One final word on this 46 year old topic:
Monday I insisted that all reasonable people should be at least mildly disturbed by the diminution of property rights implicit in a ban on whites-only lunch counters.
Tuesday I cited an excellent comment from Jonathan Pryor suggesting that a whites-only lunch counter is itself an indirect assault on property rights insofar as the owners expect taxpayers to foot the bill for enforcement of the whites-only policy (say, by calling the police when unwanted visitors show up).
There are circumstances in which I think Pryor’s argument clearly applies. I cited the case of the man who keeps a barrel of Hershey bars on his front lawn and expects the police to stop children from filching them. Surely this man is imposing a burden on the community over and above the assertion of his own property rights. But I also gave several other examples that gave me pause about the applicability to lunch counters.
This in turn brought forth an insightful comment from Ken B, who points out that the Civil Rights Act itself called for a lot of taxpayer-financed enforcement. The act was passed, blacks sat down at lunch counters, owners attempt to evict them, the police were called.
So if you base your case on Pryor’s argument, you’ve got an empirical question to face. In which regime do the police get called more often—the regime where owners can legally ban black customers, who nevertheless sometimes show up uninvited? Or the regime where blacks can legally eat at any lunch counter, but are nevertheless sometimes evicted? And depending on what the numbers show, you’ve got to be prepared to switch sides. (You might also conclude that the answer differs from community to community, so that it makes little sense to decide this issue on a federal level.)
And most importantly: Regardless of what the numbers actually show, you’ve got to concede that you would have switched sides if the numbers had been different. Which in turn should make you extremely hesitant about demonizing those who read the numbers differently than you do.