by Morgan Freeberg | May 22, 2010 2:11 pm
Bi•no•pia (intang. n.)
As I’ve pointed out a few times, it’s easy to criticize something and labor toward its demise when it has a name, and it’s much harder to do this when it doesn’t have a name. By and large, when I invent names for things, they are things that have been sticking around for awhile and need to go away.
Folks, here’s something that needs a beat-down.
Binopia is a portmanteau between binary and myopia. I’ve lately become aware of this horrible afflication through the Rand Paul flap; it is a myopia that comes from seeing issues that involve permission and proscription in binary terms. It is an inability to comprehend the simple concept of passively allowing something, and at the same time, withholding your approval.
We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who can’t comprehend this simple, entirely workable, dichotomy. To them, if you disapprove of something the only way you can show it is to pass a law against it.
It’s like what I’ve been telling my son for a few years now: When a conservative hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he changes the station. The liberal who hears something he doesn’t like writes to his congressman expressing his support for, and demanding, a ban.
If we are to remain free, the people in that second group cannot have power to prohibit. Because if they do, they’re going to have to outlaw something every single time they want to make a statement about what wonderful people they are…which is all the time. When you have binopia, it is impossible to indicate to the waitress you’d like a stack of pancakes, without passing a law against eggs, sausage, bacon and cold cereal.
I see in that debate between Megyn Kelly and John Stossel, the Blonde One intoned — and this is the one anti-Rand-Paul argument I’ve heard thus far that’s made the most sense — that if we didn’t empower the federal government to lower the boom on these “public accommodations” and left things to the free market to sort out, maybe it would’ve worked eventually but it would have taken, gosh, a hundred years or so. That’s probably true. But I would say if you’re going to noodle on that one and figure out if it’s the right way to go, the first step is to call it what it really is. So let’s call it what it really is: We suspended our Constitution, which our executives, judges and legislators are sworn to uphold, which our public schoolteachers so regularly tell our children is such a wonderful perfect document that must be protected across the centuries. We trashed it to get quick results. We did an end-run around it.
Was that the right way to go? If so, then I want all those signs taken down: “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone.” I want ’em down, coast to coast. Trash ’em. Because they’re not true.
Stossel has the right point-of-view in that match-up, because he is using his full range of vision. He doesn’t have binopia. He’s making a reasonable request, which perhaps isn’t possible anymore, but our enduring freedom absolutely relies on it: Those who want to have some say in what is made into an enforceable crime, could they please find some other way to communicate their likes and dislikes about things.
You aren’t a racist and you would never patronize an establishment that discriminates? Hey, that’s just awesome. If you feel a need to prove it repeatedly and compulsively, first of all, you have a problem. More likely than not, a skeleton in your closet that’s bugging you. Get some help. Yes, I’m dead flat-ass serious about that. Secondly: How about you just not go to those places and leave it at that. You don’t have to pass a law every time you disapprove of something.
Third point: As I pointed out here, and I’m re-emphasizing in bold the part that has to do with this point…
I agree with what Rand said [the author, Ayn, not senate nominee Paul] in that paragraph, but absolutely agree with states’ rights. I imagine the two might seem to be mutually exclusive to anyone who hasn’t thought this out all the way, and that might very well include Ayn Rand.
The individual is to enjoy supremacy above the state AND the fed at least with regard to certain things. That is the original intent of the Constitution. These three entities are to share power — and not agreeably, because power is all about doing what you’re going to do when the other guy isn’t going to like it. Not one among the three enjoys complete power.
Fact remains, there is no authorization in the Constitution for what Rand Paul was criticizing. Nor should there be, since there is no mechanism installed anywhere that makes the federal government inherently wise or benevolent about restaurant service policies compared to restaurants, OR the states.
In fact, can a private business really oppress someone like a government can? It’s really hard to come up with examples. If you lay down the entirely reasonable restriction that discrimination is not oppression, since no choice has been actually taken away besides “you can’t eat at our restaurant” (and who’d want to, anyway?)…then it becomes even harder to come up with an example.
I got a feeling if you could revive Ayn Rand and ask her about this senate nominee who was named after her, she’d end up agreeing with what he said. I’ve also got a feeling that when this whole thing plays out and the dust settles on it, his critics will be missing more ass flesh than he will. Most people loathe discrimination, but have had some misgivings for a long time about government telling businesses what they can’t do. It seems like a swell idea until you have a personal experience that allows you to see up close how compassionate our civil servants are…heh…and then you meet some folks who act like Ayn Rand villains, and the flaws in the plan become really hard to ignore.
All a business can really do, in the final analysis, is offer a product or service…and withdraw it. And then they can be like BP and screw things up, I suppose. But discrimination is not that. It isn’t being poisoned, it isn’t being injured, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it it’s really just stupid business. We don’t need laws against it, what we really need is to have our freedom back.
It’s embarrassing to have to point it out, but since 1964 we’ve lost a hell of a lot more rights than to throw people out of our businesses if we don’t like their skin color. Kids get suspended from school if they get caught with an Advil, we can’t change the oil in our own cars because we can’t dispose of the oil, we can’t cut our own grass because we can’t dispose of the clippings, we can’t toss out light bulbs or batteries. This is the binopia we need to start fighting. This is how all that nonsense starts. Someone somewhere has a preference…and they express it by means of a new law. We lose yet another freedom and our progressives say “Well what of it? It’s the right choice!”
So we might as well require it? Until everyone is forced to do the right thing all the time?
If you can’t see something falling away when that happens, you have a mighty strange definition of freedom.
Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.
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