Are You Really For Freedom?

Column by Marc Victor.

 

Exclusive to STR

 

I know you say you love freedom. Virtually everyone says they love and value freedom. Even such murderous villains as Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein claimed to love or advocate freedom. 

 
"The German people are not a warlike nation. It is a soldierly one, which means it does not want a war, but does not fear it. It loves peace but also loves its honor and freedom." ~ Adolf Hitler to Reichstag in Berlin, February 1936
 
"[Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti] blood will light torches, grow aromatic plants, and water the tree of freedom, resistance and victory." ~ Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Radio, January 26, 1999
It is easy to simply claim to support freedom, but it is much more difficult to accept the sometimes scary implications of such a claim. 
 
Did you ever wonder what it really means to say, “I’m for freedom?” It is difficult for me to express how unimpressed I am by the enthusiasm of a person to strongly support the rights of another person to use their freedoms in exactly the same way they themselves exercise their own freedoms. For example, alcohol users who support the rights of others to use alcohol or marijuana users who support the rights of others to use marijuana does not seem such a principled stance to me. 
 
On the other hand, people who steadfastly and enthusiastically support the rights of other adults to use their freedoms[1] in ways they themselves would never personally engage in is truly inspiring. A real freedom attitude is about accepting the sovereign rights of other adults to peacefully use their bodies and their property in ways you personally disagree with, morally oppose, find degrading, ill advised, harmful or completely foolish.[2] Indeed, this is the test to determine whether a person honestly supports the concept of freedom. 
 
The adult users of the horribly destructive and often addicting drug called “alcohol” who oppose the legalization of marijuana because they personally choose not to use marijuana are, in freedom terms, identical to the adult users of marijuana[3] who oppose the legalization of methamphetamine because they personally choose not to use methamphetamine.[4] 
 
A similar example can be found in the area of free speech. Americans rightly take pride in their right to free speech. So long as the speech is “acceptable,” there is no controversy. However, when unpopular groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the Neo-Nazis want to peacefully march, many self-proclaimed free speech supporters seek to use the law to ban them.[5] [6]
 
These are the scary implications one must accept and embrace to truly be a person who advocates freedom. To hold otherwise suggests your freedoms actually extend no further than some other person’s personal preference regarding their own freedom. This concept is what I refer to as, “The dark side of freedom.”
 
I suspect when most people pride themselves about loving freedom, they have in mind wimpy concepts like the rights of others to decide for themselves where to go on vacation or what model of automobile to buy. This wimpy concept of freedom doesn’t generate much controversy because most people personally agree with whatever decision another person makes in these areas.   
 
Simply acknowledging that other adults have a right to run their own lives as they choose doesn’t mean we are obligated to agree with or support whatever they say or do. If we choose, we may seek to peacefully persuade them to act as we believe they should act. Further, acknowledging the rights of others does not mean we are sending a message of approval regarding their choices. Indeed, we are free to peacefully send messages of disapproval if we choose and they are free to ignore our messages entirely if they choose. 
 
In one of my other articles entitled, “Legalize Methamphetamine!” I argue that the war on drugs should be ended. I have been asked many times to modify the title of my article to something like, “End the Drug War” or to some other boring but inoffensive title.[7] In fairness, the title is somewhat incomplete. I am considering changing it to, “Legalize Methamphetamine and Crack Cocaine!” or to, “Legalize Methamphetamine and All Other Horribly Addictive Drugs!” My point here is to emphasize that advocating for freedom is sometimes not as easy and popular as it first may appear to the casual, self-proclaimed freedom supporter. However, it is necessary if we are to have freedom. 
 
In the end, wimpy freedom advocates are not freedom advocates at all. If we are to again be the land of the free, we desperately need people to strongly advocate for freedom, in all its beauty and in all its ugliness. 


[1] By using their “freedoms,” I mean being in control of your own body, time, money and other property. This does not include using another’s body, time, money, or property without their consent. Freedom includes the notion that all voluntary conduct between consenting adults, whether others approve or not, is absolutely legal.
[2] Don’t be confused by the concept that a person could morally oppose an activity yet strongly support its legality. A moral question and a legal question should be two entirely different questions. Some of my friends morally oppose prostitution while supporting its legalization. There is no contradiction. Questions about “right” and “wrong” are also different questions than questions about what should be “legal.” 
[3] Or any other substance.
[4] Yes, I know and agree with you about the awful consequences of methamphetamine use. Yes, I know it will rot the teeth out of your mouth and destroy your skin and possibly your life if you use it. I would strongly discourage anyone from ever trying or using it. 
[5] I agree with nothing said by either group, but I absolutely support their right to peacefully say whatever they want. It is important to note that nobody is required to listen to them. People have a right to peacefully protest against them and even to ridicule them for their deranged views. 
[6] When a Christian pastor in Florida recently threatened to publicly burn a Koran, Fox News presented legal “scholars” who generated creative ideas to use the law in an attempt to stop this constitutionally protected expression. The pastor ultimately backed down.
[7] I have even been asked to delete the exclamation point in favor of a question mark. I like the exclamation point. 

 

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Marc J. Victor's picture
Columns on STR: 4

Marc J. Victor is a practicing criminal defense attorney located in Chandler, Arizona.  He can be reached via his website at www.attorneyforfreedom.com.

Comments

iliad's picture

Most people do not understand how, as a veteran, I can support and even applaud flag burning even though I don't necessarily agree with it. Your article articulates my feelings perfectly. Good job.

Suverans2's picture

″Despite all the flags fluttering on First Avenue there are no nations any more, only companies; International companies.″ ~ Kuman-Kuman (Character in the movie The Interpreter)

iliad's picture

A valid point Suverans2. Since I have been reading commentary on sites such as STR and voluntaryist.com, my loyalty to flag and country has diminished to the point of being irrelevant. It has taken some time to un-learn all the lies. Burn baby burn.

Suverans2's picture

Smart man, iliad! Un-learning all the lies is the key. Except, we must never become complacent by thinking that we have already "un-learned all the lies"; ...we have promises to keep, And miles to go before we sleep, And miles to go before we sleep.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..." ~ Saul of Tarsus

jd-in-georgia's picture

I pretty much agree with Iliad. I too am a veteran and although I have strong personal opinions on several issues, real freedom means not only tolerating various opinions or choices others have or make but to respecting those differences as well. Real freedom means real differences will exist. My perspective on life, my ability to make moral choices, my willingness to change so that I may grow as a human being all come from my growing knowledge of what freedom really is.

Freedom is unique.

Contrary to what we have been taught, real freedom is very much free. Real freedom is inside of you. On the same token, it is so precious that once you find it you cannot put a price on it. You can also give it away but in the ideal scenario it is a mutual give-and-take situation. In this situation, freedom can be very much like an investment. I just know that by recognizing others enjoying a personal freedom in something I may not like or agree with ironically makes me feel even more free because I know for certain that I am not a lemming but an individual and that is a good feeling.

Suverans2's picture

Real freedom is inside of you. ~ jd-in-georgia

Freedom. ...The power of acting, in the character of a moral personality, according to the dictates of the will, without other checks, hindrance, or prohibitions than such as may be imposed by just and necessary laws and the duties of social life. See Liberty ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 664 [Emphasis added]

How is it that this, (assuming of course that that is what "real freedom" is), is "inside of you"? I agree that the desire for freedom is certainly innate, i.e. "inside of you", if that is what you mean. Or is it that "real freedom", to you, differs from "freedom"?

"The cry of the soul is for freedom. It longs for liberty, from the date of its first conscious moments." ~ Josiah Gilbert Holland

jd-in-georgia's picture

Sorry, Suverans. I guess by 'real', I am trying to pin freedom more esoterically than in a matter-of-fact kind of way. Per the Black's definition you have provided, '... such as may be imposed by just and necessary laws and the duties of social life,' when perhaps one day that human laws may not be necessary. I assume we are talking about written rules when referring to necessary laws. In essence, I try and think of the thousands of years we have been getting around on nothing more horses and/or carriages. It has only been within the last 150 years that we have been getting around by means of internal and external combustion, from cars to space flight. Although we can still get around on horse and carriage, the use of cars and airplanes seem to give us more freedom. Dang, there's that word again. One day, rules and laws can evolve just as our transportation technology has. That will be a great day, indeed. That will be a day of 'real' freedom, which transcends something a handful of people put on paper for all of us to live by.

I guess I need to put my tin foil hat back on my head. Somebody is knocking (just kidding).

Suverans2's picture

Thank you for your pleasant and thoughtful reply jd-in-georgia. (And for the chuckle at the end. Tin foil hat, indeed. lol)

If I may, the "just and necessary laws and the duties of social life" are not the artificial laws "written", i.e. "created" by men.

It is the Natural Law.

"If there be any such principle as justice, it is, of necessity, a natural principle; and, as such, it is a matter of science, to be learned and applied like any other science. And to talk of either adding to, or taking from, it, by legislation, is just as false, absurd, and ridiculous as it would be to talk of adding to, or taking from, mathematics, chemistry, or any other science, by legislation."[1]

[1] NATURAL LAW or THE SCIENCE OF JUSTICE, A Treatise on Natural Law, Natural Justice, Natural Rights, Natural Liberty, and Natural Society; Showing That All Legislation Whatsoever is an Absurdity, a Usurpation, and a Crime by Lysander Spooner (1882) Must Read: http://www.panarchy.org/spooner/law.1882.html

Paul's picture

"...real freedom means not only tolerating various opinions or choices others have or make but to respecting those differences as well."

Woops, you went too far there.

ALL that is needed for freedom to exist is tolerance, and refraining from aggression (in a broad enough segment of the population). There is no need whatever to respect others or what they do.

When I use the word "tolerance", I mean it in the original dictionary sense of the word, not the propaganda put out by the likes of tolerance.org. I wrote about that here:
http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2009/tle523-20090614-08.html

Suverans2's picture

"ALL that is needed for freedom to exist is tolerance, and refraining from aggression (in a broad enough segment of the population). There is no need whatever to respect others or what they do." ~ Paul

Great point!

DennisLeeWilson's picture

I am reminded of this from an earlier STR article:

You cannot be free by obeying the rules. You cannot be free by waiting for someone to rescue you. You cannot be free simply by hoping for a brighter day tomorrow. Freedom comes from within.

"Freedom comes from within. It does not come from without.

It does not come from a charismatic leader. It does not come with a set of instructions....It does not come from being given your freedom only after you prove yourself to your parents, teachers, pastors, or other authority figures. It does not come from any God who demands obedience before He promises blessings (or threatens curses). It does not come from delineated rights. It does not come from The Constitution.

It is you from whom freedom springs. It is you in whom freedom thrives. No one gave it to you. Like Dorothy and her ruby slippers, your way home was with you all the time."

You just didn't realize it. Do you understand? You are freedom. Contrary to that tiresome cliché, freedom is free.

You are free when you join the military. You are free if and/or when you are drafted. You are free when they put a gun in your hand and bark an order. You are free to say, "No." Even when you are certain that you aren't, you are free to deal with it internally any way that you wish. If you are falsely imprisoned for rightfully resisting, you are still free. As the example of Viktor Frankl shows us, freedom can exist even within a death camp. [Note: Think a death camp is an extreme example? Contemplate the serenity of John Galt, even while he was being tortured by his oppressors. Ayn Rand understood this! ....Dennis]
...
You can find your own way to quietly, peacefully walk away from the table government has set.
...
An education in freedom will take time. When I first started, I scoffed at some of the ideas with which I was confronted. I eventually embraced them all. You will follow a logical path that will eventually lead you to the same open air I am now breathing.

Let Us Awake Now
by B.R. Merrick

Click here to read the entire article...:
http://www.strike-the-root.com/91/merrick/merrick4.html

Suverans2's picture

"You can find your own way to quietly, peacefully walk away from the table government has set."

Amen and amen.