Today on The Planet, we take up the thorny case of discrimination and also take another look as economic development seen through the lends of the CEDs process. In our first story, our guest columnist kicks the hornet’s nest that is the issue of gay rights vs. private freedom.

Discrimination bad. Right?

Not so fast. The word has been hijacked by the forces of political correctness from its initial meaning — to differentiate among a set of objects or class of things along the lines of quality. Today, if you “discriminate,” you are a … PICK ONE (   ) racist   (   ) sexist   (   ) homophobe  or any other “ist” or “phobe” you care to name, as long as there’s politics in it.

This leads to our guest columnist for today, Dr. Sean Gabb, who writes for us from London, England. Doctor Gabb’s is director of the Libertarian Alliance, a free-market and civil liberties institute based in Great Britain.

Doctor Gabb’s column takes on the thorny question of discrimination. In this case, Gabb discusses an English hotelier’s refusal to allow lodgings to a male homosexual couple. Does a private hotel have the right to discriminate in this manner? Read what Gabb says. We would welcome reaction to this column. The Planet invokes its usual disclaimer, that the material of guest columnists does not necessarily reflect the views of this website.

Do Gay Rights Trump the Freedoms of Private Enterprise?


The Libertarian Alliance condemns the conviction of Christian Hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull for their refusal to provide a room with a double bed to a male homosexual couple.

Mr. and Mrs Bull. have been victims of persecution. If they choose not to do business with homosexuals, that should be their concern alone. They are using their own property and using up their own time. They should be at liberty to associate or not associate as they please. Any law that says otherwise is morally indefensible.

We are told that this prosecution has been a “victory for human rights.” It has not. Every person has the right to life and justly-acquired property and to do with his own whatever does not infringe the equal rights of others.

From this primary right can be derived all the rights of the liberal tradition, including freedom of expression, contract, and association; security against oppression; and protection against harmful, arbitrary behavior by the State. It does not generate any right not to be hated, despised, or shunned. It does not justify laws against discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or laws against expressing or inciting hatred against any group.

By forcing people to associate with or contract with persons whom they would otherwise reject, anti-discrimination laws are an attack on life and property. They are a form of coerced association. They give some people uncompensated claims on others. They amount to a form of slavery mediated by the State.

Politically correct authoritarians like to hail each new set of anti-discrimination laws as an extension of human rights. Such laws are in fact violations of the only human rights that mean anything. And we see no exception to these principles just because money may change hands. The right to offer goods and services is just a subset of the right to freedom of association.

The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That the Equality Act 2006 should be repealed, together with all delegated legislation made thereunder.
* That the Commission for Equality and Human Rights set up under the above Act should be abolished at the first opportunity and that all its records should be destroyed.
* That the records of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality, and the Disability Rights Commission should be destroyed.
* That those sections of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, and the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 not already repealed by the Equality Act 2006 should be immediately repealed.
* That any organization arguing against the above should receive no public funding.

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance. His new novel, The Churchill Memorandum is available on Amazon. He can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by email at


CEDS Back on the Front Burner


Editor’s Note: Francois Arneau submitted this article as a follow-up to The Planet’s three-part series on economic development that ran a couple weeks ago. Arneau is The Planet’s director of research and analysis. — Dan Valenti

Much stir has been generated by this web site’s three-part series on economic development, particularly the focus on the Community Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process, its development, and its significance.

Having no idea or concern at this time where the staff at Berkshire regional Planning Commission gets its retirement or where they spends their sick time, I want to ask a few questions of BRPC and all elected officials in Berkshire County who have mouthed the words of and given lip-service to economic development.

The Questions, Please

— Now that we know the last CEDS process failed miserably, what have you — the elected officials — done to ensure that the 2011 Berkshire County plan is the envy of all CEDS efforts in the country? Stop all the rhetoric and all the talk. Start action.

— The Economic Development Administration of the federal Department of Commerce sponsors workshops, conventions, and has an assistance program.  Has the staff at BRPC been to any or all of them? Have they returned and briefed all the other alphabet soup  organizations on the new material? If so, I get a copy from them (sent to this website)? Are they stored at the Berkshire Athenaeum for any interested party to view?

— Knowing the significance of the CEDS, has any city or town official requested that the Commonwealth economic development agencies be present at the local CEDS meetings? The Commonwealth has a stake in this. Have the feds (EDA) been invited, either formally or through the Facebook pages where certain city councilors informed us all about the snow emergency?

Lots of Questions but Few Answers

In the 2004 CEDS that failed, a lot of questions developed that we are trying to seek answers to here. The BRPC had already identified those same concerns in a briefing to the govenor and cabinet in 2003 as well as in the BRPC publication Common Ground, May/June, 2004, Volume 10, Issue 6 page 4. Available via the web @

— These concerns were brought  forth in 2003. Have they been adequately addressed? They include lack of a clear strategy for regional economic development, perception that neither local leaders nor state leaders have articulated a unified strategy, and the presence of many related “economic development” entities but no development organization or development plan for the region.

These issues need resolution long before a CEDS committee is put together if it is to be effective. Of course, that opportunity have been lost, since the 2011 CEDS process is already three meetings old with just three meetings left.

— To the 30+ cities and towns in Berkshire County: What has your councilor, mayor, OCD director, selectperson, or town manager done to address these questions? Would they please answer us so we can get on board?

— Being now a transplanted resident of the City of Pittsfield, I will ask the councilors in this fine city: What was the last project that qualified for federal funding in the economic development arena? Can you name it?

As long as the region remains “satisfied” by the poor efforts of its leaders in planning and economic development, I’m afraid the 2011 CEDS process is doomed to another failure.




  1. Scott Laugenour
    January 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Gay Rights vs Private Enterprise is hardly the way to frame this issue, for there are gay owners of lodging who may wish to discriminate against straight lodgers, in which case gay rights equals freedom of private enterprise. Not sure what the particulars of the law is in Massachusetts, but most private entrepreneurs here seem to value the business that my husband and I generate for them.

  2. No Reply
    January 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    The hotel owners have the right to engage in business with whom they wish. Some hotels I’ve stayed at don’t allow pets. Most are non smoking. Free assocation, as Dr gabb points out includes the right to engage in trade by consent. If there is no public money involved the Bulls have the right to exclude the gay couple.

  3. Jonathan Melle
    January 18, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Pittsfield Massachusetts should be a national case study for job loss and population loss! The Pittsfield pols all stink!

  4. Jonathan Melle
    January 18, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Gay equal rights is a matter of Human Rights.
    It should be a non-issue in politics.

  5. Bruce Winn
    January 19, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    If the hotel owners’ behavior is not illegal, it ought to be. I’m pretty sure Americans already fought this battle in places like Selma, Alabama. And this is certainly not the same thing as prohibiting dogs and cats.

  6. just saying
    January 19, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Dr. Gabb = upholder of personal prorerty rights! We need more people to take a stand against the PC machine that rules everything we do and say.
    Many people find homosexuality to be a perversion and transgression against God.
    If they don’t want these people in their place of business so be it.

  7. Canyon Raunch
    January 19, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Agree fully with Dr. Gabb. This isn’t a matter of illegal discrimination. Its a matter of private enterprise to choose thir associations. If enough people disagree, the market will close the Bulls hotel. If the market agrees with the Bulls, they will remain open and perhaps prosper.

  8. Mike
    January 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Or the market will reward a gay-friendly travel service as Travelocity has discovered:

  9. Demitrius T. Gladiator
    January 19, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    As Mike above says, the marketplace will go where it will. Gay-friendly service will profit. Gay-adverse places will not. Simple. The couple in question here, the Bulls, are in the right if you believe in free enterprise. Don’t be hypocrites all you PC people. You waive the banner of freedom until someone you disagree with acts in a free way. The hotel owners were write to tell Mr. and Mr. Queer to hoof it.

  10. Jeffrey Turner
    January 20, 2011 at 5:51 am #

    I love how Libertoonians take for granted socially promulgated prejudices and then bar socially imposed solutions. My response is “tough boogers.”