Home ยป Blog ยป Social Justice ยป I Am Not Free to… Reasonable Limits on Freedom

I Am Not Free to… Reasonable Limits on Freedom

The other day, I saw an excellent article by Andy of Eden in Babylon on Entitlement and Patriotism. He contrasted the entitlement of people complaining that the pandemic lockdown violated their freedom as patriotic Americans with the self-sacrifice of people in uniform that serve their country and defend its values.

In Canada, we may be very close to the U.S. geographically, but we’re far less individualistic. This manifests in many ways, including our national pride in having public health care (we may complain about the system, but we’re all for the public aspect) versus the many Americans who seem to want the government having nothing to do with their health care, even if that means paying more (and a lot more, at that).

As a Canadian, but also as an individual who believes that our society does best when we serve the greater good, it baffles me to see Americans protesting outside state legislatures, unmasked, undistanced, and packing assault rifles. Since this was originally posted, we’ve got an epidemic of the unvaccinated due to people’s choices based in large part on the desire of a certain segment of the population to take a stand for their freedom. It seems hard to believe that people are so caught up in their own entitlement that they don’t care how many people are harmed as a result.

What freedom doesn’t extend to

Being told what to do isn’t fun. However, when one lives in a non-anarchic society, there are restrictions placed on individual freedoms to prevent infringing on the freedom and security of others. Here are a few things that I’m not free to do.

Pee on my neighbour’s lawn

This applies in general, regardless of whether or not my neighbour is likely to pick up his AK and come after me to shoot my (bare) ass.

Walk down the street naked

My right to not wear clothes stops at my front door.

Store a lion on my balcony

It may be my home, but there are limits on the weird shit I can do there.

Enter the grocery store brandishing a butcher knife

My freedom to carry the tools to prepare my meal doesn’t extend to the place where I purchase the ingredients.

Drop hippopotamuses (hippopotomi?) off freeway overpasses

It might be hard to wrangle those hippopotamuses anyway, but my desire for a little fun has to take a backseat to drivers’ rights to not have hippopotamuses falling out of the sky and landing on their vehicle.

Indulge those moments of desire to run over someone who’s been really quite awful

I can’t be the only one who has those moments, but sadly, my freedom to be pissed off doesn’t trump someone’s right to be alive.

Find a fancy car, break into it somehow, and take pictures to post on Instagram

Unfortunately, my personal freedom does not extend to the inside of someone else’s property.

Figure out who’s having a bbq and walk in the front door, through the house, and into the backyard, and then grab a burger off the grill

Presumably, the AK is in the house somewhere, so I’d have a minute or two to enjoy my right to go about my day unimpeded before someone is waving a gun at me.

Do the hokey pokey in the middle of an intersection

Sadly, I don’t have an inalienable right to hokey pokey wherever I choose.

Drive in the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane with a guinea pig in the passenger seat

My right to have equal access to all public roads is shot down because it’s a guinea pig rather than a person sitting in the passenger seat (I still prefer the guinea pig).

Drive drunk

On a more serious note, people aren’t allowed to drive drunk, not so much because it’s a problem if they manage to kill themselves, but because it’s not okay for them to take out a bunch of innocent people while they’re at it. To me, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are very much like laws against driving drunk. People can do whatever they want to jeopardize themselves, but they don’t have the right to make other people pay the consequences.

We have the freedom to make choices that will serve the greater good. People have the right to hold entitled attitudes, but if that extends to entitled behaviour, then they’re peeing on my lawn.

And as a PS, I leave you with Lebron James’ take on rights, freedoms, and another unarmed Black man’s death at the hands of police.

49 thoughts on “I Am Not Free to… Reasonable Limits on Freedom”

  1. As an American, I really do not understand the need to assert your freedom at the expense of your health or another person’s health. I do get it that small business owners need to resume to some sort of normal sooner rather than later. But to me, that does not include hanging out in droves in pool parties or at beaches. The need to fly death in the face and quit those things that have been keeping us safe – social distancing, masks, washing hands – is absolutely bonkers.

  2. I can’t remember where I saw it pointed out that many Americans have a huge problem with “socialist” public healthcare, but hardly any have a problem with public-funded education. Which is slightly weird when you think about it.

    I think the anti-lockdown protestors have little grasp of the danger of COVID-19.

  3. ivanabikorovih

    This is needed topic and topic I hate most. It is upsetting for me, really. In Croatia we have a different background for all of this but yes, freedom and acting irresponsible – some people just don’t understand. Also, they fail to understand that you can’t go back to things as they were. Economy is bound to change.

  4. Thanks for this post. Politics are really triggering for me right now. I’m an American and I feel sad and angry about it all. I’ve read a lot of American history over the years and, for better or worse, a key American value is “rugged individualism.”

    It’s been that way for as long as the country has been around, and I think it always will. Americans love nothing more than freedom – even if they don’t quite know how to define it. Unfortunately, it’s led to our political situation being utter chaos right now.

    For the sake of my own mental health, I’ve decided to tune out. I am checking headlines every once in a while, but other than that, I just can’t.

    By the way, I started reading your blog recently and it’s awesome. Keep up the fight!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, for a lot of people maintaining sanity is hard within stepping back from what’s going on in the news, at least to an extent.

  5. I started writing, and kept writing, so I simply decided that you’ve inspired me to make this the topic of today’s blog. It’ll be up in a bit.

      1. At some point in the future, I do want to come back to the issue that not peeing in your neighbor’s yard is the first thing that comes to your mind when you make a list of rights you don’t have.

        1. Lol. There was actually a situation when I was kid that relates to this. One of the teenagers next door had a buddy who pissed on our lawn, and when my dad caught him, his claim was that because he was Native it was his land anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. Totally unrelated, but sparked a memory. I was once in what passes for a nightclub around here, about 11 or 12 years ago, taking pictures of an oldies cover band for my magazine. This lady, around 50 I’d guess, comes up to me and says, “Because I’m a native, I cannot let you capture my image. I believe that is how a soul can be stolen from the body.” I pointed up to the corners of the room, where there were two security camera. “You’re already on camera, they’re filming everything” I explained. She ran out of the room and I never saw her again. I wonder just how much distressed that revelation caused her. Crazy, crazy natives.

  6. Itโ€™s all hypocritical bs anyway. They just want to do what they want and โ€œown the libs,โ€ whatever that means at any particular point in time. Iโ€™d venture to guess that many if not most of those FREEDOM FROM MASKS types care about womenโ€™s freedom of choice, the freedom to marry the gender of your choice, the freedom to practice a religion other than Christianity, the freedom FROM religion, the freedom to burn a flag in protest of being denied freedoms, etc.!

  7. This is an excellent point! The list of freedoms we do not have made me laugh. I feel like we have to put expectations into certain terms so that people will understand it! No, you are not allowed to throw a hippopotamus on the freeway! Lol!! Excellent points!!! <3

  8. I am an American, but I must admit that I often think many of our citizens are selfish, spoiled brats who only care about their personal welfare instead of group welfare.

  9. Haha, I loved the list! Really puts it into perspective. On a much more serious note, I find it incredibly disturbing that in the US, the right to bear arms is seen as more important than little kidsโ€™ right to life. That is just absolutely insane and despicable to me.

    1. It’s quite bizarre. I guess it made its way into the constitution based on how the country got started, and then since then people have run into some really inappropriate directions with it.

  10. So interesting that you posted about this and I posted about the same thing. I didnโ€™t put it as eloquently as you but I agree totally.

  11. I was almost amazed to see the generally submissive attitude of the British public. There has been some negative talk (I think some think social distancing and other measures were brought in too late) but on the whole most people have taken the guidance seriously and have cooperated. (Always a few who don’t care).

    The past fews days have been rife with the reaction to a senior government advisor who appears to have been casual in his own interpretation of the rules than many have taken very seriously. I think there is a worry that seeing what he did may cause others to start to flout the guidance.

      1. Normally, I would sympathise with him. But it is not a good time to be taking liberties with rules other people have taken as gospel

  12. I think it sad for my country that white people can protest with guns at state capitols but people protesting a minority dying due to an authority figure can’t protest without tear gas.

  13. For some reason, I just the other day got a notification you’d linked to my article, even though this post was published last May. I must have missed it earlier. But I do want to say I found the list of things we’re not free to do very entertaining. And of course, I agree with you in this area.

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