Corporate Harassment

With great amusement and pleasure I read Thomas W. Hazlett's "Corporate Rakeovers" (February) in which he mocks the Baptists for harassing the Disney corporation, the federal government for harassing the Hooters chain, and Hollywood for harassing corporate Vegas. Corporation bashers deserve all the bashing they can get.

It is certainly true that corporations are fair game in some people's minds. One of my colleagues shoplifts only from chain stores, never from mom-and-pop establishments. She may be an intellectual, but she knows the difference between good and evil.

What bothered me about the article was the lumping of Baptists, federal law, and Hollywood all together. When any individual or group of people does something stupid, I don't really mind; it usually just makes me laugh. But when the law does it, it is a crime, and I get mad. I am perfectly willing to laugh at the foibles and hypocrisies of the Baptists, and even at those of my fellow professors (though they are a more dangerous crowd, to be sure), but I can't laugh at a pernicious, nationwide public policy that is enforced by fines, imprisonment, confiscations, and the like.

If Disney loses money because of the Baptists' agitation--tough. After all, K-mart loses money every time you shop at Wal-Mart. Just a bit of creative destruction and spontaneous reordering. But when Hooters loses money because of federal law, it is an outrage.

I realize that many libertarians don't like either kind of limitation on their freedom of choice, social or governmental. But to an Old Whig liberal the distinction is what matters most.

Richard L. Leed
Ithaca, NY

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