May 24, 2018

YEAH, BUT THE PLAYERS ARE BLACK:

This Culture War Isn't about the Flag; It's about Conscience (DAVID FRENCH, September 27, 2017, National Review)


If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

Those are the most famous words of West Virginia v. Barnette, one of the Supreme Court's greatest cases, but these words apply today:

Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.

In other words, the power of the salute lies with the choice to salute, and the most repugnant form of censorship is compelled speech -- the effort to force a person to state what they do not believe. Mandatory reverence isn't reverence at all.

The Supreme Court's words have a profound cultural meaning that resonates far beyond the letter of the law. The government cannot force a man to violate his conscience. Nor should it try to bully powerful, private entities into doing what the state cannot legally accomplish. Private corporations should think twice before using their own economic and cultural power to enforce conformity, even if they are legally empowered to censor their employees. Again, the cure for bad speech is better speech, and free speech cannot flourish in the midst of a culture of censorship.

Sadly, it is now clear that the freedom from compelled speech is under profound threat, from both the Left and the Right. Earlier this month I was honored to write an amicus brief on behalf of 33 family-policy organizations in a case called Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Supreme Court will decide whether petty officials (state civil-rights bureaucrats) can compel a baker to use his artistic talents to celebrate an event he finds offensive. The court will determine whether the state can compel speech.

This week, a high official, the president of the United States, has repeatedly called for the punishment of American citizens for exercising the very right guaranteed by Barnette -- the right to refuse to salute the flag. Or, more precisely, the right to modify their salute to the flag.

Oddly enough, many members of the Right endorse this move -- including those who would be livid if a Democratic president called on the NFL to fire praying football players because that's "injecting religion into football."



Posted by at May 24, 2018 4:24 AM

  

« IS THERE ONLY ENOUGH FOR ONE SERVING OF DIGNITY IN THAT FAMILY?: | Main | YOU LOST THE TRUMPBOTS AT COMPETENT: »