Being Anti Anti-Discrimination Law, Hating Hate Speech and Hate Crime Laws

legalI will start this article of by saying that in spite of this policy stance, I do not in any way want to devalue or invalidate the experiences of those who have experienced oppression. The point I am trying to make is not to justify any form of discrimination, but to attack current policy which attempts to prohibit it – and that is the problem I have. That said, I will try to talk about this from my perspective as both a sexual and gender minority.

Anti-discrimination law sounds amazing as an idea, and it is an easy political point to score. After all, prohibiting discrimination is just a way of standing up for the little guy – and you cannot stand by and watch someone exclude another. But there is so much wrong with anti-discrimination law ethically, despite its good intentions – and I want to highlight these in this essay.

As Annoying As It Is, You Have A Right To Discriminate and Say What You Want

Yep, you do. Individuals are born to be self-sovereign, and so are endowed with rights to property, freedom of speech and freedom of choice (these rights I note are rights which come from owning yourself), and the right to discriminate is only an extension of this. Until speech reaches the point of threatening violence, individuals can say what they want and be as bigoted and hateful as they want. If the government and the courts are to have any role in the game of free speech, it is to protect it, not to restrict it.

Having offensive or oppressive remarks against you does not justify government force, or an invasion of freedom of speech. Whilst freedom of speech exists, you are still self-governing and own your own thoughts and your own body. “Freedom from discrimination” is not an extension of individual sovereignty (which is the base of enlightenment theory on natural rights, the foundation of constitutional rights), and so does not trump freedom of speech. I do not have the right to demand the service, income or work of another person through force. That is the complete opposite of the right – that is the denial of bodily sovereignty.

And the right to discriminate is sometimes a good thing. Being against homophobia and transphobia, I naturally despise the Westboro Baptist Church, and other fundamentalist, anti-gay organisations. I may refuse to serve people for picketing funerals and pride parades – but anti-discrimination laws hold that I cannot do this, and that I have to serve them. I am forced to help out and serve someone who believes in the genocide of queer people. How can this be a good thing?

Furthermore, if you are a religious institution, it is ridiculous and Orwellian that you should tell them which of their beliefs are acceptable, provided that they are not harming others. If a church decides that marriage is between a man and a women, they have a right to refuse service and guard their beliefs. Rightly or wrongly, individuals have the right to freedom of choice based on their subjective moralities, provided they do not force or ‘aggress’ others – and the state has no right to dictate the beliefs of private individuals when within the non-aggression principle.

Anti-Discrimination Laws Do A Disservice To The Cause of Social Justice

By banning discrimination, you build a narrative of oppression for oppressive groups. Fundamentalist Christian groups can believe that there is a “War On Christianity” because they cannot refuse to bake cakes for same-sex marriages. Racists and fascists can believe that there is a trend of “White Genocide” because you can no longer segregate under law, and that not being able to refuse to employ hijabi women is part of a process of “Islamisation”.

Whilst homophobia and racism are now looked down on by a large proportion of society, oppressive groups can claim that they are subject to government tyranny, making them discriminated against and a target of the system. If it were not for government force, the social change through grassroots activism would turn people against discrimination (like it has in some areas), and people would refuse their beliefs through freedom of association – this sort of change denies oppressors a claim to oppression.

The kind of laws which are meant to tackle discrimination simply give discriminators a feeling of victimhood, which only make their ideologies more attractive.

Hate-Crime Laws Contribute to the Prison Complex

We have to remember that human rights are applicable to all – whilst that seems obvious, we must remember this when we approach the treatment of the unlawful. Hate crime laws enhance the penalties of violent crimes because of prejudice against the victim, and consequentially, lengthen the times people are kept in prison. By supporting hate crime laws we only beef up the prison system, which is a brutal example of state oppression – complete with invasive strip searches, disgustingly high levels of sexual assault, violence and denial of healthcare. What is worse, at the end of the day, either a private entity or the government are incentivised to make services worse and worse as they cut costs for a budget surplus or profit, and have no accountability to the prisoner.

We also end up supporting an institution which targets and discriminates against queer and trans people, and which disproportionately jails more indigenous, latinx, black and brown people than white people. By turning to the prison system for punishment, you essentially attempt to solve discrimination with discriminatory institutions.

Tackling Bigotry Without Government

We do not have to lobby for anti-discrimination law to tackle bigotry and oppression. Shutting people down with rules is a sign of weakness – if we are to change people’s minds, we need to convince people. Change is about transforming the mind by being persuaded of a point or idea, which can only arise from strong dialogue and beating opposition. If we try to ban oppressive ideas, we simply give others the idea that their ideas are too strong to be discussed, and create a narrative that oppressors are being oppressed, both factors thus strengthening their justifications for injustice. Beating others in debate is infinitely better than shutting debate – and it has been by winning this debate that society has progressed.

Rather than banning discrimination, we should lead the way and call out individuals and collectives on discriminatory practices. In markets, we have the right to choose, and we can inform others of the practices or beliefs of certain enterprises, and change the market with our feet, by boycotting businesses who defend or instigate bigotry, and calling for enterprises to adopt inclusive practices. Instead of using the government to shut bad businesses down, we the consumers should do this ourselves. Businesses that openly refuse to serve LGBTQ people would be outed in the media and shamed, and if not by the media, by queer rights watchdogs. If I can recall correctly, one of my employers once told me “good word gets around once, and bad word gets around ten times” – the accountability in markets acts as a form of regulation against bigotry. I did say before that you have a right to be bigoted, but you also have a right to reply.

What I would like to communicate in all of this, is that despite the good intentions of anti-discrimination law, it tramples natural rights, requires force, is counter-productive and turns people away from justice advocacy. Fighting bigotry does not mean we have to clamp down on people’s autonomy – fighting bigotry is all about autonomy:  it is restoring the self-determination that individuals deserve. We do not have to force others, but educate them – and point out that certain behaviours and attitudes are simply not on. Education is not effective by force, it is effective by reason, and that is why I am actively opposed to anti-discrimination law.

The Case for Marriage Privatisation

marriage licenseIn listening to debates around marriage equality, you would probably think that there are only two sides to the marriage debate – the “traditional marriage” side versus the “marriage equality” side. But the reality is that there is a position which extends above and beyond the two, and questions the legitimacy of marriage licensing altogether – and that is the case for marriage privatisation.

It does sound a bit odd when you say it – privatising marriage. After all, marriage is a largely private institution, and marriage is not an enterprise. Marriage is licensed however, and in economic terms, monopolised
by government, as all private marriages must pass through the government and have its approval, before being legal and official. Governments take part in social engineering, and try to protect the nuclear family by assigning tax credits and awarding privileges to married couples. What is more, marriage is restricted to monogamous, heterosexual couples. All in all, privatising marriage would be to divorce government from it, and to allow anyone marry whomever they wanted.

In most countries, marriage is ‘nationalised’ – it is regulated and ultimately controlled by the state, maybe to the exception of Liberland. But there are growing movements around the world calling for its deregulation, and the separation of marriage and state. Over in the US, some red states are adopting this proposal as a way to protect religious freedom and deal with political pressure from the LGBTQIA movement. What I would like to cover though, is the diversity of ideas which back up this policy, and why people from all over the political spectrum should support marriage privatisation.

Conservative? Traditional? Religious? Fundamentalist?

First off, the status quo with marriage regulation restricts religious liberty. Ever considered denominations or religions that believe in voluntary, polyamorous marriage, are stopped from practicing their religion because of the definition of marriage? And in some places, liberal denominations, stopped from willingly marrying monogamous gay couples? The current definition of marriage is based upon conservative Judaeo-Christian ideals, and infringes on the religious liberties of minorities. Religious freedom, the freedom to follow your own destiny according to your own God, should be a given, and is trampled on by the government monopoly of marriage.

Theologically, marriage licensing is condescending and narcissistic. Marriage licensing is put simply, a seal of approval from the government saying “now that we agree with the marriage you’re having, it is now official, and it wouldn’t be otherwise!” But what does that say in a theological context? It says that the state is more important than God, and that it should have authority over the word of God – which is an arguably offensive idea to those who are religious. This makes no sense at all, because God in definition is omnipotent and the being most worthy of praise.

Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. – 2 Chronicles 6, The Bible (NIV)

Marriage licensing is the instilling of the regulatory trinity – The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit and the bureaucrat. The first three any Christian would desire, but the last is certainly not needed. The question ultimately is – if your marriage is seen as official in the eyes of God, why does it need government approval? It ties into the aforementioned point – not only is marriage licensing theologically inconsistent, but is both undesired and unneeded. If you want any evidence, all you need to do is turn to the internet, and read evangelical blogs giving you tips on how to avoid marriage licensing!

Privatisation would also cut spending and cut bureaucracy. If you are really so worked up about needless spending and public sector overemployment, one of your best pet-peeves will be marriage licensing and all it entails. Spending taxpayer money on people running a database and creating bits of paper to verify your marriage? Surely there isn’t a better example of bureaucratism in the Western world.

Liberal? Progressive? Feminist? Queer? Socially Radical?

Although marriage equality serves as the mainstream liberal argument on the definition of marriage, the radically liberal position is to support getting rid of a state definition altogether.

Marriage equality isn’t even equal first off, and marriage rights are still heavily restricted. The current definition still prohibits polyamorous marriage, and is exclusive of those who wish to have one. It is my body, it is my choice, and in no way should I be told how to run my life, but rather the state’s role should be to promote inclusion. The prohibition of polyamorous marriage contradicts this. In fact, if we consider the existence of polyamorous relationships within the queer* community, marriage licensing actively and openly does LGBTQIA people a disservice.

Marriage licensing is anti-secular, and is a remnant of theocracy in our legal system. In Britain, where marriage licensing was first brought in, it served to inscribe the Catholic Church’s policy on invalid marriages into law. From that point onwards, it has been little more than a medium for conservative lobby groups and organised religion to enforce their views, and set cultural norms. If we look at the regulatory state’s history of marriage, we can see it attempt to prohibit interracial marriage, indigenous marriage and same-sex marriage. If anti-marriage equality activists are on the wrong side of history, so are those who advocate marriage nationalisation. Marriage licensing is anti-secular, and a clear cut method of conservative lobbying.

I’m not sorry that we can now enter the military and not sorry that we can marry, but frankly I come from a radical vision in time that never made marriage or the military my criteria of success. I didn’t want us to have wars, I didn’t want to register my relationship with the state. So are those victories?  They are. Were they discriminatory? Yes, they were. Was it my idea of what it was to build as a liberation movement for queer people? No, it wasn’t at all. – Amber L. Hollibaugh in an interview with The Nation

Marriage equality advocates the assimilation of queer* people into a life of monogamy through a government institution… which goes against the past aims of the gender and sexual minorities. Take Stonewall for example, an example of queer bashing and police brutality, we see the struggles of gay and trans folk up against oppressive police forces. Why should we turn back and conform to the same government and forces which have beaten us down?

Marriage equality is the active assimilation and conformity to an institution which has discriminated against queer people for centuries. What’s more, you see straight cis politicians taking credit for our struggles because they have managed to draft a legislation and make nice, persuasive speeches about it. What is even worse is that they make issues out of them, make political gains, and tokenise our rights for their careers. Government involvement is taking advantage of our movement, and turning us in the wrong direction.

Libertarian? Classical Liberal? Voluntaryist? Anarchist?

Be you a libertarian, this phrase will ring a bell or two. No-one has the right to stop a voluntary contract between consenting adults. If everything is consensual, I’m happy, and my partner or partners are happy, the government, or anyone else for that matter, should not be able to stop me. Period. It is plain unjust.

Civil institutions are not defined by the government, but are the results of voluntary exchanges. Marriage is a social construct, and an institution built up by social groups, and moulded into shape by cultural norms (which are defined and challenged by individuals). The government has a monopoly on force and always a step behind the actions of individuals, and every time marriage licensing has been adjusted, it has been adjusted to a change in values – to keep up with individuals. Instead of having a government which tries to sustain certain groups’ morals by force, we should be left to decide what is moral for ourselves. If I perceive marriage as one thing, I should be able to act upon that definition, practicing or being in that marriage, and the state shouldn’t assume a monopoly on marriage and its definition. The government should accept that we are all different, and perceive things differently, and respect that marriage is defined subjectively, not objectively.

Last but not least – why cannot we just be left alone? A social contract does not exist. I never consented to government force or the government holding a definition of marriage at all. We have a natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and never should these be infringed upon, lest I harm someone else. Marriage law should thus be restrict to protecting the freedom of individuals, not the other way around.

The debate around marriage is in no way two-sided. There is another side, and another option. Marriage licensing lacks real purpose, contradicts the principles of many social groups, and can simply be replaced by,
well, freedom. If a justice of the peace wants to marry my partner(s) and me, then I should be able to engage in this voluntary contract, no license required.

Governments can simply restrict the definition of marriage to restricting harm, and treat it as a voluntary contract between private individuals. Marriage licensing is no longer a necessity nowadays, and is logically flawed on many different levels. So why don’t we privatise it?

Flag The Referendum!

If we get nothing out of the whole “flag debate”, hopefully we get to learn something again about our system, and just how messed up it is.flagquestionmark

Scrolling through your Facebook feed, it is hard to escape angsty posts about the terrible quality of the alternative flags, how much the referendum process costs, how the current flag is colonialist and racist, why we should boycott the referendum, and eventually (once the results come out) how unfair the result was. But what is hilarious in spite of this all, is how reminiscent the attacks on the referendum are of critiques of democracy!

I can say that I sympathise with a lot of these angsty statuses, some are real concerns. The fact that $26 million is being spent on this, with $6.73 million being spent on the “public consultation process” (i.e. bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy, which attempts to ensure that the referendum is up to scratch so democracy can work) just shows us the nature of government spending, and how much is wasted on every single project, on petty “engagement”. If you want to follow what the panel actually did, it wandered the country, talking to people about their values and attending meetings and workshops. This is what millions has been poured into. And if you think that $26 million is not actually that much in the larger scheme of things, you can look at the larger scheme of things – total government spending for 2015/16 is $88.6 billion, and GDP is $240 billion – in other words, government spending is 36.7% of GDP. This is all just a reminder that our markets are not so free, after all.

I really dislike the current flag. If you study its origins, the reason we have the Southern Cross on the flag is because of its naval significance, and the Union Jack of course, because of the monarchy. But what does that mean to us? The everyday Kiwi in a pluralistic, individualist society, now pretty divorced from the United Kingdom? Very little. Our current flag is a simple reminder that our culture is built on the back of colonial expansion. There is no recognition or acknowledgement of the tangata whenua and Māori society, but simply the image of a constellation which guided colonists, and the Union Jack to remind us that we started off as a part of the British Empire. In essence, it is a spitting image of statism and the destruction of Indigenous culture. Just a subtle reminder too, that flag burning is illegal because it hurts the government’s feelings.

Its royal blue background is reminiscent of the blue sea and sky surrounding us, and the stars of the Southern Cross signify our place in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Flag recognises our historical foundations and that New Zealand was once a British colony and dominion. – Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

The current flag was not chosen by the people, but was chosen by the government, and yet we are told to identify with it and be proud of it. And now we get a “choice” – five other alternative flags, chosen from a forty others, by a group of temporary bureaucrats, which no one actually wants. Again, sounds just like democracy. Every election we turn up to the polls, and pick from a load of options which are not perfect, but feel are the best of the worst, and then get told afterwards how empowering democracy is and how accountable the government is. If things do not work well, just vote harder! Here we get given five half-class alternative, chosen by a taxpayer funded round table, and get told that we have a voice and are so lucky – it is laughable. If you are up in arms about this referendum, check out our democratic system – the difference is one of the two bears more significance on our lives, and costs us a hell of a lot more.

No matter what flag we get after this, the minority will complain about the result. Classic. Majority tyranny. Whatever flag is chosen will not be representative of the country, but representative of the majority. The will of the people is not a thing in democracy, only the will of the majority, and the permission to oppress the minority. And this is an important thing about the flag – be it chosen by the government (as the current one is) or chosen by the majority in a referendum, the flag cannot represent the people of a nation, and so the flag is pointless.

The alternative is that well… we do not have a flag. As controversial as this may sound, we are not defined by our birthplace within artificial borders – or at least should not be. If the referendum campaign is about standing up for our values, then a flag is the wrong way to go about it. Values are not collectivist but individualist, and it is wild to assume that you can display the distinct and diverse values of some four million people on a piece of flying fabric.

In fact a flag is only an extension of the contradictory idea of patriotism – that for some reason because we live within the same borders, we can take pride or share shame of the achievements of others born within the same borders. It all forms a part of the socialisation we are given by governments and reinforces social contract theory, that we exist as a collective, as a nation, with identical values and duties towards the state, and the progress of the nation  – which is plain wrong, and edging on fascism.

People who enjoy waving flags don’t deserve to have one. – Banksy

If this is true, then we should oppose even having a flag. Rather than considering what flag is the prettiest, we should consider what the flag actually means, and what the process signifies. What I have learned from all this, is that because our next one is being chosen by the majority, and we all have varying values and individuals, the flag serves little purpose. But that’s just me.

Intersectional Feminism is a Libertarian Cause

Yeah well that sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. Feminism, a social justice movement being paired with individualism? Crazy

right? But hear me out – even a free society needs feminism. And I’m not talking quotas, affirmative action and legislation – I’m talking about changing our attitudes, and our culture to ensure everyone gets a shot.

My train of thought starts here – freedom is about being able to make free choices – controlling your destiny, being yourself, and living to your utmost potential. Decisions are based on value – economically, on utility – and so individuals demand products and do things which are the most useful to them, or make them the happiest. This makes complete sense, but it is quite different when it comes to people.

Ideally, a free society would be meritocratic. People are hired based on skill, and so employers sign contracts with workers who are the most productive, the nicest, and best for the company, and employers would pay higher wages for those who are more skillful. Assuming that employers act within their self-interest, that should happen. And it would be beneficial. Free, voluntary exchanges would allow talent to be rewarded through price mechanisms.

When in public spaces, networking would be same from one person to the next – discrimination wouldn’t change the way someone approached situations and dealt with others. Where you come from, what you look like,

But that doesn’t happen. We do not have a meritocracy, and even if we were to intensely deregulate the market right here, right now, it still would not exist.

The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me. – Ayn Rand

Even humans with equal skill, nowadays, are not treated treated equally. Despite being in the 21st century, discrimination still manifests itself in so many corners of our lives, albeit casual and subtle. The world is built around corporate “professional” environments, where eurocentric dresscodes (like suits) are only permitted, cisheteronormative assumptions (i.e. you are either a straight, cis man or a straight cis woman), casual to outright skepticism of women in leadership (as only men are perceived as ‘strong’), elitist language codes and damaging racial stereotypes. This is not an exhaustive list, but some examples of sociological issues which get in the way of achieving a meritocracy, and lead to the isolation of individuals in certain scenarios.

Being born a certain way means you can be automatically worse off, and for some, discriminatory attitudes can get in the way of high skill or good character, stopping individuals from pursuing their own destiny. And while we like to ignore this when dreaming up a free society, it’s a reality which needs to be confronted. If libertarians believe in the aspirational elements of liberty – being able to progress off the back of your own work, and being valued for who you are – then libertarians should fight discrimination and marginalisation within their own lives. That way, anyone can profit from personal, and more importantly, economic liberty.

Sexism, classism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism and other forms of bigotry are also collectivist in nature, and therefore anti-libertarian. Discrimination, ranging from the casual and microaggressive to the blunt and indiscreet, results mostly from a false assumption of someone’s character based on a stereotype of a group they belong to. It allows a collective stereotype to come before individual qualities, and so is inherently anti-individualist. If we, as libertarians, are going to fight “groupthink” and collectivist ideas, we have a duty to fight against discrimination.

Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. – Former Republican congressman Ron Paul

If another reason is needed to adopt intersectional feminism, it is that many forms of oppression that feminists protest have their origins in the theocratic/nationalist/corporatist history of the state. The treatment of people of colour as lesser than “superior” Europeans can be easily traced back to colonialism – the expansion of Western governments at the expense of indigenous peoples, years and years of slavery (the denial of a person’s individual sovereignty) and the prohibition and destruction of non-European cultures, justified by Darwinism. Oppression of women and queer people can partially be traced back to religious fundamentalism. Classism has over time been reinforced by corporate elites and dynasties, which are secured by government regulation and favours. What I’m trying to say is that historically, oppression is a statist trend.

If we are wanting to make a free society from a free market of ideas, we need to fight discrimination and casual phobias, so that everyone is able to profit from that. Free markets can work for people of all demographics, but only if everyone can access them – if we are to talk about regulatory barriers to freedom, we need to also look at sociological barriers. If we listen onto the experiences of marginalised people and change our attitudes, we can make it work – this is why we libertarians may well need feminism too.