Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Love of Freedom

I received a strange reaction from some people when I said that I opposed an amendment to ban flag burning.

"So, you think that people should burn the flag?"


(Okay: Sometimes. For example, I think that people should burn one flag for each legislator who casts a vote in favor of this amendment. I believe that nothing will better demonstrate that burning the flag is an act of speech and that such an amendment will only pass in a nation of individuals who no longer respect the principle of free speech. Nor will any other act better communicate the idea that those who wish to ban flag burning may be saving a piece of cloth from destruction, only by damaging the principles that make that piece of cloth a symbol of something worthy of respect.)

Nor does my opposition to any constitutional amendment banning gay marriage imply that I think that people should marry people of the same gender.

Refusing to support an amendment that bans something means being for freedom.

Okay, what about the amendment that bans slavery. Would I oppose that?

No, because slavery, in this instance, is anti-freedom. Slavery is an institution that deprives people of freedom. So, to ban anti-freedom activities is not anti-freedom. But, to ban activities that do not destroy the equal freedom of others is anti-freedom.

Nothing about allowing flag burning prevents others from flying the flag with pride. Nothing about allowing homosexual marriage prevents others from marrying a person of the opposite gender. But there is something about allowing slavery that prevents others from being free.

Being "pro-freedom" means being "anti-ban". It does not mean an absolute prohibition on prohibitions. However, it means approaching those who would impose a prohibition with skepticism.

As with a trial, where the accused is presumed innocent unless proven guilty, with a prohibition, we should presume freedom unless the need to limit that freedom is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

There is no "reasonable doubt" supporting a need to prohibit homosexual marriage or flag burning. There is only the sentiment of a majority of the population that has lost its love for the principle of freedom who think that they may impose their wishes on others.

A "love of freedom" means "my dislike for this activity is not a good enough reason to prohibit it."

One of the surprising arguments once offered in defense of slavery was that the abolitionists were seeking to destroy freedom -- that they were seeking to take away the peoples' right to decide to own slaves and, thereby, making the country "less free."

The arguments made here in defense of the flag burning and gay marriage amendment are no different. These people are arguing that depriving people of the ability to restrict freedom of speech or to deny homosexuals the freedom to marry somebody of the same gender, that we are making the country "less free"

As if "freedom", somehow, means the power to impose one's will on others and to force them to live their lives and to restrict their actions to conform to the whim of others.

If that is freedom, then we should never have abolished slavery.

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