Oxy Mora: David Brooks at the Budget Motel
Richard Day: Shelter From the Storm
Mr. Smith: Duchamp, the Big Glass and Chronic Illness
Remember back when Rand Paul got into trouble for saying that he wouldn't have supported the landmark civil rights legislation that outlawed such perverse practices as segregated drinking fountains and "whites only" lunch counters?
Well, at least Paul was able to marshal a libertarian, market-based defense of his ideas (before he realized that this was a stupid move and that he should instead publicly change his mind without admitting it). The argument goes something like this: Society evolves. People learn that racism is stupid. They choose not to frequent "whites only" lunch counters because they are deemed ugly and distasteful places and a lot of them go out of business.
As for the ones that stay in business -- don't let them worry you. If you don't like them, don't patronize them. If other people do like them and keep them afloat, well, that's their right. You don't have to associate with those people either, if you don't want to.
The argument is problematic if you're like me and think that the government should make rules to help make society, including the individuals who comprise it, better off. And, of course, people have pointed out that no "whites only" lunch counter exists in a societal vacuum. If it catches fire, would its owners not expect black firefighters to put out that blaze, just like they would any other? If it is robbed, would they not expect black police officers, or police officers paid by taxes paid by black fellow citizens, to investigate the crime?
The conservative answer to this is that private property rights are so important that they trump such minor ethical dilemmas. Your property is yours to do with what you will. Invite black people over! Or don't!
And the very consistent conservative would also say that when a black person owns a restaurant or home or business that they can exclude white people if that's their druthers, right? Again, some one who thought that way might well risk running out of friends and patrons, but it's a darned individual right to discriminate.
Unless you're a Hispanic business owner in Dallas and you own a chain of pizza restaurants called Pizza Patron. The owners here are happy, of course, to serve white people. But they're also running a special promotion. If you order in Spanish at certain times, a large one topping pie is free. You don't have to speak Spanish. "Yo quiero pizza, por favor," will do fine -- if you've seen a Taco Bell commcercial, you can get a free pizza. You certainly don't have to be Hispanic -- if you're an eskimo who has seen a Taco Bell commercial, you can get a free pizza.
And, besides, it's their store and they own it and if they want to say "order in Spanish or not at all," (which is not even what they're saying) they have the right and I'd expect all good conservatives to stand up for them.
"It seems to punish people who can't speak Spanish, and I resent that," says Peter Thomas, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, which advocates English as the nation's spoken language. "In public areas, people should be speaking English, and that includes pizza parlors."
It's almost as if they don't have a consistent worldview at all and that they in fact support separate sets of rules for white and nonwhite people. But at least this Thomas guy has some convictions. The man won't say "por favor" even if there's free pizza on the line.