The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


In the West, and particularly in the USA, we lionize “freedom”—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from a prying government, freedom of movement, of political association … the list is long. But as Margaret Atwood said in The Handmaids’s Tale, “there’s freedom from and freedom to,” and by implication, every society has to choose.

Like everything that’s important in life, freedom is not all good, or all bad. We tried to give the Iraqis freedom, and we’ve freed them to act like barbarians, killing each other with wanton abandon. We insist on freedom of speech and religion, and provide a forum for Jihadist Iman’s who advocate the overthrough of our country. We encourage electoral freedom in the Palestinian territories, and the electorate chooses Hamas—irrational, genocidal terrorist thugs to lead them. Freedom is scary, but lack of freedom is scarier still.

Some on the Right and the Left in the United States choose their freedoms selectively. The Right, for example, insists on the freedom to acquire semi-automatic weapons, but takes umbrage when a gay person expresses the desire to be free to enter into a legal union with a partner. The Left demands freedom of speech so that they can trash their country with absolute impunity, but invokes any of the flavors of political correctness to limit the free speech of those who criticize any group or idea that they deem protected (by PC). Both ends of the political spectrum feel that by limiting selected freedoms (not all, mind you, just the ones they disagree with), we’ll somehow return to paradise.

And some want to be free to close their eyes, their ears, and the mouths, refusing to see, hear or speak of the evil gathering in the shadows, just beyond the next turn, insisting that we (the West) have total culpability for the ascendency of that evil. If we just change our actions, the illusive paradise without threat or acrimony can, in fact, be ours.

Wretchard of the Belmont Club comments:
Unfortunately, there may be no escape from freedom; no return to paradise. The way out lies forward, past all the menacing shadows we glimpse ahead. The advantage of generations past was that they knew the meaning of those shadows, and the best of them guarded themselves on their way. But today we prefer to whistle in the dark and repeat to ourselves that perils do not exist. For so terrifying are they that for some it would be worthwhile to deny everything for so long as we could deny the reality of our suspicions.

There is one freedom, sadly, that all the moral relativism in the world cannot erase. There are many who have the freedom to be evil and they exercise that freedom with increasing regularity.