Liberty is synonymous with tolerance, equality, freedom of religion, human rights, freedom of speech, sexual liberation and so much more.
At the core of liberty is an oft forgotten, seemingly contradictory conundrum. Simply put, Liberty is something worth fighting for. It is something worth protecting. It is something that obliges that we may sometimes need to impinge some of the liberty of others to protect our own liberty.
It is a contradiction like this which loses many people. Those who take liberty for granted believe it is the pursuit of liberty that justifies having your own liberties impeded in the name of another’s.
And then there is the perplexing outcome of supporting the pursuit of opposing group’s liberties, even though they will then impede each other’s liberties, such as is practiced by the Greens and progressives everywhere.
I believe the nuances of Liberty are in unraveling these contradictions. Unfortunately, it’s not a concept to grasp in a sentence, a tweet, nor in a single conversation.
I dare say, opposing Islam out of xenophobia is not in the pursuit of liberty. Opposing the ideology of Islam based on the value system it represents and unleashes is in defence of liberty, I believe.
Liberty is possible in situations where one chooses to do things, and is likely impeded when one is obliged to do something. Situations like the anti-vaccination movement are serious candidates for an example whereby the liberties of the masses (freedom from preventable diseases) are impeded by the exertion of individual liberty (freedom to choose to be vaccinated or not). The choice to use segregated facilities in addition to the unimpeded use of shared facilities, such as swimming pools, seems closer to liberty than the dogmatic and obligatory segregation.
Yet, to blur this line, we also have even in very libertarian societies, broadly enforced segregation of toilet facilities. It seems pragmatic, yet contradictory. Throw in the new gender based politics, and self identification issues, and the nuances of liberty become incredibly muddied.
Yet, on that topic, perhaps we have to ask, “is the imposition of one’s identity related issues on the broader society akin to the anti-vaccination movement’s imposition on the liberties of the greater collective?” That we do not have such debate in a free and tolerant society is deeply concerning.
My point is that Liberty sides with education, the greater good and complexity, whereas oppression and intolerance and ignorance are simplistic and tweetable.
In a world bereft of attention spans for nuances of complex issues, it is the tweets that are winning. It is stupid that can be understood. It is liberty that gets taken away from us, one twit’s tweet at a time, and the media know it.