In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right
IOZ offers some wise advice for Rand Paul, and also a reality check.
by Mark of New Jersey · May 21, 2010
IOZ offers some wise advice for Rand Paul, and also a reality check.
Mark of New Jersey
Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.
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Interesting how guaranteeing a significant part of the population the right to vote that they’d supposedly been granted 100 years earlier counts as “dubiously successful”. and how Jim Crow could have been eliminated purely via “respect, civic dialogue, and cooperation”. But you might as well argue with a young-earth creationist about fossils.Report
@Mike Schilling, Jim Crow laws were laws passed by representatives and laws that were upheld by the Supreme Court.
Assuming that libertarians oppose the legislation of the 60’s is to overlook that they oppose the system that the legislation of the 60’s was addressing.
Would it be fair of me to mock you for supporting democracy that results in Jim Crow laws being upheld by judges appointed by representatives of The People?Report
@Mike Schilling, I think IOZ’s point is rather that the CRA’s prohibitions in large part simply resulted in racists finding new ways of oppressing minorities. He is obviously being hyperbolic to a large extent, and I disagree somewhat with IOZ even considering that- but then again, I attach far more value on voting than he. Indeed, I’ve also argued before, and have a half-finished post continuing to argue that the CRA’s prohibitions on private discrimination were necessary and appropriate. However, as someone who does a tremendous amount of work in this area, I can tell you that those prohibitions on private discrimination are, in fact, “dubiously successful.” This is not the same as saying “abject failure,” mind you. But there are few things more difficult to win than an employment discrimination case, and I struggle to think of anything that is remotely as expensive to try for an individual plaintiff than an employment discrimination case. I assure you that employers are well aware of this fact. I also assure you that the result is that there are magnitudes more legitimate cases of employment discrimination that never come before a lawyer, much less before a judge, than there are cases that do.
Additionally, IOZ’s advice to Rand Paul does not at all imply that Jim Crow laws could have been eliminated purely via “respect, civic dialogue, and cooperation.” It stands instead simply for the truism that this is the only way to eliminate “fears and prejudices.” Government cannot change peoples minds by fiat.
Moreover, the entire point of the first half of the post – and the primary reason I linked it – is that the proof that Rand Paul has a huge problem with race isn’t that he’s expressing opposition to the private discrimination parts of the CRA but the fact that he couldn’t even suggest, in response, that overturning existing laws with a tremendous discriminatory effect (and often intent) should be a vastly higher priority than whatever he thinks should be done with the CRA. The problem is not that he thinks the CRA is imperfect. His problem is that he thinks the CRA’s imperfections are worth complaining about, but the existing laws that do far more harm to racial minorities than the CRA does to private business owners are not. That is the mark of a person who is, in fact, a racist. Or, at the very least, someone who is willfully ignorant about issues of race despite the fact that his pre-existing reputation on racial issues is, uhh, a bit less than stellar and a known area for journalists to (rightly) inquire about.Report
@Mark Thompson, Where I say “were necessary and appropriate,” insert “and largely continue to be” after “were.”Report
I expect that the chilling effect of “you could be sued” does more to allay employment discrimination than all the actual lawsuits put together. Ditto for housing and home load discrimination, even though it’s certainly true that all these continue to exist. And whites-only water fountains, bathrooms, and lunch counters no longer exist, period. The value of these changes is not dubious.
Also, while IOZ does mention the drug wars, which of course disproportionately affects minorities, it’s as part of a list of equal-opportunity problems (the deficit, the GWOT, the nanny state). I don’t see him making your (very good) point about laws that target minorities; instead, it’s libertarian boilerplate about how we’d all be better off if government got out of the way. It’s hardly an answer to “So tell, me, Dr. Paul, what specific criticisms do you have of the CRA?”Report
@Mike Schilling, “You could be sued” is not nearly the deterrent you might think. Like I said, businesses are well aware of the obstacles to a successful employment discrimination suit. If an employee not-so-subtly points out that “I can sue you,” there may be some CYA activity that goes on to prevent that from happening, but this doesn’t happen that often and even when it does, the company is just as likely to go through with its plans as not.
Things have definitely gotten better over the years, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that government affirmative action programs have played a valuable part along the way. However, the improvements still have more to do with the triumph of cultural liberalism than anything else (I’ve got pretty good sources for this, but it’s not anything I can prove with data, and I really can’t name names, so I’m asking for trust on this). It is no coincidence that all this has taken place even as corporations are largely well ahead of government on ending GLBT discrimination.
On your second point, rephrase my above statement from “discriminatory effect” to “encroachment on freedom.” It wasn’t a misstatement so much as it was that I misremembered what IOZ wrote between the time I posted this item and the time I wrote the above comment.Report
Not being black myself, I’m just speculating, but I would guess most would prefer CRA plus deficits to no CRA and a balanced budget.Report
@Mark Thompson, I don’t think it’s any commentary at all really on the propriety of the civil law that it is hard to win a case under it. A good law isn’t going to produce huge swathes of successful lawsuits, otherwise it’s likely overbroad – the fact that it doesn’t may indeed indicate far more deterrence than you perceive. (The companies I have worked for were obsessed with complying with employment and discrimination law, and sensitive to every twist and turn in the jurisprudence.) Moreover, the fact that clear-cut cases are so few and far between today, while certainly they were much more common in 1964, is evidence (not open and shut, but evidence) that the law may have in fact been far less dubious in its success than we might think.Report
@Michael Drew, I do agree that the rise of cultural liberalism has much to do with why things are better in these areas. But we should also consider the extent to which the cultural power of social liberalism gained part of its leverage over public attitudes by virtue of public victories like the ones enshrined in the CRA, VRA, etc. For those laws to have failed would have been a major repudiation of cultural liberalism, and set it back considerably.Report
“Or, at the very least, someone who is willfully ignorant about issues of race despite the fact that his pre-existing reputation on racial issues is, uhh, a bit less than stellar and a known area for journalists to (rightly) inquire about.”
This is about how the sins of the father are visited upon the son, or do you have something else in mind?Report
I don’t deny that democracy is imperfect, and I certainly don’t think that everything the federal government does is positive. Can I mock people who insist that everything it does is ipso facto crap?Report
@Mike Schilling, I dunno. I’m a fan of the First Amendment and a fan of believing that quite a few things do not, at all, in any way, shape, or form, fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Mockery of people qualifies as protected by the First, right?
How do you feel about hate speech laws? Would your mockery qualify?
Should we have laws that prevent you from mocking those people?
Should the Supreme Court uphold such a law, what response ought we have?Report
I expect mockery is Constitutionally protected. My request was for your permission.Report
@Mike Schilling, this is the wacky thing about libertarianism:
It never even occurred to me that you might need it. The very idea is like “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”. It’s a well-formed sentence… but it makes no semantic sense at all.
To answer your question: permission is not mine to give.
Corollary: It’s not yours to deny.Report
Then mock away; don’t worry about silly things like “fairness”.Report
@Mike Schilling, “fairness” is an entirely different concept than that of what one is allowed to do, no?
How well do you think legislation forcing “fairness” would turn out to be, at the end of the day?
It seems to me that all the law can do is grant or deny permission.Report
You asked whether it would be fair to mock me. Fairness be damned — mock away.Report
@Mike, “Fairness be damned — mock away.”
If we agree that legislation and fairness have little, if any, relationship to each other, then I think that we’ve made progress.Report
Little, I’m afraid, because I had no idea we were discussing that.Report
@Mike, we were discussing the Civil Rights laws that overturned Jim Crow laws.
And, apparently, how awful it is to not only believe that the state shouldn’t have the power to pass/enforce Jim Crow laws, but laws to address the excesses of laws it shouldn’t have had the power to pass in the first place.Report
It’s not just that companies, at the time, would discriminate because they are contemptuous against blacks. It’s also that there was tremendous peer pressure to prevent them from changing their minds. They weren’t just up against their own prejudices, they were up against society’s. The hiring of black employees was extremely conspicuous. You had no cover no matter what your personal thoughts were. If you were hiring a black guy for anything but the most menial and subservient position, you were making trouble.
That’s one of the huge things that the CRA did. It changed the social context. It gave those that wanted to take those first steps an excuse to do so. It nudged those that were indifferent in the right direction. It made it difficult to refuse to hire minorities and be proud about it. It made it into something you, at the least, needed to keep quiet about.
It didn’t do all of these things at once, of course. Nothing changes overnight. But I’m not remotely convinced that it was going to happen anyway.
Holding the CRA to the standard of making whites (or any people) non-racist is to hold it up to a standard where failure is the only possible result. What happened between then and now is that it changed the entire corporate culture. Not completely. Not perfectly. But astoundingly all the same.Report
@Trumwill, that’s *NOT* exactly the standard I’m holding the laws up to.
I do not want a state powerful enough to pass Jim Crow laws in the first place.
Is it a good thing that the government corrected itself? Sure, fine, great. Is the government currently more or less powerful than it was when it originally passed Jim Crow?
If it’s more powerful, I see a problem. God only knows what laws it’ll pass tomorrow. Are they likely to be as morally repugnant as Jim Crow? Probably not… unless, of course, you see the Drug War laws as equally repugnant and disproportionately applied against minorities. What percentage of our population is in prison, again? What color are they, mostly?
How much more power do we want to give the state to address its own immoral actions?Report
What makes state power different from say private entities that also have power (and tacit guarantee of that power by the state)?Report
@Nob Akimoto, “and tacit guarantee of that power by the state”
I dunno. I’m tempted to say that I can’t tell the difference due to that parenthetical.Report
Without the parenthetical for example, property rights wouldn’t have any meaning aside as an abstract.Report
Sorry lemme clarify a little.
The state can tacitly acknowledge power either by providing enforcement mechanisms for it (e.g. letting the racist restaurant owner throw out the black patron on account of property rights) or by refusing to intervene in the exercise of that power.Report
@Nob Akimoto, I see prior restraint as much less of a problem morally than active laws such as the Jim Crow laws that *PREVENTED* restaurant owners from allowing jes’ folks to mingle if inclined.
Am I glad that the Jim Crow laws were overturned? Absolutely! But they were followed by bad things that didn’t need to be done and we have a responsibility to address those bad things.
People who overturned slavery were probably thrilled with Jim Crow. Hey, it’s a step forward, right? Separate but equal!
And, of course, if you started arguing against Jim Crow, you could always turn it into a discussion of slavery.
And we see that dynamic again here.Report
“I do not want a state powerful enough to pass Jim Crow laws in the first place.”
Please meditate on the difference between government as an exogenous variable, and government as an endogenous variable.Report
“@Mike Schilling, I think IOZ’s point is rather that the CRA’s prohibitions in large part simply resulted in racists finding new ways of oppressing minorities. He is obviously being hyperbolic to a large extent, …”
I wouldn’t use words like ‘hyerbolic’; I’d use words like ‘full of sh*t’.
‘…and I disagree somewhat with IOZ even considering that- but then again, I attach far more value on voting than he. ‘
I read him for a while back when (coming over from Jim Henley’s blog), but soured on him. Take somebody who hangs out in coffee shops wearing black and smoking clove cigarettes while talking about post-modernism and ‘the Man’, and that’s IOZ, with a simple twist of politics.Report