A point I’m fond of making is that without freedom of association, you cannot have any other liberties. You can have the appearance of choice, like when you stand in the breakfast cereal aisle at the grocery store, but you can never have real choices. The state not only puts you in that supermarket, they put you in the aisle, along with a bunch of other people. In order to prevent a riot from breaking out, the state must supervise your speech, your actions and make sure you focus on picking from the options on the shelves.
Whether or not our rulers know this is debatable. A feature of post-modernism is that the people in charge forget everything learned by prior generations regarding the human condition and human society. People used to know the link between free association and other liberties. It is why the state regulated public airwaves. Because it required effort to avoid speech broadcast over the air, that speech had to fit community standards. Speech that took effort to consume, like pay services, were free from state censorship.
Anyway, the Left is in something close to a full panic over the oral arguments in Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The reason for this is the way Judge Gorsuch questioned the attorney for the homosexuals. He correctly pointed out that the “remedy” for the alleged discrimination, is to force the baker to say things in public that he would never say and that he finds offensive. Gorsuch did not say this, but this is how Chinese communists punished heretics in the Cultural Revolution.
Put another way, the “remedy” for those not wanting to associate, in this case do business with, another group of people, is to frog march them into the public square and force them to say things they think are false and possibly evil. Of course, it is the only remedy, short of genocide, that is possible in a society without freedom of association. Once the state can force you to be around other people, people you may not like, they have no choice but to supervise your speech, your thoughts and your every move. You are a slave.
That is the reality of the custodial state. The people in charge see themselves as your caretakers, like a baby sitter or care giver. In reality though, you are their slave, because like a slave, you no longer control your body. They control where it is and what it is permitted to do. In this particular case. the state is trying to force this baker to perform his services for the homosexuals. The efforts to punish him are no different from a slave master flogging a runaway slave. It’s to send a message to the rest of the slaves.
The homosexual Slate writer senses this reality, but he cannot bare to face it because it means questioning the One True Faith. Even worse for him is that homosexuals have created an identity, a sense of worth, based on this notion they are a protected class, given special liberties. A white man can be run out of his job by Antifa loons and no one from the local Civil Rights Commission is coming to his aid. Homosexual terrorists can stalk the nation’s Christian bakers and they get the full support of the state.
What makes this case frightening to the Left is that there is no way for the court to rule in favor of the baker, that does not undermine the foundation of the modern special rights movement. Let’s say they carve out a religious “exception” to the laws providing homosexuals with special status. The court is, in effect, saying that religion ranks higher than sexual proclivity. The gays move down a peg. What happens when the court has to choose between Jews and Nazis? Or Muslims and Jews? It quickly becomes untenable.
This is also why the Court will have no choice but to rule against the baker. The three lesbians and Breyer, of course, are predictable votes against liberty, but Kennedy and Roberts have proven to be reliable defenders of the Progressive movement. Kennedy authored the ridiculous gay marriage ruling, after all. Roberts is smart enough to see how ruling for the baker will unravel the Progressive project, so he will probably come up with some tortured logic to justify the state compelling forced confessions from heretics.
This is the other consequence of eliminating freedom of association. The cost of restoring it always appears too high. Most Southerners before the Civil War understood that slavery was untenable, but the cost of ending it was worse. That’s what’s facing the guardians of our custodial state. They know the regime cooked up to address blacks in the 1960’s can only lead to tyranny, but unraveling it offers near term costs that seem more frightening than whatever comes at some later date. Things will just have to run their course.
It will not end well.