Posted by Bob Lord
Yesterday, I put up what I thought was a fluff post, ribbing one of our conservative commenters regarding his opposition to lifting the ban on gay boy scouts.
But the substance of his comment to yesterday's post was incredibly telling:
Our previous discussion generally concerned coercion by outside groups and the use of the full force of law to compel the Scouts to change their policies. At no time did I argue that they would not change of their own volition nor did I ever advocate against that course of action on their part.
I think that summary of our previous discussion is a bit selective, but put that aside and assume it's accurate. Does his characterization remind you of anything? From three years ago:
Maddow:… How about desegregating lunch counters?
Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.' Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion…
Paul, if you remember, was skewered for those remarks. As well he should have been, as he was arguing against one of the core principles of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits privately owned establishments that are open to the public from engaging in discriminatory practicing.
Actually, my conservative friend's argument goes one step further, as the Scouts are not privately owned, but quasi-public. They are subsidized indirectly by taxpayer dollars through their 501(c)(3) status. And the implication of his latest comment is clear: It's wrong to pressure or compel through force of law a quasi-public organization not to engage in discriminatory policies.
You only need to take his logic one step further, from quasi-public to public, and you're back to "states rights" and "separate but equal." And, if you go back to his original comments, he indeed argued for separate but equal:
"But putting aside constitutional doctrine, the problem with what you're saying is that if kids want to engage in scouting activities, the only practical choice is the Boy Scouts. If a gay (or atheist) kid is not allowed to join the Boy Scouts, he effectively is precluded from engaging in those activiities." [quoting me]
What precludes them from forming their own group to engage in those activities?
A generation ago, applying the same logic, my conservative friend's argument would have been "why can't Blacks build their own drug stores with their own lunch counters?"
All of this is to make one small point: At the micro-level, those who promote discrimination don't understand they're doing so.