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Whether it's Baking or Dating, Consent Matters

December 16, 2017 in Economics

By Thomas Eckert

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By: Thomas Eckert

This week, the Supreme Court heard the first arguments regarding Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and as you can imagine, people immediately took to social media in order to voice their opinion on the matter. And if you pay attention to pop-culture and the mainstream news, you’ll find that the majority of those opinions ultimately end up asking “Why not just bake the cake?” After all, how could you favor discrimination if you aren’t racist or prejudiced, right?

Actually, no. As you’ll see, it’s quite the opposite.

While it’s understandable for first impressions to fall prey to the idea that because it involves a gay couple against a business, the natural response should be to back the couple against injustice. This case is not about gay rights, though. Nor is it about freedom of speech or religion, despite what you may hear on the news. This case is about property rights, pure and simple.

Let’s start with the idea of self-ownership, as most people can agree on that sentiment, and it’s not a new concept. Property in the Lockean sense, where you own yourself and, therefore, that which you mix your labor with, dates back centuries. We acknowledge that as the rightful owner, you may choose what to do with your property as well.

The most obvious example is in the selection of a sex partner, romantic partner, or marriage partner. In the case of women especially, we emphasize — rightly — that consent is critical in these matters if we are to respect a person's ownership of her own body.

What one does with one's body matters outside of romantic relationships also. Consent must be required for those activities as well.

But what exactly is consent?

The answer seems obvious enough, consent involves giving permission for something. But what is often overlooked, and pertinent in this case, is the question of where consent draws its value. The answer is in the capacity to withdraw it. For example, the consent a woman gives to an intimate partner has value precisely because she could’ve said no. This distinction is highlighted in cases involving alcohol, where we often point to the fact that the woman “couldn’t consent.” Which most people wrongfully conclude to only mean she couldn’t say yes, instead of also realizing the importance her inability to say no plays as well. Likewise, the idea of labor is no …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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