A man hangs out a sign on his house advertising an apartment for rent. Along comes an inquiring person, wanting to check the place out. The man, judging the looks of that person, does not want him as a tenant. He may have a good reason why he refuses. Maybe the person who looked and acted like him held wild parties all night and kept him from sleeping. Now he must come up with some excuse why he cannot rent his apartment out, lest he be hauled into court for discrimination. “Er, Ummm … Well, let’s see, my wife put that sign out before I fixed the apartment up! Why, it won’t be ready for… gosh, I can’t really say…”
It wasn’t so long ago that a man could rent his property to whomever he felt comfortable having as a tenant, and he wouldn’t be hauled into court for it, no matter how much he hurt someone’s feelings. “Look, bud, I don’t rent to people with big ears. The last time I rented to someone who looked like you, he wrecked the place and stole the furniture. I’ve just come to the place that I don’t even like people with big ears any more. Beat it.”
You may think that such a person is a Neanderthal bigot, and you might be right. Perhaps you think that he should not be allowed to discriminate in such a way. You may judge him to be an intolerant brute, and maybe so, but this raises two questions: if you, unlike him, have learned to tolerate others, is there any room in you to tolerate him? And the other question is: if you think that such a person should not discriminate against others, meaning he should not judge others, how did you come to that conclusion without judging him? In other words, have you not discriminated against him?
You’d very likely be uncomfortable eating next to him at the local diner, wouldn’t you? So what makes you fundamentally any different than our big-ear-hating landlord? Is it that you are more civilized and noble than him, or just that you do not judge others and are more tolerant? How can this be? Haven’t you become a hater of big-ear-hating landlords? So who is the bigot?
The reality is that our bigoted landlord could very well face a fine or some other punishment for hurting someone’s feelings and thereby breaking the law. And maybe that’s fine with you. But if the house belongs to him, why doesn’t he have the freedom to rent it to whomever he wants to?
It’s because the real landlord around here is Colossus, and the owner has become a mere property manager.
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