Despite those with maybe some rare psychological condition (libertophobia?), we all want to be free. Specifically; I don’t think a single person has something they want to do, that they then want government to prevent them from doing it. So denying others similar freedoms should reasonably be thought of as hypocritical.
While everyone can apply their own nuance to what liberty or freedom means to them, I’d like to politely take the role of arbiter for a moment, and share where I think many go wrong when proposing roles of government. Here are a few instances I’ve come up with. Feel free to add more in the comments below.
You have the right to say whatever you want. You don’t have a right to be heard or to be uninterrupted.
Because I have a decent number of people I enjoy interacting with on social media, I am rather uninterested in disrespectful discourse, since there’s so much respectful discourse I could be having instead.
As a result, many often insinuate when I mute or block those people on Twitter, I’m stifling free speech. Which is a pretty outlandish false premise.
On social media, you might get blocked. In person, people might walk away from you. But, if you want to be heard, and people are exercising the right to take their leave of your message, maybe you need to work on your delivery of said message, or the message itself. But you don’t get to compel them to listen. Nor should you argue that them blocking you is anti-free speech.
Your right to free speech means you can’t be impeded by government for exercising your right to speak. It doesn’t mean that protesters can’t protest Milo Yiannopoulos, employers can’t fire you for saying something inappropriate, or people on social media can’t block you.
You have a right to seek employment, but not a right to be employed.
If you go to seek a job, assuming it’s a private business versus a government job, the business OWNER owns that business, no different from you owning your home stereo for instance.
If no one has a right to dictate to you what music you play on that stereo, you don’t have a right to dictate who they hire, serve, what they pay you, or anything else.
The job market and the consumer markets are intended to be free markets. Either both parties agree to terms on what is to transpire, or one/both of them walk away. But forcing one party to comply with the other’s wishes is a mafia tactic, not something the people should be sanctioning.
Does that mean a bigoted jerk could put a sign out front denying service to gays, blacks, whites, women, Latinos, Asians, et al.? Yes, it does.
Does a private citizen who is offended by that practice have a right to share it on social media, maybe get local news involved, protest this business, etc., until the market decides that this bigoted jerk doesn’t deserve their money, then watches his business fail due to lack of revenue?
Why yes…yes it also does!
You have a right to engage in free speech, you don’t have a right to put someone in harm’s way utilizing speech.
Using the “Fire in a crowded theater” analogy, you can say the word “Fire” in a theater, you can even yell it if the theater were empty, or if the people know you were joking. If there’s actually a fire in the theater, you’ve not only broken no law, you’re potentially a hero.
But if there’s no fire, you have instead put people in danger by creating a stampede that may lead to people falling, getting walked on, and harmed. So it’s not the “Speech” that is being prosecuted, it’s the act of putting others in danger.
Think of it this way. The 2nd amendment guarantees your right to own and fire a gun, but it doesn’t allow you to shoot someone who is no threat to you.
In the same vein, the first amendment guarantees your right to free speech, you can’t use that speech to harm someone either.
You have a right to ask someone for help. You do not have the right to dictate they help you.
If your car breaks down, you don’t have a right to demand a mechanic fix it so you can get to work.
So that should also mean you don’t have a right to demand a teacher educate you because you need a better job, or demand a doctor help you because you’re sick.
Doctors and teachers have the same rights as everyone else. As such, consumers have no right to free services or goods.
Free Education and Free Health Care are nothing more than servitude (if you force them to provide a service) and/or theft (if you force the people to pay for their services). If it’s volunteers and private donations, that’s the only way it is a completely moral exercise.
You have a right to equal protection and service from government, not from the private sector.
If you’re LGBTQ, you have a right to dictate that the government acknowledge your marriage, and under our current system, to have a judge (a government employee), perform the ceremony. You’ve paid taxes into that system, and the government cannot discriminate. If the government employee doesn’t like it, they should have joined the private sector.
But you do not have a right to ask a private pastor to do the ceremony, nor do you have a right to dictate a baker bake you a cake. Why? Because they have the same rights you do.
People often think those who champion freedom are being selfish, and it is certainly true for some. But the people who are truly libertarian in their beliefs are also not hypocrites. They believe others should have the same rights and don’t have to agree with someone to support the rights of another.
- A teetotaler can support the rights of alcohol drinkers
- A monogamist can support the rights of a sex worker
- An atheist can support the rights of churches, synagogues, etc.
- A non-gun owner can support the 2nd amendment
- A heterosexual can support gay marriage
- Someone does not like abortion can support a woman’s right to choose
- A clean person can support another’s right to use recreational drugs
- A helmet-wearing motorcycle rider can support another person’s right to not wear a helmet
I can go on forever about what it means to do liberty right. Hypocrisy is never considered a good trait to have. So hopefully, after reading this, you can find an area where you’ve had the opinion that government should restrict someone’s rights and are now second guessing that thought. Liberty for me, must come with liberty for thee.
4 thoughts on “How To Do Liberty Right: Freedom For Me = Freedom For Thee”
Enjoyed your blog on Liberty. Agreed with a lot. Let me provide more grist for your intellectual mill. Where individuals use their rights to deliberately stifle the individual rights of others what should happen next?
What comes to mind are protestors who exercise their right to free speech by denying someone else’s right to free speech (e.g. Leftist progressives shutting down conservative speakers on college campuses). On right to choose. Does an unborn child who can’t speak for him or herself have a right to life? Or does the right of the mother to terminate her unborn dominate? Is this simply a matter for government to decide? or is it a case of might makes right? Just curious about your thoughts.
I see where you’re going with that, but let me state unequivocally that anyone shouting down someone else is NOT a free speech issue.
If government threatens to prosecute you in some way, then and only then, it is a free speech issue.
So you describe someone denying someone else free speech, and that is incorrect.
On your second point, I actually addressed that here, if you’re curious. And thanks for chiming in. https://logicallibertarian.com/2015/12/16/pro-life-and-pro-choice/
I am perplexed by the fact that a lot of people who say they want a limited government, a government confined to its Constitutional limitations, don’t vote libertarian in many cases. Many things the libertarians stand for a lot of people oppose. Having said that, what galls me is how politicians want to enact layers of laws and regulations that control every aspect of our existence.