Originally published in Suburban Trends

Once again government goes too far

Dear Editor:

Much has been in the news recently about the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana and also in Arkansas. Sadly, all sides in this debate focus on the wrong issues.

We already have a Religious Freedom Act – it’s called the First Amendment to the Constitution! The real issue is property rights and the right of individual business owners to choose their customers – bringing religion into this debate only clouds the issue.

In a free society, no person regardless of race, religion, creed, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference or any other category you can think of should be compelled by government to associate with people they would rather not associate with. "Discrimination" has become an emotional "trigger word" thanks to the media but in reality, "discrimination" is just another word for "choice."

In America, rights are supposed to be on an individual basis. This whole idea of "group rights" is a dangerous idea as it collectivizes or socializes the concept of liberty.

So to speak of "gay rights" or "religious rights" is an absurdity. A person’s rights exist by virtue of the fact that they exist as a living breathing human being, no other qualifying definitions are needed.

I don’t know why both sides in this debate can’t grasp this concept; maybe they both have something in common and don’t realize it – a hostility to a truly free society in which both economic freedom (property rights) and personal freedom (civil liberties) are honored and upheld.

Back in the 1960s at the height of the "Civil Rights Movement," the late great free-market economist Milton Friedman stated, "The free market is color blind," meaning that a business owner might be the biggest racial bigot in town but their prejudices become secondary when it comes to business; after all if they refuse to deal with racial minorities, those minorities will take their business elsewhere to businesses who could care less as to what color their customers are.

The same thing applies today regarding sexual orientation. If a bakery owner is homophobic because of religion or any other reason, gay customers will take their business elsewhere to bakeshops who don’t have an issue with making wedding cakes for gay couples. All Americans – be they gay, straight, transgendered, religious fundamentalists, or anything else – need to be left alone by government to live their lives and conduct their business as they choose.

The problem isn’t gay people or religious people. The problem once again is too much government at all levels. It’s enough to make a person vote Libertarian!

Mark Richards,
West Milford