I sense some confusion in the wake of the guy getting fired from Google for publicly complaining about the company’s diversity policies. I’m not going to weigh in on his letter, I haven’t read it, don’t care. I’m concerned with the broader issue reflected in this “funny” tweet:
So the joke is that it’s ironic for a libertarian to argue firms should be free to fire people, and then complain about being fired. I have seen dozens of examples of this species of misunderstanding over the years, and it’s so much more telling about those who make these claims than actual libertarianism.
Here’s the thing: just because you think something is should be legal doesn’t mean you have to think it is good, or that all instances of it are good. Libertarians -and liberals who don’t fall for these silly arguments- realize that we live in a pluralistic and free society and simply believing an action is immoral or bad in some way doesn’t mean we should ban it. As Tim Lee aptly put it: Not all wrongs have (or should have) legal remedies.
You see a similar bad argument when it comes to free trade and immigration. If you support free trade, then you should think it’s a good thing for your employer to replace you with an immigrant or worker in another country. It’s as if by opposing prohibition you are obliged to drink. No, you can think a system that allows an action to be taken can be good without thinking that action should always be taken by everyone. And indeed, while I think I am good and my job and it would be a mistake for my employer to fire me and outsource my duties to one of our global offices, I don’t think it should be outlawed either.
Liberals who oppose free trade and at-will employment laws should still be able to recognize the speciousness of this kind of argument by way of free speech. Clearly we should allow the publication of all sorts of books and articles which we think are really dumb and terrible and we don’t think that the author should write. And we can do this without thinking they should be legally prevented from writing it. OJ Simpson’s “If I Did It” comes to mind. Supporting OJ’s freedom to write this book doesn’t mean you can’t complain that he shouldn’t have written it, or that you have to say “this book is good”.
This all seems pretty simple and straightforward to me but I see terrible argument like these all the time so I thought it probably needed to be said.