Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Boudreaux on Toleration

OLS hero and George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux had an excellent post yesterday entitled, "On Toleration".  One of the reasons I love reading his work is his use of examples to highlight and expand on difficult ideas or abstract concepts, such as toleration.  In his blogpost, Boudreaux highlights how "toleration" cuts both ways, though in reality, liberals demand toleration to their views while exhibiting massive intoleration to the views of those who disagree with them.  Writing within the context of a recent ruling in Colorado that makes it illegal for bakers to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples, Boudreaux has this to say:
To force through physical coercion, say, a baker to sell cakes to customers whose sexual orientations (or politics, or religious beliefs, or fashion sense, or lifestyles) offend him is to use physical coercion to endorse and enforce those customers’ intolerance of the baker’s beliefs and lifestyle choices.  To use physical coercion in this manner is to force the baker to ‘tolerate’ aspects of his customers’ lives that he finds objectionable.

Although used to bring about a facade of liberal outcomes, such uses of physical coercion are deeply illiberal – and deeply dangerous to civil society.
Boudreaux then presents us with four strong reasons why using force to enforce toleration is dangerous, but I'll let you check them out for yourself by clicking here.  This is a great example of the power of economic thinking brought to you by a major, and powerful, economic thinker.  Great stuff.