Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Discrimination, part II

Running Blog Capitalist has the answer to Silent Running's problem with Air Emirates: Just discriminate back! This probably works fine if you're rich and powerful, but what if you're not?

More importantly, what if there are no alternative, non-discriminating providers? What happens if no-one is willing to sell you food, rent you a house, employ you, or even transport you to a less discriminatory regime? The Libertarian answer to this situation is simply "fuck off and starve". People with any sort of conscience will find that answer unacceptable.

(But then, this is Libertarianism in a nutshell, isn't it? "Inalienable" rights which are in practice worthless, because they are interpreted only in a negative sense. Even the right that seems most dear to them - the right to freely participate in the marketplace, to sink or swim according to your own merits - is poisoned by this. Such "rights" are as meaningless as those guaranteed in the old Soviet constitution; they're nothing but a cruel joke)

The reason we have a Human Rights Act and other anti-discrimination legislation is to realise those rights and allow everyone to participate fully in society. We cannot live together in a society where the weak can be victimised at will by those posessing market power, and we cannot under any circumstances allow a situation where an individual or a group is so discriminated against that they cannot participate fully in society (both morally and practically; it's a recipe for open warfare). This is why we insist that services be provided in a non-discriminatory fashion, that people not be victimised for their beliefs, sexuality, or the colour of their skin.

(Meanwhile, I leave it to the readers to savour the irony of a Righty defending anti-semitism, instead of using it to smear anyone who criticises Israel...)