In this article, I intend to explain why discrimination is okay from a legal standpoint and even from a moral standpoint in certain cases. Ultimately, everyone discriminates on a regular basis. Discrimination doesn’t only refer to discerning between ethnicities, but rather discernment in general.
It is common to discriminate when choosing one’s friends. One may want to discriminate based on interest to decide who they associate with. For example, someone interested in professional football may not enjoy spending time with someone who is very uninterested in professional football. Consider how friend groups form as people go through life. Individuals likely discriminate based on personality and interest when they choose to continue spending time with certain people more than others.
There is nothing wrong with this from a moral standpoint. Certainly not, from a legal standpoint. Discrimination is okay, so to speak, in this case. To prevent such discrimination (if a society attempted to end any and all discrimination) students who didn’t get along for various reasons would be forced to associate and spend time with each other.
Discrimination is okay when choosing sexual and/or marital partners. People tend to discriminate based on appearance, personality, intelligence, etc. because of their individual preferences. Most notably, people discriminate based on sex. Heterosexuals and homosexuals discriminate based on sex. If there were no discrimination, everyone would have to be bisexual.
Now it should be clearer that discrimination should not have a negative connotation as in “anti-discrimination laws”, but is much more akin to choosing or deciding. After all, in a free society, an individual who owns his or her self must be free to live according to their own preferences if they don’t violate another person’s private property rights (which is logically deduced from self-ownership).
Most people can agree that children who don’t wish to associate shouldn’t be forced to and certainly that individuals shouldn’t be prevented from excluding between sexual and/or marital partners. But, not everyone agrees when it comes to commerce. For example, some people believe a baker whose religion is in opposition to gay marriage should be forced to bake a gay couple’s wedding cake. Or, some may believe the racist should be forced to serve people of ethnicities they despise.
While discriminating in such a way may be morally questionable, it must be allowed by law.
Not only must discrimination in this way be legal, but it wouldn’t be much of an issue in a free society. First, to address why discriminating in this way must be legal, consider private property rights. It must be legal in a free society for a racist car salesman to refuse service to a black person, for example. Private property norms that would exist in such a free society would dictate that rightful property owners are the exclusive owners of their private property.
A car salesman is the rightful owner of the cars on his lot, assuming he justly acquired them. If the car salesman can be forced, by violence, to sell one of his cars then there has been a violation of property rights. The logical implication of this property rights violation is that the would-be buyer has some right or claim to the property of the would-be seller. It must not be legally or morally acceptable for the would-be buyer to force the would-be seller into a transaction. Neither would it be legally or morally acceptable for any governing body to force a transaction.
None of this is to say the racist car salesman is “in the right” by any moral standards. It is despicable as well as nonsensical to deny anyone service because of their ethnicity. But, legislation is not necessary to prevent harm from being done here. Any business refusing service to someone on such grounds would be greatly harmed by the backlash of popular opinion. In a free market, business refusing service based on ethnicity would lose the business of people morally opposed to racism along with the people of that certain ethnicity, of course.
There is also the likely possibility that business owners would resent such legislation and do harm to the customers they are forced to serve. It is much more beneficial for the potential victim of such a situation to know if business owners are willing to serve them voluntarily or not. Though anti-discrimination laws seem rational and beneficial, they ultimately do more harm than good.