Two recent legal/legislative stories have ruffled feathers in the technology world and created controversy where there need not be any: the Ellen Pao discrimination case and a recently passed religious-freedom law in Indiana. In both instances, the heart of the matter is whether government should force some individuals to associate with others regardless of their conscience, perspective, preference and so forth. But these kinds of childish disagreements can and should be solved in a more adult manner: by allowing everyone to act as he or she wants so long as no one initiates force against another. In cases where a company acts in a manner that customers or employees don’t like (say, mistreating employees of a certain group), the customers or employees can take their business elsewhere and, if they have enough backing, put that company out of business. The application of the non-aggression principle would also eliminate the fascist control of property in the bogus name of some overriding government interest (a broad category that can encompass anything).
But instead of acting like adults and simply going elsewhere when another party decides to act in a certain non-violent way that some find unsavory, too many are inclined to shout “discrimination!” and then sue, forcing the courts to essentially try cases of thoughtcrime. A free society necessarily leaves room for jerks to behave according to their nature, but it also leaves room for different individuals to express their consciences as they see fit, barring initiation of force. (Unless, of course, the incessant calls for diversity are really calls for Borg-like uniformity.) Ironically, organizations already recognize the power of boycotting, as in the case of Indiana, where Salesforce.com is scaling back plans to invest in the state, for instance. Unfortunately, many promote the exact opposite of the non-aggression principle in such matters: convince the government to force individuals and companies to do business in a certain way or face fines, jail and ultimately death for sufficient resistance. Perhaps instead we should just let people work it out non-violently for themselves instead of demanding intervention from bloat.gov.