Judge Mel Coffy: I hope counsel does not mean to imply that this court is bigoted.
Henry Drummond: Well, you honor has the right to hope.
Judge Mel Coffy: I have the right to do more than that.
Henry Drummond: You have the POWER to do more than that.
--Inherit the Wind
Recent passage of a religious freedom restoration act in Indiana has once again ignited debate about the legality of discrimination in society. In this context, discrimination can be viewed as refusal to associate with certain people perceived to possess some categorical characteristic. Because these characteristics tend to be readily observable (lest their discriminatory power would be low), they usually involve demographic categories such as age, race, gender, nationality, and sexual orientation.
Popular arguments against discrimination, such as the one employed here by Apple CEO Tim Cook, claim that refusing to associate with a person because of their race, gender, et al violates the principles of freedom and equality upon which America was founded. Laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, are therefore necessary in order to force people to not discriminate.
It doesn't not take a genius to recognize the inconsistency in such an argument. Truly free people can decide who they want to associate with--regardless of how idiotic their rationale might seem for doing so. If people are forced to associate with others, then they are not free.
Those wanting to employ the strong arm of government to force people not to discriminate are the intolerant ones. They want to impose their values (religious or secular) on others using aggressive means.
As correctly observed here, the right to discriminate is the very essence of freedom. Being offended by someone else's discriminatory behavior manner is something that free societies must tolerate.