Here in the USA, our politicians spend a lot of time yapping about it with one face, while with the other face they’re scheming to make sure we actually have as little as possible. Hey, the it’s a free country, right? If so, why can’t I marry my sister? Why can’t I walk down the street naked if I want to? Why can’t I get a beer in a bar if I’m only 16? That’s not "freedom" and it won’t become freedom no matter how much we call it so.

Freedom is the power to make your own decisions and suffer your own consequences. You wanna do something stoopid, you can and no one has the "right" to prevent you… but don’t come whining about it if you get hurt. Freedom means that no one owns you unless you sell yourself to them. (Yes, if you were really free you could sell yourself into slavery. Weird, huh? But something much like that used to happen: go read about indentured servitude.)

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But on the other hand…

Freedom is the power to do things that other people don’t like. Freedom is NOT the power to hurt others. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the US Supreme Court put it very succinctly: "Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins." So, while you could sell yourself, you couldn’t sell your brother.

Freedom is also not the power to claim you’re being "hurt" when in fact what you’re being is offended… and that’s a lot of where the USA lost its grip on freedom. For instance. Some people didn’t like booze, and they convinced some politicians to pass laws outlawing booze. Suddenly NO one could have booze, whether or not they were offended by it.

That didn’t last very long, but it did create a huge army of policemen; and when booze became legal again those policemen didn’t like the thought of losing their jobs. They convinced some politicians to find something else to be offended by: marijuana. And so it went.

And so it goes today: some people are offended by skateboarders, so they pass laws making skateboarding a crime. (Try making driving a crime, and see what happens!) The same for gay marriage, or marriage between more than two people. (Try outlawing marriage between people of the same religion, and see what happens!)

I don’t care how many people are offended by Hispanics, those people should not be able to pass a law making it a crime to be Hispanic. Or Baptist. Or Communist. Or gay. …Or to live in a way that’s consistent with what you are.

Believe in freedom

The world is full of things that offend us. Those things aren’t illegal, nor should they be. Unfortunately, there’s at least one offensive thing that should be illegal, but isn’t: passing laws against behaviors we don’t like. Talk to me, try to convince me that you’re right, that’s fine. Pull out a gun and force me to do what you want, that’s not fine – but it is what we do when we pass a law.

Laws are enforced at gunpoint – that is, by force. (Duh, right? But you’d be amazed how many people don’t get that.) So, if someone wants to pass a law making it illegal to kill people, no problem, although they could accomplish just as much and more by allowing people to defend themselves. But if someone wants to pass a law making it illegal for me to be me or you to be you, that is a problem.

We believe we – you, me, everyone – should have the power to defend ourselves against that.


Text: Nuit.org