Thursday, September 9, 2010


Freedom, Rights, Privilege

Phyllis Schlafly continues to head the Eagle Forum, a radical conservative "think tank" , that is part of the chorus of hard right reactionaries. One paragraph from their home page sets the tone:
"We oppose all encroachments against American sovereignty through United Nations treaties or conferences that try to impose global taxes, gun registration, energy restrictions, feminist goals, or regulation on our use of oceans."

At the 2010 Eagle Forum Collegians Summit, Chris Horner, was featured reading from his latest book,"Power Grab: How Obama's Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America". He throws a lot of language against the wall and waits to see what will stick. The freedom concept, and loss thereof, seems to get a lot of traction if the q/a part of the program is any indicator. It was in this forum that Ms Schlafly interrupted the proceedings to make the following point: "I use a 200 watt light bulb on my desk. I don't want to use those squiggly things that have no light. I can't hardly find a 200 watt light bulb in the stores anymore. I want the freedom to use the lightbulb I chose. I am losing my freedom".

It boils down to that. Of course within that silly example is the demand that she be allowed to burn whatever energy she wants and no socialist government agency is going to tell her she can't.

Carrie and I had a two hour drive the other day and we talked about this issue. This loss of freedom thing. We then proceeded to list freedoms we had lost.
I can't raise a pig in my backyard.
I can't drive 100 mph.
I can't water my lawn during a drought.
I can't walk my dog without a leash and I must pick up his poop.
I can't park a trailer, boat, or RV, in my driveway.
I can't buy a bottle of booze till I am 21.
I can't quit school till I am 16.
I can't dump my sewage in the gutter.
I can't run a business out of my garage.
I can't leave my children unsupervised.
I can't spray DDT in my garden.
I can't ride my bike on the sidewalk.
I can't grow marijuana.

I no longer can play music as loud as I want.
I can't let my lawn go to weed.
I am not allowed out of the ward if I have typhoid.
I can't wear cut offs to school.
I am not allowed to walk bottomless in public.
I can't cut down a tree in the park.
I can't dam the spring, or poison the well.

All of the above are freedoms I once had and were sacrificed for the common good. To those on the right, who give voice to a new "contract with America" the idea of common good does not extend to any limitations on their freedom. They are shredding the social contract that limits the rights of say a farmer to poison my food source, or exploit stoop labor, or butcher a "mad cow". They would drill for gas without consideration of the impact on ground water. They would manufacture a defective product and bear no responsibility for the consequences. They retain the right to exploit any and all resources regardless of the impact on the rest of us.

The most maddening element of this practice is that the exploiters are able to rally the very people they are going to singe in the name of protecting their freedoms.

I think the key to forming an opinion on all of this is to ask yourself not what freedoms you fear losing, but which freedoms you want your neighbor to have.


  1. Great post, Will. Right on point.

  2. Wonderful! This ought to be a commentary in some published form likely to be read by the right. It's clear, "down-home" (co-opts the practical, so-called common sense appeal of people like Schlafley), and difficult to refute. Thanks, Diane