This evening Valley News Live host Chris Berg had on Fargo City Commissioner Mike Williams and Rep. Josh Boschee (D-Fargo) (last seen accidentally proving that it’s entirely possible to live on a food stamps diet) to talk about the City of Fargo’s new resolution about housing discrimination against gays.
There are a couple of interesting things from the interview.
First, Berg challenged both men to name names when it comes to discrimination in Fargo. Both men assert that there is discrimination happening, but Williams said he hasn’t received a specific complaint from anyone in the city, Boschee (who is openly gay) said he hasn’t experienced discrimination “to his knowledge” (neat turn of phrase, that), and neither he nor Boschee could name a single specific instance of someone being discriminated against.
The only evidence of discrimination Boschee would offer was his absurd, paradoxical assertion that the presence of people who opposed the resolution in Fargo (and a similar one in Grand Forks) is proof that it’s needed.
Pretty weak sauce. It is telling that there have been no instance of business boycotts in Fargo by homosexuals and that there have been no public accusations of discrimination by homosexuals. Because this policy isn’t motivated by a problem that actually exists in Fargo.
If people like Williams and Boschee really felt like discrimination in Fargo was a problem, they’d be happy to shame those doing the discrimination. As would I, if anyone would tell me who is doing it.
Second, when Berg asked how it is the state can compel businesses to provide goods or services (in this instance housing) even when they’re willing, Rep. Boschee said it’s because those businesses serve the community.
“Those business owners are…providing a service to the community,” Rep. Boschee said. “And so in order to do that and benefit from the tax breaks you get and the other services the government provides the government says you also need to treat people equally.”
That’s a chilling statement in that it co-opts the private sector, the labor and enterprise of private citizens, into the government itself. Boschee’s formulation of the relationship between citizen and government is not one in which the government exists to protect the individual rights of and provide services to the citizenry but rather one in which citizens are subjects of the government.
The fundamental premise of the American system of government is that the government is of us. We are not of the government.
Boschee, like a disturbingly large number of policymakers, has the relationship between citizen and state backward from how generations of Americans before us have understood it.
It would be very easy of me to go along with laws forcing business owners to serve homosexuals. I am very much for homosexual rights, and I find discrimination against gays to be a disgusting form of bigotry. But I am simply not comfortable with the state compelling the unwilling service of business owners, which is essentially what Boschee wants.
His choice, for business owners, is you either provide your labor even when it violates your conscience or you go out of business.
That’s fundamentally un-American, and all the more obnoxious when you consider that he can’t seem to identify as justification for his position anyone actually guilty of what he’s talking about.