The fact that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer bent to pressure in vetoing SB 4062/HB2153 should not surprise us. The bill would have recognized the right of small business owners to decline service on religious grounds to potential customers they found repugnant. As we all know, none of us are in the least unsatisfactory to anyone else anymore, except Christians, Caucasians, and Heterosexuals. So Brewer had little choice. But where did the bills authors get the idea that they could be so offensive?
Back in the dark ages before the civil rights revolution of the Sixties, people claimed the right of freedom of association. This right had existed since the founding and originated in English common law. This concept of people deciding for themselves with whom they wished to deal is a savage holdover from the many other anti-social practices of our ancestors. These include slavery, spittoons, holding the door for women, flogging, hat tipping and others too awful to express. We have gotten rid of most of these and are hard at work on the rest.
It’s easy to see how in our multi-cultural, multi-racial, hedonistic happy go lucky new society, individual persons must never take it upon themselves to make judgments of others. That’s what the Government is for.
When people are allowed to make judgments about each other people, their feelings and sense of entitlement may be bruised. And as we all know, without self-esteem sanctified by group esteem, life is impossible. This ornery American tendency to decide who is and who is not respectable is dying a slow death. Certain people just can’t accept that it is not for us to pick our social networks or employees or business partners. Anyone can see that it is for armies of Law Professors, Politicians, Journalists and Bureaucrats to decide this for us.
Yet this confusion still exists. Back in the time of the Great Society this retrograde idea of personal free association was seen for what it was; a stumbling block to universal, government enforced self-esteem. The old fogies had some idea that self-esteem came from self-respect garnered by deeds and standing in the community. In those days communities actually still existed outside the guidance of the government and might be composed of groupings that did not hold with one another. Masons might not hold with Catholics and so on. This could not be tolerated.
Our new dispensation knew that everyone had the right to unbounded self-esteem and that anyone who didn’t grant unbounded love and acceptance to what ever came in the door was a bigot. Citizens cannot be allowed to deem who is or who is not respectable or desirable as a customer for themselves. If they did, how would we proceed to forge our new national polity of atomized people with nothing in common with each other? It is clear that such a wonderful new society based on unlimited new rights could never endure a society in which people could demure. For such a society to hold together, particularity and personal choice must give way to mass Gemütlichkeit or we would all be at each other’s throats.
And so our right to be ornery, or particular or just plain silly about our own affairs must be squelched. If you insist on being in business instead of serving the public in some noble, publically funded way, you must not imagine that your own beliefs or scruples have weight. Everyone who appears before you is a precious vessel of rights and prerogatives whose feelings must not be ruffled under pain of law.