “you WILL agree to this, or else.” It’s a one-sided transaction at that point with the business having no power at all and that is what isn’t right, not whether or not the business is harming the sensabilities of a group who can exercise the option to go elsewhere and spend their money.

  • I have blogged my view(Link) of this already.

    If you want to keep it subjective and emotional, swap the B&B owner for a prostitute. Do you still remove the right to arbitrarily refuse custom?

    The only issue here is if an establishment correctly advertises limitations on those it will do business with. Even them it is basic contract law and no more.

    Grief, the Fabians must be rubbing their hands with glee at how so many of the population have lost the concept of voluntary exchange.

  • In 21st century Britain, if a business puts up a sign saying “straight White Christians only”, they will not only lose the business of people who don’t fit that social type, but also straight White Christians who despise bigotry, so it would be a twofold loss.
    If, however, they had a policy of £10 for straights, and £20 for gays, this, I consider, would be unacceptable discrimination.

  • If there is a liberal argument in support to it being wrong for the couple to make the decision they did, it doesn’t lie in Iain Dales’ argument but in the principle of harm.

    The “harm” to this couple was minor but could be judged to be “harm” – they were seriously inconvenienced and probably quite upset and annoyed.

    So not a hanging offence but offence nonetheless.

    Had the proprietor made clear that the B&B did not accept same-sex couples at the point of purchase the case being made by many here would be valid. But they did not.

    Equally, at the point when the couple were refused, not only had the B&B entered into a contract with them (by accepting both the booking and pre-payment) but we cannot be sure that there was a place available to the couple in another more tolerant B&B in a similarly convenient location. Prior to arriving to make use of the service purchased the buyer did not know that the seller would not sell it to them for reasons of prejudice.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Dom, I raised the legal tender case as an
    example of how states force people to accept payment
    in a currency. As a result, this gives the state a monopoly,
    which not surprisingly, is abused by the state time and
    again. In a free market based on voluntary relations, such
    tender laws would cease. In the case that Iain Dale
    raised, he is demanding that a potential client can insist that a business transact even if the latter does not
    want to.

  • Sigivald

    No one would accept a shopowner refusing to serve a particular type of person, would they?

    I would.

    And I’d also accept people outside the shop with signs alerting all potential customers to what kind of person runs the shop – and as Johnathan points out, the shop next door welcoming the excluded and their money.

    Nobody gets constrained by law to do what they don’t want to do, and more free speech lets people shame bigots into being less bigoted (or lets them be proud iconoclasts to the minority that will happily still shop there, I suppose).

  • Sam Duncan

    Otherwise, what’s meant by “legal tender”?

    Not what most people think.

    Legal tender or forced tender is an offered payment that, by law, cannot be refused in settlement of a debt, and have the debt remain in force.

    In other words, you can’t cite legal tender when buying your newspaper. A B&B might be affected, but not if you’re refused entry; only if you’ve already run up a bill.

    In the United Kingdom, only coins valued 1 pound Sterling, 2 pounds, and 5 pounds Sterling are legal tender in unlimited amounts throughout the territory of the United Kingdom. … The United Kingdom legislation that introduced the 1 pound coin left no United Kingdom-wide legal tender banknote.

    Currently, 20 pence pieces and 50-pence pieces are legal tender in amounts up to 10 pounds; 5-pence pieces and 10-pence pieces are legal tender in amounts up to 5 pounds; and 1-penny pieces and 2-pence pieces are legal tender in amounts up to 20 pence.

    So it’s complicated, and almost irrelevant.

  • llamas

    This matter needs to be split into two discussions – the instant case (the B&B that rescinded a reservation when they learned their customers were gay) vs whether they have the right to refuse gay customers in general.

    The first case – too bad. They made the deal, and did not express the limitation that customers could not be gay couples. You can’t add conditions after the deal is struck. Breach of contract, pure and simple. No problem – but no special treatment because they are bigoted. The B&B shoud be held to account only to the extent that they would be held to account to any customer whose reservation they failed to honour.

    Should they have the right to refuse gay customers? Absolutely – so long as they make that plain before taking reservations. Otherwise their property is enslaved to the state and whatever the government of the day decides is meet and proper for them to do or not do. Is that really what you want?

    Bars can refuse to serve anyone, for entirely-arbitrary reasons. Some bars have built an amazing success on the policy of rigidly excluding certain people. Restaurants can refuse to serve anyone, for any reason or no reason. I don’t understand the mindset that says that the state can force sellers of goods and services to serve all comers equally – as long as all comers are from certain politically-favoured groups.

    llater,

    llamas

  • The problem here is that most people assign too much importance to money (of course, hence the logic of legal tender and why the state would only give it up over its dead body). By Dale’s and Dom’s reasoning, the only reason the state cannot force us to marry or even just befriend people we don’t like is because there is (ostensibly) no monetary transaction involved.

  • Dom

    Would the commenters here accept a state in which this was very common? If every B&B, newspaper stand, doctor, parking lot, laundromat, grocer, gas station, and all the rest, said to me, “your money isn’t good here?”

    If so, thanks guys.

  • Dom, what makes you think that this would in fact be common? Do you really think that people who run businesses are more bigoted than people who don’t? Do you really think that most business owners accept everyone’s business just because this is the law? No offense, but if that’s what you think, you should get out more.

  • Laird

    Dom, it has nothing to do with your money; it only has to do with you. “Legal tender” is a red herring. This is a simple “freedom of association” principle: you don’t have to associate with me if you don’t want to, and I similarly don’t have to associate with you. If, however, we do choose to associate on a business basis, your currency is just fine, thank you. And if we don’t so choose, you take your business elsewhere.

    So simple, even a progressive could understand it.

  • llamas

    Dom – don’t be obtuse. The issue is not ‘your money isn’t good here’. The issue is ‘I don’t want to take your money’.

    I am just fine with a state where individuals get to decide who they do and don’t want to deal with. For whatever reason they see fit, bigoted or otherwise, or no reason at all.

    Because I want the freedom to decide who I do and don’t want to deal with. It’s my money, my property, my choices. And if I want that freedom for myslef – I have to give it to others.

    Anything else is simply slavery – and places you at the mecy of the state. A state that can compel you to deal with people you don’t want to deal with – can also prevent you from dealing with who you do want to deal with. For whatver fleeting poltically-expedient reason. And – don’t forget- what you consider bigoted, or unreasonable, or unfair – can and does seem perfectly fair and reasonable to others. When the UK becomes a majority-Muslim nation and the law is changed so that you are forbidden to rent rooms to gay couples – will you still be happy with the idea that the state can tell you who to deal with?

    llater,

    llamas

  • Alice

    All this talk about the business owner losing business if they don’t serve homosexuals! Look, I am bored of homosexuals. They can do what they want in the privacy of their own homes, but don’t expect me to admire them for it.

    Let’s take another example. I rarely go to the movies these days, because of the lack of consideration displayed by too many movie-goers — talking to their buddies, letting their cell phones ring, etc.

    If a theater owner chose to turn away inconsiderate mover-goers, he would lose their business for sure. But over time he would gain custom from people like me, who would love to go to the movies if the audience was more considerate.

    If a business owner rejects certain customers, he could end up in the long run with either less or more business. Surely that decision should be left to the business owner?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Llamas – I agree 100%. I should have made it clear that there may have been circumstances in the specific case Iain Dale wrote about that gives the clients in question grounds for genuine complaint. If they had booked a B&B in good faith and had paid a deposit, etc, then clearly, absent some clear information, they were justified in feeling angry at what happened.

  • Alice:

    If a theater owner chose to turn away inconsiderate mover-goers, he would lose their business for sure. But over time he would gain custom from people like me, who would love to go to the movies if the audience was more considerate.

    If a business owner rejects certain customers, he could end up in the long run with either less or more business. Surely that decision should be left to the business owner?

    It’s a very relevant point, especially when you consider that it might work the same way if the owner of a gay bar refused to allow admission to anybody they thought wasn’t gay.

    That’s part of the reason why I get so irritated by the way some people try to portray it as a gay rights issue, rather than a freedom of association issue. The law which constrains the B&B owners also denies gay people the right to enjoy gay-only clubs.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I do think a little more faith is being placed in the free market than history allows. Exclusion of minorities was widely practised here in America not that long ago, and the thought of doing without the Negro dollar or the Jewish scholar deterred few shopkeepers or college presidents.

    Now, yes, if protesters make the bigot’s life uncomfortable and drive his customers elsewhere, ‘market forces’ will modify his behavior. But that’s a second order market force; left to his own devices, the bigot may very well accept the losses his beliefs entail and consider it money well foregone.

  • Steven Rockwell

    I think the difference is we live in a slightly different time. 60 years ago if Bob’s BBQ Bucket turned away blacks, nobody would care. Today if Bob’s BBQ Buckets does the same thing, the media will be all over it and even some of his prefered customers might think twice about supporting Bob, especially when news camera’s are shoved in Bob’s customers’ faces with questions about why they are supporting Bob’s bigoted business.

    The second point about Bob maybe thinking his business losses are ofset by his moral victory, well that really is Bob’s issue. There are already some businesses that would rather stand by their principles than make a buck. I’d really like a Chick-Fil-A sandwich on Sundays, but they are closed on Sundays, period. That company is placing principles over profit. Are they hurting their bottom line when someone has to shop somewhere else on Sundays? Sure, but for them it is worth the loss.

  • Person: the discrimination against you-know-who (watching the bot there…) was mandated by the states in the South, that’s why it took another mandate from the state (the federal one) to remove it. Discrimination against Jews was different in that regard (correct me if I’m wrong), and so it mostly went away on its own. Most people are bigoted to some extent, but most are not bigoted enough to lose money financing their bigotry, unless the state tell them to do so.

  • RAB

    I’m completely with llamas here.
    In addition to my “Invitation to Treat ” comment earlier, I didn’t notice that the gay couple had pre-booked.
    They therefore have a case for breach of contract, as a contract existed. If the B&B owners did not put caveats into the contract, their problem and subsequent loss through Damages.
    This should be a strict legal issue. The reason for the breach of contract doesn’t matter. There is no Mens Rea in contract. A breach is a breach, end of story.

    But of course our Governments are trying to force us into contracts that we would otherwise not wish to enter into, and to enforce them against our will.

    This goes to the heart of the anti smoking laws too. The Govt has decided what is private (i.e. nothing and nowhere) and what is public and shall be ruled by them.

  • Eric

    Now, yes, if protesters make the bigot’s life uncomfortable and drive his customers elsewhere, ‘market forces’ will modify his behavior. But that’s a second order market force; left to his own devices, the bigot may very well accept the losses his beliefs entail and consider it money well foregone.

    And that’s fine, as long as it’s above board. If you can’t stay at one place go to another.

  • renminbi

    If I were hiring in the US I would NOT hire members of “protected groups”. Hire an incompetent black and if you fire them, they sue you for racism. And in NY,they probably win. Do it with a white male and you’re OK.

    The Anti-Discrimination laws are well past their sell by date-all they do is favor certain groups over others,but in the end they empower worthless bureaucrats.

    My wife had a problem requiring surgery and was referred to someone. She looked at his web-site and decided she wouldn’t chance him. Before Affirmative Action for Med School admission, race would have been irrelevant, but admission boards have made it relevant by selecting students on grounds other than competence. He might well have been OK,but let others chance it. It is a shame that the lack of integrity of our medical schools forced this on us.

  • Alice

    “If the B&B owners did not put caveats into the contract, their problem and subsequent loss through Damages.”

    And that kind of Clintonesque legalistic parsing is why we end up with stupid costly government-imposed signs telling us that ladders can be dangerous and objects in the mirror can be closer than they appear. That kind of thinking is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Since you people are less bored with homosexuals than I am, let’s imagine that the homosexuals turned up for their booking at the B&B scruffy & stinking — vegan homosexuals who never use evil soap.

    Would the B&B owner be entitled to reject those hypothetical homosexuals on the basis that they stank and their smell & apperance would drive away other guests and diminish the value of the B&B?

    Common sense says — Of course! But some would argue no — not unless the 125-page booking contract had included sub-paragraph 28B to Section 14 (Reservation of right to reject booking on appearance if smell is deemed unacceptable using the criteria outlined in Annex G). And you people call yourself libertarians?

  • lucklucky

    When everything is politics, unless new countries are formed civil war is the path.

  • eleutheria

    We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Chris Grayling is a *%@# of the first order.

    Grayling is not defending property rights. Who knows what he’s doing? It seems to be a mix of homophobia and Christian-vote chasing. After all, he’s simply going all gooey over so-called ‘faith groups.’ He doesn’t give a toss if you’re not Christian but you don’t like teh gays either. He is the one doing the identity politics.

    Personally, I believe every private business should have the right to serve whom they wish. On the other hand, I have some sympathy with the aims of the Equality Bill.

    But you don’t achieve fairness by privileging the right of some people to discriminate but not others.

    Until Grayling says he will defend the right of a bed and breakfast owner to turn away black people, Jewish people, Muslims, people with disabilties, blancmange-for-brains Tory MPs and all the rest, then I will continue to think of him as a grubby little toerag pandering to religious sensitivies in return for votes.

    But I bet a million he won’t defend that right.

    So I think Dale is wrong, but he comes out of it much better than the sleazy Grayling.

  • eleutheria

    The latest part of this touchy-feely ‘faith’ climate is the Westminster Declaration(Link), which seems to presume that Christians are being fed to the lions in an attempt to appease the barbarians.

    It says, for instance,

    We pledge to support marriage – the lifelong covenantal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. We believe it is divinely ordained, the only context for sexual intercourse

    Fair enough, if that’s what you believe. Support it how you wish. I will never stand in your way. But hang on… what’s this?

    We call on government to honour, promote and protect marriage

    Over my dead body. The state has done enough social engineering as it is, whether it’s welfare benefits or sexual morality. Kindly keep your thieving hands off my tax money, you curs. If you want to honour marriage, don’t commit adultery.

    Ironic, or maybe just sadly predictable, that the lead signatory is George Carey, the retired Archbishop of Canterbury. Carey, you may remember, has no problem with breaking that ‘lifelong covenantal union.’ He’s not opposed to remarriage after divorce, he was the archbishop when the CofE allowed divorcees to remarry in church, and he was the archbishop who approved the remarriage of the adulterous divorcees Charles and Camilla.

    Nice one, Carey you cur. You just want to keep moralising away, as long as our money pays for your bishops in the Lords, your compulsory act of Christian worship in schools, your promotion of marriage…. You are beneath contempt.

    Grayling and Carey are cut from the same cloth, professional bleaters who hang on to privilege.

  • RAB

    It isn’t Clintonesque legal parsing Alice, it is the law of contract as I was taught it back in the 70s.

    If the B&Bers had stated their terms before accepting the booking then we would not be discussing this at all.

    As it stands, the Gays have a case for breach of contract.Once you agree on terms you are bound by them, you cant invent disclaimers after the event. That is what a contract is all about.

    I have no time for bigots, and I would not have run my business this way, but they have their particular attitude, and as long as they are upfront about it, even though it may lose them custom, they are entitled to do it under English Common Law.

    Now in your example, if they turned up stinking and smelly, rancid from hip to jowl, then you add another element entirely, which is not in the contract and can have them ejected perfectly legally, possibly on health and safety grounds ;-)

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Alisa at April 5, 2010 09:19 PM

    Person: the discrimination against you-know-who (watching the bot there…) was mandated by the states in the South, that’s why it took another mandate from the state (the federal one) to remove it.

    True enough, and it was something of a joke at the time that businessmen who objected to government telling them who to serve hadn’t had any problem with government telling them who not to serve.

    But the federal law didn’t just nullify state laws, it required businesses to deal with all comers regardless of race. Unless we want to delude ourselves that businessmen are purely economic creatures, I don’t see any compelling reason to believe that absent such a requirement, bigoted businessmen would have changed their ways.

    Now, this isn’t a defense of forced ‘tolerance’. I’m all in favor of letting people run their businesses as they want to. I just don’t expect it to result in a more tolerant society for economic reasons. My feeling is that tolerance has flowered in the Western world simply because bigotry has lost its cachet, and we (including businessmen) are all slaves to fashion.

  • Rich Rostrom

    The difference between freedom of private association and operation of a public accommodation is not new at all. It goes back at least 150 years in American law. See Jennings v. Third Ave. Railroad (1855). Miss Jennings, a black woman, sued for and won the right to ride the streetcars of New York on the same terms as white people. (To be precise, she won $225 in damages for being thrown off a streetcar.) The judge said “Colored persons if sober, well behaved and free from disease, had the same rights as others and could neither be excluded by any rules of the Company, nor by force or violence.”

    I do think the definition of public accommodation should be relatively narrow. But when there is no public accommodation rule, that opens the door to invidious practices. Sometimes “vigilante” bigots impose such practices by intimidation, when they aren’t banned.

  • Nuke Gray

    Whilst not an Anarcho-Capitalist, I agree with Perry, that the owner of property should be able to do whatever one wants with it- even to change one’s mind and tell everyone to leave, if you’ve allowed people to use it. A businessman who indulges in irrational bigotry and discrimination will soon be an ex-businessman.
    I think I’ll just invent a new category, Minarcho-Capitalism. We’re like Anarcho-Capitalists, except we think that local roads should be owned by local governments, with no higher authority to override them, and with such local public bodies confined to public properties.

  • eleutheria

    Now I read further, I’m not sure Grayling is scum: maybe he’s just not intelligent enough even to be an MP.

    Part of his case rests on some pointless distinction between a hotel and a guest house – big business bad, must follow law, small business good, must protect it with cotton wool. Yet he voted for the law making discrimination illegal.

    (This annoys me intensely. Because of religious laws, I can’t always get to a large, well-stocked shop on a Sunday. Again, if you’re going to be all theocratic, just threaten anyone who opens a shop on Sunday for more than six hours with imprisonment. Be consistent. But this petty social engineering and economic meddling is the product of weak-mindedness and woolly thinking.)

    As so often, Boatang and Demetriou(Link) have it right. Devil’s Kitchen(Link), too.

  • llamas

    Alice wrote:

    ‘Would the B&B owner be entitled to reject those hypothetical homosexuals on the basis that they stank and their smell & apperance would drive away other guests and diminish the value of the B&B?

    Common sense says — Of course! But some would argue no — not unless the 125-page booking contract had included sub-paragraph 28B to Section 14 (Reservation of right to reject booking on appearance if smell is deemed unacceptable using the criteria outlined in Annex G). And you people call yourself libertarians?’

    Actually, my take is different than both.

    If a party wants out of a contract, then they are always free to do so – they just have to be prepared to pay the consequences. In the US, at least, there is no such thing as involuntary servitude and specific performance of a contract cannot be enforced upon one party – there is always an ‘out’ in damages.

    That should be the case here – if the parties show up but the innkeeper decides he doesn’t want to accommodate them – for any reason, or no reason – then there may be damages to be assessed, depending upon the degree of real loss. The innkeeper made a bargain, and then he chose to break it, and he must pay the real consequences of his breach. But only the real consequences – no nonsense about pain and suffering, or intangibles like hurt feelings, or some fanciful punishment for exercising bigoted views. The innkeeper’s views are simply not an issue – the only issue is the extent of real damages, if any.

    Once you start delving into motivations, and punishing people more, or less, based on their reasons for doing what they did or didn’t do, you are on a slope of extremely low friction – because ideas about good and bad motivations are as changeable as the wind. As I remarked, when the UK is a majority-Muslim nation, gays may well be stoned to death on Saturday afternoon TV, with the seal of public approval. That’s why individual rights, including the right to do with your person and your property as you will, must always be protected from the corrosive effects of public opinion and majority rule. If you can use the state’s powers to punish an innkeeper today because he turns away gays – then tomorrow, those powers can be used to punish him because he welcomes them.

    llater,

    llamas

  • John from France

    I agree, except that I remember during the Sixties the hypocritical Biro-scrawled announcements in newsagents’ shops for rented accommodation stating: “Sorry, no coloureds” or the best and maybe the most pertinent here: “room vacant for two respectable Irishmen”. It required legislation to make colour discrimination of this type illegal. The question is of course how far-reaching this sort of legislation should be.

  • It required legislation to make colour discrimination of this type illegal.

    Indeed and what we are arguing is such laws are intolerable. There are a great many things I disprove of, that does not give me the right to suppress them with the violence backed force of law.

  • PersonFromPorlock wrote:

    Unless we want to delude ourselves that businessmen are purely economic creatures, I don’t see any compelling reason to believe that absent such a requirement, bigoted businessmen would have changed their ways.

    […]

    My feeling is that tolerance has flowered in the Western world simply because bigotry has lost its cachet, and we (including businessmen) are all slaves to fashion.

    The same fashion that makes anti-discrimination laws votewinners.

    No, the laws make no difference other than to prop up the careers of politicians.

  • Stu

    A few years back, a friend was refused service in a hotel because he was wearing a bike jacket.

    Around 30 of us got together and booked a meal. We turned up in bike jackets and said ‘Oh, No bike jackets allowed. Bye’. The hotel lost the use of all those booked tables that night. We had fun and they lost out.. That’s how to treat this kind of problem. Book the whole B&B, and makes sure the beds stay empty.

  • Person: I’m with you there.

    Unless we want to delude ourselves that businessmen are purely economic creatures, I don’t see any compelling reason to believe that absent such a requirement, bigoted businessmen would have changed their ways.

    Businessmen are no more or less economic than anyone else, just as they are no more or less bigoted than anyone else. People are people, most are bigoted to some extent, but at the same time most are not bigoted enough to cut their nose off to spite their faces. The few who are should be left to their own devices.

  • Alice

    RAB wrote: “If the B&Bers had stated their terms before accepting the booking then we would not be discussing this at all.”

    The issue you may be missing, RAB, is that the diversity of human incivility is so large that the contract for the booking would inevitably have grown into an encyclopedia. What if the homosexuals in this case had turned up wearing “Death to Straights” T-shirts? Or no clothes at all?

    Every possibliity would have to be spelled out in the ever-expanding contract, and life for everybody would become that much less civil.

    Much better to leave these things to the discretion of the owners of establishments.

  • RAB

    Alice, now you are being silly.
    A night in an hotel is pretty staightforward, no need for encyclopedias. Much better left to the discretion of owners indeed, which is what I have been arguing all along.
    They have a right to refuse your custom and money, but if they made a prior and inadequate contract then they can be sued for damages. That is the simple fact under English Common law.
    Just like a Night Club or restaurant can refuse admittance because you are wearing a T shirt and trainers and jeans, rather than a suit and tie and brogues. Their business, their premises and their ultimate loss of income.
    The bottom line is that they dont have to sell their product to you. You have to choose to accept their product (rules) or go elsewhere.

  • Gabriel

    I was going to make a post, but Alice more or less covered it.* All I can add is that Iain Dale is total dirt, just like the whole of the rest of the socially liberal wing of the Tory party and if you ever figure out why that is you’ll be half way along the road to understanding how our civilization is being destroyed.

    Finally

    The law which constrains the B&B owners also denies gay people the right to enjoy gay-only clubs.

    No it doesn’t, for the same reason that anti-racism laws don’t impinge upon the activities of La Raza. Laws are designed by particular persons to procure certain ends; occassionally they misfire in some way, but just as often they succeed and the gay rights legislative agenda has succeeded to a tee.

    *though no doubt Alice doesn’t agree with me on much else.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Gabriel, while some gay folk may be pleased to see all-gay bars outlawed as part of some great conspiracy to destroy Western Civilisation, etc, I am sure that many do not approve of such laws as they realise that these laws can be turned on them by whoever happens to hold the reins of legal/political power at the time.

  • Actually Jonathan, I tend to agree with Gabriel on this. Your assertion presumes that in the West the rule of law is consistently upheld. First of all this clearly is not the case (plenty of examples for that). Secondly, even if we presume that the first point is not true and that all are equal before the law, when new laws are introduced by the minute, the very concept of the rule of law loses it’s essence. What we effectively left with is what Gabriel describes, i.e. not the rule of law, but the rule of politicians and various pressure groups who only use the laws as mere tools to maintain control over the rest of us, while they are the ones who also happen to have the monopoly over the production of these tools.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, my response to Gabriel certainly assumes no consistency – I am old and cynical enough to know that this does not happen. However, while I share Gabriel’s concerns about the identity politics BS that is often associated with the “gay rights” movement, I also think that, in resisting such nonsense, that we should not make the opposite error of assuming that such groups tend to always have some agenda to overturn the rule of law as we understand it. Some may have such a motivation, but I’d wager that many don’t.

    It is actually, as Paul Lockett said on this board, a good argument to make that “equality laws”, when badly drafted, can often be turned against the very people they are supposed to protect. Or to put it another way: heed the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  • Gabriel
    I also think that, in resisting such nonsense, that we should not make the opposite error of assuming that such groups tend to always have some agenda to overturn the rule of law as we understand it.

    Actually, I wouldn’t imagine that the gay rights lobby had much of an agenda beyond “get lots of free stuff off the government and bang up anyone who says mean stuff about us”, but, obviously, in order to achieve such a goal they have to undermine the rule of law.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Actually, I wouldn’t imagine that the gay rights lobby had much of an agenda beyond “get lots of free stuff off the government and bang up anyone who says mean stuff about us”, but, obviously, in order to achieve such a goal they have to undermine the rule of law.

    Well you may be right up to a point: I am fairly jaundiced these days about “rights” organisations since their notion of rights tends not to be the old, classical liberal/libertarian “leave us alone” negative conception of rights but the more modern “give me what I want or I will have a right royal tantrum” version.

    That said, some of the claims made by the gay rights lobby – such as the ability to enter into certain civil partnerships, transfer property rights, enter into certain contracts, etc, are entirely at one with the liberal definition, properly understood, and ought not to be of great concern even to those of a more conservative cast of mind. Allowing adults to build long-lasting consensual relations does not, at first blush, strike me as a threat.

  • Gabriel

    That said, some of the claims made by the gay rights lobby – such as the ability to enter into certain civil partnerships, transfer property rights, enter into certain contracts, etc, are entirely at one with the liberal definition

    Probably not.

    and ought not to be of great concern even to those of a more conservative cast of mind.

    Fundamentally altering an insitution that is a) co-temporal with our civilzation b) fundamental to our body politic and c) apparently a feature of all civilized communities in a way that is a) unprecedented b)completely redefines the essence and purpose of the institution and c) not entertained in serious conversation only 2 decades ago is of no great concern to conservatives? But that is off topic.

  • Gabriel

    More on topic, I had a little peruse of the comments on Dale’s blog. They were almost all terrible, but this gem stood out:

    A very good post, Iain. I will admit, before reading it I was inclined towards Chris Grayling’s point of view, but your post has persuaded me otherwise. The key part was where you said that when a person opens their house to paying guests, it ceases to be merely their house, and becomes a business, which must be treated, and treat others, just as any other business would. This has really helped clarify my thinking on the issue, so thank you for such a constructive contribution.

    Because a licence to trade is functionally equivalent to turning over all your property to the government, or something.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    As usual, Gabriel demonstrates his contempt
    for the idea that consensual relations between
    adults should be respected. He gives no evidence (does he ever?) that such things somehow are damaging. Just the
    usual bluster. How is heterosexual marriage
    hurt if two men form a civil partnership and no ceorcion
    is involved? Gabriel is just scaremongering

  • Gabriel

    How is heterosexual marriage hurt if two men form a civil partnership and no ceorcion is involved?

    I don’t expect you to oppose gay marriage any more than you oppose mass immigration, or abolition of a hereditary upper house or any other wild social experiment that doesn’t, on the face of it, violate the no-harm principle. I only ask that you use the elementary insight you posess to understand why a conservative might do so.
    Perhaps a parable might help. I own a very precious stone, let’s say a ruby and one day a group of people come along and demand that under the term ‘ruby’ I also include clods of dirt, claiming that if I refuse to do so then I am a ‘bigot’. Moreover, I – and everyone else – must not only call clods of dirt ‘rubies’, but must, in fact, treat them as rubies in every possible way with no manner of distinction whatsoever, including in commercial transactions. Initially I tell them to go suck an emerald, but gradually the social pressure to cease to distinguish between rubies and clods of dirt becomes too much. A few years later, I’m having trouble paying the rent so I go to pawn my most valuable possession: my ruby, but to no avail, because, unfortunately, it’s only worth a clod of dirt.

  • I only ask that you use the elementary insight you posess to understand why a conservative might do so

    Sure, not so hard to understand really. It is because a great many conservatives are not so different from the left-statists they think they are worlds away from. It ultimately comes down to turning the truncheons on “people any right minded person would find icky”.

  • Sunfish

    Gabriel-

    Reading that, either you’re drunk or I am. As I’m about to go and violate the natural rights of free people for fun and profit in a few hours, I hope like hell it’s you.

    I was not aware that marriages could be either sold or pawned. I wish someone had told me this back when I had one.

    And your analogy is stupid. Calling a ruby a dirt clod does not convert the ruby into a dirt clod. Calling a dirt clod a ruby does not mean that you can set said dirt clod into a gold ring and sell it for big bucks. A ruby is still a hunk of Al2O3 with Cr inclusions, and a bunch of dirt is a bunch of dirt regardless of how you label same.

    And so the question remains: if Big Gay Al and Mr. Slave want to jointly wash Big Gay Dishes, leave each other a Big Gay Untaxed Estate, make Big Gay Medical Decisions for each other, and file Big Gay Joint Tax Returns, what effect does that have on your marriage? How are you and Mrs. Gabriel any less-married?

    If you must answer with an analogy, please use one less-retarded this time.

  • I agree that Gabriel’s analogy is awkward (especially the part about selling stuff – what was that about?), but I do think he has a point. A union between two gays, no matter how similar to a marriage in every way, (and no matter how acceptable to me or anyone else) is still not a marriage by definition. It’s as if you Sunfish got up tomorrow morning and out of the blue declared that you are Jewish. Of course you are free to say so, and free to do all the things Jews do, but you would understand if actual Jews raised a brow and wouldn’t accept you as a rabbi or a mohel.

  • Gabriel

    And so the question remains: if Big Gay Al and Mr. Slave want to jointly wash Big Gay Dishes, leave each other a Big Gay Untaxed Estate, make Big Gay Medical Decisions for each other, and file Big Gay Joint Tax Returns, what effect does that have on your marriage?

    Well, for a start it might lead people to find the identity of my marriage in an untaxed estate, joint tax returns and arrangements pertaining to medical decisions. In seeking to demonstrate that gay *marriage* does not corrode the institution of marriage, you produce a corroded definition of marriage, thus precisely proving my point if you had the wit to understand it. In the meantime, maybe you should leave the definition of marriage up to people who value it?

    And your analogy is stupid. Calling a ruby a dirt clod does not convert the ruby into a dirt clod. Calling a dirt clod a ruby does not mean that you can set said dirt clod into a gold ring and sell it for big bucks. A ruby is still a hunk of Al2O3 with Cr inclusions, and a bunch of dirt is a bunch of dirt regardless of how you label same.

    And two blokes with a piece of paper are just two blokes with a piece of paper, but nevertheless if you libertarians have your way I’ll be forced by law to recognise their relationship as equal to a marriage. (Based apparently on nothing more cogent than the observation that both relationships involve a penis, buttressed by such arguments as “You isz bigoted!!”. Frankly, I can see a lot more common elements between ruby and dirt.)

    It is because a great many conservatives are not so different from the left-statists they think they are worlds away from.

    I like this meme, it’s generally amusing, but in this case it’s quite simply delusional. It is you who supports the cultural and social experiments that make a credit bubble, welfare state inevitable, not me.

  • Sunfish

    Fair enough, except for one thing: I can declare myself Jewish without anybody acknowledging me as a mohel[1].

    That probably would not cause you to start taking Communion. I’m also pretty sure that Gabriel would not start hollering about “Allahu Akbar” out his bedroom window five times a day, although with him one never knows.

    [1] and I don’t see why: I saw Rabbi Tuchman’s introduction in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. I’m pretty sure I know the mechanics of the job.

  • Gabriel

    There is a longer post working it’s way (hopefully) hrough the smite filter, but in the meantime analogy =/= parable. Yeesh. And, yeah, sunfish, if two gays want to run around calling themselves married, then they can do so without anyone molesting them. I never said otherwise and nor has anyone else. The question is as to whether they should be given offical recognition as such, get with the programme.

  • The question is whether any personal union between any two (or more or less) people should be given official (i.e. state) recognition. My answer is ‘no’, but you already knew that.

    A parable is a form of analogy, yours didn’t work, get over it:-)

  • Sunfish: no, it wouldn’t cause me to start taking communion or banging my head on the floor five times a a day, but if enough people did what you did (in my parable), it would create a real problem for me as a Jew.

  • Alisa: “Sunfish: no, it wouldn’t cause me to start taking communion or banging my head on the floor five times a a day, but if enough people did what you did (in my parable), it would create a real problem for me as a Jew.”

    And?… That would be YOUR problem. Would you go to gov’t and require all non-Jews to be branded (I am not making a crass Nazi reference)? Why impose it on others? Life creates problems (many perceived) all the time. Your problem stems for millennia of tradition, but not from any legitimate ethical argument.

  • Sunfish

    Alisa:

    Sunfish: no, it wouldn’t cause me to start taking communion or banging my head on the floor five times a a day, but if enough people did what you did (in my parable), it would create a real problem for me as a Jew.

    What sort of problem would be created by ten thousand Episcopalian rabbis? (Sounds like a plot for a sitcom, don’t it?)

    Gabriel:

    The question is as to whether they should be given offical recognition as such, get with the programme.

    Why shouldn’t they? Or, more correctly, what makes your notion of ‘marriage’ deserving of any particular ‘official’ recognition that Al and Slave’s ‘marriage’ doesn’t?

    Let me ask the real question: why should any marriage enjoy any particular officially-privileged status?

  • Nuke Gray

    Interestingly enough, from what I can tell historically, marriages did not involve the state in ancient Israel. Marriage ceremonies were held by the families as private matters.
    Napoleonic France started to take an interest in whether people were married, so their tax-keeping records would be correct, and for census reasons. So, like lots of other things, I’ll blame the french for wanting an activist state.

  • Plamus, stop banging, the door is open:-) Who said anything about imposing anything or about government? Yes, this would be my problem, and I said as much.

    Sunfish: it’s a bit hard to explain, but it is somewhat similar to a situation where someone pretended to be me, while doing it within the limits of law or whatever other socially-acceptable framework.

    Let me ask the real question: why should any marriage enjoy any particular officially-privileged status?

    Exactly.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A thing to remember, of course, about some “social conservatives” is that in the past, they regarded the emancipation of women (like allowing them to inherit and transmit property, and so on) as also somehow a threat to civilisation and all its supposed glories. Come to that, they regarded it as dangerous for the peasants to be freed by their overlords. And I think it was the Duke of Wellington who once remarked that he disliked railways because they encouraged the common sort to move around. It reminds me of why I avoid the tag “conservative” whenever possible.

    The truth is that Gabriel has not given us a clear proof that the allowing of civil partnerships between gay adults is some sort of terrifying destruction of heterosexual marriage, and despite what he might claim, I don’t think that most gay men think of it in those terms anywa, assuming that there is some sort of conspiracy going on. As someone else has pointed out, it is not even necessary for the state to take a particular view on what constitutes a “proper” marriage in the first place, other than to uphold freedom of contract and to prevent such marriages occuring under conditions of duress.

  • The truth is that Gabriel has not given us a clear proof that the allowing of civil partnerships between gay adults is some sort of terrifying destruction of heterosexual marriage

    Only he never claimed it – or I must have missed it. What he did object to is calling it ‘marriage’, his stance on the state’s involvement in the institution of marriage being beside the point.

  • Nuke: not only that, but according to the OT there was no state, period, until the people insisted on having a king, and God eventually – and quite unwillingly – gave in to their nagging.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, sorry, but this is what Gabriel, in his usual fevered way, actually wrote higher on this board:

    “All I can add is that Iain Dale is total dirt, just like the whole of the rest of the socially liberal wing of the Tory party and if you ever figure out why that is you’ll be half way along the road to understanding how our civilization is being destroyed.”

    Paranoia on steriods. It is pretty obvious that Gabriel does regard the idea of allowing gay unions of any degree of legal formality to be about “understanding how our civilisation is being destroyed”.

    Read his own words, Alisa. This is what Gabriel believes. I take him at his words. There is, of course, the possibility that he is having a huge joke at our expense and is not the authortarian, sneering creep that he appears to be, like a sort of sulphorous, neutered Tomcat.

  • But he also wrote this:

    And, yeah, sunfish, if two gays want to run around calling themselves married, then they can do so without anyone molesting them. I never said otherwise and nor has anyone else. The question is as to whether they should be given offical recognition as such, get with the programme.

    Gabriel is socially conservative. You and I may not like it, but he’s entitled to these opinions, as long as he doesn’t support forcing them on anyone else. I think that the above quote clearly shows that he does not.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, sorry but this really won’t do. Even basic civil partnerships which contain certain freedoms to transfer property from A to B are, by definintion, “given official recognition” in terms of legal powers. That is what this means. In other words, Gabriel opposes giving official, ie, legal, recognition to unions that he disapproves of. Without such official recognition, however, a gay couple could be frozen out of certain freedoms (such as transmission of property), rendering such unions to be worthless for anything other than some empty symbolism.

    Sorry, he’s not getting any slack from me. If he wants to say he opposes gay people having the right to make joint, long-term legally binding commitments, then he should have the stones to say so in plain English, rather than refer to advocates of such ideas like Iain Dale as “dirt” (how lovely) and then run away. The man is appalling.

  • In other words, Gabriel opposes giving official, ie, legal, recognition to unions that he disapproves of.

    That we have established long ago. The real question is, just like Sunfish alluded, is: does he support extending such official/legal recognition to unions of which he does approve.

  • Gabriel

    Sorry, he’s not getting any slack from me. If he wants to say he opposes gay people having the right to make joint, long-term legally binding commitments, then he should have the stones to say so in plain English, rather than refer to advocates of such ideas like Iain Dale as “dirt” (how lovely) and then run away.

    I object to any documents of state whatsoever using the term ‘marriage’ to describe a union between two persons of the same gender. As far as I know, two gay men can draw up whatever contract they like for transferring property or whatever. As yet the only thing they can’t do is have me give them a married persons discount or have me thrown in gaol for refusing, but, being a libertarian, that is apparently what you desire. And, yeah, Iain Dale is scum along with the whole rest of the socially liberal wing of the Tory party and, yes, if you ever figure out why this is you will understand how our civilization is being destroyed.

    A parable is a form of analogy, yours didn’t work, get over it:-)

    The parable illustrates the following point: if you insist on saying that A (which is worth squat) is equivalent to B (which is worth a lot) hoping to raise the value of A to that of B, you will only succeed in lowering the value of B to A. The parable works fine.

    Interestingly enough, from what I can tell historically, marriages did not involve the state in ancient Israel.

    You must be one hell of a scholar then c.f. Lev 20:10. Deut 22:23.

    Nuke: not only that, but according to the OT there was no state, period, until the people insisted on having a king, and God eventually – and quite unwillingly – gave in to their nagging.

    I used to argue this myself but one has to take into account Deut 17:14-21 and Jud 19-21.

    Let me ask the real question: why should any marriage enjoy any particular officially-privileged status?

    Because the union of a man and a woman, both being of sound mind, is qualitatively superior to any other form of union between persons and forms the only possible bedrock for a society of civilized society of self governing individuals as well as for rearing the next generation and it is therefore in everyone’s interest that such unions be recognised as such by the organs of state

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Oh come on, Alisa. Gabriel said at 09:57 pm yesterday: “The question is as to whether they should be given offical recognition as such.”

    But given his other comments, it is obvious that his answer to his own question is a clear “no”. So from what he says, a gay couple can call themselves married, and so like, but that marriage has no meaning in law and therefore, cannot be used in those cases – such as transfer of property – where such a legal status might be of value.

    Gabriel, I am really not very interested in whatever other smart-arse replies you might try to make. Take a hike.

  • Jonathan, you win.

    Gabriel:

    Because the union of a man and a woman, both being of sound mind, is qualitatively superior to any other form of union between persons and forms the only possible bedrock for a society of civilized society of self governing individuals as well as for rearing the next generation

    I agree.

    and it is therefore in everyone’s interest that such unions be recognised as such by the organs of state

    Why on earth?

  • Gabriel

    Premise

    I agree.

    Conclusion

    Why on earth?

    You’re insane. Seriously. And frankly the fact that wanting to leave the law as it is rather than adopting the batty suggestions of a bunch of dappy Marxists produced while off their face on dope and gosh knows what produces such opprobrium round here makes me wonder why I bother.

    Really, it’s so fucking obvious to anyone except the terminally retarded. Look literally anywhere in the western world: the more free it is the more socially conservative it is and the more socially conservative it is the more free it is. Do you not get it?

    Look around: in post sexual-revolution Britain people are actually being arrested and tried for refusing to let people perform anal sex in their house. That’s how bas it’s aleady got and it’s only been 40 years. It’s just getting started. That’s the real world, not whatever demented la-la land fantasy you’ve got going on.

  • No, I do not get it: what…who…where…ah, never mind. My head’s spinning, but it serves me right, I guess…

    BTW, not a premise-conclusion construction at all, rather the opposite thereof, but like I said…Shabbat Shalom, hope you feel better soon.

  • Gabriel

    Most of that was aimed at JP and various others. Gut Shabbes.

  • Your comment still doesn’t make any sense to me. Feel free to elaborate – or not, all subject to our hosts’ approval.

  • Alice

    To paraphrase a famous Monthy Python skit — this thread has become too silly!

    Now, can we all just agree on a simple linguistic matter — the initial subjects of this thread are homosexual, not “gay”.

    The word “gay” had a long & proud history — until homosexuals misappropriated it and deprived our language of a useful word. They stole our language!

    Let’s have a grand deal with homosexuals. They can have whatever “rights” they want, but the rest of us (the overwhelming majority) want our word back. And please dust it off before returning it.

  • Yeah, makes one wonder about the Gay Divorcee…

  • Midwesterner

    What sort of problem would be created by ten thousand Episcopalian rabbis?

    Natalie Merchant singing High Church Talmudic liturgy?

    Seriously, the state should not even be aware of claimed marital status. That is a matter strictly between the partners and their priest/rabbi/imam/pastor/hallowed earth mother/OfficeMax pre-printed certificates department/whatever.

    When law is conflated with morality, when the attempt is made to achieve moral=legal/immoral=illegal then sooner or later a group with different morals will wrest control of the political apparatus and compel their version of ‘moral’ into law. This is precisely what has happened with the Health Care Reduction act. It is not being put forth as a constitutional necessity but as a moral necessity. The group presently claiming to be ‘conservative’ were happy to break the constitution and confirm precedent for moralizing the law back when they thought they could never lose. Now they are losing (badly) and that broken constitution is haunting them. In hind sight, it is apparent that this precedent of moralizing the law has set loose a plague of predatory jackals all claiming a moral imperative.

    Gabriel at April 7, 2010 07:13 PM sarcastically (and accurately) summarized the Iain Dale, etc view point as “Because a licence to trade is functionally equivalent to turning over all your property to the government, or something.”

    The tough question in America is, ‘Will conservatives, if they ever get back into office, respect of the property rights of consenting adults to do things the conservatives think immoral?” I think not. That is why I vehemently reject conservativism. Along with, I might add, a bunch of people AKA Tea Partiers who share pretty much only one common cause, smaller government.

  • Midwesterner

    Just in case my last two sentences were unclear, I use ‘conservatism’ to mean being personally conservative. I use ‘conservativism’ to mean militating to make everbody follow conservatives’ morality. The Tea Party movement has attracted very many personal conservatives who fully understand the hazards of militant use of government to enforce their values and they confine their political demands to limiting, not redirecting, government.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Seriously. And frankly the fact that wanting to leave the law as it is rather than adopting the batty suggestions of a bunch of dappy Marxists produced while off their face on dope and gosh knows what produces such opprobrium round here makes me wonder why I bother.

    Ever thought of going on TV?

    No Gabriel, it is not that we are a bunch of Marxists off our faces on whatever, but rather, the more basic idea – which is obviously over your little pointy head – that we believe that adults are entitled to form legal unions with one another, provided no duress is involved. Whether you like it or not, the fact of life is that there are gay men and women who want to live together rather than on their own, and want to formalise their unions in order to transmit property to their loved ones, make certain contracts, etc. For what it is worth, I am also in favour of the right of folk to form polygamous relations, for the same reason.

    Marriage laws are always evolving and there is simply no reason why there should not be changes in the future, so long as these are thought through carefully. Personally, I’d be happy to see the State get out of the marriage business completely.

  • Sunfish

    What sort of problem would be created by ten thousand Episcopalian rabbis?

    Natalie Merchant singing High Church Talmudic liturgy?

    There are some things that are just so amazingly bizarre that everybody should try them once. I’d pay real money to see this one.

    Because the union of a man and a woman, both being of sound mind, is qualitatively superior to any other form of union

    How so? If it’s true, then surely you can describe in greater detail (for once.) I’m a veteran of such a union, and I use the term “veteran” the way that my neighbor describes himself as a veteran of the Vietnam War.

    You’re insane. Seriously. And frankly the fact that wanting to leave the law as it is rather than adopting the batty suggestions of a bunch of dappy Marxists produced while off their face on dope and gosh knows what produces such opprobrium round here makes me wonder why I bother.

    I don’t know which “dappy Marxists” you mean, but I’ll have you know that I just took and passed the whiz quiz in the very recent past.

    I’m impressed. A gay marriage thread is still somewhat coherent at 90 posts. A “JBT pigs hurt my feelings and shot my dog” thread can go from zero to Full Retard in under 20.

  • Sunfish: no one claimed marriage always works, not even Gabriel (I hope).

  • Paul Marks

    I am not interested in “gay marriage” – that is for a church to organize if they wish to do so (I am not a big fan of government marriages under the Births, Marriages and Deaths Registration Act of 1836).

    However, there must NOT be any “anti discrimination” stuff involved – if some private individual or company does not want to “recognise” a “marriage” then that is up to them.

    For a private business is just that – private property.

    The shop of a person is just as much private property and their house.

    In short Mr Dale is an idiot.

  • Gabriel

    JP: Do try to keep up. I said the idea of gay marriage was invented, very recently, by dappy Marxists, which it was.

    Midwesterner: That all sounds very convincing, but all I’m talking about here is keeping the law as it has long stood, not some right-communitarian plot to equate law and morality.

    Paul Marks: The common law recognised marriage long before 1836 and could hardly avoid doing soand indeed nor could any legal system.

    Alisa: I don’t see why I need to provide a long explanation for a basic empirical observation. Do you agree that, throughout western civilization, there is high degree of correlation between social liberalism and the advance of credit-bubble welfare state, or not?

    Sunfish: The fact that your marriage was a failure is of no concern of mine. Perhaps if you understood better the purpose and nature of marriage it might have turned out better.

  • Gabriel: it’s not that I agree or don’t agree, I just don’t see the connection.

  • Sunfish

    Sunfish: The fact that your marriage was a failure is of no concern of mine. Perhaps if you understood better the purpose and nature of marriage it might have turned out better.

    Why don’t you enlighten me?

  • Nuke Gray

    This was originally about property rights. When did the granny get arrested for selling goldfish in her own shop to under-age teenagers? Now that is nanny-state counties at their worst!

  • Nuke Gray

    Gabriel, I looked up your Biblical references, but I find no references to state interference. People are supposed to act themselves, as vigilanties. We do not find any state archives of marriages, nor were state officials invited to authenticate weddings.
    As for Kings, they were promised them, yes, but a long time down the track. The Israelites were impatient, so God gave them Saul, a man who started out well, but had issues with patience.
    And let’s not forget that even Kings had limits- God disapproved of the people being numbered, for instance, and punished King David for wanting to do so.

  • Gabriel

    Nuke Gray: You’re on to a loser here I’m afriad. C.f. Try Deut 16:18 “Judges and offices you shall place for yourselves in all your gates… and they shall judge the people, righteous judgement” or Exodus 18: 13-26. Of course, ancient Israel did not have a modern state, but that does not mean it had an anarchic system policed by vigilantes. Indeed, the cities of refuge system was designed prcisely to prevent that. As to your specific query, the authorities would have to arrive at some view as to who was and was not married, otherwise there would not be able to execute people for acultery (c.f. also Num 5:11-31). I have no doubt that there was no state registry of marriages, just as there wasn’t one in this country prior to the Reformation. That is hardly tantamount to there being no government involvement in marriage. (As it happens I would prefer a pre-modern system of co-ercive authority to the modern state in mnay respects, but I hardly think that samizdatans would).

    Alisa: There are many explanations including:
    1) No matter how much people try to tell themselves that there is nothing morally wrong with how they live, their fundamental moral intuition tells them otherwise. The only way they can live with themselves is to generally relax their moral standards across the board. Hence the stigma against e.g. taking welfare collapses along with that against promiscuity.
    2) People are born dumb and only become otherwise via a process of education (NOT necessarily in a school, indeed this is probably one of the worse ways of doing it). Those raised under conditions of social liberalism basically never acquire the mental resources to do anything other than get to the post office every week to pick up their cheque so they can buy more booze. The aging children of the (relatively decent but incorragably liberal) people who live in the flat next to me are a good example.
    3) The good lord sends tyranny as punishment for those who live in wickedness.
    4) Oppressive states use libertinism as a cloak for their oppressive power grabs. People think they are free because they shag to their hearts contents and so either don’t notice or care when their freedom is taken away or, absurd as it seems, actually think they are getting freer. Take this example from the EU.

    Sunfish:
    1) The only legitimate forum for sexual behaviour.
    2) The only legitimate forum for the rearing of children.*
    But you knew already that was what I meant, so perhaps you want to be convinced. I would recommend as a start the writings of Roger Scruton on the matter. Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach is also not bad, though a bit basic and, obviously, rather Jewcentric.

    *Notice what I did not include.

  • Gabriel: thanks, I see your point now. I am pasting this as a reminder of where this began:

    Look literally anywhere in the western world: the more free it is the more socially conservative it is and the more socially conservative it is the more free it is.

    You definitively showed correlation, but you are yet to prove causation (hint: see the stressed part of the quote).

  • Gabriel

    What you are perhaps getting at is that many parts of he non-western world are socially conservative and unfree. This is doubtless true, but what evidence can you adduce from there that social liberalism correlates with their becoming less despotic (Saddam’s Iraq?). In any case, the most important reason for leaving them out is that I know very little about the non-western world and care even less. In the western world, which I do know something about and about which I care very deeply, the rise and spread of social liberalism seems to be invariably connected with loss of freedom. Again, do you dispute it?

  • Fair enough, and no, I don’t dispute it, and I did say that you showed correlation. Now it’s time to show causation, no?

  • Gabriel

    And I said this

    1) No matter how much people try to tell themselves that there is nothing morally wrong with how they live, their fundamental moral intuition tells them otherwise. The only way they can live with themselves is to generally relax their moral standards across the board. Hence the stigma against e.g. taking welfare collapses along with that against promiscuity.
    2) People are born dumb and only become otherwise via a process of education (NOT necessarily in a school, indeed this is probably one of the worse ways of doing it). Those raised under conditions of social liberalism basically never acquire the mental resources to do anything other than get to the post office every week to pick up their cheque so they can buy more booze. The aging children of the (relatively decent but incorragably liberal) people who live in the flat next to me are a good example.
    3) The good lord sends tyranny as punishment for those who live in wickedness.
    4) Oppressive states use libertinism as a cloak for their oppressive power grabs. People think they are free because they shag to their hearts contents and so either don’t notice or care when their freedom is taken away or, absurd as it seems, actually think they are getting freer. Take this example from the EU.

    Correlation works both ways, though, forming a feedback loop. As more or less every Victorian liberal observed, the chains of material necessity are the best spur to virtue, in the absence of a genuine education, that one can provide. Removing them, by means of the welfare state, can only have one effect.

    The question is, if we wish to save our civilization, at what point in the vicious cycle to hack with our swords. I used to take the view that if one fixed the welfare state the social stuff would fall in to place (largely the view of Von Mises though his “followers” do their level best to forget it) and so my views were practically indistinguishable from doctrinaire libertarianism. Now I think we should hack as fast and as hard as possible at whatever part of the vicious cycle happens to be in front of our face.

  • Now I think we should hack as fast and as hard as possible at whatever part of the vicious cycle happens to be in front of our face.

    And what exactly made you change your mind?

  • Gabriel

    Mainly, the total failure of almost every attempt to arrest or reverse the growth of the state over the past 60 years. Secondarily, my increasing horror at the world since I left the, in retrospect, amazingly closeted and respectable, semi-rural world of my youth. If you live amongst the people I live amongst, the idea that people will suddenly become hard working citizens the second their *disability* benefit is cut off just becomes untenable. It’s far more likely they’d just steal stuff.

    I think people, naturally, should vote for the most conservative-libertarian party on offer (which here is UKIP, for you I suppose Likud as long as Benny Begin is in it, though possibly National Union and certain anyone but Yisrael Beiteinu), but the most effective thing they can do is form culturally-conservative sub-cultures, have lots of children and evangelise as much as possible until eventually there are more of us. Fortunately, degenerate middle-class liberals don’t breed, unfortunately the former working classes who have imbibed their poisonous doctrines in the way Theodore Dalyrymple so movingly describes do a lot. In the meantime, I’m prepared to embrace in a qualified way those things which make it easier for us to win this race, including tax breaks for married people.

  • Sunfish

    Sunfish:
    1) The only legitimate forum for sexual behaviour.
    2) The only legitimate forum for the rearing of children.*
    But you knew already that was what I meant, so perhaps you want to be convinced. I would recommend as a start the writings of Roger Scruton on the matter. Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach is also not bad, though a bit basic and, obviously, rather Jewcentric.

    *Notice what I did not include.

    No I didn’t know what you meant. And I still don’t know what you meant or what you left out. All I know for sure is that you’re playing stupid-assed word guessing games to make yourself feel smart, in response to direct questions.

    Play all of the cute little verbal pseudo-Socratic fuck-fuck games you want. I’m done.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Gabriel’s contention that social liberalism (which is just a name for freedom as applied outside economics) correlates with a loss of freedom is pure nonsense. If people are freer to do certain things, then they are freer, full stop. Of course, the decline of marriage and the rise in the number of single-parent households, especially among the poorest in our society, is a bad thing generally, but I simply cannot fathom how allowing gay adults to sign a legal document as a couple is somehow correlated with this kind of social breakdown.

    In fact, in a whole range of ways, social freedoms are in retreat. We have more censorship of opinions of certain kinds; owners of places such as pubs and hotels are not allowed to set their own rules of admission or behaviour; we are faced by a constant barrage of intrusive regulatory behaviour of one kind or another. Schoolchildren are forced to stay in school up until their early adulthood, long after school has been of any use to them, and so on.

    I have no doubt that in earlier centuries, when women were still treated as little better than their husband’s chattels and their rights of property ownership were heavily circumscribed, any reform of this would no doubt be regarded by some as dangerous liberalism.
    Fortunately, their views were overcome.

  • Gabriel

    social liberalism (which is just a name for freedom as applied outside economics)

    No it isn’t.

    but I simply cannot fathom

    Evidently.

    In fact, in a whole range of ways, social freedoms are in retreat. We have more censorship of opinions of certain kinds; owners of places such as pubs and hotels are not allowed to set their own rules of admission or behaviour; we are faced by a constant barrage of intrusive regulatory behaviour of one kind or another. Schoolchildren are forced to stay in school up until their early adulthood, long after school has been of any use to them, and so on.

    No shit, and, in almost all cases, carried out by social liberals in the name of social liberalism.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    People who want to ban, restrict or otherwise use the violence-backed power of government to shape society as they seek fit, and trample over property rights, are not liberals in any sense, Gabriel.

    Maybe the confusion comes because you think that the use of the word “social” is a weazel word”, rather as Hayek described when he demolished the argument for “social justice”. If that is your point, then that would be a good one to make, because obviously some of those who say, support things like decriminalisation of drugs, or gay unions, or whatever, might also have socialistic views on other issues. Then again, they might not.

    The trouble is that you use the words “social liberalism” to describe a great many things you happen to dislike. It is one of the reasons why you are such a pain in the arse.

    Of course, as you well know, I use the term “libertarian” to describe my opinions since I draw no distinction in principle between freedoms as they pertain to different aspects of life.

    In fact, I would argue that folk who want to ban smoking in private bars, or insist all youngsters stay in school for ever longer, or who whatnot, are not, emphatically not, liberals in any coherent use of the word. Calling such folk “social liberals” in fact concedes too much ground.

  • Gabriel

    In fact, I would argue that folk who want to ban smoking in private bars, or insist all youngsters stay in school for ever longer, or who whatnot, are not, emphatically not, liberals in any coherent use of the word. Calling such folk “social liberals” in fact concedes too much ground.

    You can argue what you want, that’s what they are generally known as. I’m sorry if my unwillingness to acquiesce in your private language causes you distress.

    But to make it clear what I mean by social liberalism:

    Social liberalism is not just the doctrine that people should not be co-ercively restrained from making their own choices whether these be fornicating, taking drugs, deviant sexual behaviour, clubbing or whatever, but the doctrine that it is good that they do so. That their behaviour is, first of all, morally licit and, secondly, represents an advance upon and liberation from the constraints of traditional morality.*

    This is what lies behind much of our current woe and this is what I attack. It is derived from J.S. Mill, though it goes beyond him, and so I think can as legitimately lay claim to the liberal tag as anything else.

    *This naturally leads to the view that people who interfere in such liberation, i.e. B&B owners who don’t want sodomy in their house should be stopped in the name of tolerance, liberalism, human rights or, indeed, absurd as it may seem, ‘freedom’. Again, I advise looking at the EU video I posted beforehand.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    In fairness you have, after much prompting, given a reasonably coherent definition of what you think “social liberalism” is. Let’s go through it, because there is still something not quite complete about it, which is where I think you get this issue wrong:

    “Social liberalism is not just the doctrine that people should not be co-ercively restrained from making their own choices whether these be fornicating, taking drugs, deviant sexual behaviour, clubbing or whatever, but the doctrine that it is good that they do so. That their behaviour is, first of all, morally licit and, secondly, represents an advance upon and liberation from the constraints of traditional morality.*”

    I think that is an unfair characterisation even though I agree with some of what you say. As far as behaviours that you regard as “deviant”, “degenerate” or whatever, what I as a libertarian state is that behaviours between and by consenting adults must be joined with an understanding by those adults that they must bear the consequences of their actions. If folk want to mess around, they cannot later load their problems on others. That is the pretty bog-standard libertarian/classical liberal position. It means, for instance, that we tolerate drug-taking but don’t believe taxpayers should be forced to pay for heroin addicts’ treatment, etc.

    This is one reason why, for example, libertarians – unlike socialists who support some personal freedoms – regard the Welfare State as a disaster in that it undermines personal responsibility. It is much easier to insist on what you call traditional morality if the penalties for going off the rails are seen to be high. But this approach avoids trying to legislate in intrusive ways against consensual acts: particularly so since not all supposedly “deviant” acts are harmful to the persons concerned or anyone else. We cannot always know in advance.

    Hence the important of private property rights; hence the importance of the freedom of those who dislike such behaviours not to have deal with such folk (like the B&B owner has the right to tell gay couples to take their business somewhere else, etc).

    For what it is worth, I am not sure that JS Mill ever regarded all forms of “deviant” behaviour as beyond moral judgement, although JS Mill, given his quasi-socialist opinions on some matters, is not regarded by many libertarians like me as a particularly good thinker. In fact, he’s a bit over-rated, IMHO.

  • Gabriel

    For what it is worth, I am not sure that JS Mill ever regarded all forms of “deviant” behaviour as beyond moral judgement, although JS Mill, given his quasi-socialist opinions on some matters, is not regarded by many libertarians like me as a particularly good thinker. In fact, he’s a bit over-rated, IMHO.

    Overrated, total sack of s**t, potato, potáto. Nevertheless, I think he has as good a claim to the title of ‘liberal’ as anyone else and, after investigating (and having once believed) the historical claims of libertarians to be true inheritors of liberalism, I respectfully stick to my usage of the term as the correct one. J.S. Mill, one might note, in his laughably misnamed screed on liberty, also formulated the position now espoused by the likes of Iain Dale, that once you decide to trade on the open market your private property rights effectively disappear. (And hence Free Trade is a mater of convenience, not justice, to overturned as and when it may be beneficial … of course he and his chums could only admit this publicly once they had bullied the proponents of Protectionism – who I disagree, but sympathise with – into submission*).

    Many libertarians are liberals, but many aren’t. Just as many sociaists are liberals and many aren’t. The question at hand here is whether liberalism is a good thing or not and whether it generally (if against your sincere wishes, JP) generally leads to a loss of freedom. I think it does and have explained why and I think your attempt to combine social liberalism and political/civil liberty, whilst on the face of it plausible, is ultimately utopian and, in practice, rather destructive of what it seeks to preserve. Now that we’ve got that straight (and I’m sure I have explained my views before) perhaps we can proceed on a more temperate keel.

    * To be clear about what I mean, Liberals like Mill supported Free Trade not because they believed it to be a right, or even really because they thought it economically beneficial, but because they wanted to smash up the English landed class, the biggest opposition to their anti-civilization programme.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I actually agree with quite a lot of what you say here, Gabriel. There is no one authority for libertarian views and quite a lot of libertarians that I know of regard JS Mill with a lot of suspicion or at least argue that he went down several wrong alleys (I know that Paul Marks of this blog repeatedly condemns Mill). Arguably, his views led to the “New Liberalism” of TH Green, a man who conflated negative freedom as understood by the classics into something else, paving the way for Fabianism and the inversion of “rights” from their original meaning into state-enforced coercive claims. Much of what the likes of Hayek and others did was to correct the intellectual confusions and mistakes of Mill.
    (Like his incoherent “harm” principle – a licence to endless government interference).

    “To be clear about what I mean, Liberals like Mill supported Free Trade not because they believed it to be a right, or even really because they thought it economically beneficial, but because they wanted to smash up the English landed class, the biggest opposition to their anti-civilization programme.”

    For a person who chides me to be “temperate”, that is pretty intemperate argument, Gabriel. John Bright, Richard Cobden and Robert Peel did not, as far as I know, have their main priority as the destruction of civilisation and Cobden, for instance, praised free trade for its encouragement of peaceful intercourse between nations, which counts as a pretty civilised thing to want to bring about, in my book.

    Of course, it is true that, to greater or lesser degrees, an increasingly rich industrial middle class in early 19th Century Britain was pitted against the landed aristocracy that wished to retain agricultural protection, much as, 100 years or so later, trade union barons were seen in the same light, and as the NuLab establishment in the public sector is seen now. The actors change, but the plot often does not.

    I also reject the charge of utopianism here. I think it is in fact unrealistic to expect that if we expand the realm of freedom in things such as economics, that it will not also lead to calls for freedoms to be expanded in other areas. I have, for example, already referred to things like the greater powers that women achieved in controls over property in the West in the past few hundred years, as well as greater toleration of non-“official” religions, etc. (No doubt many such views were regarded as “deviant” in their time). Rising prosperity often acts as the spur to other, social changes of one kind or another. (It can also produce, for sure, a lot of spoilt brats).

    But as made clear, the key to making sure different freedoms work in mutual reinforcement rather than lead to what you think is a toxic mix is to insist on the point about personal responsibility. That is, if you like, the tough, Thatcherite element of my viewpoint: freedom comes with responsibility. If, for example, gay civil unions encourage such folk to live responsible lives, that is a positive achievement for civil order. And so on.

  • Gabriel

    Well, if I had to make a firm judgement, I’d say that Peel supported Free Trade on economic grounds, Cobden because he thought it was genuinely right and just and Bright because he wanted to destroy the aristos (which is why he later gave his support to that demon in human flesh Joe Chamiberlain).

    But back to the point

    But as made clear, the key to making sure different freedoms work in mutual reinforcement rather than lead to what you think is a toxic mix is to insist on the point about personal responsibility.

    Being, honest with yourself though, has this worked up till now? Why do you think it is likely to work in the future?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Being, honest with yourself though, has this worked up till now? Why do you think it is likely to work in the future?

    Making people take the consequences of their actions has worked in the past, when tried. The welfare reforms in the US in the 1990s (like workfare, cutting certain welfare benefits) helped drive positive behaviours because people could not bum around on the taxpayer’s dollar for ever.

    The problem is that so much of our culture is the culture of “the victim”, and I fear that your point of view has more in common with that than you might admit. Conservatives may complain about the supposedly damaging impact on civil order from drugs, or “deviant” behaviours of various kinds, but all too often, the solution put on offer is to ban these behaviours rather than let the perpetrators take the consequences. Consider one of the most ambitious attempts to suppress “deviance” – Prohibition in the US and the later War on Drugs. Both have been unmitigated disasters. On their own terms, they failed, and also caused all manner of bad side effects.

    Earlier on, you mentioned my view as being utopian. But really, I believe it is those who want to use the violence-backed power of the state to interfere in the acts of consenting adults who are being utopian, or at least myopic, in not thinking about the consequences of what they are doing. In that sense, the Daily Mail mindset is no more grounded in reality than that of the Guardian.

  • Gabriel

    I don’t and have never read the Daily Mail and I don’t want to use force to stop people doing stuff. I just oppose social liberalism (and on the subject of the thread gay marriage), which I have defined amply. I consider your view that social liberalism can be combined with a small state to be delusional and offer as my evidence the entire history of the western world since 1960. I hardly see that the limited successes of workfare counter-balance this.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I don’t and have never read the Daily Mail and I don’t want to use force to stop people doing stuff,.

    Well, this debate thread would have a whole lot shorter if you had said right from the start that any consensual arrangements should not be interfered with. So, for example, if two folk get married and want to have this legally recognised for issues like property, you say that should be tolerated, yes?

    “I consider your view that social liberalism can be combined with a small state to be delusional and offer as my evidence the entire history of the western world since 1960. I hardly see that the limited successes of workfare counter-balance this.”

    Even if we accept your definition of what you think social liberalism is (I don’t, for reasons too tedious to repeat), do you really think that since 1960 we have had a “small state”? You mean, the state that has, since WW2 in many nations, taken almost half of GDP and regulated a good deal of the rest of it? Crikey, and here I was thinking we were living in the age of laissez faire.

    I like the way you just swept aside my examples of prohibition/War on Drugs. Does not quite fit your narrative of social liberalism, does it?

    Bah.

  • Gabriel

    Even if we accept your definition of what you think social liberalism is (I don’t, for reasons too tedious to repeat), do you really think that since 1960 we have had a “small state”? You mean, the state that has, since WW2 in many nations, taken almost half of GDP and regulated a good deal of the rest of it.

    Err. that’s my whole point. The more social liberalism, the bigger the state as evidence by – at the risk of tedium – the fact that throughout the western world the spead of social liberalism (on my definition) has been accompanied by the growth of the state.

    So, for example, if two folk get married and want to have this legally recognised for issues like property, you say that should be tolerated, yes?

    Two men can have whatever ceremony they want and get their lawyer to draw up whatever kind of contract they want and call themselves whatever they want, I’ll never call them ‘married’, I’ll never vote for a party that calls them ‘married’ and I’ll never them share a bed in any property of mine. Happy? (but then I’ve said that about a dozen times).

  • Johanthan Pearce

    The more social liberalism, the bigger the state as evidence by – at the risk of tedium – the fact that throughout the western world the spead of social liberalism (on my definition) has been accompanied by the growth of the state.

    Well of course, if we were to accept your definition, then your point might stand. But as I don’t accept it in its entirety, then I don’t think your conclusion follows in the way you think it does.

    And as the example I gave of the war on drugs shows, this particular exercise accompanied a general growth of government intervention after WW2. The WoD is the exact opposite of social liberalism; in fact, it is supported by conservatives as well as people of all political and cultural stripes with the notable exception of libertarians.

    Of course it is entirely your right to refuse to call a couple who have a legal contract “married”. What you would not, of course, be able to do is to refuse to recognise their legal status if, for any reason, you had to deal with them in some sort of transaction (such as a civil tort action between you and them, say. You may not want to deal with them but there might be an extreme case where you would have no choice in the matter, such as if you damaged their property, by accident).

    After all, as I said in the post, you would, if you were a B&B owner, be within your rights to refuse a gay couple entry into your premises, just as gay couples should be free to slag you off, encourage folk to boycott your premises, lampoon, mock and otherwise treat you with ridicule, etc. That’s the deal.

  • Gabriel

    That’s the deal.

    Except it’s not, outside of your fantasy world, which is what I’m trying to get at.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Gabriel, sorry, my language was sloppy. I am saying how things ought to be in terms of property rights, not how they are right now. Whether my views are fantasy or not, well, time will tell. Let’s face it, your POV is not proving very persuasive in the forums of public debate, now is it?

    Anyway, I’m done with this. If you are ever turned away from a hotel or whatever because the folks don’t like the cut of your jib, don’t complain about it on this blog.