By Mike Cronin
Free market advocate Richard Maybury often mentions the two “laws” of human civilization: Do all that you have agreed to do; and do not encroach on others or their property. According to him, every place that has based their justice systems on these two fundamental principles (wittingly or not) have been relatively more prosperous and free than the places that have not adopted them. Maybury even coined a term for the places where these two principles hold no sway: Chaostan. It comprises, roughly: The Balkans, most of Eastern Europe, Russia and the rest of Asia (minus Japan), North Africa, and the Middle East.
The current troubles in Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan are the most recent manifestations of the chaos endemic in that region. As long as, and to the degree that, the two laws of civilization hold no influence in that part of the world, it will remain conflicted and embattled. We should take note as our own government takes ever more liberties with its own laws (as if governments do not have to obey the same laws as individuals) and leaves us with less freedom, less order, and increasing chaos.
Two recent examples of chaos encroaching:
- The Ninth Circuit Court’s arbitrary ruling in California that in effect promotes Mexican culture and the “rights” of a group (Cinco de Mayo celebrants) over American culture and the rights of individuals (see my post from March 2nd).
- The recent cases in Colorado and Arizona that in effect promote minority rights over the rights of individuals – as if they were different. In this set of cases, the state governments have created a “right” for homosexuals to not be refused service by business owners. In other words, in Colorado and Arizona, the government is compelling business owners to conduct business that may be potentially offensive to them (providing goods or services to same-sex weddings) in order to not offend the homosexual constituency. In both cases, authorities have:
-Failed to recognize individual rights. One group does not accrue special privileges over another simply because they have lacked special privileges in the past, or because they are a minority. (If we stop and ask “what is the smallest minority?” The answer: the individual.)
-Failed to apply the basics of the two laws: in the California case, it is no infringement, or encroachment, on the rights of the Cinco de Mayo celebrants for other student to wear patriotic American clothing, nor should it be considered an infringement for those wearing patriotic Americana to have to tolerate the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. In other words, such displays of cultural enthusiasm ought to be protected as free expression, with the realization by the celebrants that doing so does not grant a right to be protected from competing cultural enthusiasm in a public forum. In the Colorado and Arizona instances, there is no violation of individual rights if the owner of a private business refuses to do business, (i.e., declines to associate) with anyone for any reason, though it may indeed be discriminatory, bigoted, and economically unwise.
No one has the right to not be offended, but our governments are trying very hard to make it a crime to offend…some people some times.
When the government encroaches on others by telling them how they can or cannot express themselves, or compels them to conduct business that offends them, it is making a mockery of the concepts of free expression and free association and displacing the concept of the rule of law with the chaos of rule by influence and pressure.