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Old 12-15-2018, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
3,358 posts, read 1,881,293 times
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Americans will quickly defend their personal freedom, considering it the most important thing there is – as in seeing it as a semi-religion. Everything in their tone, words, and acts implies they see it as such. But is actually sensible to believe to believe in it this passionately? Is personal freedom really the most important value there is? I say not, for valuing freedom this highly and this fervently leads to strange, if not self-destructive, conclusions.

First, the definition itself. I will say freedom means “the lack of barriers, limits, or inhibitions between what one desires and actual fulfillment of that desire”, and in the most absolute sense of the term besides. For a good metaphor, think of science documentaries showing gas molecules zipping across the screen in every direction, with some occasionally ricocheting off each other after collisions. This seems the only consistent definition of freedom I can think of. If there’s a better, more self-consistent definition, I’d like to see it.

By this definition, if we’re to stay true to the claim’s form, that implies that we should never interfere with people setting out to commit even the most blood-boilingly outrageous acts and expressions. Thus, true believers in “freedom first” are being incoherent when they support stopping people from committing such acts. After all, “the most important” means “THE most important”.

Of course, practically nobody supports personal freedom this much, for the reason just stated. At this point, they amend their belief with “as long as it doesn’t hurt others” (some add to this “or degrade the dignity of others”). However, this corrupts the purity of the “freedom first” claim. Adding this condition to “freedom” implies that the condition itself actually is more important than freedom.

So how much freedom actually is too much freedom? To what extent or degree is it necessary to restrict it? Should we restrict freedom in some areas even as we allow for more freedom in others?


My shorthand version is this: Freedom is important to the extent that it doesn’t threaten the safety or dignity of others or myself (the Twitter version of it, at least). If an act or expression (to "that" extent or degree) is likely to hurt, harm, or seriously indignify others to unreasonable degrees (unnecessary or excessive defense, retaliation, or punishment - clearly disproportionate to the wrongful act or expression), then that act or expression should have limits, if not outright banned.

 
Old 12-15-2018, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Florida -
8,518 posts, read 10,318,451 times
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The constitution essentially defines 'personal freedom' as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But, in our information-driven society, the "outrage of the day" tends to equate words with actions -- and many imagine their personal freedom offended by every uttered syllable.

Our freedoms were won and preserved at a high cost in human life and sacrifice. Today, 'personal freedom' is bought and sold over trivial matters ... without a shot being fired. I'm not sure that "appropriate limits" even has a place in today's narrative.
 
Old 12-15-2018, 01:02 PM
 
8,645 posts, read 8,842,731 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jghorton View Post
The constitution essentially defines 'personal freedom' as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But, in our information-driven society, the "outrage of the day" tends to equate words with actions -- and many imagine their personal freedom offended by every uttered syllable.

Our freedoms were won and preserved at a high cost in human life and sacrifice. Today, 'personal freedom' is bought and sold over trivial matters ... without a shot being fired. I'm not sure that "appropriate limits" even has a place in today's narrative.
No, it doesn't.

That phrase is from the Declaration of Independence which is not part of the Constitution which was framed thirteen years later in 178

One of the misconceptions about the Constitution is that it was written to give everyone the maximum possible freedom. Rather, the Constitution was written to strike a balance between individual liberty and the power of the newly formed federal government to carry out responsibilities such as defense, regulation of interstate commerce, providing for a common currency, and administering justice through the courts.

Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. In a society where over 300 million people live and make a living for themselves everyone cannot simply do what they want. The importance of our Constitution and our system is that it sets up a framework for balancing rights and liberties.
 
Old 12-15-2018, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Ohio
18,540 posts, read 13,619,617 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil75230 View Post
So how much freedom actually is too much freedom? To what extent or degree is it necessary to restrict it? Should we restrict freedom in some areas even as we allow for more freedom in others?

My shorthand version is this: Freedom is important to the extent that it doesnít threaten the safety or dignity of others or myself (the Twitter version of it, at least). If an act or expression (to "that" extent or degree) is likely to hurt, harm, or seriously indignify others to unreasonable degrees (unnecessary or excessive defense, retaliation, or punishment - clearly disproportionate to the wrongful act or expression), then that act or expression should have limits, if not outright banned.
That's purely and entirely subjective.

Because it is subjective, it is totally invalid.

Only objective measures and standards are appropriate when limiting personal freedoms.
 
Old 12-15-2018, 01:25 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
19,941 posts, read 9,418,208 times
Reputation: 19093
This is a great topic to discuss, but it's one that few Americans can come to any valid conclusions about because we have gotten to the point is social discourse where all too many American think that things are either/or, good/bad, right/wrong. Our society often fails to see that there are gradations or continuums in much that needs to be discussed. And in just posts numbers one and two in this thread look at all the vague terms: strange, tone, inhibitions, "as long as it doesn't hurt others", dignity, "pursuit of happiness", happiness, etc.

Simply because -- in this sense -- it's an easy topic to look back on, let's take the civil rights demonstrations -- some peaceful, some violent -- of the 1960s. One can make a very good case for those demonstrations as impinging on the rights of others. Yet what about all that led up to those demonstrations -- slavery, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, etc....all things that certainly impinged on the rights of others. I don't see how it's even possible to decide where the line should have been drawn in regard to how far was too far in those demonstrations. And this gets to me restating what jghorton said above about the term "appropriate limits" not even having a place in today's narrative. I think there are "appropriate limits", but I don't know how -- particularly in such a polarized nation -- that we can come to any agreement on what those "appropriate limits" are.

But going back to the OP's post, as I was first reading it, one of the things that jumped into my mind was in regard to his question, "Is personal freedom really the most important value there is?" What about for "the good of the country", or "the good of the community"? Again, this is one of those rather nebulous concepts, but one thing in our country that I believe has clearly diminished over my lifetime is people sacrificing what they may want for the good of the country. And so there we are again -- where is that line between doing what's good for the individual versus what's good for the country/community?
 
Old 12-15-2018, 01:26 PM
 
105 posts, read 23,584 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil75230 View Post
Americans will quickly defend their personal freedom, considering it the most important thing there is Ė as in seeing it as a semi-religion...


"Americans will quickly defend their personal freedom" You must be joking.
 
Old 12-16-2018, 08:02 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
3,358 posts, read 1,881,293 times
Reputation: 3168
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
That's purely and entirely subjective.

Because it is subjective, it is totally invalid.

Only objective measures and standards are appropriate when limiting personal freedoms.
Some human actions do have gradations of "more or less" rather than "all or none", yet these gradations do nothing to prove "this should be unrestricted or banned".

Non-physical harassment is also subjective, but it's shown to cause unreasonable distress and mental health issues in general - and objectively measurable. Granted it's not to STEM-level precision, but this kind of ambiguity is very common in business management, law, social sciences, and such. In fact, laws, being words, are also subject to a certain ambiguity, especially when determining their meaning or constitutionality.

Furthermore, subjectivity doesn't invalidate the concept of Age of Consent, nor the Age of Majority in general. Some US states have age of consent at 16, others at 17, and still others at 18. South Korea and Bahrain have theirs at 20 and 21 respectively. As for adulthood, that itself seems even more problematic. Should the baseline be biological capability to reproduce (well under 18)? Or when the brain fully matures (well over 18, 25 to be in the ball park)? Unless there is a third criteria that I'm unaware of that is much more sensible and gives justification to the current Age of Majority (18), it's hard for me to see how even this customary age is anything but arbitrary or otherwise lacking in objectivity.
 
Old 12-16-2018, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Maryland
1,151 posts, read 343,685 times
Reputation: 2596
Iíve always thought this is a simple situation. One is free to do, be, think, say, read, hear, etc. anything and everything one wants until it interferes with the same liberties of another.
 
Old 12-16-2018, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Canada
5,365 posts, read 3,839,653 times
Reputation: 14204
Quote:
Originally Posted by LesLucid View Post
Iíve always thought this is a simple situation. One is free to do, be, think, say, read, hear, etc. anything and everything one wants until it interferes with the same liberties of another.
I VERY much agree with this.

BUT. What about the ones who whine and complain and say they are offended by totally stupid things that you consider a part of this freedom?

Things that are being now called out as "offensive" are getting oppressive to a ridiculous point.
 
Old 12-16-2018, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
1,436 posts, read 576,275 times
Reputation: 3418
People who believe freedom has no limits are called, um, prisoners.
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