In August 2019, an organization called “Super Happy Fun America” will be hosting a “Straight Pride Parade” in Boston. One of the lead organizers, John Hugo says that his event is a commentary against “identity politics” he feels the LGBT community abuses. He and his supporters pat themselves on the back for their expert trolling of the libtards as media coverage swarms about their “offensive comedy”. However, what everyone is missing is that Hugo’s “trolling” is neither offensive nor funny. It’s meaningless, ill-informed, and pointless.
Soon, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not gay/bi and transgender/transexual individuals will receive the same protections as everyone else covered under anti-discrimination law. LGBT status would function just like race, sex, religion, and national origin already do. If this decision passes, housing, employment, and service discrimination would become illegal nationwide. Sexuality, like race and gender, is an immutable aspect of a person’s character and ought to, therefore, have the same protections.
Ideal Anti-Discrimination Laws
Firstly, it is worth noting that these anti-discrimination laws should not exist in the first place. They are a hindrance to nearly every part of the First Amendment, specifically desecrating freedom of association. In a perfect world, no group, no characteristic would have any legal protection from the threat of a private business kicking them out.
However, we don’t live in a perfect world. In fact, the U.S. government is quite broken in this respect. There exists in the first place piles of anti-discrimination legislation which only hurts the rights of private business owners. But this legislation’s existence is hardly even secondary when considering the issue of LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
A Temporary Means of Equality
Unless the conversation is about anti-discrimination laws in general, it has to operate in the sphere of precedent and intention. Race, ability, sex, religion, and national origin all receive protection from anti-discrimination laws. This is because these are all inherent and unchangeable aspects of a person that others still discriminate against them for.
The reason there are no provisions for behavior is that we can choose whether or not we are disruptive or cruel. Uncontroversially, business owners can kick people out if they are loud or rude to staff. There also exist no provisions for things like hair color, eye color, or fashion sense because people do not commonly receive hate on those grounds.
The criteria for a characteristic to merit anti-discrimination legislation are clear. It must be both an uncontrollable aspect and a characteristic for which people actually discriminate against others. Given these grounds, there is absolutely no reason to hold the LGBT community exempt from anti-discrimination laws. It has been proven time and time again that being gay and trans are both genetic, or at the very least, are not choices. Further, it is undeniable that gay, bisexual, and trans people face some discrimination, even in the West.
In 2017 in America alone, individuals committed 1338 hate crimeson the basis of sexual orientation or status as a trans person. On top of that, there are cases that make the news on a fairly regular basis about gay or trans people being denied service. Because of the anti-discrimination laws for other characteristics, we see very few examples of restaurants or hair salons denying black people, baptists, or women. The world generally feels like a safer place when there is no fear of persecution or petty denial based on fixed characteristics.
If we are to afford these comforts on the basis of sex, race, creed, or anything else, it is unfair to deny these same things to the LGBT community. Gay marriage became legal in 2015, nearly four years ago. It was legalized on the basis of its equality to heterosexual marriage. This is the same way interracial marriage was legitimized. Again, in the same way, the legalization of interracial marriage did not suddenly bring about the equality of black and white people. It took nearly two decades of legislation and lobbying to achieve the type of legal protection people desired.
End the Double Standard
Although these laws are needless and counterproductive in the first place, they do in fact exist. They exist to protect people from unreasonable discrimination and to allow communities to prosper. Because of this, it is nothing but irresponsible to ignore groups at the same risk. To fight the inclusion of the LGBT community into anti-discrimination legislation to maintain any principle is to ignore the practicality of such a move.
The fight to repeal all anti-discrimination legislation is not popular, but at least it is a fight with sound logic. At least it doesn’t dismiss the struggle of an entire group and the intention of an entire branch of laws. Simply put, if the Supreme Court excludes the LGBT community, it will address no real problem. Instead, it will only further illustrate the community’s alienation within the legal system.
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In an interview on the Rubin Report, talk-show host Dave Rubin, and Libertarian candidate for New York Governor Larry Sharpe discussed whether a baker should be compelled by law to bake a cake for a customer. The conversation sprung up due to the fact that Gary Johnson, a libertarian and good friend of Larry Sharpe, stated in his presidential candidacy that the baker should be forced to bake the cake.
Such a position, as one would assume, would be quite unpopular among libertarians and lovers of liberty. Larry Sharpe, however, insisted that Gary Johnson was misunderstood and went forth to give his case for why he thinks the baker should bake the cake. His argument is as follows:
“What he was trying to get at (addressing Gary Johnson), which is my policy, is to find a good, solid middle-ground. I do not want a baker to make a cake for someone who he doesn’t want to make a cake for. That’s his labor…that’s wrong, should never happen. Here is the good compromise: if a baker, or anyone creates a product and put it in to the retail market, whether that be online or a shelf on a store, if a person creates a product and puts it there, he must allow anyone who has the currency that he wants to purchase that product”.
In response to the arguments put forth by libertarians who believe that a business owner has the right to discriminate, Sharpe responded by saying:
“They are theoretically correct but realistically wrong. And if they don’t accept the compromise, they’re going to get worse… If you don’t take that first step you would get nothing—and just not nothing—those people who keep voting are going to keep voting our rights away.”
Prior to this statement, Mr. Sharpe alluded to past injustices faced by marginalized groups, thus, why he thought there ought to be a “compromise.” Moreover, Sharpe concluded that such clauses should only apply in retail, therefore, a customer cannot force a baker to bake a cake in a particular way outside the products that are on the shelves.
Among the multiple flaws in this argument, there are two specifically I would like to address: first, the fact that Mr. Sharpe uses past injustices as a levy for his argument in favor of government involvement in private businesses; second, how government involvement in private business, no matter how minute, would inevitably lead to the destruction of freedom in private enterprise.
In regards to the past injustices– and perhaps current injustices faced by some groups today– most reasonable people would acknowledge that such injustices are immoral, unfortunate and ought to be stopped as soon as possible. However, the problem arises when a duty is imposed on a third party who had nothing to do with the case, in an effort to correct for the past. Such line of reasoning has been used to justify affirmative action and quotas, all which seek to correct for past injustice by facilitating new injustices in our own times. Two wrongs don’t make a right. As Thomas Sowell put it:
“The past is a great unchangeable fact. Nothing is going to undo its sufferings and injustices, whatever their magnitude . . . . Neither the sins nor the sufferings of those now dead are within our power to change”.
Aside from Larry Sharpe’s references to past injustices, he specifies that compulsion to provide a service would only apply to retail, and only retail. A question that could be asked is what guarantees such confidence that bureaucrats would strictly adhere to those conditions? After all, it is very much in their interest to expand such laws. As James Buchanan said in his writings inPublic Choice: Politicians, just like businessmen and independent individuals, have every incentive to pursue their own self-interest– which in this case would be to gain more power for themselves, create new legislation and expand current ones. Moreover, such a decision, to use the words of Scot Bixler, is just an “arbitrary decision”. Why interfere in retail and not customer service? Why a cake shop and not a hospital? If Larry Sharpe justifies the government making a minute compromise on this issue, then it follows that the government can interfere in every industry for the same reasons.
The role of government should be restricted to the protection of individual rights, and that only. If room is left for compromise, it would only lead to a slippery slope, one that we have today, of the government legislating every single aspects of our lives.
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This article needs to open with a warning. For the first few paragraphs at least, it’s going to ask that you remain open to the possibility that two very different and rather controversial men have a pretty good understanding of our current conception of identity. I’m referring here to Bill Maher and Donald Trump. The first rightly finds our present focus on identity problematic while the second exploits his understanding of it for political gain.
After briefly dealing with the comedian and the president, I will be turning to a less polarizing figure whose primary sin is being born a nineteenth century white male. That accident of birth aside, Walt Whitman was, I think you’ll agree, no Bill Maher or Donald Trump. As such, he offers us a way out of our current weaponized view of the self that I don’t really hear anyone else offering, including identity politics most articulate critics.
Maher and Trump have made it this far because our modern concept of identity is inherently flawed and ultimately unworkable from a classical liberal perspective. Maher makes a pretty good living mocking modern notions of identity and ranting about the consequences, while Trump harnesses the energy of identity’s emotional rollercoaster by dismissing its relevance on the one hand and appealing to a traditional white Christian version of it on the other. The whole fight, however, is largely being fought on the authoritarians’ terms.
Identity politics, however well intentioned some its advocates may be, has made it especially tricky for a white male like myself to use any group other than “my own” as an example of anything without risking being seriously misunderstood. Even then, I run the risk of being accused of portraying a group commonly lumped together as oppressors as victims instead. There’s really no room being made available for nuance here, so I’m not going to waste space trying to create any. I’ll just say that if you think this article is about feeling sorry for white guys, you’re seriously missing the point.
With that disclaimer out of the way, consider the fact that contemporary views of identity practically mandate that white straight men behave like caricatures of white straight men. This is a classic catch-22 because acting like “typical” white straight guys is what usually gets us into trouble.
Take sexuality. A straight male (of any race) that directs too much sensitivity or “inappropriate” emotion in the direction of any other men in his life will be considered sexually repressed or confused, or at least confusing, by both straight and gay men alike. If he should find himself drawn to the clothing, music, or art of a different culture a white European male in particular runs the risk of accusations of “cultural appropriation.” If he sticks to the products of his own European culture he’s just another apologist for Western imperialism.
Yet, if a man expresses sympathy for women who have historically been or are currently the victims of scapegoating and oppression, there’s a reasonable chance he’ll find himself on the receiving end of charges of “virtue signalling” from the other end of the political spectrum. If he doesn’t show some awareness for the suffering women have endured he’s just another insensitive lout. In this environment the only truly safe place for a fella to be is home alone masturbating in the shower. The rest of the day it’s best to dress conservatively in a shirt and tie and keep his mouth shut.
But that’s enough about the “plight” of my particular “tribe” — which, by the way, I didn’t pick and try not to spend too much time thinking about. I’d much prefer passing my days endeavoring to see the human race as my peeps, even if I keep bungling it badly. Unfortunately, neither end of the political spectrum seems willing to leave the question of my identity up to me.
This isn’t just a problem for white folks. Everybody else is now caught in the same identity trap. Pick at least one (but not too many, and please avoid the labels that the unwritten rules don’t allow you to pick): male, female, black, white, indigenous, European, gay, straight, bi, trans, other… the list goes on and on. Each choice on the menu — including the various acceptable if rather limiting combinations — comes with a particular checklist that no one seems to have consciously developed, but which everyone appears to know (or intuit) almost by heart at this point. If you’re X, you’re expected to look and behave the part. If you don’t meet these expectations, you’re either lacking in self awareness or infringing on someone else’s cultural turf. Either way you’re making it more difficult for the rest of us to successfully navigate this increasingly cosmopolitan world of ours, so please shape up and live the identity you’ve chosen the way you’re supposed to.
This brings me to Walt Whitman. “Do I contradict myself?” he famously asked near the conclusion of Song of Myself. “Very well then I contradict myself — (I am large, I contain multitudes).” Indeed.
Song of Myself is, in truth, an ode to the human species. It is identity inverted. Whitman does not have an identity per se. Heidentifies withhumanityas a whole. That’s certainly not what we’re doing today. We’ve weaponized identity. We’ve sharpened individualism to such a degree that it could keep slicing and dicing inclusive humanistic values until the second coming without ever dimming or dulling.
Walt Whitman can sing about himself for page after eloquent page because there isn’t a race, creed, or culture out there he couldn’t find reflected within. He was the appropriator’s poet laureate. No culture belongs to anyone in particular because every culture belongs to humanity. Mix and match at will. That’s what people do. If you contradict yourself now and then, or just seem to, it’s no big deal. Even those people of which he was not aware or that were yet to come he took to be some part of himself.
It is time to explain myself — let us stand up.
What is known I strip away,
I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.
The clock indicates the moment — but what does eternity
We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and variety.
I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.
I, like Whitman, increasingly see myself as containing multitudes. I want to identify with those I meet, not impose some artificial identity of my own upon them. Nor do I concede to anyone the right to impose one upon me. I certainly don’t want to outsource identity to any ideology. I’m interested in the multitudes you contain as much as I am in my own contradictory masses. If there’s a bit of a clash, I’m sure we can reclaim the art of working it out like adults without needing to get defensive.
My belief in the right to marriage has everything to do with human rights and nothing to do with being straight, gay, bi, or trans. My conviction that the workplace should be free from discrimination, harassment, and intimidation has nothing to do with sexual or racial identity and everything to do with the dignity and worth of every single person. Before anything else I identify as a human, because that’s an identity that can’t be weaponized. It also happens to cover any other category we might think up for ourselves or for each other. That keeps things rather simple and straight forward, and we could all use a little more of that these days.
Bottled water chokes the oceans, releases chemicals called phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, and can drastically affect the principalities from where the water is drawn.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) declared in 1999 that “no one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water.”
Things haven’t improved since 1999 as the NRDC article has been updated in 2016 and contained exactly the same text as before; only adding a section on plastic pollution in water.
All this has led to an understanding from certain groups that bottled water is not regulated and to a certain extent, at least federally, it isn’t. The EPA regulates tap water, groundwater extraction by municipals, and water used for any other purpose but to be sold commercially by companies in plastic bottles. The Environmental Protection Agency’s role in regulating the industry is minimal to the point of obscurity. The Food and Drug Administration has done some work but recent evaluations of the industry’s regulation revealed that 70% to 85% of the bottled water industry was going unregulated by the FDA.
“While federal environmental laws may incidentally apply to some bottled water operations, water withdrawals and use are generally the domain of state law. State law governs groundwater withdrawals with a mix of common law rules and more modern regulatory schemes.”
(Testimony Before the United State House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee(
The regulation of bottled water at the federal level is little to non-existent due to successful lobbying and slick marketing by the industry. This all may point to the summation that the industry is unregulated. Conspiracy theorists have seized these symptoms and surface facts and ran with them failing to do crucial deeper research. This has led to marginal beliefs such as that bottled water contributes to a closed third eye, brainwashes us, poisons us, or at its worst: makes us superhuman.
Doing further research would reveal that it is not the federal government who regulates these companies, it is the states. Take a glowing example, Crystal Clear in Iowa. Ordinarily, they would have to follow some basic and lax guidelines from the FDA which is where the conspiracy theories start. Where they end is with SSB 1145 which regulates further what exactly is in bottled water and what encases it. Crystal Clear, therefore, has to make its water as good as or better than tap water and has become successful by regularly doing so.
“Establishing… rules relating to standards for testing for the presence of chemicals in water sold in sealed containers for human consumption. The standards for testing shall not be less stringent than the rules established for public drinking water supplies pursuant to chapter 455B.”
– Iowa Senate Study Bill 1145 (Enacted)
This one paragraph in effect regulates all bottled water in the state of Iowa to be at the very minimum the quality of tap water regulations set by the state. All over the United States, such paragraphs exist: Wyoming, Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, California; these states and more all have similar legalese in their own such legislation.
Bottled Water, like it or not, drink it or not, is regulated by the Government. Perhaps it is not regulated largely by Washington, but regulated it is by the State Governments that are so often overlooked in the application of conspiracy theories. This same solution can be found in most Federal Government Regulation Myths.
The Federal Government doesn’t regulate what chemicals go into the ground in fracking!