The two terms usually go together. One wonders if people give them much thought. It seems mostly, like the litany of the Pledge of Allegiance, to go over most people’s heads, and is received as “good and nice things.” But Freedom and Equality are opposites. Freedom means the freedom to discriminate, the freedom to be unpopular, the freedom to hurt feelings, the freedom to associate (and not associate) with whom one wants. And we’ve seen now the mask come off from advocates of gay marriage, whose totalitarian desire is not merely tolerance but rather to bludgeon, shame, and destroy all elements of the society that dare to hurt their feelings and a concomitant desire to obtain social approval and social acceptance and ostracism of their opponents. We saw this earlier in the “outings” of those who supported California’s referendum against gay marriage, and we see it now with regard to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law (an analog to the 20 plus year old Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act).The left’s totalitarianism is nothing new, but it is startling in its current brazenness.
There seems an effort by the gay marriage movement to align itself with the earlier struggle for black civil rights which, by contrast, had a strong claim of justice on its side, particularly with regard to the effects of institutionalized discrimination in the form of Jim Crow laws and various forms of anti-black terrorism by supporters of white supremacy. Those days are long over. And even then the movement went too far, in my view, by forcing associations among those where at least one party wanted to remain apart. Freedom does not mean the mirror image of those rules, however, which is what I would argue both affirmative action and forced association laws in favor of other civil rights, like gay rights, are. The opposite of enforced discrimination is not enforced discrimination in favor of minorities, but rather the freedom of groups and individuals to associate or not with whomever they please. The commitment to that principle is sadly lacking, whether in defenders of Indiana’s law, or otherwise. And thus we have seen the equality principle supersede the freedom principle, that latter of which is the true genius of America’s legal regime. And, like attempts to enforce equality in Revolutionary France or Bolshevik Russia, we see the evidence of a totalitarian tendency that is an ominous sign of what is to come.
The only equality that matters is equality before the law, including an equality of freedom, but equality as a social goal undermines freedom and is totalitarian in nature. It is half the organizing principle of the Civil Rights crusade of yesteryear, which included both the undoing of forced disassociation and the imposition of equal access. That struggle too had totalitarian overtones, not least in the involvement of the federal government in social reengineering through school bussing, among other failures. I am somewhat ambivalent, however, as the movement was limited, and it had a certain rough justice appeal due to decades of enforced anti-black discrimination. As the groups and behaviors to which it is applied has expanded, the valuable and sustainable principle of freedom has been undermined. We now have affirmative action for newcomers, federal agents forcing religious institutions to violate their conscience, and a nationwide conspiracy against anyone that would dare to hurt the feelings of homosexuals. Equality this may be–indeed, it is the logical outgrowth of this commitment–but it is anti-freedom in the extreme.