Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Arizona’s “Anti-Gay/Religious Freedom” Legislation

On February 20th 2014, the Arizona state legislature passed SB 1062, otherwise known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act SB 1062, and has since transmitted the bill to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a figure who is no stranger to controversy, to be signed into law on February 24th 2014. As yet, Governor Brewer has not officially announced whether to sign the bill into law or not.

The controversy behind this bill is that it allows business owners to refuse to serve anyone whom they perceive to be members of the gay community so long as the business owners were acting solely on their religious beliefs.


For those of you who are familiar with this blog and my pro-Free Market stance, you might think that I am jumping for joy because this bill seemingly allows businesses to be regulated less by the government. You’d be wrong.

From my pro-Free Market point of view, I am not thrilled with this bill because it does not go far enough. No, I do not mean that I think the government should legalize the lynching of homosexuals. What I mean is that, just like no one should be forced to patron any business that he/she doesn’t like, no business person should be forced to deal with any client he/she doesn’t want to serve.

One shouldn’t have to cite a religious reason for denying service to a potential customer. So long as businesses are not harming anyone (no, hurt feelings don’t count), a business should be free to act for whatever reason it chooses. At best, this bill is a half-step towards economic liberty. At worst, it is a law, which is supported by diseased degenerates who think that a person’s sexuality can make him/her subhuman, that permits people to remain ridiculously irrational while hiding behind the Bible!

The other problem that I have with this whole mess is the complaints that progressives have thrown at it. Firstly, I have heard many people comparing this bill with Jim Crow laws. That is not very accurate.

Jim Crow laws, as the name suggests, were laws that were passed by state governments that compelled businesses, as well as the government itself, to segregate, whether they wanted to or not.

This law that progressives are critiquing (for all the wrong reasons) allows businesses that want to enter into contract with everyone to do so, and allows businesses that want to cater to only members of the KKK to do so as well. So it is not a blanket law like the Jim Crow laws were like.

I also read what George Takei said about this when he said, “It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon.”

Now George Takei is a great actor whom I’ve seen on television since childhood who has gotten only better with age. That being said, allowing businesses to discriminate against people is hardly unprecedented. For example, I have seen numerous bars while I was in the United States that have posted signs that said “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.”


Even the bar that I spent many of my weekend evenings while I was in college carried such a sign. And it was a bar that was owned by an old hippie, who insisted that everyone call him “Loopy,” whose favorite song is John Lennon’s Imagine. Should Loopy be taken to court for that sign?

And for another, George Takei seems to imply that overturning this bill and continuing to force all businesses to serve LGBT people would somehow end the bigotry against LGBT people. There is no evidence that laws end hatred. It certainly forces people to hide their prejudices but it doesn’t get rid of them.

Why not let businesses declare to the whole world what their prejudices are? That way, people can know where not to spend their money.

That’s the fundamental thing that I don’t understand. Instead of wanting to know which businesses are being run by assholes so that people can know where not to spend their money, people who are advocating for laws that force businesses to serve everyone is saying “Excuse me, Mr. Government, there are these sexist/racist pigs that I want to give my money to so that I can be provided with services – services which will most likely be shoddy seeing how I am someone whom they have declared publicly to hate. Could you, please, force them to take my money so that they can make money, while providing me with what will most likely be shoddy services that I’m not sure that I really even want?”


I’ve heard people say that the change in laws would lead to a change in culture. But I have never seen any evidence of that happening before. I’ve seen cultural changes eventually leading to changes in the law but never the other way around. Ending slavery did not end racism. It simply ended slavery. Ending Jim Crow laws also ended only the laws. It did not end racism. Both of which, by the way, were government laws that were put in place due to the prevalent culture of the time. Similarly, passing laws to force all businesses to serve LGBT people whether they want to or not won’t end homophobia. That will only happen after a change in the culture, which has already been happening for a while.

As a counter-example, assuming that the Westboro Baptist Church hires an actual PR team and changes tact and sends several of its members to a gay bar to order drinks, would the bartender have to serve them? The proper end result ought to be a huge bear of a man wearing leather straps telling them to get the fuck out unless they want their necks snapped. But a law that forces all businesses to serve everyone would then give the Westboro Baptist Church the legal precedent to sue the bar’s owners in court.

People might counter that being gay and/or black and/or female is not the same as being a religious bigot because people cannot choose their gender or sexuality or ethnicity when they are born but religion is something that people can choose. Although that is a valid moral point, legally, it’s irrelevant because what progressives are advocating is about identity, not the choice (or the lack thereof) of one’s identity.

So forcing all businesses to serve others is both illogical and potentially counterproductive.

I get the anger that progressives are feeling. And those bigots that people are angry at deserve moral censure, as well as healthy doses of boycotts, the one thing that George Takei got right in his letter, which is a right that every consumer has. But this law won’t change anything. The change that we want to see has to come through cultural changes. No, cultural changes are never fast enough but that’s the only sure way of moving on from anything old and decrepit.

Let them remain in their cesspool and let the rest of us associate and spend our money the way we want. They will die out sooner or later. The future is on our side.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Moral Duty to Help North Koreans?

In an announcement that came as a shock to no one, after a year-long investigation, a United Nations panel that was headed by retired Australian judge Michael Donald Kirby found that the North Korean regime was responsible for crimes against humanity.

Now that the report is out, Kim Jong-un may be “personally held liable in court for crimes against humanity committed by state institutions and officials under his direct control.”

How wonderful. Now we can all sleep better at night.

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And what does the report accomplish? Absolutely nothing. As everyone knows, both China and Russia will use their veto power in the Security Council to prevent anything that could potentially destabilize the North Korean regime any more than it already is. This would be in accordance with what they had done in 2012 to prevent the passing of a harmless resolution that condemned the Syrian regime and called for President Bashar Assad to step down.

The United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, is indeed a toothless tiger; and each time one of those permanent member nations wields its veto power, it causes anyone in the world with any sense of moral values the urge to vomit blood.

However, as much as the Security Council may be an insipid cesspool, in this case, seeing how it is actively preventing nation states from being forced to accept moral responsibility for the rights of others, it’s a blessing that such a disease-ridden entity exists.

That is because at the heart of the UN report about the hellhole that is North Korea’s crimes against humanity is the underlying assumption that we, as in anyone who is not North Korean, have the moral responsibility to liberate the suffering North Korean people from the yoke of tyranny.

For example, Roboseyo wrote recently in his blog post about this same subject:

With North Korea, we knew. We knew and we knew, and we ignored it. And this is what haunts me about North Korea’s condition: that one day, the surviving North Koreans will confront the world, and ask, “Why didn’t you do anything?” The media used their country’s condition to sell newspapers and ad space, but ignored mass starvation and concentration camps. South Korean politicians cynically used North Koreans' lives as a political wedge issue. No apology will be enough. With Auschwitz not even gone from living memory, we have let this happen again, to our shame as a species.

With all due respect to Roboseyo, this sense of shame and feeling of responsibility is one that I have never accepted nor will ever accept.

Frankly, though Christians may say otherwise, I am not my brother’s keeper. The North Koreans aren’t even my brothers for that matter. And that’s saying something seeing how I’m Korean.

Why is it immediately assumed that people have the duty to perform certain actions for no reason other than obedience to some higher moral authority, without regard to any personal goal, motive, desire or interest? Why does the fact that some random strangers are suffering mean that they have the right to claim moral authority over me?

However, Roboseyo's statement that the question is not “What can the world do to help North Korea” but rather “How can the world empower North Koreans to demand a different kind of country for themselves” is at least somewhat reasonable.  On the other hand, there was the special brand of idiots from the Chosun Ilbo.

The opinion piece from The Chosun Ilbo which I am talking about stated:

There is no point denying that whatever support Seoul provides will eventually end up helping the regime and military. But if that is what it takes to feed the truly hungry, that is a price worth paying to make them feel that South Korea cares.

Firstly, have those idiots at the Chosun Ilbo forgotten that the de facto junta that Seoul’s support would eventually end up helping is run by the same people who were responsible for all this:

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Are South Korean taxpayers supposed to hand over their hard earned money to help pay to keep those thugs in power? Those very same thugs who have committed so many crimes against their own people as well as against South Koreans? Just so that North Koreans, strangers whom we have never met, may feel that “South Korea cares?”

Though the Chosun Ilbo has never been known for being particularly intelligent, this is a new low even for them.

There is without a doubt that North Korea is one of the worst dictatorships that the world has seen in modern times, and as such, it is an outlaw state. Any free(ish) nation in the world has the political, as well as moral, right to invade North Korea to liberate its people as well as dismantle the state apparatus.

However, no free nation in the world has the political or moral duty to invade outlaw nations. Whether a free nation chooses to invade an outlaw nation in order to dispense justice or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers or their suffering subjects. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses, depending on its goals, motives, desires and interests.

And to be blunt, regardless of the fact that some people may think that the reunification of the Korean peninsula would be a jackpot, invading North Korea to liberate its long suffering people is simply not in anyone’s interests – economically, socially, or politically.

What I do agree with Roboseyo about this is that when we think of North Korea (or Syria or Darfur or Rwanda or East Timor or Kurdistan or Kosovo) the phrase “Never Again” does ring hollow.

Personally, however, “Never Again” has always sounded much more meaningful when it came from Israelis themselves because I always took it to mean that they would never allow something like the Holocaust to happen to themselves ever again.

But as soon those words come from the mouths of anyone else, when it typically means “we cannot stand by and let such crimes occur in any god-forsaken corner of the world,” especially considering how many mass killings there have been since the Holocaust, “Never Again” has always been a meaningless phrase. And that is precisely because no country in the world, not even the United States with all of its supposed exceptionalism, acts against its own selfish interests.

But instead of being proud of being rational and refusing to give in to emotionalism, countries prefer to espouse a morality that none can truly practice for seemingly no other purpose than to wring one’s hands.

If the North Koreans ever overthrow their leaders, they will have my support. If the North Koreans then want to consider reunification with the South on South Korea’s terms (itself a fantasy), they will have my support. But their fate is theirs to make and I will not feel guilty for their suffering or envy for whatever glories they may or may not achieve.