One oft-repeated defense of the state and its involuntary government is its supposed necessity to fight against discrimination. Such examples in the USA include the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1994, which mandates accommodations for workers, customers, and all people with certain disabilities, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandates equal protection and access for every person no matter his or her race.
As happens so often, legislators and judges provide solutions for problems they themselves had caused! In the case of the Civil Rights Act, for example, legislators were in part overturning provisions the same government had allowed and even mandated under “Jim Crow” legislation and Plessy v. Ferguson, among others.
Suffer me one personal anecdote to illustrate this. A former coworker had been in the Army; during a leave, there were many soldiers boarding a train to the Midwest to spend some time back home. So many, in fact, there were more soldiers than seats, and many had taken to sitting on their duffel bags in the aisles. My coworker and a friend had decided to try their luck in another car, and to their surprise there were only two people already on the last car; they spread out in the seats and felt a little sorry for the guys who packed themselves in like sardines in the other cars. Just before the train was to depart, the conductor kicked them off the nigh empty car, informing them, “This is the colored car; you have to move to another car.” Their protestations along with those of the black soldiers notwithstanding, they rode to Chicago on their duffel bags in one of the cramped cars. This was all because of separate-but-equal laws in force at the time, i.e., the state enforcing racial segregation against the wills of people.
I write this post not to argue the absence of sexual, racial, religious, and countless other bases for prejudice and discrimination; I am very aware these exist. I write this post to provide anecdotes that illustrate the means employed by individual people acting with wills unconstrained by the state to decrease the power, duration, and effectiveness of acts based on irrational prejudice.
In this final story a customer is punished for discriminating against an employee who falls into a prejudiced group.
Herein the free actions of people are working to reduce prejudice and discrimination in the world. May we never again give any state the power to . Ecrasez l’etat!