Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby defends freedom of association. Here are Jeff’s concluding paragraphs:
Free and competitive markets aren’t thought of as promoting tolerance and reducing bigotry, yet they do so far more effectively than ever-more-detailed civil rights regulations. Writing in the 1730s, Voltaire famously described the London Stock Exchange as a place “where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mohammedan, and the Christian transact together, as though they all professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none but bankrupts.” Gary Becker earned the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics in part for demonstrating that discrimination is economically detrimental — free markets penalize an employer who discriminates for reasons unrelated to ability and productivity.
Freedom of association is indispensable to making a free society work. No culture is without unfairness. But where men and women are unfettered in their freedom to form or avoid relationships with others — socially and economically — tolerance and cooperation increase, and ugly prejudice recedes.