The Right Coast
March 28, 2005
Volokh versus Stone on Freedom of Speech
By Mike Rappaport
An interesting exchange, over at the Legal Affairs Debate Club, between Eugene Volokh and University of Chicago Law Professor Geoff Stone.
Stone appears to argue for an expansion of antidiscrimination laws to cover discrimination based on political views:
Interestingly, although we routinely prohibit private discrimination of the basis of such characteristics as race, religion, and gender, we almost never prohibit private discrimination on the basis of political expression. For some reason, we seem to think that although a fast food chain shouldn't be allowed to deny employment to blacks, Buddhists, or women, it's perfectly "legitimate" for it to deny jobs to Socialists or Libertarians, or people who voted for Ralph Nader.Eugene Volokh answers the argument:
The premise of most antidiscrimination laws and social norms is that it's wrong and usually irrational to dislike people because of their race, sex, or theological beliefs. We hope condemning such discrimination will persuade customers and employees to be more tolerant, especially since tolerance is rational and practical, so the burden on employers of having to hire disliked minorities will decrease. And the correlation between behavior and race, sex, or theological belief is quite weak.And then, amazingly, Stone seems to concede that Eugene is right.
These are really excellent points, Eugene. They help explain why we treat private discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and gender differently than private discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint.That doesn't happen too much in the academy.