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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Freedom of Association Includes Religion

By Douglas V. Gibbs

“Association with other people corrupts our character; especially when we have none.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, (1844-1900), German atheist philosopher whose work set a foundation for the existentialist movement of the 1900s.

“A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.” — Will Rogers

“And what is liberty, whose very name makes the heart beat faster and shakes the world? Is it not the union of all liberties - liberty of conscience, of education, of association, of the press, of travel, or labor, or trade?” — Frederic Bastiat


THE FIRST AMENDMENT ENUMERATES the right of the people peaceably to assemble. Originally, the text combined assembly with the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. During the session of the House of Representatives on August 15, 1789 during which the representatives present discussed the proposed amendment, Mr. Sedgwick of Massachusetts questioned the connection, arguing the right to assemble must be preserved regardless of the reason for assembly.
The congressional record reads:  “The right is of so trivial a nature. He supposes it no more essential than whether a man has a right to wear his hat or not; but let me observe to him that such rights have been opposed, and a man has been obliged to pull off his hat when he appeared before the face of authority; people have also been prevented from assembling together on their lawful occasions, therefore it is well to guard against such stretches of authority, by inserting the privilege in the declaration of rights. If the people could be deprived of the power of assembling under any pretext whatsoever, they might be deprived of every other privilege contained in the clause.”
William Rawles (Rawle, William. A View of the Constitution of the United States of America. 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1829. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.) wrote a few decades later that while protecting the right to assemble, the Founding Fathers also recognized that there had been occasion in history where the right had been abused.
He wrote: “Of this right in the abstract there cannot be a doubt. To withhold from the injured, the privilege of complaint, and to debar the rulers from the benefit of information that may apprize them of their errors, is mutually unjust. It may, however, be urged, that history shows how those meetings and petitions have been abused, and we may be turned to an English statute, which, though ill observed, is said to be still in force, and which is understood to have been founded on the mischiefs and disorders experienced from large and tumultuous assemblies, presenting petitions for the redress of grievances in the reign of Charles I. But besides the well known irrelevancy of the argument from the abuse of any thing against its use, we must remember that by requiring the assembly to be peaceable, the usual remedies of the law are retained, if the right is illegally exercised.”
The independence of the scope of the freedom of assembly has been lost in the modern world of case law. The courts have deemed that the right of peaceable assembly only accompanies freedom of speech.

The Magna Carta recognized the right to petition the government. When it came to the king, however, assembly did not receive the same kind of consideration. In the English Colonies, however, colonial assemblies were an important action. Assemblies were an important way for individuals to express their views of the local governing bodies, and to determine if a petition to the king in Britain for a redress of grievances was necessary.

In 1774, the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress proclaimed that the colonists “have a right peaceably to assemble, consider of their grievances, and petition the king; and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same, are illegal.”

In today’s modern political landscape the right to peaceably assemble extends to various groups and clubs. The right to assemble, while remaining intact, is being challenged by the concept regarding to what extent a private group may promote its ideals and values. Groups like the Boy Scouts of America are being told that they may continue to peaceably assemble, but they cannot legally exclude any person who wishes to participate, including those who may exhibit a sexual lifestyle that does not conform to the group’s traditional moral standards.

Modern society recognizes the right to assemble as essential to protecting and defending the state definition of human rights, and other matters that comply with the liberal left narrative; but any assembly that opposes the progressive narrative, especially when it comes to social issues, may be prosecuted as unconstitutional because the group failed to allow a state-protected group member into the assembly.

Skousen’s List of 45 Communist Goals addresses assembly, first at number sixteen: “Use technical decisions of the court to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.”

While the above goal also can be applied to the war on marriage, assembly is not far behind.

The war against the freedom of assembly is now reaching into religious institutions. In California State Senator Ricardo Lara’s “Equity in Higher Education Act” (SB 1146), introduced February 18, 2016, seeks, in the name of anti-discrimination, to strip religious institutions of setting their own guidelines regarding “religious practices” and “rules for moral conduct” and replace them with the government’s definitions of the same. The bill intends to force faith-based institutions to choose between compromising their deeply held beliefs on issues like homosexuality and transgenderism, or risk an endless wave of costly litigation to defend themselves.

While seeking to silence the enemy, be it conservatism, or Christian institutions, the statists seek to use assembly that is not peaceable to gain ground with their revolution. Skousen’s Communist Goal number nineteen reads, “Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.” One could say that one has been expanded into city-wide riots, as we saw in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 and 2015, Baltimore, Maryland in 2015, and Milwaukee in 2016.

Inherent in the right to associate is the right not to associate. In other words, the right of assembly presented by the Founding Fathers includes the right to bar selected individuals from one’s company, or private organization.

In June 2009, the Wall Street Journal ran an article headlined, “Private Clubs That Aren't Private Under the Law” by Nathan Koppel.  The author of the article, using quotes by Andrew Koppelman, a constitutional-law professor at Northwestern University School of Law, wrote: “When an association reaches a certain size and importance, the public has a legitimate interest in what goes on inside them.”

Whenever you see the word “public” in liberal-left-speak, it means “the government.” In short, what Koppelman was saying was that if an association gets large, it must make sure it includes “outsiders” the association has already decided against. The organization has no choice in the matter. The wisdom of the government’s ruling elite is superior.

Courts often are loath to allow clubs to claim private status if they open their doors to virtually all comers but exclude people by race or gender, discrimination experts say.  I suppose we can add sexual orientation to that as well.

At issue is whether a club can be seen as a “place of public accommodation.” So a club needs to be ultra-discriminating in choosing its members if it doesn’t want to get hit with an anti-discrimination lawsuit and lose its status as “private.”

Therefore, if the government takes interest, in reality you have no right to freely assemble.

Ultimately, the freedom of assembly is none of the government’s business, even if the assembly is absolutely unacceptable to most people. If a group, for example, refused to allow blacks, or people with green eyes, to be members of its group, though it seems on the surface the government should get involved, the reality is that to allow the government to do so opens a Pandora’s Box that the government can use to disallow other associations which may not seem so unacceptable.

In the end, it’s up to We the People to resolve the problem if a group did do something that was so unacceptable.

If word gets out, and We the People have a problem with the group’s rules, societal pressure and protest would likely resolve the problem. If social pressure doesn’t, so be it. Just as long as the government doesn’t begin dictating the rules of assembly.

Governmental involvement, even if it seems to be originally for a just and moral reason, always expands and intrudes into places it shouldn’t. Some associations are based on ideological causes, or certain systems of belief. Should those groups be forced to accept members who don’t share the same views?

At what point does the government’s intrusion reach into even larger associations, like political parties? What happens when the powers that be decide the Republican Party is not inclusive enough, and outlaws the entity? Sound too farfetched?

Like the old saying says, “Give an inch, and they take a mile.”

At what point does the intrusion on assembly reach further, outlawing terms like “Christianity,” or “Republican,” or “Conservative” because those associations had been made illegal? Could it actually get to the point where the mere mention of an illegal association could land someone in jail, or result in the imposition of heavy fines?

As insane as that possibility sounds, remember that it wasn’t very long ago that we would have never dreamed that a baker could be sued, fined, and be forced into bankruptcy for daring to refuse to bake a cake with a homosexual message.

Associations are supposed to be based on ideas and similarity of beliefs. If governmental intrusion reaches a point where the freedom of association is placed at risk, all other rights that involve political speech and dissent may shortly follow after.

The liberal left statists seek to intrude upon the business of everybody, and everything, because dissent is an obstacle that stands in the way of the leftist’s ideological progress. Well, unless a group is a protected group. Then the establishment will bend over backwards to protect the privacy and right to assembly of that group. Muslim mosques are likely safe from any governmental snooping. Gay clubs and groups will probably not be investigated for not having any straight members in their association. Hispanic and black clubs and groups are likely not at risk because no white person can be admitted.

Before long the bathroom problem will extend beyond forcing establishments to allow men into women’s bathrooms and women into men’s bathrooms. Eventually, that won’t be far enough, and a law will be passed requiring little girls to urinate in front of she-males and transsexuals. Marriages and sexual relationships between humans and animals may eventually not only become the norm, but will be mandated by the “Fairness Ministry.” If you haven’t had a homosexual encounter in recent weeks, you may run the risk of losing benefits, and being prosecuted for your discriminatory inaction.

The liberal left not only wants to eliminate free association, they want to force unwanted association. And they don’t want you to just participate, they want you to exhibit a favorability towards these immoral associations. Failure to openly support their mandated associations will result in a guilty verdict of a “thought crime” against the common good. By government standards it's all right to kill your babies in the womb, and force your sexual relations with homosexuals upon religious institutions, but if you associate with any group that shows dissatisfaction with the liberal left statist establishment, of to the gulag you go.

Which brings us to a few more of Skousen’s Communist Goals from his list of 45:

· 26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

· 27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity, which does not need a “religious crutch.”

· 28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

· 29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

· 30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”

· 31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.”

· 32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture – education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

Freedom of Assembly is relative, according to the statists, and association with anyone who stands against the statists must be so vile to the supporters of the government’s leftist agenda that it is not unreasonable to them to need safe-zones to protect them from such offensive things.

In short, as Freedom of Association comes under greater governmental scrutiny we have literally become a silent assembly of cowards who are literally erasing our own freedoms through our inactions.

In Greece it eventually came to the point that Socrates was put to death for “corrupting” the youth. Jesus was crucified for advocating radical alternatives to established political and religious orthodoxies. German citizens were executed for assembling together to discuss their disagreements about the Nazi Party.

A 2015 Pew Research survey found that, “Four in ten Millennials say the government should be able to prevent people from publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups.” The same Pew survey found that 35 percent of all Democrats, and 33 percent of all women “say the government should be able to curtail speech that is offensive to minorities.”

A federal judge, Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote for Slate on June 24, 2016, “I see absolutely no value to a judge... studying the Constitution, the history of its enactment, its amendments, and its implementation. Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century. Which means that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights... do not speak to today.”

Socrates, Jesus Christ and those who stood against Adolf Hitler inside Germany were all considered offensive, and they paid for their associations with their lives. So, we must ask ourselves, “Is it wiser to be alive and a coward, or risk our lives to defend the truth of liberty?”

I stand for the latter.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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