Equality as a Social Goal

Freedom of Association

Whites have freedom of association because whites have power. Whites use it to exclude Blacks. Blacks do not have freedom of association because they are forbidden from going many places under many circumstances. Whites say that if they are forced to integrate, they will be deprived of their right to freedom of association. They are in fact deprived of it so that this same right can be extended to Blacks. The mathematics of the situation are clear: as long as whites count as the humans who have a right to rights, making them integrate means taking away their absolute control of association in public and in private. As soon as Blacks count as humans who also have rights, freedom of association is in fact extended, increased, significantly multiplied, because Blacks can exercise it by going to the places whites had been able to forbid them to go.

Freedom of Speech

Women, who have lived in social, political, and legal silence, are told that freedom of speech is a sacrosanct right, and that any effort to diminish it for anyone diminishes it for women. Though women have been excluded from access to the means of communication, from the political dialogue, from education, from economic equity or political power; though women are forced into social silence by contempt and by terrorism; though women are excluded from participation in the institutions that articulate social policy; women are supposed to value speech rights by valuing the rights of those who have excluded them. In particular, if a pornographer takes a woman and hangs her bound and gagged and photographs her and publishes the photograph, she, that particular woman, is supposed to value his right to speech over her own; and if she should suggest that he must not be allowed to profit from her physically coerced silence, she will be told that her right to freedom of speech depends on protecting his. If she says, But he gagged me and hung me and I couldn't talk so I did not have a right of speech that I could exercise, she will be told to solve her problem in some way that will not impinge on or diminish his right to express himself through his use of her body. If she recognizes that his so-called right is an exercise of power at the expense of her humanity, and if she wants rights of speech that are real in the world such that he cannot gag her and hang her and photograph her and publish her, she will be accused of wanting to take his rights from him. In fact, she wants to take his power over her from him. He has power disguised as rights protected by law that fosters inequality. The mathematics are simple: his diminished power will lead to an increase in her rights. The power of the pornographer is the power of men. The exploitation of the woman gagged, hung, photographed, and published is the sexualized inferiority and human worthlessness of women. If men cannot gag, hang, photograph, and publish women, men will have less power and women will have more rights.

Because the establishment of equality means taking power from those who have it, power protected by law, those who have wrongful power hate equality and resist it. They defend the status quo through bigotry and violence or sophistication and intellect. They find high and mighty principles and say how important rights are. They say that rights will be lost if society changes. They mean that power will be lost, by them. This is true.

The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution), has served to defend wrongful power and to protect inequality and exploitation. This is primarily because Blacks and women were not recognized as fully human and their inequality was built into the basic structure of constitutional law. We need to establish a legal imperative toward equality. Without equality as a fundamental value, "rights" is a euphemism for "power," and legally protected dominance will continue to preclude any real equality.


  1. Equality means that someone loses power; it is taken from him. He does not like this and fights it. He calls his power "rights" and so does the law.

  2. The mathematics are simple: taking power from exploiters extends and multiplies the rights of those they have been exploiting.

  3. The U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, has protected wrongful power disguised as rights. Strong equality law can change this. We need to put the highest social value on equality.