Probably a good benchmark of how far we’ve come.

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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101 Responses

  1. Sam says:


    If you don’t allow discrimination against gays, you’re discriminating against the discriminators, and that discrimination is obviously worse than the original discrimination, because reasons, so I bet you feel guilty now, huh?


  2. Saul Degraw says:

    I am going to be a cynic and say this is not surprising and I am not sure about what purpose Oliver
    survey has. Large sections of the GOP are still opposed to LGBT equality including SSM. Even those who are in favor of SSM, might have “philosophical” disputes with anti-discrimination law in general. Remember the GOP seems to sincerely believe in their bootstraps story so anything that helps you achieve equality like civil rights laws is merely a handicap towards happiness and full self-realization. We are dealing with a fundamental divide here. The same is true for stuff like unemployment, healthcare, and other welfare state measures. The GOP seems to truly believe that it is morally better to accept work, any work, and just fight for what you can get. The Democratic Party believes that it is okay to use welfare and safety net measures to prevent too much yo-yoing up and down the ladder of destitution and riches. We see this debate all the time for all issues. We see it when Democratic or further left voters seem to think that it is better to fund universities, have zero or low tuition and get people out earlier and at a better place in the market. The GOP worldview seems to think it is morally and ethically better to spend longer in university and be able to say “I paid my own way.”

    So it should not be surprising that GOP candidates demurred to answer and many Democratic candidates eagerly answered. EDNA has been pushed for a long time by the Congressional Democratic party and the base.

    At this point, I am not sure how you are supposed to bridge the worldview between such significant differences.Report

  3. Chris says:

    Mother Jones: John Oliver just DESTROYED this survey question, but in a good way.Report

      • Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Sorry, it’s a highly inside joke (Jay and CK will get it, but maybe nobody else) about Monday being John Oliver day, usually in the form of hyperbolic Tweets from “liberal” publications like MJ, TPM, or whomever, linking to segments from his show the night before that purportedly “destroy” someone or something.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

          Destroy is my least favorite internet term but I think the use of it is BSDI.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Man, it’s like catnip with you people.Report

          • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            “Someone said something about liberals. Gotta get a BSDI in!”

            I don’t follow many conservative publications on Twitter anymore, so perhaps they’ve jumped on the “DESTROYED” bandwagon, and I’m sure they have an equivalent to the gratuitous Monday morning John Oliver posts, but man what Twitter and BuzzFeed and the like have done to sites like Mother Jones is just depressing.

            For that reason, I don’t think there’s any need whatsoever to point to BSDI this. It’s not an indictment of the “left” or “liberals” in any way, just another sign that the quest for clicks is the enemy of quality.

            Now, the reflexive BSDI might be an indictment of liberals and the “left,” but then BSDI, amirght?Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

              The right has no John Oliver or equivalent. It wishes it did, but it does not. They only recently got an Upworthy.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Upworthy? A click-and-share-centric liberal site that search algorithms had to be changed.

                Though less prominent, IJR fills that niche for the right.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                Yea, sorry, I meant what is the right version of it.

                Recently, I said Upworthy was the left-version of Breitbart insofar as it was designed mainly around exploiting its base and selling ads. They are very different sites but they accomplish much of the same thing. But since conservatism tends towards anger and liberalism towards pie-in-the-sky idealism, the forms were necessarily different.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy My take on Upworthy is slightly different. Most of the times I saw stuff to that site it was generally apolitical feel-good stuff. Link and revenue generators… but also a way to get you onto the site, where they’d have links to more such things but also very political stuff. Then it sort of became a “Come for the inspirational story of the such-and-such and stay for the explanation of how socialism works great.”

                And that’s the model that IJR (Independent Journal Review) has. It’ll have an article about something inspirational a family who lost a member to a drunk driver did, followed by a guy beating a forest fire… followed by an article about how terrible Hillary Clinton’s excuses for the emails are, followed by a woman who believes women should be allowed to go topless, followed by why Planned Parenthood should be defunded. You get the idea.

                It’s not quite the one-note charlie that Upworthy was with its inspirational stories, but it’s some partisan stuff interspersed with general interest stuff to get people to the site in the first place.

                They do some liberal-slanted stuff too… but it’s pretty clear where their feet are planted and there was an interview/article that confirmed it. And more or less stated that their strategy as I had already figured it. (“We’re tired of the left doing a good job with general interest stuff while we stick to our own audiences.”/”Oh, and we want to make money.”)Report

            • nevermoor in reply to Chris says:

              I’ll jump in to say that the sites I RSS certainly do it WAY too much about Oliver / Jon Stewart and I don’t see something similar on the other side.

              My comparable-ish view of conserva-media is that they’ll echo the story rather than report on the story teller (so a bunch of sites have near-identical stories about how Obamacare Is Destroying Freedom, rather than one such story with a bunch of follow-on stories about how author A Obliterated Obummer).

              So I’d agree this isn’t a BSDI thing.Report

  4. Burt Likko says:

    Note that Oliver was looking for an unqualified “yes” answer. For a GOP candidate, that’s not possible at this time.

    A GOP’er might qualify a “yes” answer by saying, “…as long as there’s an exception for reasonable and sincere religious accommodations.” Or might not. But without that qualification, you’re not going to get a GOP candidate willing to risk pissing off “the base” just to avoid giving John Oliver and his liberal viewership some point-and-laugh yuks that they’ll have anyway.Report

  5. I’d expect people who are anti-regulation in general to oppose this, just as they oppose such laws for racial minorities and women, without necessarily being motivated by animus for LGBTQs. A better litmus test would be their opinion of DADT, which was explicit discrimination.Report

    • Sam in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I would be extremely dubious – of course I would! – of the claim that those opposed to regulatory schemes opposed to discrimination aren’t themselves motivated by animus. At the very least, they’re aiding and abetting those who are motivated by animus.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Sam says:

        My reading of this is that you care so little about property rights and freedom of association that you can’t imagine that anyone who claims to do so is not just using it as cover for bigotry.Report

        • Sam in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Well, that’s a cool reading, but can you describe for a me a scenario in which a property owner wants to keep pick-the-minority-of-your-choice out that isn’t motivated by animus?Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Sam says:

            Free market fundamentalism can be mistaken for bigotry, because it frequently gives aid and comfort to bigots and is generally adopted as cover by bigots when convenient. But it’s not the same thing.Report

          • North in reply to Sam says:

            Don’t think of it as the property owner wants to keep a “select minority of your choice” out of their business so much as they do not to pay taxes for a government employee to be paid to then stop by periodically and require the property owner to fill out forms or do a diversity meeting or what have you.

            The objection by anti-regulation conservative/libertarians is not about being blocked from discriminating but about the distorting mechanisms that are installed to achieve the end of preventing discrimination.

            In of itself that doesn’t involve any animus at all though, granted, anyone with animus would/could find it a useful fig leaf for their animus. That said ascribing the worst motivations to people instead of their stated ones is not a productive rabbit hole to go down.Report

            • LWA in reply to North says:

              Do these people even exist?

              In numbers that would make such an argument persuasive?Report

              • North in reply to LWA says:

                On the internet libertarians and the like exist in profusion. In the real world, no not necessarily in huge numbers.

                But let’s be real here LWA:
                A: Most cases one of going to be talking/arguing about this stuff on the ‘net and out here libertarianism is heavily represented.
                B: even setting aside A one should still presume that people’s motivations are what they say they are unless they’re presenting strong indications of being disingenuous. It’s good courtesy and it’s integral for any exchange of opinions. Assuming bad intent runs the same in the other direction, liberals can be assumed to really be intent on dragging us into some statist hellhole, gays can be assumed to be intent on having the youth drafted into their rainbow agenda. Once ya pop the top off accusing someone of actually having some nefarious motivation which ya have divined by virtue of your superior insight into their thoughts and feelings the discourse is going to poison very rapidly at which point what’s the bloody point?Report

              • aarondavid in reply to North says:

                Incredibly well put, @northReport

              • nevermoor in reply to North says:

                Not that I disagree entirely with this, but I think it’s a closer question than you do.

                For example, do we really have to pretend that Reagan’s states’ rights speech in Neshoba County was just a sincere libertarian moment (whether or not the man himself had particular feelings about black people)?

                Also for example, is it completely irrelevant to those holding libertarian mindsets that, for example, repealing the civil rights act would do more than just remove some restrictions on the use of private property?

                For me, when discussing policy I don’t care at all about a person’s internal unexpressed beliefs. I do, however, care a lot about all the outcomes and impacts flowing from their expressed ones. And if some of those are ugly, I don’t see how its a defense that the person doesn’t personally have those ugly views.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to nevermoor says:

                @nevermoor I’m not clear how to respond to this comment, as you seem to be sinultanejouly saying, “it’s very important that you look at what the real motivations of Reagan and conservatives were” and “it doesn’t really matter what the real motivations of Reagan and conservatives were.”

                FWIW, while I somewhat agree with @north , the truth is that over time I have come to care very much about the true motivations of people who are trying to convince me of things. Which is not to say that I try to armchair psychoanalyze them, but rather that the honesty of the player I am dealing with is important to me — both in the argument, and in the aftermath once we’ve made an agreement. Perhaps to my own detriment, I really give zero weight these days to arguments that I find purposefully specious.

                So — for example — if you are someone that I remember lobbying pretty hard that the government should step in and force a separate set of rights for Muslims, I am going to tune out pretty much any religious liberty argument you bring to the table on ACA birth control or SSM. Sorry, but I just am.

                Is it possible that you are bringing an awesome and original argument that I have never considered but should? Sure, I guess. Unlikely, but certainly possible.

                But I have come to strongly believe that these kinds of social discussions only get us to good outcomes if people discuss the things we argue about with honest intentions, rather than treat them like a high school debate. Because my interest in having debates just for the thrill of the debate is pretty damn close to zero. (Which, I suspect, makes me kind of an outlier on the intertubes.)Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I’m saying the implications of policies are important, and a person’s unexpressed feelings aren’t.

                So I don’t care whether Reagan-the-man liked black people. I care that Reagan-the-president screwed them repeatedly and, indeed, ran on his willingness to do so.

                I also don’t care whether Rand hates black people. I care that he’s willing to screw them repeatedly in service of the idea that private property should be free of government restriction.

                I make these points mostly because I think there’s a somewhat fuzzy line and I think it is both fair and necessary to say someone who wants to repeal the civil rights act is someone who wants to screw black people. Not because that’s their policy-forming goal but because its the clear effect of their desired policy.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Or that people who advocate for laws that require business owners to allow guns in their stores/businesses really do care about private property rights.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy Yeah, exactly.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

                If you’re going to make a Constitutional argument that I should be forced to bake you a cake no matter what, then why is it hypocritical for me to make a Constitutional argument that I should be allowed to carry a gun no matter what?Report

              • Zac in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Um…because you’re the one who’s defending strong private property rights, and Kazzy’s not? Do you not understand how hypocrisy works, or something?Report

              • North in reply to nevermoor says:

                I don’t stake out quite the strong claim that you may be reading Nevermoor, I actually do note that principled opposition can be used as a cover for unprincipled opposition.

                My base position is that, in online conversations and debates especially, if someone asserts they believe something and state why that if you wish to assert a different reason for why they believe something you’d better have some solid proof to present that backs that up or you’re verging on trolling them.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to North says:

                So if you don’t state an objection to me making the arguments above, especially the “someone who wants to repeal the civil rights act is someone who wants to screw black people” argument, then you’re right. I’m misreading you.Report

              • North in reply to nevermoor says:

                My position is that in conversations in general and online conversations in particular if a person says
                “I believe X for reason Y.” The most productive path is to take them at their word. If you reply “I think you believe X for reason Z.” then you’d better have some good reasons to support why you think that specific person believes X for reason Z or else you’re just trolling em. It’s a broader and shallower point than I think it’s coming across as.Report

              • LWA in reply to North says:

                The norm we are advancing is that you can’t discriminate.

                You are protesting that this isn’t bigotry, but sincere belief.

                I’m countering that if you want to make the sincere belief claim, you need to back it up by showing such a person actually exists, in meatspace, in the world we live in.

                This isn’t us unfairly ascribing malicious motives; you are the one introducing motive as a reason which supports discrimination.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to LWA says:

                “The norm we are advancing is that you can’t discriminate.”

                Not necessarily, though, when we get into regulatory matters.

                Look, I am a supporter of the ADA. But if you are a mom and pop hotel on the Oregon coast and you are told you have to absorb the cost of installing an elevator to your second floor, the reason that you might object might not have anything to do with how you feel about the handicapped.

                Similarly, if you’re in charge of a 500 ee company you may not be thrilled about regulations that govern the termination of GLBTs, even if — and maybe even especially if — you have made a point in the past of hiring a bunch of them.

                I’m not trying to say I don’t support laws; I do. I think as with anything in life you have to weigh differing interests, and with many minorities where that balance tips is clear to me.

                But I think it’s going a bit far to say if you’re wary of or against regulations that govern people that you must therefore have animus toward those same people.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                But if these people support anti-discrimination laws that protect people of color, women, and those with disabilities but they oppose anti-discrimination laws that protection gays… how can we ignore animus?

                ETA: I can engage in discussion with someone who sincerely believes that all anti-discrimination laws are wrong. That person holds a principal… a different one than I… but one I can intellectually engage with. The person who opposes laws aimed JUST at protecting LGBT folks… there isn’t much room for discussion with that person in my book.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy –

                “someone who sincerely believes that all anti-discrimination laws are wrong.”

                I’m not sure if I’d say they are “wrong” exactly, but they do strike me in some ways as Not Ideal.

                Before I go any farther, let me start out by saying that I understand why various anti-discrimination laws were implemented, and I do not wish to undo them.

                I also get the urge to keep building upon the precedents already set and adding more legally protected classes, and maybe that truly is the only way forward.

                I think that denying someone a job or a place to live due to their sexual orientation (or race, or gender, or etc.) is a crappy thing to do.

                That said: in an ideal world (yes, yes, I know; and I also know that there may be no way to get there from here) I do not think I want laws which compel [Person A] to associate with [Person B] if they don’t want to; whether [Person A] doesn’t want to associate with [Person B] for any given reason, or whether it’s for no good reason at all.

                I should not be compelled to buy the services or products of private parties whom I do not wish to; and employing you, is buying your services.

                I should not be compelled to sell you services or products, if I do not wish to.

                Just as I believe people should have a near-unlimited ability to transact or associate with one another as they please, the reverse is also true; I believe people should have a near-unlimited ability to refuse to transact or associate.

                The right of a free citizen to say “no” – for any reason or for no reason at all – to another free citizen, is very nearly the most fundamental right a free citizen should have, IMO.

                I look warily upon the imposition of laws that abridge that right.

                Note that my ideal world sidesteps questions of “animus vs. sincere belief” as irrelevant – as a matter of law, I really don’t care much why someone would say no; and I actually take it as a given, that a significant number of people would act out of their bigotry or animus.

                That is unfortunate and ugly; but People Are Terrible.

                My position also has little to do with regulatory burdens; it’s really about the underlying principle, which is IMO worth upholding, even if sometimes Terrible People are going to make use of it.


                What if I have a business and want to keep out members of the Schmatholic Schmurch, because I consider it an organization that has systematically perpetrated and covered up the abuse of children; or Schmientologists, because I think they attempt to propagate a cultlike and potentially-criminal scam; or adherents of The World Church of the Creator, because I think their “theology” is racist claptrap?

                (Or Westboro Baptist…)

                That IS animus, technically, on my part…but why shouldn’t I be allowed my animus, when on my property, against members of groups whom I might feel I have some reason to feel hostile towards?

                Even though they are protected groups, precisely because (in this case) of their religion?

                Even if others think my reasons for my animus are crazy or overreacting or just plain wrong?

                There are religious groups that might like to keep me out of their property, because I am a heathen infidel, or a male, or sexually/morally impure, or _________; maybe they feel my very presence offends their sensibilities and/or defiles their ‘purity’ as they understand it (or, my presence just makes ’em mad and affects their enjoyment of their property).

                This is undoubtedly animus against me; but, why shouldn’t they be able to do so, if they own the property?

                Even though I think they are ridiculous and wrong, and hopefully you do too, and boy are we ever going to trash them on Yelp*?

                Such a position undoubtedly has the unfortunate effect of aiding and abetting people with animus and bigotry; but that’s a bit like arguing that since I am in favor of of robust 4th and 5th Amendment protections, then I am aiding and abetting murderers and child pornographers and criminals of all stripes, in their efforts to harm others.

                In one sense, it’s true; but in another way, it’s completely missing the point.

                Robust property rights and freedom of association (which must include its negative, a sort of freedom of disassociation) are theoretically protections for us all; and sooner or later you may wish for the ability to disassociate yourself in the strongest terms from some person or group whom you find unpalatable; even if the whole world disagrees with you about their unpalatability.

                And IMO it is eminently possible to argue for that ability – the right to say “no” – sans personal animus against (or sympathy for) any specific person or group.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


                See my comment below to Tod about my libertarian-ish leanings. They are more or less in line with yours.

                In the quoted section there, I was pretty sloppy with word choice. I was referring to the type of person who seeks to abolish all anti-discrimination laws because they consider them a greater evil than discrimination itself. Not a position I agree with, but at least a position I can engage with. “I’m opposed to discrimination unless it is gay folks,” is one I find much more difficult and much less willing to engage with.Report

              • LWA in reply to Kazzy says:

                Re: “the right to say NO.”

                You can see, can’t you, how often this conflicts with “robust property rights”?Report

              • Glyph in reply to LWA says:

                I’m assuming this is to me, not Kazzy. Can you elaborate?Report

              • LWA in reply to Glyph says:

                Property rights require a monopolistic definition and enforcement regime, to which no one may say No.

                Contract rights also require an adjudication and enforcement regime which is collectivist and monopolistic, again, to which no one may opt out or resist.Report

              • Glyph in reply to LWA says:

                Ah, I see. Yes, obviously we give the government all kinds of collectivist and monopolistic powers; this is pretty much the definition of ‘government’.

                I can’t say “no” to taxes, or I go to jail; and those taxes I pay, are allocated from a general fund to all kinds of specific ends, some of which I may agree with and some I may not (but all of which, hopefully, have been chosen by some version of democratic process), and again, I am stuck with that.

                I think (and was pretty careful to word my example so) that this is a little bit different to my eyes – it is not simply a monopolistic definition and adjudication/enforcement of the very concept of “contract”; it is more of a dictation of the terms of a *specific* contract between two individuals.

                This seems significantly more intrusive to individual choice than simply defining what a contract is; and not to get all slippery-slope about it, but I am not crazy about how comfortable we seem to be using every imposition on individual choice that we MUST make (so as to have something called by definition a “government” at all) as precedent and justification for further ever-more-detailed impositions on how individuals must relate to other individuals in their everyday lives and business.

                An official, governmental line has to be drawn somewhere, and our current trajectory seems to be “drawing it around the people we like, and not around those we don’t”.

                In practice, that works out fine for me right now, because I also like all the people we are drawing it around, and I dislike all the people we are excluding.

                As a concept, I am not entirely comfortable with it, because while I like all the people we are drawing it around, and I dislike all the people we are excluding, there’s no guarantee that the former will always remain in the former group and never in the latter, and vice-versa; and, I feel that a truly multicultural society should have to, within reason, make room for groups that I personally find unpalatable for one reason or another.

                And when we do: my first line of defense, as an individual, is to choose not to do business with that group.

                I would like to retain the freedom to act on my conscience, should that day ever come.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to Glyph says:

                I guess the real question is where do you go from a “not ideal, but do not repeal” position.

                I feel like the only two options are adding sexual orientation and gender identity to existing lists of protected categories, or by refusing to do so, to permanently enshrine an anti-LGBT status quo.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Alan Scott says:

                @chris @alan-scott – I hear you both, and this is why I describe myself as libertarianish, and my liberalish squishiness irritates the real libertarians. If all government is a balancing act of competing rights and interests and priorities, you certainly can look at ‘redressing past wrongs’ as a viable alternative priority to weigh against ‘setting up facially-neutral rules going forward’.

                I was more responding to @kazzy ‘s comment, and also indirectly @sam ‘s – I think the argument itself can stand, apart from animus; and I don’t think that the fact that some people who have animus might make the argument, automatically discredits the argument.

                I don’t think that the undeniable existence of animus, alone, is necessarily a sufficient reason to always override the presumption that people should be free to make the choice they feel is right for them, even if I think they are choosing as they are because they are a bigoted a-hole with animus.

                The freedom to choose, should in theory mean the freedom to choose the wrong thing from others’ POV. “No” is one of the first words we learn to say, and we define ourselves as individual beings as much or more by what we say “no” to, as by what we say “yes” to. As I said, I am leery of rules that abridge individuals’ right to say “no” to one another, for almost any reason they see fit.

                But this may well be a luxury that only a white straight guy in 2015 America would think is theoretically-appealing, since statistically-speaking I’m not as likely to get the short end of the stick when I go for a job or housing.Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                I agree with you that it doesn’t require animus to hold the position, as it is a principled position, rather than a practical one.

                I admit that this is where libertarians and I are furthest apart, in that I think universal citizenship is self-defeating as a principle, and therefore I oppose it on principle, but that’s a can of worms I’ve been hesitant to open here.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                Ah, more of Chris’ Super-Secret Political Plan. Don’t worry, you’re among friends here, who would in no way completely rip you a new one or denigrate you as a person should your theories or all of their possible outcomes not align perfectly with their own personal preferences. 😉Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                This place is well-known for its kindness toward and patience with anything to the left of Jonathan Chait. 😉Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                The problem is that the basic, universal rights, quickly undermine the principles that they are meant to embody. Allow people to discriminate based on race, and very quickly you end up with very different levels of access based on race. And suddenly universal citizenship is particular citizenship by virtue of its universality.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to Glyph says:

                And IMO it is eminently possible to argue for that ability – the right to say “no” – sans personal animus against (or sympathy for) any specific person or group.

                It sure is, which is why personal animus is a dumb thing to worry about. That said, if the policy expression of your desire is to repeal the civil rights act, I would object because wanting that policy means you want to screw over black people and I care more about that than about living in a world where property owners have complete control over their property. Doesn’t mean I’m right, but I don’t see how that’s an unfair objection to the argument.Report

              • Glyph in reply to nevermoor says:

                “wanting that policy means you want to screw over black people….I don’t see how that’s an unfair objection to the argument.”

                Actually, I think that could be an unfair objection, when phrased that way. Because (and also depending on how they phrased the statement being responded to, or their otherwise-observed behavior) you need evidence that the person “wants to screw over black people” – that screwing may be considered a side effect, and not all side effects are wanted. Some are unwanted; some are merely accepted as probably-inevitable; some are expected to be outweighed by good; and some are expected or hoped not to occur – maybe the speaker feels we’ve progressed enough culturally, that we wouldn’t backslide into systematic racism in the absence of explicit rules designed to counteract it.

                We are fully free to disagree with that, of course; but it doesn’t automatically mean that they “want to screw over black people.”

                A much more fair way to say the same thing would simply be to say that “whether it’s what you want or not, I believe the inevitable effect would be to screw over black people, and I’m not down with that.”Report

              • LWA in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                The ADA is the only anti-discrimination law that I am aware of which has a component that compels action like this.

                That is, anti-gay discrimination laws don’t require offices to remodel to become tastefully decorated with track lighting, for instance.

                And lo and behold, the ADA and its regulatory components are chockablock with exceptions and carveouts, establishing minimum thresholds below which compliance is not required.

                In your example, a 2 story mom and pop motel is specifically exempt from installing an elevator. An existing building of any height can receive a hardship exemption.
                And so on.

                I can grasp people being wary of regulations generally; but if you are going to make an argument based on onerous burdens, then we need to use the empirical evidence of history.

                How burdensome is the prohibition of racial discrimination?

                How much of a cost is it, really? Yeah, I get it that corporate HR staff has to keep track of how many people of this race and that gender are working in what departments. But again, there are thresholds and scales, below which the mom and pops don’t need to comply.

                Ironically, if you want to direct your ire about the regulatory burden, direct it at the people who cause it to grow in the first place; If we could be assured that everyone was making a good faith race-blind hiring effort, the EEOC would not be needed.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to LWA says:

                But, anti-discrimination in employment laws like Title VII may require something called “affirmative action” as a remedy. That usually requires a finding that the employer has engaged in a pattern of discriminatory practices. The plaintiff may get a personal remedy in the form of money, but the company may be ordered to engage in affirmative action — most typically outreach into communities disadvantaged by the challenged practice — as a remedy against the effects of past discrimination as to not just the plaintiff but also others similarly situated.

                Let’s make it concrete. XYZ company requires all employees to be fluent in English as a mother tongue. In practice, this turns out not to be a BFOQ but rather results in excluding people who grew up in Spanish-speaking or Mandarin-speaking households, even if they have profound English fluency. So, the court finds, “Yep, that’s national origin discrimination,” and the plaintiff gets some money, but XYZ Corp. also gets ordered to affirmative action. To fulfill this, under court oversight, XYZ Corp. posts job recruitment advertisements in Spanish-language media, holds a jobs fair in Chinatown, and hires a diversity consultant from MALDEF to train recruiters and interviewers. (Note that XYZ Corp. is not required to relax its standards for BFOQ’s or to accept unqualified applicants as employees.)

                This isn’t exactly like having a court order to install an elevator, but it’s in the same ballpark.Report

              • LWA in reply to Burt Likko says:

                The claim here was that there is a class of people with abstract Burkean argle bargle principles, who are wholly innocent of bad intentions.

                In your example, the company was either:
                A. Guilty of malign practices or:
                B. Innocent as charged.

                Litigate their guilt or innocence if you want, but its not like everyone everywhere was forced to run ads and outreach; only people who were found to have bad practices, and a history of them to boot.

                And correct me if I am wrong, but don’t defendants in these sorts of cases get a chance to change their practices before being assessed a penalty?

                IOW, couldn’t they have just changed their policy, without incurring the onerous outreach compliance?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                “I am a supporter of the ADA. But if you are a mom and pop hotel on the Oregon coast…”

                Or you’re the operator of a public pool.Report

              • notme in reply to DensityDuck says:

                This is why it is just easier to fill the pool in with dirt and be done with it.Report

              • LWA in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Yeah, great example!
                Whatever happened to “POOL-MAGEDDON!!!11!” anyway?

                I was really hoping to see black helicopters and Obama’s jackbooted feminazi thugs shutting down swimming pools all across America.

                How disappointed was I, when the DOJ postponed enforcement, just as they did several times before, then softened the regulations:

                Therefore, if a business can provide a fixed lift that meets all of the 2010 Standards’ requirements without much difficulty or expense, the business must provide one. If no fully compliant lift is readily achievable for the business, the business is not obligated to provide a fully compliant lift until doing so becomes readily achievable.

                Aww man, letting the capitalist roaders off easy. But at least they have a financial hardship imposed on them, right Mr. Obama?

                “To assist businesses with complying with the ADA, Section 44 of the IRS Code allows a tax credit for small businesses and Section 190 of the IRS Code allows a tax deduction for all businesses. The tax credit is available to businesses that have total revenues of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees. This credit can cover 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year up to $10,250 (maximum credit of $5000). “

                ARRRGHH! Effin’ Obama! He sold us out!Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to LWA says:

                “There’s a law, but we’re exercising discretion and not enforcing it in obviously-stupid instances” says the cop who lets drivers with broken taillights go free when they’re white.Report

              • North in reply to LWA says:

                @lwa I was not discussing the merits, pro or con, of anti-discrimination legislation. Sam asked if it’s possible to oppose anti-discrimination legislation without holding animus against whichever group the legislation is regarding. I outlined in simple detail why opponents of anti-discrimination would oppose such a policy but hold not an ounce of animus against any minority group.

                Now you can decree that the entire philosophy of libertarian-ism exists as merely a convenient beard for homophobes, sexists, racists etc but that is an extraordinary claim and one you would have to back up. I do not have to produce evidence or examples for my position because my position is the default one. If someone says they oppose gay-anti-discrimination laws because they think such laws are regulatory waste I take them at their word. If that same person supports christian-anti-discrimination laws at the same time I would then point that out as a reason to doubt them at their word. Absent an indication of hypocrisy or logical conflicts in their arguements who the hell am I to declare that they actually believe something other than what they are saying? Who the hell are you? Who the hell is anyone?Report

              • LWA in reply to North says:

                You just keep making the same argument- that there exists somewhere a guy who truly has a deep principled objection to government waste.

                OK, fine. So lets stipulate that these sorts of people exist, in some number larger than zero.

                Why should this matter, wrt anti-discrimination laws?Report

              • North in reply to LWA says:

                Oh please, it’s not hard or remotely esoteric. You can find gay people who oppose anti-gay-discrimination legislation for instance. But yes, I brought it up because Sam asked how it could be possible; so I obligingly outlined how it is possible and indeed common in debates on policy.

                Why does it matter? Well it’s the second strongest family of objections against anti-discrimination legislation so being able to debate it head on is pretty vital for advocates of anti-discrimination litigation. Just declaring that opponents are lying and actually are just racists or homophobes etc… doesn’t convince anyone who isn’t already a true believer and ya don’t move the needle with just true believers.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to North says:

                OTOH, the actual goals and policies of those opposing LGBT focused anti-discrimination laws are pretty overwhelmingly ones that don’t match up to a view that opposes all anti-discrimination law on libertarian principles, but does match up to a view that is inspired by animus (or, often, a mercenary attempt to gain favor with those who hold such animus).

                Those same politicians that wouldn’t answer John Oliver in the video? If you asked them whether they supported the 1964 civil rights act, you’d get a bunch of yes answers.Report

              • Sam in reply to North says:

                @north You’re telling me that if somebody says to you, “Regulatory schemes protecting gays from discrimination are a waste!” you’re not at least interested in knowing more about why it is exactly that they’re taking that position? It would be one thing if they were targeting the laws that protected themselves from discrimination – “I think it’s outrageous that Christians can’t be fired simply for being Christian!” – but specifically attacking the laws protecting another group doesn’t give you at least pause? If you can’t treat this sort of behavior as an obvious tell, what on Earth are you supposed to do with it?Report

              • North in reply to Sam says:

                Typically, @Sam, people who have principled objections to anti-discrimination laws are opposed to anti-discrimination laws in general; not for one group in particular. If such a person objected only to only anti-discrimination laws that protected gays but supported anti-discrimination laws that protected Christians that would suggest that they were either not thinking it through or were not being honest about the reasons for their opposition and I wouldn’t hesitate to point that out to them and suggest as much.Report

              • Sam in reply to North says:

                @north Can you point me toward the person who has started the conversation with, “Regulatory schemes protecting people are bad. We need to get rid of them. I’d like to start with all of the ones that I personally would potentially benefit from.” Because unless that person is out there – maybe s/he is – it seems to me that opposition to regulatory schemes is almost always targeted at schemes that have nothing to do with the person opposed. That strikes me as an entirely reasonable tell on animus.Report

              • North in reply to Sam says:

                @Sam, hike on over to Cato or any other libertarian site and dig away to your hearts content. The people you’re looking for won’t be hard to find since opposition to anti-discrimination and other regulatory schemes regardless of who or what they benefit is a very main stream libertarian principle.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to North says:

                Jason Kuznicki, for that matter, opposes anti-discrimination law that would benefit him.Report

              • Sam in reply to Will Truman says:

                @will-truman Great. There’s one.

                @north Now I’m obliged to go an find the libertarians loudly demanding an end to laws protecting themselves? No thanks. But I do note that protections for religious expression are ALL OVER the Cato Institute’s website. Religious expression should be protected, after all. Weird.Report

              • North in reply to Sam says:

                Sam, you asked way back when at the beginning of this thread, if there was any reason for a property owner to oppose anti-discrimination laws other than animus. Those reasons have been amply, richly, provided. I have no interest in this newly shifted goalpost of yours because it’s not really germane to the original point.Report

              • Sam in reply to North says:

                @north No goal posts have been shifted. You’ve provided a claim that those opposed to regulatory schemes don’t necessarily do so because they’re motivated by animus. I’ve claimed that it is reasonable to suspect animus. I continue to claim this, and will continue to do so until we see a widespread insistence that laws protecting the religious from persecution are advocated against. It is telling that the libertarians opposed to regulatory schemes never lead with, “Businesses should be allowed to discriminate against conservative Christians, and should be backed by the state’s guns should any conflict arise in having done so.” That they don’t – that they prefer to oppose regulatory schemes protecting minority populations – gives the game away.Report

              • North in reply to Sam says:

                Well that simply puts you in no position to protest when conservatives and libertarians do the same tea leaf reading of your “true motivations” back at you. Then it’s all over but for the screaming.Report

              • Sam in reply to North says:

                @north – Evidence has to accompany the assumption. I think it is fair to assume animus whenever anybody cites a particular regulatory scheme that they are opposed to that doesn’t personally protect them.Report

              • North in reply to Sam says:

                @sam Following that logic then, what evidence can you provide to prove that your support for anti-discrimination legislation is motivated by a desire to reduce discrimination rather than more nefarious motives?
                Perhaps you wish to see an explosion in the number of comfortable government administrator jobs with an eye towards acquiring yourself a comfortable sinecure; maybe you wish to undermine private businesses with distortion creating onerous regulations; perhaps your ultimate goal is the nationalization of all private industry; or perhaps you think that these kinds of regulations hurt minorities interests more than they help and you actually intend them harm?

                I don’t believe in any of these possibilities, but that is because I take you at your word: you say you support anti-discrimination policies because you think they reduce discrimination and help minorities. Unless your behavior or wider positions give me reason to doubt your sincerity I believe you- I do not ascribe to you any nefarious or vile hidden motives.

                Likewise if a libertarian says they oppose all government regulation in the area of anti-discrimination because they consider government involvement in this area to be counterproductive, ineffective or wasteful I believe them. Unless their behavior or wider positions give me reason to doubt their sincerity I believe them- I do not ascribe to them any nefarious or vile hidden motives.

                I believe my position is productive and sensible; it leads to minimal heat and allows for the largest exchange of ideas and arguments that do not depend on insults or assumptions of bad faith. I think that if you don’t follow a similar philosophy then you run the risk of all your conversations devolving into endless presentations of credentials to prove one’s purity or endless heat filled arguments over who’s genuine or not.. oh and there I just described a good chunk of the conversations one finds on the further left or further right.Report

              • Sam in reply to North says:

                @north And I’ve offered an entirely reasonable standard of evidence: if the position taken is related to a particular group whom the speaker isn’t a member of. That seems like more than enough evidence to conclude that it is at least possible that animus is a motivating factor.

                Are there true believers in the world, genuinely opposed to all anti-discriminatory schemes without themselves being in favor of discrimination? Sure. But they might as well be unicorns. The more likely scenario is an individual opposed to regulatory schemes which prevent discrimination against unliked groups but prevent discrimination against liked groups.Report

              • North in reply to Sam says:

                That seems hardly reasonable to me. In order to be critical of anti-discrimination laws you must be a minority or else the presumption is you have animus against minorities? Not gonna change many hearts and minds with that line; hell you won’t even get a chance to try.Report

              • And Clarence Thomas opposes Affirmative Action policies that would benefit …

                Well, not him. He’s already got his Yale degree, the political sponsor he met only because he went to Yale, and the lifetime appointment to the Court he got only because there were so few black Republicans. But he opposes policies that might help other black people.Report

              • notme in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Clearly Thomas is a self loathing black man that hates his own kind.Report

              • Zac in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Yes, he is truly the Uncle Ruckus of the Supreme Court.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to North says:


                Do you think there are more libertarians on the internet than in real life as a function of percentages? That is to say, libertarians are disproprtionately represented on the net because, for whatever reason, they are more likely to find themselves onto it? Or do you think there are people who are libertarian online but something else in meat world?Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy Man, that’s a really interesting question that I am not sure I had considered.

                Though it does dovetail with something I’ve been poking at with my head lately: Back in the late 80s early 90s when the left was such an unpopular mess, it became personable for people who were liberals to call themselves progressives. And to make a point of saying that no, they were not liberals, they were progressives. It was largely a difference without a distinction for most, and was said primarily because the word “liberal” had really become synonymous with “whacko bird” in much of the mainstream.

                I wonder how much this is the case with conservatives today. Not that there aren’t actual libertarians out there, in the same way there were actual progressives in the 80s/90s — just I get the feeling that a lot of non-libertarian people today call themselves libertarians because they want a different label than “conservative.”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I will say that I had never really heard of libertarianism until I discovered some of the folks at PL. I have since met one person who describes herself as an avowed libertarian (and I believe said her husband, who I also knew, went that way… but I can’t confirm). So I know many more folks on the intertubes who are libertarian than in real life. Though I’d also bet 100% of the people I know in real life are on the web. Then again, I live in the northeast and I’d bet a wooden nickel that true libertarianism has a larger stake in the ground out in Big Sky country.

                On the other other other hand, it seems entirely possible to me that there are folks who might be libertarian but who don’t know that such an ideology exists.

                So, yea, I really don’t have an answer to the question.

                I myself have some libertarian leanings in certain areas. And I’d be much more willing to consider hardcore libertarianism if it had a reasonable solution for addressing historic inequities put in place through violence and coercion (yes, much of it at the hands of the state) and ongoing racism, sexism, etc. I guess I’m saying I could get on board with Libertopia but I don’t know how we get there from here. I credit James Hanley for being the only real libertarian I’ve spoken with willing to at least discuss these issues (e.g., What do we do about land deals with Native Americans that the government flat out broke? What resolution fairly addresses both their needs and the needs of the current land owners? He didn’t have a solution but he didn’t hand wave it away either.).Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

                And I’d be much more willing to consider hardcore libertarianism if it had a reasonable solution for addressing historic inequities put in place through violence and coercion (yes, much of it at the hands of the state) and ongoing racism, sexism, etc.

                Do any of the other isms in the competition do better on these issues?Report

              • Zac in reply to Kazzy says:

                I hope Hanley comes back some day, I miss that dude.Report

              • Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I did notice people I’d known who identified as conservatives began to call themselves libertarians in the last couple years of the Bush administration.

                I’d known several libertarians of various stripes prior to this*, and the ones who became libertarians when it was unpopular to be a Republican in polite society, even if they still voted Republican, didn’t look much like them. I imagine the influx was a mixed bag for pre-Bush libertarians: yay numbers, but boo much of what they actually believed and said.

                *I used to joke that there were four types of libertarians (with some mixtures): tax is theft; legalize it; from my cold, dead hands; and George Mason law professors. Now there’s the conservatarian, the left libertarian who hates cops and the drug war and Wall Street, the FEMA camps and Jade Helm and water tablets types, etc.Report

              • Jon Rowe in reply to Chris says:

                I’m happy to throw my hat in with the George Mason law professors.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Chris says:

                To go with the argument being put forth by @north, @will-truman, @chris, and other about the existence of libertarians in real life, let’s look at the results of the poll Vox did the math on .

                The percentages of people who think SS should be decreased and immigration should be increased, both pretty minimal libertarian positions add up to a little over a percent. Accounting for people who are contrarians even within libertarianism, and you get a couple of percent of actual libertarians who just are conservatives who like pot and still hate taxes.Report

              • Zac in reply to Chris says:

                Chris: I used to joke that there were four types of libertarians (with some mixtures): tax is theft; legalize it; from my cold, dead hands; and George Mason law professors. Now there’s the conservatarian, the left libertarian who hates cops and the drug war and Wall Street, the FEMA camps and Jade Helm and water tablets types, etc.

                I definitely fall into the left libertarian category, the latter half thanks in no small part to the discussions on this site over the years.Report

              • North in reply to Kazzy says:


                I am way to lazy to google it for factual support but I believe it’s pretty much a given that libertarian-ism is a potent line of political conversation in the online world while remaining generally a very marginal fringe in the real world electorate. Even the GOP uses it more as a mantra and paint than as an actual policy guide. Women, half the meat-space electorate, are almost uniformly indifferent to libertarian-ism but they are conversely, considerably less represented in the virtual world whether as people curating online resources or people speaking out in online forums (just as an example).

                So yes I’m of the uninformed opinion that libertarian-isms voice online is considerably larger than its body in the meat-world.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to North says:


                Oh, to be clear, I was not in any way disagreeing with you. Rather, I was trying to understand why that might be and which angle you were coming from with your observation.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to North says:

                @north Future historians are going to be very confused with the difference between the online archives and the election totals.

                Briefly, until they think “Oh, those libertarians are like the planeterians that go on and on about Earthian Independence.”Report

              • Autolukos in reply to Kazzy says:

                I think that libertarians are almost certainly disproportionately represented online, if for no other reason than demographics: both libertarians and internet userstend to be richer and more educated than the population as a whole. However, I think that the relative prominence of libertarianism in online and offline political discussions is primarily driven by factors other than there being relatively more libertarians in the online population.Report

              • Vikram Bath in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy: Do you think there are more libertarians on the internet than in real life as a function of percentages? That is to say, libertarians are disproprtionately represented on the net because, for whatever reason, they are more likely to find themselves onto it? Or do you think there are people who are libertarian online but something else in meat world?

                My dog is a socialist if I ever saw one.Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I’d expect people who are anti-regulation in general to oppose this, just as they oppose such laws for racial minorities and women, without necessarily being motivated by animus for LGBTQs. A better litmus test would be their opinion of DADT, which was explicit discrimination.

      It’s worth noting that a vanishingly small number of politicians hold this view. Support for such positions in the internet wonk-o-sphere is pretty high–but that’s not at all reflected in the views of state and national politicians.

      The reason for that is pretty simple: the laws that target racial and sex discrimination are already on the books. A politician who opposes anti-discrimination law on principle can’t just keep the focus on principle–he has to stand in front of a room full of people and say “We should repeal the civil rights act”. And there is no region in the US where that isn’t going to lose you some votes.Report

  6. Kolohe says:

    ‘Clinton Rules’ means we get to slam on all the Republicans for not answering the question but can find an excuse for HRC not answering the question. (you know, the candidate with by far the largest and most well paid media affairs staff)Report

  7. Burt Likko says:


    Of course. But they didn’t do those things, and they were found liable.* So this is a remedy that can be imposed upon them. That’s all I’m saying.

    Bringing it back to the ADA case, the aggrieved ADA defendants could have at any time voluntarily complied with the ADA’s requirements, either before or after being sued. But they didn’t, so this is a remedy that can be imposed upon them. And as with affirmative action in an employment case, it’s going to take an unusual and extreme set of facts before there’s an affirmative order of structural modifications in an ADA case.

    * “Liable” is not the same as “guilty.” It’s not a crime to be a racist. It’s not even a crime to engage in an unlawful employment practice motivated by racism. We’re talking in the realm of tort law here, not crimes.Report

  8. KatherineMW says:

    …It would seem that the question is a no-brainer for Democratic candidates, given that three (including Sanders) responded in the affirmative and Clinton also supports it. That covers all the significant Democratic presidential candidates, as well as some insignificant ones.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Yeah, I thought the same thing, actually. I’m not sure what the OP is gettin on about on that score. Thanks for mentioning it if for no other reason than to set the record straight.Report