Friday, December 20, 2013

Protecting Rights vs. Sanctioning Action

There is a related point regarding yesterday's post, Marriage Equality vs. Anti-Discrimination Law: Freedom of Contract Works Both Ways

Regarding my NJ Star-Ledger comments, a correspondent took issue with my statement, "Of course, the law should not sanction discrimination," saying: "That is, of course, precisely what your 'objections' here would allow."

Here is my answer:

By "sanction" I mean enforced by law. Laws that protect rights don't sanction any particular type of behavior, good, bad, or otherwise. They sanction the individual's freedom to act on his own convictions and judgement. E.G.: Protecting freedom of speech does not imply that the law sanctions Nazism just because it protects a Nazi's right to speak in favor of Nazism. By protecting a bigot's right to freedom of association in regard to gay's, the government does not sanction his behavior. Laws banning gay marriage DOES sanction bigotry, because the same-sex couple's rights to freely contract are violated.

The key to understanding is to recognize that when a government violates a PRINCIPLE of liberty, it destroys the liberty the principle protects. If Nazi's are forbidden their free speech rights because their ideas are "unacceptable" to the government, then the government becomes the arbiter of which ideas are acceptable and which aren't. That's the end of free speech and thus intellectual freedom. The same goes for freedom of association and contract. There is a reason why the Founders described rights as UNALIENABLE. Everyone's rights must be protected equally and at all times, including the most despicable practitioners of a given right. The only condition: Don't stand in the way of others practicing their rights.

Related Reading:

The American Right, the Purpose of Government, and the Future of Liberty—Craig Biddle

Rand Paul, Title 2, and the Importance of Principles

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