Do you agree with this statement? Government has no business telling us what to drink, what to eat, what kind of medicine we should take, what to smoke, what to farm, or how to run our private lives.
These are all elements of individual liberty or what you might call personal freedom. They are all part of the bigger push to get Big Government off our backs and out of our lives. But do the people who call for individual liberty really believe in it themselves? Or are they carrying around a sharp contradiction in their own beliefs?
Consider the following statements:
If people want to ride a motorcycle (or a bicycle) without a helmet, that’s their own business.
If parents want to avoid having their children vaccinated, that’s their own business.
If people want to smoke a doobie in their basement, that’s their own business.
If a dairy farmer wants to milk a goat and sell the milk to his neighbor, that’s their own business.
If people want to grow an organic garden in their front yard, that’s their own business.
If someone wants to eat so much salt, sugar and aspartame that their colon falls out and they have to call an ambulance, that’s their own business.
If someone wants to drive down the highway without wearing a seatbelt, that’s their own business! (But no one else should be liable for their injuries if there is an accident, right?)
If a group of young girls wants to sell cookies or lemonade on the sidewalk, let ’em do it. It’s their own business!
If a West Virginia farmer wants to grow a hundred acres of hemp weed and use it to make hemp seeds, hemp oils and hemp clothing, that’s his own business!
If a citizen bystander wants to video record the police making a traffic stop, and it’s all taking place on public property, then that’s his own business! (Hey, the cops say they can record US all the time, right? That we have no presumed right to privacy on public property…)
If a guy wants to buy a ranch rifle and shoot empty soda cans on his farm in Massachusetts, that’s his own business!
Are you carrying a freedom contradiction?
And if you agree with all that, then let me hit you with this brain-bender: By principle you must also agree that whatever two people want to do in their own homes or bedrooms is also their own business, as long as it’s consensual. It doesn’t matter what their sexual orientation is or even whether money changed hands. While it’s not something I personally condone or participate in, all that is still their own business!
See, the thing about freedom is that if you demand freedom for yourself, you must also tolerate it for others. If you say “get the government out of our lives!” then to be consistent, you have to mean it for everybody else, too — not just for you or those you happen to agree with. Freedom means freedom for all, including those with which you disagree, as long as they aren’t harming others in the process. Freedom can’t be selective.
And here’s the philosophical contradiction in the liberty movement today: Too many of those who say they want the government out of their lives on issues like vaccines, parenting and local farm food are the very same people who demand government intervention on issues where someone else lives by a different moral code than their own (or a non-existent moral code, in some cases). Same-sex marriage, prostitution, abortion, recreational drug use… you name it. Suddenly the call for liberty becomes something far less noble: a demand for moral conformity administered via an all-powerful government. This is exactly what gives rise to government tyranny! Because any time you call for government to intervene in the lives of others with which you disagree, you also empower that same government with the power to rule over your own life.
So you see, when you call for government to get involved in criminalizing the things you might strongly disagree with — pot smokers, abortion, prostitution or anything else — you are by definition demanding that government grow its power in order to enforce your own moral code onto others.
And that’s not freedom. It’s just tyranny disguised as moral conformity. Because sooner or later, all that government power gets turned against YOU.
For the record, I am a person raised on Christian values. I am opposed to abortion but at the same time I do not believe I have any moral authority to force that view upon others. I don’t visit prostitutes, I’m obviously not into same-sex marriages, and I have never used recreational drugs. (That’s right: never.) But for people who choose those things for themselves in the privacy of their own homes or hotel rooms, I am bound by philosophical consistency to declare that’s their own business! And why? Because I don’t want them getting all up in MY business! (I must respect their choices if I ask them to respect my choices.)
Stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours
I raise dairy goats and backyard chickens. Some people don’t like that. I target practice with a ranch rifle on a Saturday afternoon. Some people don’t like citizens owning firearms. I don’t mow my yard because I prefer to see wildflowers growing everywhere. Some HOA-type “yard police” think everybody’s lawn should be sprayed with herbicides and be completely free of dandelions. I think that’s insane, but HOA enforcers think it’s nice and neat.
In so many areas of my own life, I strongly diverge from what a lot of mainstream people might choose for themselves. I like to hang laundry out to dry on clotheslines. I walk around in the sun with my shirt off. I urinate on my fig plants, right out in the open, because nitrogen is good for plants. I grow oddly-shaped gardens that don’t put plants in neat little rows (because rows are not the most efficient way to garden, it turns out). Some of this annoys people — especially the “white picket fence” conformist types who tend to rule local homeowners associations like little Nazi tyrants.
I don’t want a bunch of whiny neighbors calling government authorities and trying to pass laws that require me to conform to their narrow-minded opinions on lawn care and property appearance. I don’t want a law that requires me to mow my lawn, quiet my chickens and sell my goats, and I don’t want to be arrested for “indecent exposure” just because I’m watering a fruit tree with my fly unzipped. And why? Because all this is none of their damn business!
You keep the government out of MY business, and I’ll support keeping the government out of YOUR business.
That’s liberty, my friends. It doesn’t mean everybody in the world lives the same way you do. It doesn’t mean everybody follows a moral code. It just means that each person has the freedom to choose their own path and their own consequences as long as they don’t harm anyone else in the process. Government has no business legislating morals or criminalizing consensual behavior among people who aren’t directly harming someone else.
(Where should government get involved? When somebody is being harmed, of course. That’s where government intervention comes into play. This argument can logically be made for government intervention on the abortion issue, actually, as an unborn baby is still a living human being. That’s a reasonable and valid argument that should be deeply considered. But as I said above, I do not believe that my own views on this matter should be forced upon anyone else, especially not by government. Regardless of my own view on the abortion issue, I am bound by philosophical consistency to respect other peoples’ views on this matter, even if I personally disagree with them. That is the essence of liberty: Tolerance.)
I may not like the way everybody in my community lives their own life, but tolerating their differences is far, far better than having an oppressive, tyrannical government that demands we all conform to its whims. After all, a government quickly becomes immoral and sooner or later ends up mandating unacceptably evil behaviors (such as requiring parents to have their children vaccinated against their will).
Tolerance is liberty, my friends. To the extent that we tolerate other people living in ways that might be different from what we would choose, we earn our own right to live our own lives as free people who make our own decision as well. Now, obviously, we can help teach morals and ethics to those around us so that they make better decisions about avoiding substance abuse, avoiding self-destructive behavior and spiritually growing into better people. But we cannot mandate such things at the end of a gun. Nor do we have any right to hire a group of other people (the government) to serve as proxies to enforce the same conformist agenda.
What are you thinking right now?
Check your own mind right now. Are you reacting to this story and thinking that people who engage in activity you don’t morally agree with should be arrested or criminalized? If so, then you don’t really believe in freedom. You believe in tyranny. And that belief is the root of the tyranny we are witnessing across society today.
Look around you. You see the government running rampant across America? That tyranny is a reflection of the tyranny that still exists in the hearts of the people who still refuse to embrace the true philosophy of freedom — a philosophy that must be rooted in tolerance.
The lesson of this article, should you choose to accept it, is:
If you want freedom for yourself, you must first grant it to others.
And to the extent that you demand government-enforced conformity upon others, you enslave yourself under the same tyranny.