Do People Value Facts Anymore?

Monday, April 13, 2015

John Stossel makes a variety of good points in a recent column on "The Right to Discriminate", but the following is one of his more interesting:

It would actually be useful to see which businesses refuse to serve one group or another. Tolerance is revealed by how people behave when they are free. American law fosters the illusion that everyone is unbiased, while their real feelings remain hidden, making them harder to boycott, shame or debate.
This Stossel says after reminding us that businesses run by bigots are vulnerable to being boycotted.

I don't find the above quote to be a big revelation, and I don't think others should. But perhaps this is something that needs to be said.

If so, it could be useful to speculate on why it would need saying. The result, if not the intent, of so much law over the past fifty years, during the vast expansion of the paternalistic state has been to make individuals dependent on the government for everything from money to judgement (e.g., all-encompassing regulations). This has especially been the case in the attempts to end government-enforced discrimination (a proper goal) and that of individuals (which is not properly the business of government). Furthermore, improper means, such as racial quotas, have been employed as remedies. The focus seems to have shifted from ending active discrimination to merely ending the results (or even what could be the results of discrimination. And so you have quotas and statistical analyses of hiring and promotion practices, police stops and the like. And now this is morphing into the government prescribing behaviors to individuals.

This shift to increasingly meddlesome law has followed inexorably from the premise that righting wrongs (vice protecting rights) is the proper purpose of the government. Might corresponding cultural shifts, including an expectation of rescue, a mental passivity that doesn't see the value in ugly truths, and a failure to appreciate the value of freedom, also follow? People are free to reach their own conclusions and form their own habits, but our current state of affairs is hardly one that encourages thinking.

-- CAV

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