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On Equal Rights & “Equality”
One Means Eliminating Bad Laws, the other Enacts New Ones

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:18 pm - January 13, 2010.
Filed under: American History,Freedom

In the third quarter of the Eighteenth Century, one of the issues which pushed the once loyal British subject Benjamin Franklin to the forefront of the revolutionary movement was his opposition to policies which prevented the “Proprietors,” large landowners, from paying taxes. He and the Founders fought against such privileges, against a Parliament continually encroaching on the rights of the then-Englishman living in the American colonies.  There were in many cases, particularly in “Proprietary” colonies like Pennsylvania, two sets of laws, one which applied to an aristocratic class, the other which applied to everyone else.

Their notion of equal rights meant elimination of laws which privileged certain classes.  Similarly, the Civil Rights movement began, in large measure, to repeal laws which discriminated against a certain class of people.  In short, their notion of equal rights was eliminating laws which privileged or discriminated.

Today, however, when gay leaders talk about “equality,” they seek not just to eliminate bad laws (like Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell), but also to enact well-meaning legislation (like ENDA and Hate Crimes).

And this is why I remain uncomfortable with the notion of “equality” as put forward by the left-leaning gay groups.  It seeks the expansion of government to pursue a desired outcome.  Under an “equal rights” regime, government gets out of the way, no longer privileging or punishing certain classes.   The equality regime, however, involves government in determining how individuals govern their private lives–and that of the institutions in which they participate and otherwise support of patronize.

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32 Comments

  1. Is it really well meaning? Hate crimes, that somehow a person’s thought make an action worse, are a abomination. I don’t give 2 dangs for what you think and I’ve known racists who have acted as perfect Christians to someone in need. What you do is the only thing that should manner in court. Not what you think. That way reads to heresy trials…

    After all, if you kill someone and the state hangs you, what does it matter whether you hated them or you were saving them from the return of Cthullu?

    Comment by Kevin — January 13, 2010 @ 7:30 pm - January 13, 2010

  2. Good point, Kevin. Perhaps, I’m giving the advocates of such legislation too much credit.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — January 13, 2010 @ 7:34 pm - January 13, 2010

  3. You know there’s always therapy and medication.

    Comment by Hdtex — January 13, 2010 @ 8:27 pm - January 13, 2010

  4. Years ago I got a new boss who’d transferred from another division that had him stationed in Denmark. At lunch one day, my young liberal self asked a question about the ‘equality’ of the Danish/European lifestyle – his reply has stayed with me:

    That equality does not come from raising the secretary to the level of the boss, it comes from lowering the boss to the level of the secretary. (!!)

    Comment by Jax Dancer — January 13, 2010 @ 8:57 pm - January 13, 2010

  5. You may not want equality but what about those of us that do? Why should we be denied? How would that REALLY effect you personally? Some gays like being a minority, it makes them feel “special”.

    Comment by James Martin — January 13, 2010 @ 10:06 pm - January 13, 2010

  6. “the Civil Rights movement began, in large measure, to repeal laws which discriminated against a certain class of people. In short, their notion of equal rights was eliminating laws which privileged or discriminated.”

    That is onlyt partly true. Although lots of segregation was legally mandated, much of it was simply imposed by the private sector. The great triumphs of the Civil Rights movement were centered around passing positive legislation imposing equality (and yes, often trumping state-level racist laws).

    So Dan, are you opposed to such legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandated equal access to public accommodations, overruling not only local laws but the discriminatory power of individuals who owned or ran public businesses?

    I would understand if you are – it is certainly consistent with your admiration of Ronald Reagan, who was definitely opposed at a time when the issue was being debated.

    Comment by Tano — January 13, 2010 @ 10:25 pm - January 13, 2010

  7. it is certainly consistent with your admiration of Ronald Reagan, who was definitely opposed at a time when the issue was being debated.

    [Citation Needed]

    I know it’s a long shot since you apparently lack the testicular fortitude to answer questions or prove your wild accusations, but there it is.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 13, 2010 @ 10:39 pm - January 13, 2010

  8. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1953700

    Reagan, the South and Civil Rights an article on the web

    Comment by rusty — January 13, 2010 @ 11:02 pm - January 13, 2010

  9. [gay leaders] seek not just to eliminate bad laws (like Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell), but also to enact well-meaning legislation (like ENDA and Hate Crimes).

    I dispute that the latter is well-meaning. They say it is. But that’s their cover. Their fundamental desire is to exert control over others.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 13, 2010 @ 11:05 pm - January 13, 2010

  10. more. . .http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/opinion/13herbert.html

    Righting Reagan’s Wrongs?

    there you go TGC

    Comment by rusty — January 13, 2010 @ 11:06 pm - January 13, 2010

  11. Dan,

    A good point well made.

    Comment by Classical Liberal Dave — January 14, 2010 @ 12:34 am - January 14, 2010

  12. Tano @ 4:

    So Dan, are you opposed to such legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandated equal access to public accommodations, overruling not only local laws but the discriminatory power of individuals who owned or ran public businesses?

    I can’t answer for Dan, but I can answer for myself, Tano.

    Congress may, in certain situation, overrule state and local laws. If the local law violates the 14th amendment, for instance.

    Now if you can only tell me what part of the federal constitution gives Congress any authority over public accommodations so that “the discriminatory power” of business owners may be intruded upon by Congressional action?

    What, exactly, constitutes a public accommodation? Does the business have to constitute interstate commerce to fall under Congressional jurisdiction, or does just being in business suffice?

    For my part, I see no constitutional authority for Congress over the employee and customer choices of businesses per se.

    Comment by Classical Liberal Dave — January 14, 2010 @ 12:44 am - January 14, 2010

  13. #5 I believe the word you should be using is “affect” not “effect.”

    Comment by Duffy - Native Intelligence — January 14, 2010 @ 12:57 am - January 14, 2010

  14. If the thought is to eliminate those laws that by their nature inadvertently negatively affect a minority because they overtly positively benefit the majority, would you be in favor of eliminating marriage laws from the books instead of supporting same-sex marriage because of all the benefits heterosexual couples receive under the law that gay people don’t?

    The point is that some of these “special” laws try to address the special circumstances that affect minorities. Gay men and women get beat up and killed because they’re gay men and women, nothing more. That’s a circumstance particular to being gay. Sure violence happens to other people but it’s rarely due to a person’s heterosexuality.

    I’m curious if any of you so vehemently against “special” laws for gay people have ever been discriminated against yourself? Have you ever been gay bashed, for example? Or if not, have you ever spoken to someone personally who has been beaten because of their sexuality? Lost their job? Lost their place of residence? Had their partner deported to their home country?

    Because the point is, even with the laws on the books it takes a violation against someone because of their sexuality to prompt such a case. These laws are enacted to not eliminate the thought of discrimination but rather the actions of discrimination. I think most gay people could care less how big of a bigot someone was as long as they could be assured there is reasonable deterrent in place from that bigotry affecting their personal freedoms and well-being.

    Comment by Countervail — January 14, 2010 @ 1:25 am - January 14, 2010

  15. I do so love it when the bigot gays like Countervail make this argument.

    First they insist that all gays need special treatment because everyone discriminates against gays and every gay is horribly mistreated.

    Then they insist that those of us who oppose that do so because we have never been discriminated against or mistreated.

    Moocher. Countervail is resentful and hateful towards those of us who don’t think of ourselves as victims and don’t support his attempt to steal from others and force compliance through government, so he tries to diminish us by claiming we haven’t been “discriminated against” enough.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 14, 2010 @ 3:09 am - January 14, 2010

  16. The great triumphs of the Civil Rights movement were centered around passing positive legislation imposing equality (and yes, often trumping state-level racist laws).

    WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    There is an ocean of difference between “equal access” and “equality.” You can measure, see, taste, smell, feel, hear “equal access.” You cannot ever, ever, ever get a clear, unassailable definition of “equality.”

    Take your humble self of the nearest center of commerce in your area and tell us how you statistically analyze your position on your favorite “equality” scale.

    Take your humble self of the nearest center of religion in your area and tell us how you statistically analyze your position on your favorite “equality” scale.

    Take your humble self of the nearest center of social gatherings in your area and tell us how you statistically analyze your position on your favorite “equality” scale.

    Take your humble self of the nearest center of employment in your area and tell us how you statistically analyze your position on your favorite “equality” scale.

    Take your humble self of the nearest center of advanced education in your area and tell us how you statistically analyze your position on your favorite “equality” scale.

    Etc.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 14, 2010 @ 12:47 pm - January 14, 2010

  17. heliotrope,

    I have no idea whatsoever what you mean by that last comment.

    The Civil Rights laws most certainly imposed equality. They trumped state laws that denied equality before the law. They forced all businesses operating as public accommodations to treat customers equally.

    I have no idea what you mean by this “statistically analyzing on an equality scale”. In commerce, customers cannot be discriminated against based on race. Same with employment and higher education. Equal treatment was mandated by the Civil Rights Laws. Religion and purely social gatherings are not affected.

    Comment by Tano — January 14, 2010 @ 1:20 pm - January 14, 2010

  18. “I think most gay people could care less how big of a bigot someone was as long as they could be assured there is reasonable deterrent in place from that bigotry affecting their personal freedoms and well-being.”

    But there is a deterrent, and it can be a very effective one. It’s called adverse publicity. Instead of running to the government as Big Daddy Who Must Protect Us, consumers and workers can pool their information about companies and how these businesses treat the people they care about. They can refuse — very loudly — to patronize them, and widely publicize the reason why.

    They won’t even have a case for a lawsuit as long as we’re careful to document our claims. Truth is always an effective defense.

    Competition in the free market protects human rights by letting karma work its magic.

    Comment by Lori Heine — January 14, 2010 @ 1:44 pm - January 14, 2010

  19. I have no idea whatsoever what you mean by that last comment.

    Alrightythen, you can not see the difference between “equal access” and “equality.”

    If that is willful, so be it. If it is because of a lack of brain cells, I’m sorry.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 14, 2010 @ 1:53 pm - January 14, 2010

  20. Lori H,

    Bingo! I don’t shop at Winn Dixie because they admitted firing a cross-dressing truck driver who had 20+ years of service – for his cross-dressing. The story made the press back around 2001, he wasn’t gay but workplace rumors led him to reveal to his boss that he enjoyed wearing women’s clothing. They didn’t want to be ‘seen as endorsing that behavior in their employees’, so they fired him. And it ended up being legal.

    And with the internet, such publicity is so easy to spread – even when ‘the media’ can’t be bothered.

    Comment by Jax Dancer — January 14, 2010 @ 5:48 pm - January 14, 2010

  21. Aw, shucks! It looks like Tano’s battery has to be recharged and he can’t get back to points at hand. It is like that when you only have enough juice to hit and run.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 14, 2010 @ 8:52 pm - January 14, 2010

  22. You want more helio? Sounded like you were fading away there.

    “you can not see the difference between “equal access” and “equality.”

    If the law says, as it does, that you cannot discriminate against people on the basis of race in all aspects of your business – you cannot refuse them entrance to your establishment, you cannot refuse to serve them because of their race, you cannot charge them a different price because of their race, you cannot refuse to hire them because of their race etc. etc. – then you are doing a hell of a lot more than granting them “equal access”. You are mandating that they be treated equally as any of your other customers. That is what the law accomplished.

    Now. perhaps you could try to explain to us how things look in your alternative universe.

    Comment by Tano — January 14, 2010 @ 9:52 pm - January 14, 2010

  23. You nailed it, Tano. “Equal access.” Equal access to entry. Equal access to service. Equal access to cost. Equal access to jobs.

    You are mandating that they be treated equally as any of your other customers.

    Let’s talk about gays. Let’s talk about a restaurant overrun with homophobes where a gay is treated to all of the above except a sincere sense of belonging. There is nothing overt, just a clear atmosphere on the part of the customers that the gay is less appreciated than a week old dead mackerel. Nothing illegal here. But are you going to say the gay is enjoying “equality”? Of course not.

    Equality is unconditional. Most of the gay griping I see on the net is about feeling accepted. Little of it is about equal access.

    Spend some quality time thinking about equality. Obama calls it social justice. Marx laid it out in different terms.

    Total equal access does not result in egalitarianism, because in spite of the access, there is still a difference in merit, ability, effort and blind luck.

    Arguing about the meaning of a word is useful if both sides are open to learning something. So far, you have not presented anything remotely resembling an enlightened thought.

    However, if you require that your truncated version of common semantics is in play, then I bow to your rigged argument and hastily withdraw.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 14, 2010 @ 10:20 pm - January 14, 2010

  24. “But are you going to say the gay is enjoying “equality”? Of course not.”

    Huh? Yes I would. He is being treated equally under the laws. That is what all these struggles have been fighting for. That is what we pass laws about. There are no laws, nor have there ever been, nor has anyone ever advocated for laws that require you to like, or to be warm and effusive to people that you do not want to be that way to. What kind of crazy strawmen are you constructing here?

    “Total equal access does not result in egalitarianism, because in spite of the access, there is still a difference in merit, ability, effort and blind luck””

    You are the one who is playing semantic games here. You seem to be redefining what normal people considers to be equality – equal treatment under the laws – and you are calling it “equal access”. No matter what the area in which equality is established, you just call it equal access – like the “equal access to price” silliness you post above.

    Who has ever denied there are differences in merit, ability, effort and blind luck? Who has ever argued that these differences are to be obliterated? I guess on odd numbered days you guys argue that liberals are all elitists, and on even numbered days, that we are all egalitarianists. Maybe if you stopped this bipolar extremist namecalling, and actually tried to understand the real world, you might fare better.

    Comment by Tano — January 15, 2010 @ 12:01 am - January 15, 2010

  25. Nice try Tano,

    As has been pointed out, several times, on topics like Gay Marriage you have the same access to marry one (1) person at a time, subject to the limitations imposed by the state of origin. Everyone has equal access. Using the above paragraph, you’ve accepted this. Good for you.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 15, 2010 @ 7:50 am - January 15, 2010

  26. Affirmative Action seems not be fudging the equal access scales if we are to believe Tano.

    Here is a working definition of equality that is key to using the word if you were to care about semantics:

    Equality

    The condition or quality of being equal; agreement in quantity or degree as compared; likeness in bulk, value, rank, properties, etc.; as, the equality of two bodies in length or thickness; an equality of rights.

    Sameness in state or continued course; evenness; uniformity; as, an equality of temper or constitution.

    Evenness; uniformity; as, an equality of surface.

    Exact agreement between two expressions or magnitudes with respect to quantity; — denoted by the symbol =; thus, a = x signifies that a contains the same number and kind of units of measure that x does.

    If you care about semantics, then you care about your meaning and clarity when you speak or write.

    Notice, that in my bipolar extremist effort that I high-lighted an equality of rights. If you ignore all the rest of the definition, if you cherry pick those four words, you totally miss the meaning of the word. Furthermore, no definition exists if it uses the word being defined as key word of the definition. The “an equality of rights” is an example of usage based on the terms of the definition.

    You and I have an equality of rights. You can marry and I can marry. Your spouse can inherit, have power of attorney, be next of kin, etc. just as mine can. But you insist that you are denied equality because your spouse must be of the opposite sex and you “want” to have a same sex spouse. Maybe I “want” a dozen nymphomaniac young teen-age girls to be my spouses. See, we are even “equal” in being denied what we want.

    When you get on the “equality” train, you are necessarily looking for equal outcome. The definition of “equality” is very clear about that. That is why so many institutions have created quotas. If “equality” of outcome does not occur naturally, then you fiddle the system and make the results you desire come true.

    We conservatives are very nervous when you liberals start talking about “equality” because we know you have your calculators out and you are going to start fudging the numbers until you get the answer you want.

    What do you have to say about the “equality” on the average college basketball team?

    Comment by heliotrope — January 15, 2010 @ 10:10 am - January 15, 2010

  27. ‘When you get on the “equality” train, you are necessarily looking for equal outcome.”

    That is BS. I realize it is the popular logic in rightwing propaganda, but it is BS nonetheless. The “equality’ wars have been a constant in American life since the founding – abolition, women’s suffrage, immigrant’s rights, and then all the 20th century examples..- and never has there been an emphasis or even any attention to some notion of “equal outcome”.

    “The definition of “equality” is very clear about that.”

    No it isnt. Your definition of equality completely misses the point. “Equality” by itself is underdefined. Equality of WHAT? It is an integral part of any real-world notion of equality that the value being equalized be specified.

    “Equality of rights” is not a definition of “equality”, it is an _example_ of equality. It specifies a type of equality – in this case a situation in which the political rights of all people are made to be the same. Under the civil rights laws we were discussing earlier, the rights of black people to patronize businesses were guaranteed – equality was mandated for all people, irrespective of race, under commercial and civil law, under employment law – it was mandated the blacks be treated the same as any other customer. That does not mean that the black man, with 5 dollars in his pocket, can be served the 10 dollar meal that some white man just bought (your “equality of outcome”). No one has ever advocated that, except in rightwing paranoid fantasy land.

    The only angle from which outcomes are examined is when certain aberrant outcomes are indicative of an underlying discrimination. If you have a population that is half black and half white, and you hold an election, and then analyze the vote and find that 99% of the voters were white, then you have some ipso facto justification for suspecting that the voting process is not fair. That would justify a critical examination of the process. A skewed outcome can function as evidence of a problem, but there might, of course, be benign explanations.

    ‘What do you have to say about the “equality” on the average college basketball team?’

    Oh, that every player must end up scoring the exact same number of points – right!??? That is what liberals have been fighting for – is that your argument?
    There is some relevance here. There was, in vast areas of this country, and for a long time, a discrimination based on race when it came to sports teams. Fortunately, no thanks to conservatives, that is now over. Blacks are equal with respect to their ability to compete for a place on the team.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if gays could do that.

    Comment by Tano — January 15, 2010 @ 11:23 am - January 15, 2010

  28. Tano,

    I concede. You are determined to fashion the language to your liking and convenience and you will argue the lint out of your dryer exhaust if your cat won’t listen to you.

    Good on you, lad. You have a compulsion and a need to win and you will say and believe anything at hand if you believe it makes you come out on top.

    Fair warning: those people who “force” themselves upon you and pull your chain are probably hopelessly committed finding a way to reason with you. Some people are like that. Perhaps you could wear a large button that says: “I have made up my mind and facts, evidence and rules to the contrary are not accepted.”

    You have a nice, shallow and protected by willful ignorance life. Oh, and DO hang out exclusively with your fellow travelers. No reason to wreck things by introspection.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 15, 2010 @ 11:35 am - January 15, 2010

  29. helio,

    That is a rather lame concession. Either make a better argument, or concede gracefully.

    “Perhaps you could wear a large button that says: “I have made up my mind and facts, evidence and rules to the contrary are not accepted.””

    Thats pretty funny. What you cannot establish by argument, you try to impose by mocking assertion. Ay, you are a true conservative.

    “Oh, and DO hang out exclusively with your fellow travelers. No reason to wreck things by introspection.”

    Rather ironic, no? You really will say anything, no matter how ridiculous. I am the one, after all, who is hanging out in places like this, with people like you. I am the one who is exposing my own thoughts to the (hyper)critical examination of those with fundamentally different perspectives, and trying my best to argue my case. And when you fail to find a rational argument against my points, you accuse me of only hanging with my own?????

    I think you need to crank the dial on your self-editor, set your own bar a bit higher.

    Comment by Tano — January 15, 2010 @ 12:14 pm - January 15, 2010

  30. This coming from Tano, he who will not answer the following:

    So Tano, ever going to answer heliptrope’s challenge?

    or maybe NDT’s debunking of your health care talking points here?

    Or his exposing you as a liar (again) here?

    Or here?

    Or no rebuttal of this montage of “Tano gets his ass handed to him” here?

    Or how about helitropes smacking of you here.

    Or maybe heliotrope’s question here

    Think I’ll just save this and add to it as needed. Just post it in threads where Tano comes in, reads his script and leaves. This way any new readers can know he’s pointless, and save some time.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 15, 2010 @ 1:27 pm - January 15, 2010

  31. trying my best to argue my case

    I’m sorry, I was in fear that it would turn out that you really are trying your best.

    Have a nice day.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 15, 2010 @ 4:07 pm - January 15, 2010

  32. [...]  On Equal Rights & “Equality”: One Means Eliminating Bad Laws, the other Enacts New O…. Comments [...]

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