The Air You Breathe Can Become a “Public Accommodation”

justin-katz-avatar-smiling

In the category of essays breaking down very simply a complex evolution in political philosophy, Kevin Williamson traces how a royal proclamation that, specifically, a ferry owner can be regulated because he crosses a public water way between his two private docks has (nearly) become license for bureaucrats to command a small-time baker to offer a specific product for a particular event:

From the regulation of public waterways comes the principle that a man may not grow wheat on his own farm for his own use without the king’s permission: The slope is, in fact, slippery.

The principle that private property takes on an unalterably public character whenever a chicken crosses the road is central to American civil-rights law — which, contrary to the account sometimes given by our Democrat friends, has a history that does not begin in 1964. …

It is not the case that discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. Telling a black man that he may not work in your bank because he is black is in reality a very different thing from telling a gay couple that you’d be happy to sell them cupcakes or cookies or pecan pies but you do not bake cakes for same-sex weddings — however much the principle of the thing may seem superficially similar. If the public sphere is infinite, then the private sphere does not exist, and neither does private life. Having a bakery with doors open to the public does not make your business, contra Justice Harlan, an agent of the state. A bakery is not the Commerce Department or the local public high school.

To Our Readers: We need your support to challenge the progressive mainstream media narrative. Your donation helps us deliver the truth to Rhode Islanders. Please give now.

As Williamson notes, the slope is slippery, and it’s always some seemingly desirable principle that drags us farther down.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    What can be done, will be done, Bureaucrats and regulators will seize any opportunity to increase their fiefdoms. It brings an increase in budget, therefore an increase in “clout”. As the quotation notes “If the public sphere is infinite, then the private sphere does not exist”

  • BasicCaruso

    Ah, the contortions necessary to hold this to be true…

    “Telling a black man that he may not work in your bank because he is black is in reality a very different thing from telling a gay couple that you’d be happy to sell them cupcakes or cookies or pecan pies but you do not bake cakes for same-sex weddings.”

    So if I understand this correctly, a bank must be happy to offer a black man service such as opening a bank account but could deny him a joint checking account with his same sex partner or with his white wife because of an owner’s objections to same sex marriage or to miscegenation? Slippery slope, indeed.

    • Justin Katz

      Yes, your contortions to hold your belief to be true are quite extraordinary.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Further, While I agree with Justin in this matter, I can understand Basic Caruso’s confusion in this matter. I suspect that a survey would produce the result that most Americans would accept the idea that any business “open to the public” must serve all comers. Further the appellate courts that have ruled on the baker’s case must rely on some precedent. The opinions developed in a survey are seldom well formed. Suppose that survey asked if a business must grant admission to a man wearing a mask, what result? (In flu season, I see many Orientals wearing surgical masks, Should service only be denied to those wearing black bandanas over their faces?) If the argument boils down to “they were born that way” and cannot be discriminated against, how about “No shoes, no shirt, no service”. Surely we were “all born that way” with regard to shirts and shoes.
        I am reminded of a recent ruling (I believe in Baltimore) that bullet proof partitions around the cash register are illegal because they are insulting to paying customers. Must the shop owner (usually Oriental) risk everything?

      • guest

        Justin, people in glass houses…you make your living off what you so often accuse others of. Contortion is your middle name.

Quantcast