L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 292, October 10, 2004
"It's not what it is. It's what it means."
What Does Freedom Mean?
Exclusive to TLE
As libertarians, we often talk about freedom, so I thought it might be desireable to take a look at the subject in a hard-headed, objective manner (not that "I" am hard-headed! Of course not!)
To many people, freedom is automatically about 'rights', and to some degree, these people are correct. However, what many people forget, or have never learned, is that even more than 'rights', freedom is about responsibility.
Each individual is responsible for his or her own actions, no matter what the result of those actions is. If the actions are correct for the situation at hand, generally good things will result. If the actions are not correct, generally bad things will. Example: a person decides to take a day off from work. In and of itself, so what? However, that day of missed work may mean that the person is unable to pay a utility bill, resulting in a shut-off of electricity, gas, or phone service. Is the society responsible for the individual's lack of forethought and responsibility? Absolutely not! That person is solely and totally responsible, and should bear the burden of correcting his own mistakes.
For any individual to blame society for his or her actions is the mark of a childish, irresponsible person, one who does not understand freedom. No matter what circumstances apply, there is absolutely no excuse for any person to take an action that would harm others, unless in self-defense. Come from a broken home? So what! Didn't get to play on the high school football team? Who cares! Other kids teased you? Who gives a sh*t! Your family was too poor for you to have an X-Box or Nintendo game system? Tough!
Ladies and gentlemen, these and the myriad of other excuses that too many 'social workers' and government flunkies give for the sorry pieces of crap that delight in injuring and causing harm to others are so much flatulence! Every single one of us knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that harming others is wrong. Forget the Ten Commandments. Forget every single law and moral code that exists.
To harm others unprovoked is wrong and there is absolutely no valid way to argue otherwise!
I wasn't the captain of the football team. I wasn't even very popular. For too many years, my family was moving all over the world, following my dad to various Navy bases. I was rarely in one town or school for longer than eighteen months, and many times, I was in three or four different schools in one school year. So, yes, I was almost always the 'outsider', the 'new kid'. On top of that, my interests were far different from those of the other kids in most of the schools. Where they liked the loud music, crazy party scene, I was more into hunting and fishing. Hard as it is to believe in today's world, I was on my HS rifle team in Lubbock, Tx. My ideal quiet time was with a book, sometimes with classical or country music playing on the headphones, sometimes not.
According to the 'experts',. a kid like me would be a prime suspect for a 'Columbine' style incident today. Good with weapons, a loner, an outsider, often made fun of for views that didn't fit the 'norm'. Well, guess what? Never happened with me, and will never happen with the vast majority of kids who fit the same criteria today. Why? Because the vast majority of that type of kid, unless and until they are brainwashed away from it, accept personal responsibility for their actions. They know that if they mess up, they will have to face the consequences. They are the ones who still understand, at a visceral level, what freedom means, no matter how hard the school system tries to brainwash them.
Unfortunately, too many kids of today are 'latch-key' kids, with all their moral guidance coming from the school system. In this venue, many of them are told, time after time, that society is the blame for all that is wrong in their lives, that if only government was more powerful, more intrusive, more effective, that all would be right in the world. They are never told that anything is their fault, but that the mistakes of the past have led to the evils of today. Well, this is true, but not in the way that they mean.
Freedom is not about rights in general. Really, freedom is concerned with only one right, the right to be responsible for your own life, your own actions, your own choices, no matter what others may think of those actions or choices. Let me give some examples: Suppose you are a young female and get pregnant. You decide to have an abortion. I don't like abortion, personally, but do I have the right to make that decision for you? Absolutely not! No matter what I think, no matter what my personal religion says about the matter, no matter what the 'will of God' is, I do not have the right to take that choice away from you! God don't like it? Well, let God deal with it! I am not wise enough to take that role upon myself, and neither are you, so get over it!
Last example: alternative lifestyles and marriages. Two gay men (or women) decide to get married. So what! You say it degrades, cheapens, and weakens the institution of marriage? How weak is your marriage that what others do can weaken it? Marriage is a social contract. It is only religious insofar as the parties involved want it to be. Or suppose a man and two women, or a woman and two men want to get married, set up a small group to help with finances, or child raising or whatever. Why is that any of your business?
Since this is an opinion piece, I am not going to close with my standard 'check it out' spiel. However, for those who are interested, look up the speeches and writings of the founding fathers. Or, look up the history of marriage, and how it has changed over the centuries.