RE: "Public accommodation" is a fancy way of saying "private property the government decides to control" http://www.reason.com/blog/show/128855.html
The concept of a "public accommodation" is a legitimate and useful distinction to make in thinking about property, liberty, equality and justice. A system of justice is a means of reconciling conflicts of interest between members of a society. Property is, of course, often involved in such conflicts, if it is not their actual cause. The nature of a particular piece of property and the way in which we make use of it is therefore quite important to understanding and reconciling social conflicts.
The degree to which property is involved in social (for instance, economic) interactions is of particular importance in resolving conflicts of interest that may arise. It is important to make distinctions between the public vs. private nature of property since the degree to which property enters into social interactions affects the ways in which conflicts arise and may be resolved.
Thus we have a concept of "public property", such as a beach or park, and we have come to define patterns and expectations of behavior with regard to it that we consider important to our concept of justice. For instance, public property is not to be used to exclusively promote any one religion or philosophy, if it is to be used in that way at all. To do so would be an injustice.
We also have a concept of "private property", property that is generally not intended for public social interactions and is not used that way very much at all. Our bedrooms are typically not involved in or become a source of public conflicts of interest, and we typically exclude them from the sort of behavioral control and regulation we find appropriate to public places. You might not be allowed to run around naked on the beach, but you probably can get away with it in your bedroom.
Another sort of property that has been conceptualized is that which is private but is used for commercial purposes and, in the current context, for providing services to the general public. This is the concept of a "public accommodation" where there is a high degree of social interaction and where our "public selves" are expressed. For instance, the local bar or theater or hotel.
A public accommodation, like public property, has a greater chance of becoming involved in social conflicts of interest than does strictly private property, because it is intended for social interaction and is actively promoted for that purpose to the public. It is being provided by an individual at personal expense, so it is certainly not "public property." However, it is being provided to the public, and is involved in our social interactions, so the public, as well as the owner has an interest in it. The rules that might reasonably govern the provision and use of "public accommodations" may very well, in the interest of justice, be different from those governing strictly public and strictly private property.
So, we may conceptualize classes of property between strictly public and strictly private and incorporate these distinctions into our system of justice - but why would we want to? What purpose would it serve? A system of justice exists to reduce or reconcile conflicts of interest in our public life. How does a concept of a public accommodation help us to do that?
When a racial group is singled out in public for unfair and unequal treatment, they suffer public humiliation, and a loss of dignity and self respect. However, to prohibit racist ideas, and to punish a racist simply for his beliefs, would also involve a violation of the human right to think for one's self however wrong or onerous those thoughts may be. A racist is a human being and he too has human rights and is entitled to some bare sense of dignity and self-respect, regardless of the fact that he would deny the same to others.
The concept of a public accommodation can help us to to avoid the evil that racists inflict upon our society without at the same time violating our sense of fair play and justice by robbing them of their right to freedom of conscience. By insisting that those who offer a public accommodation treat all members of the public with respect, we deny racists the ability to publicly humiliate minorities and rob them of their human dignity and self respect. On the other hand, within the boundaries of their strictly private property, they may be as discriminating as they like in their choice of friends and who they invite into their home. And they retain the right to engage in debate and advocacy of their cause, while we fight against their hate speech in the appropriate way - with more speech.
At this point it would not be helpful to start a juvenile argument over who hit who first. The libertarian principle of not "initiating force" is of no use in resolving such conflicts. Public humiliation, loss of human dignity and loss of self-respect are real, painful wounds. Telling the victim of this sort of injustice to "buck up" because "words will never hurt you" is useless. The systematic and ruthless infliction of public humiliation on a racial or ethnic minority is a true injustice, and it will result in vengeful and righteous anger, and the intention to strike back in self defense against the violation and the society that allows it. This is the reality of racial and ethnic hatred and we have seen it result in the bloodiest, most damaging and most senseless conflicts humankind has experienced. And we have seen this not only abroad, but even here at home.
History has proven that conflicts of this sort cannot be solved simply by asking minorities to "put up" with public humiliation. The insistence that public accommodations be offered equally to all citizens with no discrimination based on race or ethnic origin provides minorities with human dignity and self-respect, while insisting on freedom of conscience and speech avoids inflicting an injustice on the racist, who, as a human being, is also entitled to basic human rights. The differentiation between strict private property and private property used to offer a public accommodation is a useful means to reconcile, or at least defuse, conflicting interests in a pluralist society, especially a society that has had a history of racial discrimination.