Liberty = fascism

Liberty is the new fascism, or at least in can be insofar as serving as an impediment to reasonable discourse.

I came across a gem, on an online discussion board, which I feel  illustrates the roadblock to reason posed by the liberto-fascist faithful. “The main point is that life is inherently unsafe. Anything could happen at any time, so we shouldn’t actively impair our liberty just for the sake of seeing another day,” the fearless defender of liberty asserts!

Such a claim is unreasonable, to say the least. As romantic as it may sound and feel to demand a life with full liberty or no life at all, it’s still an uniquely unreasonable position to take.

The very existence of government is an encroachment on the concept of absolute liberty(as if it were something that is realistically obtainable, or even existent.)

Even Benjamin Franklin, one of the supposed fathers of this line of thinking, differentiated between “essential liberty” and the lesser liberties, which could be reasonably exchanged for security.

There are reasonable trade-offs we make with liberty for security. A stiff-lipped demand for more or maintained liberty is as equally unreasonable as this panicked clamor for accepting tyranny in pursuit of absolute security that so many defenders of liberty pretend to hear.

There is a damn fine reason why bomb attacks aren’t more common, and it has a lot to do with far more dangerous materials being either regulated or restricted.

Imagine for a moment that bombs of all varieties of potential devastation were freely available for purchase. Can anyone realistically say that these tragedies would not be more prone to occur?

Chances are good that anyone politically engaged knows someone apt to make romantic appeals to liberty when discussing policy. One would expect those who find regulation so insufferable to lead the charge in rolling back existing safety policies, regardless of success rates. One would expect this, and there are indeed those people, but they are much rarer finds.

The truth of the matter is that, despite their cries for liberty, these people yield to a realistic preference for security when it comes down to it.

Few truly want to live in a society so full of liberty that it is devoid of security, and vice versa. Appeals to liberty, such as the one being discussed, are every bit as emotional as appeals to fear for a security policy. This is because at its root an appeal to liberty it is an appeal to fear.

There are valuable contributions to be made by people who claim to find extra value in liberty. However, many must reconcile their differences with others as a matter of degree, rather than principle, if honest, constructive dialogue is what they desire.

Compassion and proximity

The Boston Marathon Bombing, or whatever name history will eventually give it, happened just a few hours ago.

I know and feel that it is a tragedy. I also know and feel, like a friend pointed out on social media, that people around the world routinely experience similar anguish in the name of the same security we felt was violated today.

He was, and I now am, speaking of our country’s policy of drone warfare. Yes, I understand that this policy’s intention is to increase our security.

But what difference does our rationale make to the innocents wounded and ended, or their families? Is that anguish anything less than what our fellow citizens today have experienced? A good case could be made that the fear experienced by those living in the regions where targeting often occurs is markedly worse.

I say this not because I believe the experience of the Boston bombing victims is not worthy of lament by comparison.

And I’m saying all this as a matter of self-introspection more than as a questioning of everyone else.

Today’s bombings made me emotional. And by that euphemism, I mean I got choked up and my eyes did this watery, on-the-verge-of-tears thing they sometimes do when I experience empathy.

I could pawn this supposedly emasculating behavior off on a heightened sense of concern because my girlfriend attends school in Boston, or the fact that I am poised to move to the area late next month, but the truth is I’m something of an empathetic Olympian.

Despite my bleeding, Herculean heart, I have not experienced this level empathy about drone victims, even though reason seems to dictate to me that I would have more justification in doing so.

As much as I do care about the innocent victims of drone strikes, there is some relatable quality possessed by the victims in Boston.

It brings to mind a quote by Mark Zuckerberg, though the quote isn’t 100 percent equivocal to the scenario: “A squirrel dying In your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.”

Is it proximity? I think so, but not necessarily all geographical. I’m thinking culturally. No matter how much I’d prefer to be above it, it makes sense that I would find more in common with fellow Americans than a group of people whom I may understand, but could never know.

This realization is disheartening in two ways. Firstly, it undermines my own self-perception of objective humanitarian interest.

Secondly, this new self-perception makes whatever level of humanitarian interest I have for these people seem like a cause even more lost when promoting it to those whom are already generally unconcerned with this results of our foreign policy.