Homosexuality and Discrimination: A View from the Right


Homosexuality and Discrimination:
A View from the Right
by Sean Gabb
(19th April 2011)

On Wednesday the 13th April 2011, two men, James Bull and Jonathan Williams, kissed each other in the John Snow public house in Soho. Apparently, they were then asked to leave by a member of staff who called their act “obscene.” This alleged incident led to the usual sort of outrage. On the Friday following, several hundred homosexuals gathered in the street outside the pub to kiss each other. The pub closed early. Though its landlord has not so far made any comment to the media, the Metropolitan Police are now on the prowl, to see if he or his staff can be done under the “hate crime” laws.

When I read this story last week, I simply sniffed and moved on. Not long ago, every sentence of the newspaper report would have had people scratching their heads. But modern England is a strange place. The only oddity now is that anyone running a pub in Soho could even notice if two men were kissing, let alone think it good for business to object. I have been drawn back to the story, though, by a news release from Peter Tatchell.  Among much else, he declares that “Businesses that provide a service to the public have a duty under the law to not discriminate.” While this may be an accurate statement of the law as it stands, removing the words “under the law” makes it a plain statement of what Peter believes. He believes this, and so do many other people. Indeed, among the media and political classes in modern England, it is an almost a self-evident proposition that, if you offer goods or services for sale, you have at least a moral obligation to do business with anyone who has money to spend. Refuse to do business with someone because you dislike the group of which he is a member, and expect to be vilified, where not taken to court.

Now, if it is frequently repeated by those in authority, a proposition may cease to be disputed, or even examined. It does not become true. And this proposition is false. No one has a moral obligation to do business with those whom he dislikes. Any law that compels him to do such business is not a victory for human rights, but a violation of rights. I have much respect for Peter Tatchell. He is more excitable than most of my friends. On the other hand, he has, over the past thirty years, played an honourable and perhaps decisive role in striking down the various legal persecutions of homosexuals. He also takes a straightforward line on freedom of speech that is nowadays rare among socialists. But he is, in his view of anti-discrimination laws, both wrong and even dangerously wrong. I hope that he will regard what I have to say on this issue as entirely friendly criticism.

Personal and Economic Freedom: A False Dichotomy

I read John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty when I was seventeen, and was immediately smitten by it. Reading the essay marked my final transition from liberal conservative to libertarian. Even at the time, though, I found my eyes opening at this claim, in Chapter V:

…[T]rade is a social act. Whoever undertakes to sell any description of goods to the public, does what affects the interest of other persons, and of society in general; and thus his conduct, in principle, comes within the jurisdiction of society…. [T]he so-called doctrine of Free Trade… rests on grounds different from, though equally solid with, the principle of individual liberty asserted in this Essay.

Mill is wrong here. Freedom is the right to do whatever we please with our own lives and property. The right is limited only by an obligation to refrain from force or fraud in dealing with others. The introduction of money into one man’s association with another makes no difference in itself. For example, a man may want to sleep only with other men. That is his business. He may choose to hold a sex party in his house, and to invite only men. That also is his business. It is his body, to with as he pleases. It is his property, to do with as he pleases – so long, of course, as he does not, as reasonably conceived, make a nuisance of himself to his neighbours. To make a law compelling him to sleep with women as well is to make him into a slave. To make a law compelling him to admit women to his party, and men who want to sleep with women, is also to make him into a slave. He has bought or rented his house with his earnings, and telling him how to spend his earnings is as much a form of slavery as telling him what to do directly with his body. What makes the case any different if he offers himself to men as a prostitute, or charges for admission to his sex parties? Why should he be forced by an anti-discrimination law to sell his body to some woman who may desire him – or to take admission money from heterosexuals?

The right of one man to sleep with another is nothing more than an instance of the right to freedom of association. Freedom of association also includes freedom of trade. Denying any one instance of this freedom is to set a precedent for others to be denied. Regardless of payment, consenting adults should be free to associate as they please. Moreover, freedom of association necessarily involves the right not to associate. No one has a right to be included. No one has a right not to be shunned. Though they currently favour sexual and racial minorities, anti-discrimination laws in business matters are an attack on the right of these minorities to be left alone.

It may be very hurtful to see notices outside hotels that say things like “Wogs and queers not welcome.” It may be very hurtful to be told “We don’t employ your sort in this company.” But it is not our hotel, and it is not our company. We have no moral right to share in the profits of these businesses, or to cover their losses. Equally, we have no moral right to dictate how they should be run.

Of course, while it should have every right to throw demonstrative homosexuals into the street, no one is obliged to drink at the John Snow public house; and the demonstration outside a few days later was entirely legitimate. As said, it is bizarre that anyone on Soho could regard this sort of discrimination as other than catastrophic for business. It may have come already, but I do expect a grovelling apology from the owners of the public house. And it is worth noting that, while homosexuals are not as generally loved as the media would have us believe, there is very little active dislike. Even without anti-discrimination laws, I do not think modern England is a place where discrimination is welcomed.

Free Markets v Actually Existing Markets

That is my answer to Peter Tatchell. However, this defence of the right to freedom of trade brings me to a matter that is presently controversial within the libertarian movement. Kevin Carson has denounced “vulgar libertarianism.” In more formal terms, Roderick Long has drawn attention to what he calls “right conflationism.” This is the tendency of many libertarians to defend the outcomes of an actually existing market as if they were the outcomes of a free market. It is a pervasive tendency, and I regret that I have often fallen victim to it myself. But it is something that must be identified and avoided.

For we do not live in anything approaching a world of free markets. Wherever we look, there is a relationship between government and big business so close that the two may often be taken, at the top, as one and the same thing – a system almost consciously designed to suck wealth upwards into the hands of the ruling class. We have limited liability laws that allow those in charge of a business to minimise their exposure to tort actions, and to attract large amounts of investment capital, and to give long enough existence for the business to grow far beyond what would otherwise be normal. We have transport and communication subsidies that allow big businesses to benefit from economies of scale, while externalising their diseconomies. We have tax and regulatory burdens that press harder on small businesses. We have intellectual property laws that – even if justified in principle – are practical subsidies on size. The outcome of all this is that England and America, and every other civilised country, are thoroughly corporatised and cartellised.

It is probably not a free market outcome that a quarter of all spending on food in this county goes through Tesco. It is probably not a free market outcome that we are all dependent for our energy needs on gigantic organisations, owned or regulated by the State, that extract their raw materials from the some of the most politically unstable regions on the planet, and that need continual state involvement to keep their lines of distribution open. It is hard to say what a genuinely libertarian society would look like. But it would probably not be “Tesco minus the State.” It would probably be a a place of small craftsmen and farmers and traders, of artists and of unlicensed doctors and lawyers, and of others needed if individuals and free associations of individuals are to live well. I do not think there would be no large enterprises, or that the wage system would disappear. But these would be far less important features than they presently are.

Primary and Secondary Regulation

This being so, we cannot simply announce that whatever some big business does is not our concern. We cannot apply the libertarian defence of free markets to the state capitalism that we presently have. There are, for example, about a dozen commercial banks in this country. Suppose they all – possibly with a nod and wink from the Government – decide not to open an account for some disapproved political party. Do we say that the banks have no obligation to do business with anyone who presents himself at their counters? Or do we bear in mind that political parties are required by law to have a bank account, and that the banks are all licensed and regulated into what amounts to a cartel, and that the banks should therefore be required to take whatever customers seem likely to run their accounts in a reasonable manner? The first is a valid answer for a free market. When the market is not free, does the second become a valid answer?

Again, let us look again at Tesco. Bearing in mind its great power within a pretty unfree market, is it so outrageous that there should be controls on its further expansion, and on how it treats its suppliers and customers? Should there be laws to punish any collusive agreements it may make with suppliers or competitors?

Or, to come now to the first point of this article, should pubs be at liberty to turn away customers who are not committing any breach of the peace, but whose conduct is offensive to the management or staff? Pubs are licensed. Some of their profit is gained from the limiting of competition. Should they be treated as if they were operating in a free market? Or should they be required to serve any customer?

For many left libertarians, the answer to this last question is “yes.” In Chapter 13 of his Organization Theory, Kevin Carson gives us the analogy of a pharmacist who refuses on religious grounds to dispense birth control pills. For a “vulgar libertarian,” he says, the reflexive answer is “Yes, of course…. Anyone participating in the market should have the right to buy and sell, or not buy and sell, as he sees fit.” But this answer is based on the implicit assumption that we live in a society that entirely free. Mr Carson says:

But in fact, pharmacists are direct beneficiaries of compulsory occupational licensing, a statist racket whose central purpose is to restrict competition and enable them to charge a monopoly price for their services.

The pharmacist should, therefore, be compelled to dispense whatever is lawfully demanded.

The Welfare Economics Trick

I must say, however, that this application of the principle disturbs me. I agree that many controls on business have been laid on to mitigate the less welcome consequences of other controls, and that libertarians should bear this in mind when denouncing any particular control. Even so, as applied in this case, what may be a true principle leads us straight into a socialist police state. It allows the same intellectual trick as welfare economics. This begins with a pious explanation of how “social welfare” is maximised when perfectly rational consumers buy goods and services in a perfectly competitive market. It then observes that there are no perfectly rational consumers or perfectly competitive markets, and concludes that government action is needed to correct “market failure.” I spoke some years ago with Henri Lepage, who was working at the time for the European Commission. He told me that this trick was played in almost every policy document brought out by the Commission. These begin with lavish praise of the benefits of free competition, and end by recommending laws on the minimum diameter of apples and the maximum curvature of cucumbers.

In the same way, the principle of accepting some controls that mitigate other controls can be used to justify any degree of regulation. I am qualified by the British State to teach in both schools and universities. As such, I am privileged. Does this mean that I have no right to complain if I am told by law whom to teach, what to teach, and how to teach? My local newsagent is privileged, so far as he is allowed by the local authority to sell cigarettes. Does this mean he has no right to discriminate against schoolchildren by insisting that no more than three of them at a time should come into his shop? We live in a society where almost every activity is regulated, and – looking only at the benefits rather than the costs of regulation – is privileged. As with welfare economics, belief in the value of freedom can be made, without any particular effort, into acceptance of state socialism. There is no doubt that primary regulations are demanded by an intelligent ruling class that expects to benefit from them. But there is equally no doubt that there are special interest groups – and these may be partly autonomous of the ruling class – that benefit from secondary controls.

Speaking up for State Welfare

My own view is that, while the arguments put forward by Roderick Long and Kevin Carson, among others, cannot be dismissed out of hand, we should be very cautious in applying these arguments. Where state welfare is concerned, I, for one, will accept their aguments. We have a ruling class that has pretty well monopolised the means of production. Welfare is a drug –  paid for by those outside the ruling class and with incomes worth taxing –  to antototto anaesthetise those at the bottom to what they have lost. There are libertarians who can sit looking though a plate glass wiindow in the Kings Road and announce very grandly that there are always jobs available for those willing to work. Really, though, the choice for many is state welfare or taking a job on minimum wage that works out to a net gain, after tax and job expenses, of £10 or £20 a week. It may be in someone’s long term interest to take the job. On the other hand, the long term can be a long time in coming. At the same time, it is difficult to go off welfare and then, if the job folds, go straight back on at the old level of benefit. It may be a rational decision to avoid the risk. It is not an unreasonable decision. I say then that we should privatise first and cut welfare afterwards.

Oh, and when I talk of “privatisation,” I do not mean the Thatcherite switch from a less to a more efficient mode of rent seeking. I mean a radical attack on the sources of corporate privilege. Welfare is bad for all manner of reasons. It is a heavy burden on the middle classes. It pauperises the lower classes. The only real beneficiaries are a ruling class that has bought the quiescence of those who might otherwise turn into a screaming mob. But it really is one of those secondary controls to mitigate the working of primary controls.

The Necessary Coincidence of Principle and Pragmatism 

This being said, I do not accept the wider applications of the arguments. Just because someone is regulated does not make him a net beneficiary of state privilege. Just because he is regulated does not mean that he has consented to the regulation. Just because he is regulated does not make further regulation legitimate.

The John Snow public house has a licence to sell alcohol. This may make it a net beneficiary – though it may not. Certainly, however, its licence does not give it a monopoly privilege. There is no shortage of other pubs in Soho. Because no one who wants to drink is obliged to drink there, the pub should not be prevented from discriminating. The John Snow public house does not operate in a free market. But it does operate in a market sufficiently free for the usual libertarian defence to apply. If the licensing laws were so strict that it was the only public house within a ten mile radius, the case would be different. But there is competition.

In the same way, I should not be subject to regulation in my teaching methods – subject, of course, to whatever my employers and customers might demand. In the same way, I think the example of the pharmacist is wrongly argued. There are very few places – at least in England – where there is no choice of pharmacists. We should argue against all occupational licensing, but also be prepared to defend the right of the licensed to run their businesses as they please.

Very big companies like Tesco may be an exception to this rule. On the other hand, we are talking about corporatism, not state socialism. In the Soviet Empire, entrepreneurship did exist, but was confined to the margins of a system where production and pricing decisions were made and enforced at gunpoint. In England and America, most large companies are state-privileged trading bodies. But they also survive and flourish in part because they make the right entrepreneurial decisions. If Tesco is allowed to externalise many of its costs, it is also a success because it gives us what we want. If it makes mistakes – as, for example, in its American venture – it has to bear the costs of failure. It is part of a state-privileged cartel, but is also in fierce competition with the other supermarket chains.

Dirty Markets Better than Dirtier Markets

Now, I readily accept that the left libertarians know as much about Austrian economics as I do. But I will make the point that the real problem of economics is not to know what equilibrium looks like once it has emerged, but to understand the process by which it is continually approached, and the value of that process. Markets are valuable not so far as they result in some neoclassical equilibrium, but as a discovery process, in which particles of knowledge dispersed among billions of individuals – knowledge about wants and costs and techniques, knowledge that would otherwise remain dispersed – are brought together into a rational structure of opportunities for exchange. Markets allow people to blunder around, or make intelligent guesses, and every so often to light on some previously unimagined way of making the world a better place. And the players in a market need not be entirely unregulated sole traders. They can be state-privileged trading bodies.

Real market outcomes will not necessarily look anything like a perfectly competitive equilibrium. There may be a single supplier in a market, which may earn very high profits in the short and long term. Or there may be general collusion among suppliers to fix prices. But, so long as there is no use of overt government force to close the market – as is the case with the British Post Office – this must be taken as an acceptable outcome for the time that it endures. If an outcome is not efficient – if there are ways for someone else to come into a market and cut prices or raise quality while still making a profit – any position, no matter how incidentally privileged, will eventually crumble.

I agree that the scales are systematically tipped in favour of big business. But I do not agree that this justifies the kind of regulation that is often accepted by the left libertarians. Actually existing markets do produce obvious dynamic efficiencies that would only be reduced by further regulation. Moreover, these further regulations only raise up oppressive bureaucracies that result in a less libertarian outcome than simply putting up with the facts of privilege.

But this takes me far beyond a mere discussion of whether the John Snow public house should be allowed to exclude demonstrative homosexuals. It is enough for me to say that its management and staff should be allowed to exclude anyone they please – and to bear whatever consequences may come about.

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29 comments

  • If this is a response to a protest that two men weren’t allowed to hold hands in a shop, I have to say I would find it unpleasant to see two men insisting on holding hands in a shop. It’s as if this sort of thing is just done for the effect. I have to say I don’t like to see people of any sex kiss each other in the street.

    • As someone who is himself gay, I hope that gay and bi men begin detaching themselves in greater numbers from the LGBT movement, which has outlived any purpose it may have once had, and has now become the handmaiden of various cultural Marxist agendas, that do little to serve the interests of gay/bi men. We have equality under the law; we do not require bakers to be forced to bake cakes for us or any of the other absurd implications of the doctrine of public accommodation. I believe that amongst younger men of these groups, of which I am one, it is already rapidly losing currency, especially when attaching itself to silencing any criticism of ideologies like Islam.

      • There is an increasingly obvious difference between a partiality for all male sex and membership of the established gay movement.

        • Right. Also just to be clear, when I say equality before the law I mean in the libertarian sense, not the heinous Equality act.

        • Sean, all the politically correct campaign groups are self-appointed spokesmen. You could compare the feminist movement, which not all women support.

  • I think I would side with Mill. Freedoms don’t exist in a social, moral and cultural vacuum. What we regard as ‘freedom’, in the sense of what is legally sanctionable, is just the accumulated weight of informal opinion about what people consider tolerable. In a comparatively free society – such as England was prior to circa 1914, the law was the red line between enforced, socially-constructed mores, and an otherwise relatively free life. Although I think there are absolute moral boundaries, I think these are definable only very broadly. Even murder is tolerable in some circumstances and agents of the government are in reality free to embark on murderous rampages under official licence. For examples, see the foreign wars fought by successive British governments since 1997; or the Waco Massacre in the United States during the early 1990s, when the federal U.S. government committed legalised murder in plain sight.

    Putting aside edifying sermons, two men kissing in the street is disgusting, but don’t expect me to pinpoint quite why. My dislike of public displays of homosexuality is a visceral reaction rather than an intellectual position. But homosexuality is tolerable, even in public under limited circumstances. One reason it is tolerable is that I know that as long as homosexuality is not widely promoted – and even if it is – relatively few men will ever want to engage in such behaviour. So the homosexual sub-culture can be left alone, without ceremony or fanfare.

  • While I agree in principle, involving individuals, we currently allow certain legal fictions (limited companies) that have multiple rights that individuals, alone or collectively, do not have: potentially infinite life, limited liability, ability to merge or be sold etc. Given that these rights/privileges are bestowed by society, rather than, as some claim, being innate, then it is reasonable for society to ask for it not to discriminate, except as required by law.

    Now, if you want to run a business as an individual, then I would argue you should be allowed to discriminate however you like.

  • I feel that any business that wants to do so should be free to do so as long as the proprietor understands that by doing so his (or her) company forgoes the advantages of limited liability status and will not be able to go bankrupt.

    That means that each and every shareholder in that business will be liable to the last penny of their personal fortunes. This has severe implications for the company should they wish to raise additional capital via a share issue.

    The unable to go bankrupt bit is because they cannot argue that they have tried any reasonable means to stay solvent.

    This way you have the freedom to do as you like as long as you are happy to take the consequences. I cannot see shareholders being happy to become liable to the last penny of their personal fortunes.

    In short you get rid of discrimination or at the very least reducing it to a minimum without making illegal.

    Oh and while we are at reforming business law let us get rid of Blair’s abomination the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).

    The whole idea of a partnership is the trust between the partners keeping them honest,. Due to the unlimited liability of the arrangement. A LLP destroys that by providing an opportunity for rogues to go hog wild.

    • But why?

      I must confess, I’ve never really been able to quite wrap my head around how or why some people think they can preach to others about what they should think. It strikes me as a manifestation of a kind of demented psychical state. Hubris doesn’t even touch it. It’s mega-egotism.

      Note I say ‘preach’ rather than persuade or encourage. I could understand it if you were to put a sensible argument for tolerance of homosexuality and encourage us to accept this and not go out of our way to offend people who follow such a lifestyle. That’s fine. But why this preaching and bullying?

      I do find homosexuality disgusting. Personally, I wouldn’t state as much to a customer because I don’t believe in bringing my political and social views into business. If you were to use my views as a basis for interfering in my business, then I would reach for a weapon. At that point, your mega-egotism has crossed the line into my private space and my private affairs. Stay out.

      The main argument against the incident in the original article is not what the staff member at the pub thought, but the lack of manners and tact in expressing it in a business setting to patrons of the employer. Of course we don’t know the circumstances. Some people would object to two men kissing in a public place. My position on this is that it is tolerable because it will only ever happen infrequently, and to make a fuss only serves to draws attention to what deserves to be nothing more than a marginal sub-culture. Anyway, customers are the ultimate source of staff wages and should be extended every reasonable consideration. Unless there was a risk of that pub unintentionally becoming a ‘gay bar’, what the staff member was doing was expressing her views about homosexuality, which is unlikely to be part of her duties. The workplace is a place for business, not the place for politics – from anybody.

      • Many workplaces seem to have no problem propagating BLTG issues, (big mac or whatever); with no regard for the discomfort or offence this may cause to many with ‘normal’ sensibilities. All this after giving everyone talks on equality/diversity, to the tune of it’s not what you say, but how the other person perceives it that counts. I would be interested to see what would happen if some one complained about a companies pushing of this issue?

        • They’d get nowhere. At present, businesses in the UK must comply with the Equality Act 2010, which is now the main legislation in this field. I could go into this in quite some detail, and some of the implications of the 2010 Act are – on paper at least – quite alarming, but suffice it to say that a business cannot discriminate directly or indirectly on the grounds of any protected characteristic (i.e. sex, gender, sexual orientation, sexual reassignment surgery, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs).

          Employers are therefore justified in ensuring that their staff are adequately trained and indoctrinated in the relevant equality and diversity practices. An employee who refused to undergo such training would probably be in breach of his or her employment contract or, if there is no written contract, would be considered to be failing to follow reasonable instructions from the employer.

    • Why would it that be an implication of the doctrine of limited liability? The state currently grants many legal statuses that could easily be replicated without it and I fail to see why this should be entailed by the grant of the corporate charter either way.

      • I am all for genuine equality under the law and the law applying to everybody without exception.

        I firmly believe that special cases make for bad laws.

        Moving on to equality law we have special cases the protected characteristic (i.e. sex, gender, sexual orientation, sexual reassignment surgery, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs).

        I believe 2010 Equality act that actually works against the people with protected characteristics just by elevating one crime above another because of who the victim was. In my view an asshole is an asshole is an asshole. Likewise a bully is a bully is a bully. Thus the punishment should be the same for similar crimes.

        The “hate crime” tag actually creates martyrs of the bully / asshole in their own minds. Thus the lesson that they learn is that they are the victim. Twisted logic I know but that is how it is.

        I would replace the protected characteristics with the simple like it is your legal duty to treat everyone equally, with NO special cases.

        On to your comment. The Law frequently makes martyrs of people. Usually in their own minds. If someone wants to behave is an obnoxious way. Then why should the people grant the privilege and advantages of limited liability to them?

        After all if you are obnoxious and your business goes bankrupt then you are a business failure not a martyr. What is more important is that everyone can see that to be the case.

        On a serious side note the whole area of limited liability law needs looking at. In particular what activities cannot be carried out by limited companies. I am thinking of the fracking industry in this instance. Where strict liability and bonds should be the order of the day.

        • “On to your comment. The Law frequently makes martyrs of people. Usually in their own minds. If someone wants to behave is an obnoxious way. Then why should the people grant the privilege and advantages of limited liability to them?”

          I’m not sure what you mean. The LLC protection is for the shareholders of the firm. Nothing more. The firm’s directors, employees, contractors etc. are already liable for any criminal or negligent actions they perform; the protection is purely for the shareholders and the company itself. There is no libertarian obligation to treat everyone equally; at best, there is the NAP, which is the notion that initiation of aggression is not justifiable. The only problem with LLC in its current form is that it is a blanket legal status. Whatever problems that brings with it, the argument put forward above doesn’t suffice to demonstrate that LLCs should be forced to treat all equally.

          Also, what is “obnoxious” is subjective. I don’t consider discrimination to be intrinsically obnoxious, especially since it is a natural and inevitable part of human interaction. Some people do go about it in ways I find odious, but it’s not sufficient for me to consider it grounds to impose yet more senseless restrictions on private firms.

          “On a serious side note the whole area of limited liability law needs looking at. In particular what activities cannot be carried out by limited companies. I am thinking of the fracking industry in this instance. Where strict liability and bonds should be the order of the day.”

          I can agree to the extent that limited liability needs to be revisited and the blanket legal status revoked.

    • Arguing a business loses limited liability if it discriminates is just a way of trying to enforce state-mandated equality. Actually, the only “penalty” from discrimination would be potential loss of business. We could say: the owners of any business can discriminate. So if it’s a corner shop, solely owned by the man in the shop, and he doesn’t want homosexual customers, that is his right. If it’s Tesco, the decision would need to be made by the owners, i.e. the shareholders of Tesco at the AGM. If the shareholders of Tesco wanted to ban homosexual customers, they could. But the decision wouldn’t be taken by the local store manager but by the shareholders, and it is inconceivable any large company would want to bar large categories of customers.

      • I am sure that I and pretty much everyone else has no wish to see the return of “No Blacks, No Jews, No Muslims, No Irish, No dogs” notices to the business premises of this country. Allowing companies to discriminate with no official discouragement is liable to lead to bricks through the window or a petrol bomb.

        So it is desirable for social cohesion to officially discourage such a practices. Life is not about what is best. It is frequently about what is least worst.

        I actually proposed that if a company wanted to discriminate then it should be free to do so. As long as it becomes an unlimited company. Thus the company must make a deliberate decision to do so in advance. Everything in life has consequences. Should we encourage undesirable behaviour?

        People frequently mistake freedom as the ability to do as you please. It is actually the freedom to get into as much trouble as you please.

        • “I am sure that I and pretty much everyone else has no wish to see the return of “No Blacks, No Jews, No Muslims, No Irish, No dogs” notices to the business premises of this country. Allowing companies to discriminate with no official discouragement is liable to lead to bricks through the window or a petrol bomb.”

          You mean those who oppose intolerance wouldn’t tolerate it?

          But I’m over 70 and I don’t remember such signs. Can you tell me where and when they happened? But even if they did, people should be allowed to trade and associate with whoever they wish to.

          • Freedom cuts both ways. You are free to do what you want. If it pisses someone else off, then they are equally free to let you know. In any way that they deem to be appropriate. That should be the libertarian response.

            Nobody’s rights should be elevated above those of anyone else. The trouble is that everybody thinks that their own rights are greater than everyone elses. That is before we get onto the subject of the responsibilities that are part and parcel of those rights.

            You only have to look at the behaviour of MPs to see what happens when you elevate one groups rights above the rest. Or the so called Celebrities for that matter.

            • “If it pisses someone else off, then they are equally free to let you know. In any way that they deem to be appropriate. That should be the libertarian response.”

              And if they resort to criminal actions in response, of course the owner can then sue them for damages.

            • ” I am sure that I and pretty much everyone else has no wish to see the return of “No Blacks, No Jews, No Muslims, No Irish, No dogs” notices to the business premises of this country. ”

              What you mean is you wish to see state-enforced abolition of freedom of association. Your post is pure cultural Marxism.

              If you want “social cohesion”, then you should stop immigration. To claim that social cohesion is desirable while trying to combine it with multi-culturalism and forcing people to accept it is just tyranny.

              You are still claiming the state has the right to hand out limited company status based on a company’s political views. This is authoritarian. The Nazi Party had a policy of Gleischhaltung, which means “alignment” in German, requiring all businesses and all organisations to “align” with Nazi Party ideals. So if the Nazi state promoted a certain view of Jews, say, then every organisation in the country had to adopt the same view. Your own policy is similar: a left-wing Gleischhaltung.

              You are opposed to a free society.

            • So you can’t tell me where these signs happened. I understand…

        • There is some debate about whether the ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’ signs really existed. If they did, I expect they were rare. If you look at the academic literature, the experts have found no evidence for their existence, or for anything similar regarding Irish. However, newspaper adverts during the mid-19th. century (at the height of Irish migration into industrial England) sometimes carried the ‘No Irish Need Apply’ slogan – known colloquially as ‘NINA’ – and the upper class English would often stipulate that the help must not be Irish. NINA terms were common.

          However, these were not discriminatory against Irish people per se. They were meant as a discouragement to Irish migrant workers who tended to be rowdy, feckless, drunken and badly behaved, or thought to be, by landlords and some tied employers who didn’t want ‘Irish’ staying with them.

          • People tell themselves all sorts of lies to justify bad behaviour. What makes it worse is that they even believe their own lies.

            • I’m not lying. I’m telling you how things were (or at least, how most of the experts think things were). The lies are coming from you. NINA was not anti-Irish. It was just a reaction to the behaviour of Irish migrant workers. Whether the reaction was truly fair or based more on a perception and prejudice about a certain type of working class person, I can’t say. Not that it matters, but I might add that I have some Irish ancestry myself. I think if I was around at that time – we are talking a very long time ago – and I was Irish, I would probably just laugh at at. I imagine most homosexuals react in much the same way now when they encounter discrimination.

              Discrimination is not ‘bad behaviour’. It’s not ‘good’ either. It’s just natural. But this is a legal matter. The law today says that you can’t discriminate in certain circumstances. That’s the reason why – and it’s generally the only reason why – most people don’t appear to, or at least don’t overtly, discriminate in any obvious way.

              Yet in reality, we all discriminate, it’s normal. It’s just that people like you have taken control of the courts and legal system and all the civic levers of power and you can now dictate to us ‘normal’ people that our normal behaviour (i.e. discrimination) is no longer officially allowed. That does however leave you to practice your own various forms of discrimination, which your holier than thou attitude blinds you to.

              • Sorry Tom I was not implying that you were lying about it. I was commenting on the apparent linguistics that people go through to justify the most outrageous opinions and actions.

                Set against background of the Empire. Which could only be held together with massive abuses of native peoples such attitudes are of no surprise at all. Empire is all about stealing resources and captive markets. Not bringing civilisation to peoples who often had had thriving civilisations when we were running around naked and covered in woad.

                You could easily sum it up with the saying, “Me white man! You wog! You do as I say or I will come over in a iron bird and drop bombs on you.”

        • [quote]”Allowing companies to discriminate with no official discouragement is liable to lead to bricks through the window or a petrol bomb.”[unquote]

          Except that in the past this was not seen as ‘discrimination’. The whole basis of the ‘discrimination’ concept is that liberal notion that we are just fungible individuals without a collective identity. If you adopt that mindset, then discrimination does look unjust, but the behaviour of people in the past has to be seen in the context of a different prevailing mindset that asserted the collective rights of the English and native British to a coherent ethnic identity and a way of life. In that context, excluding homosexuals or blacks from pubs and other privately-owned amenities was not ‘discrimination’, it was just normal life and was largely accepted as the proper exercise of private property rights, rights that were in turn framed and defined by the weight of views, opinions, habits and practices that formed the national social and cultural self-image and which we see as our national ‘history’ and ‘identity’.

          The anti-Millsian, pristine libertarian view expressed above by Dr Gabb in which we are all just individuals transacting with each other in a socio-cultural vacuum and in which freedom is “the right to do as we please with our own lives and our property” [to paraphrase], ignores how freedom is formed in the first place. Freedom is a social negotiation. I am not free to do as I please with my own life and my own property without legal sanction only partly due to the influence of absolute moral considerations. It is also the case that what I can and cannot do has a strong social and cultural aspect to it, though admittedly this cohesion is now breaking down.

        • “Allowing companies to discriminate with no official discouragement is liable to lead to bricks through the window or a petrol bomb.”

          That’s their choice to make.

          • I’d also add to the above that such activities could then lead to being taken to a court, since they would be criminal in nature. Yet simply not wishing to associate with someone would not be criminal in the libertarian – and any sane – understanding.

  • I had better add that a pub landlord also has a legal duty to keep an orderly house. That is to prevent things getting out of hand. In order to achieve this they have wide powers to eject people. Like in employment law, it is advisable not to give a reason if it could come back to bite you on the ass.

    This link clarifies the legal situation.
    http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Legal/Licensing-law/Pub-licensee-s-right-to-reject-custom

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