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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Erosion Of Our Freedom

Often when I argue that governments must not violate our rights – they are supposed to be unalienable, after all – statists have a ready retort: Government is already violating them, good and hard, all over the place.

Recently I pointed out that imposing fines and constraints on gun owners who haven't been shown to have committed a crime, not even close, is a case of prior restraint, of unjustifiably depriving a citizen of liberty since only convicted and guilty people may be so deprived. In a free country citizens may not be intruded upon by their governments without having been convicted by methods of due process. Governments, in other words, are supposed to defend the rights of their citizens; that is their proper purpose!

My statist adversaries eagerly point out to me that government is intruding upon us all over the place: We are forced to obtain a driver's license and innumerable permits as we go about living in our communities (building our homes, engaging in businesses, practicing professions, etc.). Nearly everything we do requires a license even though we are legally innocent! Ergo: prior restraint big time!

Now some of this is accurate enough – citizens in America are indeed subjected to prior restraint left and right, up and down. Most of the time the justification given is that government must protect us against possible malpractice and government regulations and licensing are the best way to do this, never mind that our rights are clearly being violated in the process. Unalienable is a nice idea in a document like the Declaration of Independence, but let's get real, please! It is completely impractical in actual life, right?

Wrong. It is not some kind of romantic, impossible idealism to insist that when anyone intrudes upon another person, this must be properly warranted – as it would be in self-defense, for example. Just notice how easily this is grasped when it comes to sexual freedom – no amount of "necessity" or "practicality" overturns the prohibition against rape or even plain sexual harassment. Why is that so simple to grasp? Because it is a form of intrusion that is very close to home, quite direct, not encumbered by fancy-shmancy public policy rhetoric!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The excuse that people will start shooting each other is also plain and silly. So it is our politicians saying that our society is full of incapable adolescents who can never be trusted? Then, please explain how we can trust them or the police, who themselves grew up and came from the same culture?