Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Quit Your Whining and Take Your Business Elsewhere!

I came across this the other night on one of the Washington-area late evening local newscasts and am linking to this related article on the station’s website for my readers’ benefit. I tolerate local news (barely) because it gives at least a superficial picture of what’s going on in the local area. But stories like this make my blood boil, and this one was certainly no exception.

For those of you not inclined to read the link, the story is about a local woman named Lilli Vincenz who has filed a lawsuit against a local business, claiming that it discriminated against her because she is gay. The business in question, one Bono Film and Video of Arlington, specializes in the transfer of video from film or tape to DVD. Ms. Vincenz attempted to contract Bono’s services for the purpose of transferring (dubbing) some VHS tapes of documentaries filmed in the late 1960s pertaining to Gay Rights. Bono refused Ms. Vincenz’s business on the grounds that the footage she wanted dubbed was of a nature that the proprietor found objectionable. Rather than do what almost anyone with an ounce of brains would do, which is to tell this company in no uncertain terms to go fornicate with itself and take their business elsewhere, Ms. Vincenz immediately assumed that the world had come to an end, that Bono was the only company capable of providing her with the service she wanted, that they somehow had an obligation to accept her business, and that she would have no choice but to sue them for “discrimination.” News flash for you, Butch: NO ONE HAS AN OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A GOOD OR SERVICE.

Ms. Vincenz clearly never took Business Law 101 in college. In fact, it doesn’t appear that she even had the dubious benefit of a semester of high school civics. If she had, she would have realized (unlike the SCOTUS) that a business is private property, just like one’s house, car, or anything else one owns, and that the owner of said property is under no legal obligation to employ it in a way contrary to their wishes or moral sensibilities. What everyone seems to have forgotten, not least of all the nine black-robed tyrants who have usurped the Constitution as the Law of the Land, is that it takes the mutual consent of both parties to legitimate a business transaction. Using the current story as an example, Bono Film and Video cannot force Ms. Vincenz, or anyone else, to patronize their place of business. It works the other way as well; neither Ms. Vincenz or anyone else can compel Tim Bono to furnish his services to someone against his wishes. While Mr. Bono is no doubt foolishly depriving himself of much-needed revenue, that is entirely up to him. He is not obligated take on new clients, any more than a CPA, attorney, hairdresser, or dog groomer is obligated to accept new business from anyone if they do not so desire.

Oh come on, say statist defenders of regulation, with that mindset the hotels and restaurants of the South would still be segregated today. No, in fact, they wouldn’t, as evidenced by both the current demographics of the South and the economic consequences to be faced by any business that becomes known for discriminating against patrons on the basis of race, gender, religion, or national origin. Word gets out very quickly about this sort of thing and competitors would definitely take advantage of such short-sighted bigotry to put such people out of business. This is in fact exactly what happened to many businesses in the South that refused to desegregate in the wake of the Warren Court decisions reversing the Plessy v. Ferguson decision on segregation. These businesses folded not because the government forced them to close or because people refused to patronize them for their racist behavior. They closed because the flood of new money into their competition gave these other businesses competitive advantage, depriving the racist business owners of profit and thus forcing them out of business (in fact, several inbred mental marvels who somehow had managed to become business owners actually closed their doors and want bankrupt rather than serve Black patrons, a classic case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, which, incidentally, was their right to do. Can anyone really say with a straight face that these people will be missed or that we'll see a new crop of them spring up in the wake of deregulation?). Can anyone doubt that F. W. Woolworth benefited, at least in the short term, from the new Black patrons who flooded their lunch counters after they desegregated? It is economics, not altruism, that prevents businesses from discriminating. The only color any sane business owner cares about is green and the only “orientation” they care about is whether or not the prospective client is “oriented” toward spending money.

For this reason Bono Film and Video will very likely suffer for turning away Ms. Vincenz’s business. However, that’s Tim Bono’s problem, and his problem alone. For his part, Bono has posted this statement on his website’s policy page:

There is certain “potential” work out there that we will not accept. No content should embarrass our employees or tarnish our reputation. No pornography. No sexually explicit material. No content promoting violence or hate that runs counter to our Christian and ethical values. We will not debate the merits of your material if it crosses our line. If and when material is encountered that contains obscene, pornographic, "cult-ish," demonic, or senseless gratuitous violent scenes, all work will cease and the client will be responsible for all work that has been performed to-date on the project.

Surely if Ms. Vincenz had taken a few minutes to read the above, she would probably have surmised that Bono Film and Video is probably not the ideal firm to handle her work. Oh dear, what to do? What to do?

Well, there is this neat-o little invention called the Internet, which has a feature, or should I say features, called “Yellow Pages.” All Ms. Vincenz had to do was to open up a web browser on her PC and type “Yellow Pages” into her favorite search engine, then typing "Film and video services" , followed by her city and state of residence in the appropriate search fields. Or, alternatively, if she’s technologically challenged, grab a clunky old paper book and let her fingers do the walking. As a matter of fact, I searched both the Internet Yellow Pages and the hardcopy version and found a minimum of thirty-four –yes, folks, that’s 34—video and film transfer companies in the greater D.C./Northern Virginia area alone. Surely at least one of these would have been overjoyed at the idea of getting Ms. Vincenz’s business.

So instead of caterwauling about her “right” to somebody’s precious time and hard work, why doesn’t Ms. Vincenz just go find someone else to do her documentary dubbing? I can only assume that the reason is because the importance of making a needless and ultimately counterproductive public statement about her own allleged victimhood while wasting a small businessman’s money by tying him up in court for a non-crime and non-tortuous act far outweighs the importance of getting her documentaries into an accessible format.

Get a life, Ms. Vincenz. Despite the attempts of you and your fellow statists to destroy it, we still have something resembling a free market economy in this country, one that presents people like you with all sorts of options. As far as your hope that the courts can suggest “a remedy” for the situation is concerned, let’s hope they don't waste time and taxpayer money giving your "grievance" any serious attention. Hopefully they'll suggest the "remedy" Mr. Bono suggested, which happens also to be the most obvious and the only sensible one: go get the Yellow Pages.