Friday, August 3, 2012

Why People Are Willing to Give Up Freedoms

If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom. - Eisenhower
I was going to write this as a "understanding the left" piece, but it isn't something that only permeates the left. Many self-proclaimed conservatives seem more than willing to shout "there ought to be a law!" whenever they see or hear something they don't like. Simply put, everyone loves freedom. But not everyone loves everyone else's freedom.
Take gun control, for instance, about which I discussed a couple days ago. Many people who are for gun control don't seriously wish the government would keep them from having guns. They're more afraid of others having guns. They trust themselves, you see, but they just don't trust anyone else. It isn't that we are surrounded by all of these would-be psychopathic killers, but that someone could use a gun for murderous violence. And based on that "logic" it is "better to be safe than sorry". 

Eisenhower, in the quote at the top pretty much debunks that whole idea. It isn't better to be safe than sorry when it comes to freedom. Making widespread laws to limit what an individual can do, just in case they might do something bad, is more like "throwing out the baby with the bathwater". For every citizen that would abuse a freedom, there are thousands, if not millions, who would use that freedom responsibly.

Now, we know the left is always ready to stifle such freedoms, but their motivations have more to do with the ideology that government should shape how people live, not necessarily that nobody should have freedom. Semantics, I know, but that is truly how they think. It is "for your own good", in their minds. But that does have a familiar ring to it, when considering other ideologies out there.

Take the conservative moralists, for example. People like Rick Santorum. I was on-board with Santorum when he was the only real non-Romney candidate left in the primaries, but I had a real beef with him being a moralist. The problem with moralists is that they are every bit as guilty as nanny-state leftists of targeting freedoms in order to make society "more perfect". 

Freedom is a simple concept. It is letting the individual live in whatever way he or she sees fit as long as it does not personally infringe upon the freedoms of another person. That is why murder and theft could never be justified as freedoms; they take freedom away from others. But as long as a supposed injustice is victimless, then it is difficult to justify making it illegal. Every crime on the books that is victimless is an infringement on actual freedom. 

The obvious examples include prostitution, recreational drug use, and polygamy. The majority of society, including myself, doesn't like these things, which is understandable. And society has demanded laws against them, which in the context of true individual freedom isn't justified.

Perhaps it would help better by providing examples that aren't so obvious. Operating a lemonade stand in your front yard is illegal in many places. So is dressing like a priest, unless you are one. Or too many women living in a single house. Or working on Sundays. Or cussing. There are a whole bunch of laws like these that are selectively enforced all over the country. How did they get on the books, you might ask? Because people were willing to sacrifice the freedom of others, in the name of morality, or what is best for society, or for the poor, or to save the whales, or whatever.

And one of the biggest reasons even today for getting freedoms snuffed out is in the name of security. You can't even get on an airplane without being thoroughly molested by a government official. How did that happen? We, the people, allowed it, that is how. We gave into fear and let more of our liberty be taken from us by an overbearing government in the name of security. We let the government control everything that goes on at the work place in the name of safety. We force employers to keep count of who they hire by race and gender in the name of "equality". 

We've collectively held up our hands over the years and allowed the shackles of oppression to be placed on our wrists in the name of all of these things, not because we think we cannot handle freedom, but because we fear the freedom that others around us have. Because we don't like it when others do things we don't approve of, or don't think is the best way to live their lives. What we've created in this nation that formerly loved freedom, is a system that is quickly becoming a nanny state. And this has all happened because of six little words...

There ought to be a law!

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