by Eric Peters
January 13, 2023 - How do you know whether you are free - or not? Ask yourself whether you are free to associate - or not.
We often take this freedom for granted, even when it has been massively eroded. We are still free to associate - or not - on the personal level. We are not yet obliged to be friends with people we don’t especially like, or date people we’re not interested in that way - though both of these forms of free association are under attack in the form of heavy social pressure to be “open” to being friends with and dating people with whom we’d rather not associate.
But outside of our private lives, freedom of association - which must include the right to not associate and for whatever reason - is essentially nonexistent. More precisely, it has been turned into an actionable offense to assert it.
If you doubt it, ask the Boy Scouts.
They did not wish to associate with girls for the evident reason implied by the name of their association. Boys not being girls - and vice versa. Essentially for the same reason that girls generally do not want to associate with boys in certain contexts. It is why there is also an organization for them, the Girl Scouts; each having a different focus and appeal. But that is not the relevant point because if one is free to associate then one need not explain why he or she wishes to associate - or not.
You just do - or do not - and others are obliged to respect it, whether they like it or not.
The principle is, of course, both accepted and enforced in some contexts. Such as all-black fraternities, for instance. They are free to not associate with whites or Asians. But neither of the latter are free to associate - or not - on a similar basis.
An interesting side aspect of all the foregoing being that - for the most part - boys did not want to associate with girls - in the Girl Scouts - and did not insist that the Girl Scouts “accept” (that is, be forced to admit) boys. The boys in Scouts were untroubled by girls freely associating with other girls, exclusively. Similarly, most white and Asian college students, who would never insist they be allowed to pledge an all-black fraternity - and the all-black fraternity forced to admit them.
Because who wants to be a member of a club - or whatever - where you are not welcome? Only an egomaniac who thinks the world - and other people - must defer to them.
It happened that the Boy Scouts were told they must associate with girls (and also homosexual men). There is no question about what would happen to an “all-white” or “all Asian” fraternity.
We saw how little freedom we have to associate during the past three years. Business owners were not free to associate with those who wished to freely associate with them.
Interestingly, no one who didn’t wish to associate was forced to do so. As in the case of the Boy Scouts and all-black fraternities, the attack on freedom of association was (and remains) one-sided. Those who weren’t terrified of the “virus” did not deny the right of those who were to avoid associating with whomever they did not wish to associate. They were free to not associate with anyone. To “lock down” themselves. Free to not go shopping or to the gym.
No one told them they couldn’t wear a “mask.”
But - as in the case of the Boy Scouts, et al - those who didn’t wish to wear “masks” were told they must, if they wished to be allowed to associate. Which of course meant they were no longer free to associate.
Just as none of us are free to do business - or not - with whomever we like, or not. Try, for instance, refusing to rent to someone just because. Or declining to perform a service - such as baking a homosexual wedding cake - just because you’d rather not. The reason why being - again - immaterial as regards the fact that you cannot refuse without risking official repercussions.
Try selling milk from the cow you own to those who wish to buy it. Try opening a bar for smokers that non-smokers are perfectly free to avoid.
Try worshipping with those of like mind when there is a “virus” afoot.
The social friction created by denying the right to freely associate (for some) has created incalculable social friction and resentment - the latter entirely justified. To be told you must associate with anyone you’d rather not constitutes a claim on you, a form of indenture that implies you owe them something. It is more than just a material something, such as goods or services or accommodations. The implication of all the foregoing being you owe these people you’d rather not associate with a piece of yourself. That they have a “right” to compel you to serve them. To accommodate them - by dealing with them, contrary to your will.
In other words, to do as they say.
Is the above not a pretty good working definition of ownership? That is to say of slavery? For what else is it when another human being can force you to serve him? Could there possibly be anything more effronterous than being forced to associate with anyone? Other than perhaps being denied the right to freely associate?
Ironically, this assault on freedom came in the form of “civil rights” legislation. Superficially - that is to say, emotionally - it was sold on the basis of righting wrongs; viz, the poor treatment of blacks on account of their race. But that wrong was not made right by forcing people to associate with blacks - or anyone else. Just as chattel slavery was not corrected (by Lincoln and his armies) by making everyone a slave - to the authority of the federal government.
Slavery was a moral wrong and remains so to whatever degree it is still enforced. It is not eliminated by enshrining it in law.
No person has the right to own another - to any degree. That means leaving everyone free to associate (or not) as they like, whether you happen to like it or not.