"Civil rights laws were born of a determination to end a particular evil the racial bigotry and segregation, often mandated by law, that for so long had abused black citizens and robbed them of their rights. To remedy that gross injustice, the new laws limited Americans' liberty in one key respect They made it illegal to treat people differently on the basis of race. (The laws usually covered religion and national origin as well.) Apart from that, they left freedom of association unabridged Americans remained free to embrace or reject, to welcome or exclude, to hire or fire, to do business with or turn their backs on anyone at all for any reason at all.
"And that was as it should be. In a free society, freedom includes the right to discriminate -- to make judgments about people and to act on those judgments. Ideally, no one would ever act out of bigotry or ignorance. But just as freedom of speech encompasses the right to say things that are foolish or unfair, freedom of association must encompass the right to make decisions about other people for foolish or unfair reasons.
"Yet over the years, our freedom of association has been eroded. It is no longer just discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or national origin that is barred. A steady stream of laws has expanded the list to include sex, citizenship, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, and veteran status. There are campaigns by fat people to make 'weight discrimination' illegal, by transsexuals to prohibit 'gender identity discrimination,' by ex-cons to ban discrimination on the basis of having a criminal record. And now, motorcycle riders.
"This constant enlargement of 'civil rights' comes at a price. It cheats private owners of their property rights. It replaces voluntary interaction with intimidation and force. It teaches aggrieved groups to use the law to compel changes instead of using persuasion and education to change minds. It weakens civil society, inflates government, and leaves all of us less free. It is long past time to put an end to the hijacking of civil rights."
- Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby
Go to the Uhuh opening Title Page
Go the Uhuh Home Page
Back to the top of this page