In a free world, nobody would be forced to associate with someone else against his will. In a free world, nobody would be forced to buy from someone against his will. In a free world, nobody would be forced to sell to someone — or hire someone — against his will.
In a free world, all associations are voluntary. In other words, if any transaction is forced — for either party — that is not a transaction between free people.
Free people have liberty to make their own decisions — whether I agree with their decisions or not. Free people can be kind and loving if they choose. Free people can be open-minded and decent. But free people can also be hateful and mean-spirited if they choose. Free people can be greedy if they choose.
If human beings are not free to make their own decisions about their associations, they are not free people. Whoever dictates what their decisions must be has taken away their natural right to live as free men and women.
If you insist that a man do business with another man against his will — whatever the business is — you are asserting that you own him. You are asserting that it is your right — or the right of some political group — to make decisions for him. You are asserting that he isn’t free to live his own life. You are asserting that he must obey you and bring about your desired outcome.
In a moral world, people treat each other with love and respect and dignity. They have tolerance for differences in belief and they are civil and fair to one another even when they hate each others’ ideas.
But morality is a choice. You can’t force someone to be moral. You can only compel them to obey you — through politicians — by using force or threat of force. You can threaten to take away their property or their livelihood or their physical freedom. Coercing people to obey your idea of morality is evil.
I think that those who won’t do business with those they disagree with are bigots. If I owned a bakery, I would be happy to bake cakes for gay couples’ weddings. Even if I hated the people — or if I simply disagreed with what they were doing — I would want to make the money. I think it’s bigotry to refuse to do business with people because of what they are. I find that immoral. I find their refusal to be a direct contradiction of the teaching of Jesus for me to love others.
But it is evil for me to compel others to obey my ideas of morality. It’s evil for you to compel others to obey your notions of morality, too. Every human being is born with the right to make his own decisions. Everyone has a natural right to deal with those he chooses to deal with. No one has a natural right to force others to do business with them.
If a bigot can have his natural rights taken away from him, what makes you think your rights are safe when the majority decide they disagree with you?
The irony of defending the freedom of bigots today is that freedom for all was a liberal idea. Those who insist that bigots must obey their own moral code call themselves liberals, but they fail to understand the principles which drove classical liberals to conceive of liberty for every individual.
I wish we lived in a world in which everyone loved one another and everybody treated one another in a brotherly way. I wish we lived in a world where everyone had good will toward others, even those we disagree with. I would love the outcomes which most of you want just as much as you do — but I refuse to be seduced by the evil of coercing other people just to force them to obey what I believe is right.
If you choose your political or social positions according to consequences, you will always find yourself having to shift your alleged principles as the world changes around you. But if you understand core principles of right and wrong — how people have the freedom to make their own choices, even if you disagree — you will never contradict yourself, because you choose principle over consequences.
We are all born with natural rights which can’t be given or taken away. (I don’t agree with him about everything, but John Locke wrote beautifully about this idea.) You don’t have the right to interfere with someone else’s life, liberty or property, but you do have the right to choose the people with whom you interact.
Any person who forces you to obey his idea of morality — whether it’s a conservative trying to enforce conservative social norms or a progressive trying to enforce his version of equality — is someone who believes he has the right to make other people’s decisions.
If this is you, don’t pretend you support individual freedom. You don’t. You support slavery. The only remaining argument is how much of a man’s life you claim the right to control.
One person — or a group of people — controlling other human beings against their will is evil. If that’s what you support, you need to know you’re on the side of evil, not freedom.
There will come a day when the majority disagree with you. If you’ve supported the notion of using coercion to compel people to obey you, don’t be surprised when you are one day forced to obey when you are the one in the minority.
If you one day lose your rights, don’t blame anybody but yourself.