All Humans Practice Discrimination All The Time and So Do You!

The article with the humorous sign that said, "Trouble some foreigners not welcomed" sure brought a litany of confused and not-so-confused responses from people all over the world. Thanks!

The idea, though, that this sign was proof of racial discrimination is absurd. It is proof of nothing short of a poor command of English. If you want me to show you discrimination in Japan, I can do that with signs that do say explicitly, "No foreigners."

Those would be some gambling and prostitution establishments in some of the, how shall I say? "More interesting" parts of downtown Tokyo, where many Yakuza gangsters seem to be.  

Nevertheless, that the discrimination issue came up and people's faux enlightened posing about this issue causes me to comment.

You, dear reader, discriminate against people and groups of people all the time. Yes, you do. So do I. Everyone does. Discrimination is an integral feature of human activity.

When you pick a girlfriend or boyfriend, do you like a fat one, skinny one, or a shapely one?

Whichever you choose, that's a form of discrimination.

When you choose a company to work for, do you choose "Any company is fine!" Or would working for the government or mafia or a KKK organization matter to you?

Whichever you choose, that's a form of discrimination. It's also your right!

When hetero-sexual males choose a woman for partner or bed mate, they exercise discrimination: The act of choosing.

That goes for hetero-sexual women too. Gays and Lesbians too! Heavens! People choosing by use of discrimination.

The only ones that do not practice sex discrimination in the area of sexual relations are bi-sexuals, I suppose. So if you are not bi-sexual, I guess you are guilty of discrimination by sex and probably race, no?

The most obvious example of blatant discrimination is when we choose a mate for marriage. Anyone who claims that they do not exercise sex and race discrimination in this area are either fooling themselves or they haven't ever thought the ramifications of what this term means.

I was happily surprised today, though, that one of my favorite writers and fellow columnist at Lew Rockwell, Walter Williams (a black man! Heavens!) coincidentally wrote about this subject in Difficult Economic Lessons:

How about the statement that people should not engage in race or sex discrimination? Whatever the emotional worth of such a statement, it's a value judgment, with no facts or evidence to back it up, plus interpreted literally, it's nonsense. Think about it. Discrimination is simply the act of choice. Whenever we choose, we discriminate. When we choose one person for a mate, we discriminate most of the time by race and sex. Would we want a society in which there are penalties for such discrimination?

The utter notion that discrimination is ugly and should be rejected at all levels is merely nonsensical PC posturing. 

The fact of the matter is that all people discriminate all the time. To think otherwise is wrong.

The sign at the Japanese restaurant was not an example of discrimination at all. Like I said, it is merely an example of poor English.

Nevertheless, it is a tenant of Libertarian thought and principle that private property is private property and the owner of such is welcomed to discriminate as they see fit. If you ran an establishment and foreigners accounted for, say, $100 a month in sales, yet $1000 a month in damages, you'd probably restrict them from YOUR property after a few months like that... 

In that case, it is purely an act of private property rights and (survival) economics.  

People need to get an education and learn the difference between private and public property.

They also should get a basic education in cost and cost vs. effectiveness.

Read more in "The Case For Discrimination" by Walter Block


diego.a said…
Your post also helps to expose how the govt discriminates too: Over at the LRC blog, someone observed a supreme court nominee was being promoted to the public. The govt/press deemed here qualified because she attended private institutions like Princeton and Yale. Will we ever have a couple of justices from Arizona State? A president from SUNY? Not likely.

(Not that any uni. could make the state work.)
Anonymous said…
You're attempting to argue against a non-issue.
Discrimination in private life, including bigotry against race, religion, what have you, is every person's right and no one has suggested that either could be or should be denied. Nor does anyone suggest that people should not be free to judge bigotry and stupidity for what it is when and where they see it.
What should be denied and often is denied legally is the right to exercise bigotry in the public sphere which includes restaurants, of course.
Consider Sumire's neighbors, for example. They're probably not too thrilled with the 120 yen beer thing to begin with, but I suspect they know they have no choice but to tolerate that. But the "troublesome gaijin'' thing is of a different nature and would logically contribute to an atmosphere of heightened judgmentalism and chauvinism that is detrimental to other private businesses near Sumire. Where are their rights? I'm pretty sure the zoning laws wouldn't allow pachinko there, or, say, a garbage incinerator -- and that's because those businesses create negative externalities, just like the moronic "Troublesome foreigners unwelcome'' sign does.
Any yakuza, for example, would surely consider such a sign a luxury invitation to shake down the morons in charge. That's very, very bad for the neighbors as well...
Presumably, the real intent of the sign is to convey a distaste for foreigners in hopes that percentage of Japanese who are bigoted will appreciate the sentiment and therefore be inclined to look past the 120 yen beer come on (which screams desperation) and give Sumire a chance for a meal. Sumire's operators cannot possibly be so stupid as to believe that "troublesome" individuals, foreign or otherwise, are deterred by signs saying they are unwelcome. Surely they know better, but have in mind that such a sign would invite the business of Japanese customers who appreciate the bigoted sentiment.
On the other hand, if your establishment's calling card is 120 yen beer, you should expect more than your fair share of "troublesome" customers. If Sumire's signmakers can't put that together, maybe their problem isn't bigotry, it is actually utter idiocy.
Anonymous at 10:24 pm pm. You are 1000% wrong as you fail to understand that a restaurant is NOT a public space, it is private property. It is private property such as the inside of your home. In a truly free society that respects private property the owner of the restaurant decides what goes on within its premises. You need a basic education in understanding what private property is. Here is my favorite black educator once again on this subject: "Dupes for the State
. PS: Public space is a government building, a public park, the public library... Private property is someone's house, restaurant or inside their office of home... That the big brother state is encroaching on private property and ursurping our freedoms does not change the definition of "PRIVATE PROPERTY"
PS: If Anonymous at 10:24 understood what private vs. public property was, he wouldn't make these completely false assertions. Or maybe he does? If he were a believer in private property and ownership rights, he wouldn't make these pro-state socialist arguments. In his logic, smoking in restaurants can be dictated by the state; the state can decide that large sodas are illegal ("Large sodas illegal in NY".) The state can put a "fat tax" on sweets; ("Fat tax on sodas". ); the state can say that McDonald's cannot sell Happy Sets ("Happy Sets Illegal in SF". )... By the way, the inside of a McDonalds is private property. NOT! Public space. hink about it; public space is paid for by taxes. Private property is paid for by private investment and a private business.... Just that last sentence shows how wrong-headed your thinking is.
Anonymous said…
This is a lot like the argument that was made against Rand Paul for claiming a business owner should have the right to exclude anyone he wants. Rand's argument is that if you truly have a free market, the private property owners should be allowed to run whatever type of business they desire, and if it is in such bad taste that nobody supports it, then the market has spoken. Predictably, media types simply branded this as evidence of racially-motivated discrimination.
Anonymous said…
A restaurant is part of the public sphere to the extent that it relies on exposure to the general public. A supper club operated for members only, for example, is far more private and only public to the extent that membership is available to anyone.
Indeed the "troublesome'' Sumire sign itself acknowledges the restaurant's public status by addressing the general public's affirmative right to enter. Only the rare eccentric puts a "Shallow libertarians unwelcome" sign on their home, because the shared assumption is that homes are private and therefore even shallow libertarians have no affirmative right to enter.
Some people do put signs on their homes to discourage visits by proselytizers and salesmen, an acknowledgment that their front porch is, in that sense, a public space. There is indeed a spectrum of public/private spaces varying from those that are completely private to those that are completely public. That shouldn't be too difficult to understand.
Calling yourself a libertarian and spouting slogans doesn't excuse you from addressing the issue of negative externalities. Again, many neighborhoods ban pachinko parlors and garbage incinerators because they both pollute the neighborhood.
Sumire's neighbors also have property rights that include the right to defend their business against negative externalities such as the small-mindedness, stupidity and corruption invited by signs describing foreigners as troublesome. This is of course not an absolute right, any more than Sumire's right to discriminate is absolute.
Libertarianism needn't be an excuse to oversimplify.
Mark Davis said…
Anonymous 10:24, just a tip for future posts: don't make an idiotic post and end it by calling others idiots. People making rational decisions based on personal preferences are not "morons" or "stupid". You seem to have a bit of "heightened judgmentalism" yourself. Anyway, Mike is exactly correct in his explanation of the difference between public and private property including the socialist origins of the popular misconceptions you repeat here.
Anonymous 6:51. Wrong again about what is a public and private space. That you fail to even read the links provided shows that you are not interested in enlightening yourself as to what the definition of public and private is. If you think a restaurant is a public space, then, it follows to reason that the government will bail out said restaurant if it goes bankrupt as the government used taxpayer monies to bail out PRIVATE banks... Yep. This sort of confused thinking is what got us into this mess in the first place. Once again, it is simple: A public property is a government building or a library, etc. paid for by public monies. Private property is a space paid for by private money and not owned by the public. Get that into your socialist head! If you don't, then someday the government will be able to dictate to you what goes on inside of your house or inside of a restaurant that you own.
Here, you guys need a better lesson on what is public and private property:
"Whose Property Is It Anyway?". ""If I own a restaurant, can I exclude smokers from entering my restaurant?" No. "No? But isn’t the restaurant my private property?" Sure, they tell me, but smoking is still legal. "So what? If smokers want to smoke in a restaurant, why can’t they find one that allows smoking, or, why can’t they open their own restaurant for smokers only? Then they can discriminate on their property against non-smokers." Makes sense. I thought we were making progress, but then I slammed into a brick wall. "What if I refused to allow blacks to be served in my restaurant, my property?" Nope, can’t do that. "How is this any different, in principle, from denying smokers access to my property?" Because, as one young man argued, smoking is a condition that can be changed; being black isn’t. True, but how does that alter the earlier professed belief in the exclusive right to use private property as one sees fit?

We had traveled a circuitous route in trying to define the word "discriminate." Despite all the effort made to break down the term into alternate definitions more accurate in describing the frequent, harmless, and essential realities associated with the word discriminate, we had arrived back at a definition that consigns discrimination to the world of racial and ethnic bias and prejudice.

My current crop of students are just like so many that I have had in the past. To a point, many defend competition, free market principles, and the use of private property until some mystical line of "unfairness," "injustice," and "immorality" is crossed and then they abandon all that’s essential to preserve liberty. Seemingly on cue, they morph into irrational and sometimes hysterical defenders of plunder. After all their years of schooling, it turns out they never learned how to properly discriminate. Interesting. I guess they’ve spent too much time in an institutional box."
Anonymous said…
From Aaron Moser

@Anonymous July 10, 2012 10:24 PM

The whole public sphere argument is just an excuse to regulate private property. If property is open to the public but is privately owned it is private property. What if you throe a non invitation neighborhood party but a few drunk neighbors arrive and cause trouble? You can not discriminate against them because of it is a public space. Your public sphere argument is a non-issue because it is non enforceable. Restaurants have the right to refuse survive so they can de-facto discriminate. Plus private clubs can discriminate so a restaurant could turn its self into a private club then make membership to whites only and it is legal but when have you ever heard of that happening? It never happens so it is not an issue.
Anonymous said…
"Indeed the "troublesome'' Sumire sign itself acknowledges the restaurant's public status by addressing the general public's affirmative right to enter." An extraordinarily twisted, tortured and illogical argument that would be thrown out before it ever got to court. - Dan Greaves
Anonymous said…
From Aaron Moser

Anonymous said...

"Indeed the "troublesome'' Sumire sign itself acknowledges the restaurant's public status by addressing the general public's affirmative right to enter." An extraordinarily twisted, tortured and illogical argument that would be thrown out before it ever got to court. - Dan Greaves

Public space is just a figment of the Law. I know it is illegal to discriminate against someone in a "public space" because of two parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act but I think that is wrong and should be changed. Government should not have the power to discriminate but individuals(singular or collectively) should.
Anonymous said…
From Aaron Moser

Anonymous #1 no it would not be throne out of court because under Japanese law restaurants can discriminate.
Anonymous said…
This post wins an award for possibly teaching at least one very important thing to some people who are willing to learn; and that is "What is private property versus public property?" This is what Wikipedia says, "Private property is the employment, control, ownership, ability to dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property by persons and privately owned firms.[1] Private property is distinguishable from public property and collective property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by individuals or a business entity." Mike is right; restaurants are not public property in any interpretation of the law.... Except in possibly North Korea.
Anonymous said…
Wiki link:
Anonymous said…
None of you have addressed the issue of negative externalities, ie pollution.
Shallow libertarianism, apparently, has no response to the garbage incinerator that moves next door to the kindergarten.
Suppose I turn my house into techno/house/dubstep/triphop/gobbldybeat nightclub, drawing drunk, stoned 20-somethings with bad taste who urinate, defecate and fornicate on streets and byways surrounding my home. Is this just too bad for my neighbors, or do they have a right to demand an end to the late-night loud noise and "troublesome" bad-music fans? The neighborhood includes a public sphere in which people have a right to enforce rules that limit private property rights.
It may well be that the toxicity of Sumire's "troublesome foreigners'' sign isn't potent enough to warrant sanction by the adjacent private property owners. But perhaps it is. If, for example, the sign draws yakuza who see its epic idiocy as an invitation to shake down Sumire's employees, that would indeed interfere with their private property rights.
Our discussion here points to the fatal flaw in shallow libertarianism: it ignores the reality of the public sphere. Civilization is based on the recognition of a public sphere and a public interest. Without that, we'd still be living in caves. Even feudalism left space for a public sphere and public interest, albeit a disastrously narrow, distorted one.
Sure, we can't live without privacy and private property rights either, but these rights often conflict, even with one another, and sorting these conflicts out democratically is what politics is about.
So politics is essentially about where the public sphere meets the private, which is why shallow libertarianism gains so little traction: it has no answer other than ``too damn bad'' for negative externalities imposed by private citizens on the public. It's narrow, shallow precepts can only address negative externalities created by public citizens, ie government.
Again, I doubt the breathtaking stupidity of Sumire's sign reaches the level of public nuisance. Indeed, its neighbors perhaps find it tolerable under the circumstances. That's the smart argument here: it matters, but not enough to warrant action. The "it doesn't matter because it's private property'' will only persuade shallow private-property absolutists.
Anonymous said…
From Aaron Moser

@Anonymous July 11, 2012 11:29 AM

Now you want government regulations to discriminate. Yes that was tried it was called Jim Crow. It was put in to deal with the negative externalities of blacks mixing with whites because we need to government to stop that free market abuse. Suppose I turn my house into techno/house/dubstep/triphop/gobbldybeat nightclub, drawing drunk, stoned 20-somethings with bad taste who urinate, defecate and fornicate on streets and byways surrounding my home. Well your the one that said you can not discriminate in a public space so deal with it. You want government to discriminate against people on public property but want them to ban discrimination by individuals on their own property. And you call me a shallow libertarian? public sphere and public interest is a collectivist statist idea. Only individuals and groups of individuals who voluntarily and freely associate have an interest there is no social interest. And since you called me a shallow libertarian two can play that game. The idea of public sphere and public interest was devolved by the early twentieth century progressives witch led to Woodrow Willson who by getting the US involved in WWI led to the rise of the Soviet Union and later the Nazis and WWII witch led to the death of at least half a billion people and untold suffering. Wow there is no negative externality like war witch causes death and destruction.
Anonymous is so confused and his thinking is so convoluted, I don’t know where to begin.... "Shallow libertarianism, apparently, has no response to the garbage incinerator that moves next door to the kindergarten…..Suppose I turn my house into techno/house/dubstep/triphop/gobbldybeat nightclub, drawing drunk,....which people have a right to enforce rules that limit private property rights." On one hand you talk about government enforced public vs. private property rules, then on the other you talk about "people" enforcing laws? Your nonsense shows a complete and total lack of understanding about the free market and free society.

First, people start businesses to make money; they don't do it to lose money. People don't put pig farms in residential areas because the land prices are far too high. When meats sells at $.39 cents a pound (wholesale) a farmer is not renting prime real estate in downtown Tokyo that rents for $120 a square foot to build a pig farm or garbage incinerator; they buy or rent land in the country where it sells for $1 a square foot. Same is true for the nursery school; someone who builds one does it to make money; not lose money. Hence they don't build them next to garbage incinerators or vice versa.

Building a disco in a residential area would cost several hundred thousands of dollars if not millions… If you want to do so, and go bankrupt, have at it. Any business person wouldn't need laws on this subject; they'd know that location for a business matters greatly and they'd build it in the most logical place: downtown in a high traffic area that is frequented by young people and has other similar establishments like bars and discos. If one is stupid enough to build one in a residential area and wants to lose a million dollars real fast, please be my guest.

Thinking like yours has no place in a free society…. "People" don't enforce "laws" - people work together in mutual benefit . We don't need "laws" to tell us not to infringe on our neighbors property. Their peace and quiet and their neighborhood and homes are their private property. How you deal with your neighbors, coworkers, fellow customers in shopping malls or grocery stores, is often determined by subtle processes of negotiation and cooperation….

Laws made by governments are what the problem is - Not the solution.
Anonymous said…
So now you're arguing against the rule of law.
Somehow, I'm unpersuaded, yet worn down, so I suppose you've achieved something.
Have a nice day!
Anonymous said…
I howled with laughter at this; "Shallow libertarianism, apparently, has no response to the garbage incinerator that moves next door to the kindergarten." Really? This person has never been to Tokyo where garbage incinerators ARE built in residential areas. Guess who built them? The Tokyo Metropolitan Government. If the free market (and Libertarians) had their way, a private company would run garbage collection and could never afford to build an incinerator on expensive land in Suginami-Ku or Setagaya-Ku. Mike, even you have to admit, that is a very ridiculous idea that this guy puts forward and is definitely worth several hearty chuckles!
Anonymous has a very confused idea of the rule of law. On the one hand he claims, ‎"I think it should be illegal for individuals to discriminate in a public place" but then again, he says (paraphrased), "I think government should kick people out of public property when they are causing problems.".... "Causing problems"?! That's a very subjective phrase that cannot stand up to scrutiny... Say you are protesting police brutality? I'm sure th government would consider that, "Causing problems." Or say that you are protesting against drug laws? That is "causing problems" to the powers that be... Or even protesting for gay marriage; definitely "causing problems" (depending on circumstances). Certainly, this can be taken as a lesson in that Anonymous cannot admit that his ideas are not well considered, hence his turning tail and running from the argument... Well, another victory. Perhaps, at least, the seed of liberty has been planted in his mind instead of the twisted roots of government control and socialism that are antithesis of a free mind and man's inherent right to freedom and the right to live as each individual sees fit. The moral of the story? I am only sure of how I need to live. I have no idea as to how you should live and have no right to tell you what to do or how to act; neither does the government.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous doesn't see one important thing: "Government cannot grant you anything. It can ONLY place limits on that which was rightfully yours to begin with."
Anonymous said…
‎"I think it should be illegal for individuals to discriminate in a public place" but then again, he says (paraphrased), "I think government should kick people out of public property when they are causing problems.".... "Causing problems"?! Hey! wasn't the impetus for this entire set of commentary that an owner of an establishment has the right to kick people off his premises? Then anonymous claims that he can't because it's a "public space"? But then, anonymous turns around and says, "...government should kick people out of public property when they are causing problems." ? I don't get it. The owner (read: authority) doesn't have the right to kick someone out of his place that he owns because it is a "public place" (whatever that means).. Yet the government (read: authority) does?
You're right. This is cockamamie logic no matter how one slices it.

Popular posts from this blog

The Best Children's Sports Park and Obstacle Course in Tokyo!

12 Japanese Girl Rock Bands That Matter in 2017

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers' Top 50 Best Songs of 2016 (With Music Videos!)