Limits on freedom

Joseph Wright of Derby- an experiment on a bird in an air pump 2

Joseph Wright of Derby- an experiment on a bird in an air pump 3Comment, here: As there is no right dependent on labor and efforts of others there is no right to healthcare. The ACA forces people to pay for something for others, doesn’t really matter what the thing in question happens to be, it’s a violation of individual liberty.

The stark purity of extremism is attractive to a certain type of mind. I prefer messy bodges, myself: I might not produce a rigorous argument, but I know what I like. Or I am special pleading: obviously, people in a position I can imagine myself in should not suffer X. That comment was about birth control, and an American company’s refusal to pay for a health insurance plan for its employees which includes a morning-after pill, which it claims is abortion.

First, the morning-after pill. I don’t see much practical moral difference between preventing sperm reaching a fertile ovum, and preventing a fertilized ovum from implanting. However there is a moral difference between preventing implantation and aborting an eight-week foetus- the mother should decide when she needs an abortion, but the longer she waits, the more traumatic it is for her. Alternatives are banning impulsive sex- good luck with that- or insisting that women take large quantities of artificial hormone. All the alternatives are worse, but the ignorant rationalist, who likes verbal arguments, says morning-after pill is an abortion, so wrong.

My justification for limits on freedom is the need for society. I recognise that not all people have the same felt need for society- Kim Jong Un seems happy with his rigid controlled state of hate and fear, based on ancient Chinese philosophy, which I like to think I would find unbearable, even were I in a position of power.

I observe that Great Britain, where the Industrial Revolution started, did not have democracy until 1918, when 60% of adult males acquired the vote. It had limits on free speech in the law of sedition, and on freedom of assembly in anti-Union law. The Joseph Wright of Derby- an experiment on a bird in an air pump 1freedom of the capitalist to set up large companies with cheap labour contributed to industrial growth, and someone with the talent of Beethoven growing up in a pit village would still go down the mine. That sort of freedom limits human flourishing. If it were necessary in 1800, with the wealth of the world it is not necessary now, and restricting the freedom of billionaires to do what they like, in order to benefit billions of poorer folk, is worthwhile.

A Christian libertarian will have heard the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus points out he rescues a man who will die without help, and this is a Good Thing. The link between that one charitable act and society, through taxation, paying for the health care of all, is obvious. If the conservative Christian cannot see it, he suffers moral blindness, a mental disability which diminishes his humanity.

Joseph Wright of Derby- an experiment on a bird in an air pump

29 thoughts on “Limits on freedom

  1. When I was little and my Parisian feminist grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered “dictator”.
    Was it Haile Selassie who wore the animal skins? I also loved Gaddafi’s Richard Gere style white uniform and all those fun little ornamental medals. Violet Wisp seems to think I’m a terrible snob with difficulties regarding the English language. This is highly unusual, as most people just think I’m a terrible snob (approximately once per day).
    At this point in time I feel like peacocking said snobbery. If for nothing else, to subvert notions of value.


    • Prince Charles likes gongs and braid, too.

      Looking at the homophobes with whom we debate, their disdain irritates me too. The Christian ones love us from a height. Some of these people seem to have nothing to boast about, so they have to go with “at least I’m not gay”. They need shown that their disgust and disdain are completely divorced from reality.


      • “Violet Wisp seems to think I’m a terrible snob with difficulties regarding the English language. This is highly unusual, as most people just think I’m a terrible snob (approximately once per day).”

        Calling someone an “undereducated imbecile” reeks of upper class privilege – ‘privilege’ being a current buzzword I tend to avoid using unless completely necessary. Insanitybites clearly reads a lot and thinks through her opinions carefully. The fact that she hasn’t had access to the same society, culture or education system as you shouldn’t be a stick to beat her with (and you can stick this preposition at the end of the sentence where the sun don’t shine). You clearly have no difficulty with the English language as I would never have guessed it’s not your native tongue. But you perhaps miss more subtle nuances in usage. I imagine in the educationally and culturally elite circles you appear to move in it’s commonplace to laugh at the stupidity of the ‘common’ people, and such language and attitudes elicit privileged sniggers of delight. However, in post-1950s general society, this turn of phrase seem unreasonably sharp and anachronistic. Clare can correct me if she would expect to hear it in discussion.


        • I had a look at that thread.

          I don’t think Pink needs me to defend him, but I would like to put a perspective. We are queer. You are not. So there is a sense in which the great majority of the church is our Enemy, in a sense in which it is not yours: the bits which deny evolution are harmful, but not as immediately and personally harmful as the bits which deny our right to exist.

          I am not a historian. Whether the Catholic church cuddled up to Mussolini, and profited from his regime, or had to live with him but opposed him as much as it could, seems to depend quite a bit on whether the writer is Catholic or not, but the Papal States were annexed in the unification of Italy, and the Lateran treaty restored some power to the church. And some Catholics would oppose Mussolini on Christian principle, I hope. There, insanitybites was speaking for the freedom of church membership, after you quoted Katy’s cultish Oath of Obedience, and I would like you to have some sympathy with Pink biting back.

          That we don’t use the word “imbecile” so much is more a reflection on how language has got more scatological. I would tend to use “fuckwit”, myself- something short and rude, rather than contemptuous and rude. Nit, eejit, idiot, fool, dumbass- there are so many alternatives. “Imbecile” has a certain fastidiousness.

          Christians don’t know what has hit us, by and large. We take morality seriously, and thirty years ago that someone was Christian would be a sign that they sought to do what is right. Now, the opinion gets more prevalent that we believe idiotic things and have certain moral views- eg, on homosexuality- which are despicable. We thought we were the good guys, and being told we are immoral fools is very painful.


          • I’m disappointed with your response, but I should have known you’d suck up to Pink. 😉
            Katy the Bigot is trying to goad me into either being afraid of him (seriously) or argue with him, so I’ll take a neutral line in case I fall for her mind games. 🙄
            “Though I recommend that you be sure to dance when Pink says dance. Because you don’t want him as your enemy.”


            • As Katy says, I am not interested in turning thorns in people- more, I am interested in reconciliation, and in truth. Katy made herself Pink’s enemy by saying what she does about gay people and gay couples.

              Let me admit my privilege groups. Being white is a privilege: consider “driving while black”. Being educated. Being born British, when in the EU so many people have to emigrate to make a decent living. And- cis privilege is a big deal. Straight privilege is a big deal. Androphile trans women often look down on lesbian trans women. I am with the queers. It is a loyalty thing. In many situations Pink’s patrician privilege counts for little, because he is gay. I can’t blame him for fighting back, even if a straight with a particule lording it over others would be unacceptable.


  2. Great post! Do you want me to point Hewho over in case he misses it? He’ll need to explain to you the correct definition of ‘rights’ isn’t found in a dictionary or used by any international organisation. But he’ll have no references or sources to elaborate on on fantasy. Your point about the morning after pill and abortion is particularly well made.


    • Hewho and I are being civil at the moment. I wrote this before that agreement, and wonder about bits of it. I am not entirely clear about the basis of human rights, but the argument might clarify me. So, yes, if you like.

      I am far happier with my refutation of “the right to a child is modern slavery” at the end of this comments section. I hope he will either propose a way out of the box I have created, or not repeat it.


      • I noticed he hadn’t replied to that last night. I wonder if they’ll wind down the song and dance about everything. Bigot/Katy came crawling round one of my posts like a friendly, wounded dog soon after it all erupted but has now slipped into irritated and mildly caustic mode.

        Anyway, he’ll find it, especially if we note here that he has no answer either for this or for your comment about modern slavery.


    • On the morning after pill, I want to play with this a little more.

      There is a difference in the thing: a fertilized ovum is very different from an unfertilized ovum in a cloud of sperm. However that does not mean there is a great moral difference in the act: both are destroying a few cells.

      Here, I find estimates between 30% and 80% of fertilized ova fail to implant.


  3. Was that the same post (ie the initial quote) that I read recently about welfare states and healthcare producing crime, moral chaos and a breakdown in black families? Clearly years of discrimination against blacks plays no part. It’s obvious that if white middle class families have to pay into a general pot to help poor people who can’t afford health care or get jobs that it will lead to family breakdown, unemployment (oh wait, they are already unemployed) and endless crime (that couldn’t possibly be because they don’t have any money could it?).

    Just as Americans seem to think having half a dozen shot guns around the house is A Good Thing, it seems that a welfare state with health care and benefits for people is A Very Bad Thing Indeed.

    For some people,Christian or otherwise, it will for ever be self first, with no concept of helping people who need that help.


    • I linked to Violet’s post in the first sentence. It was initially about what is religious freedom, specifically about whether Hobby Lobby should be legally bound to pay for a healthcare insurance which includes the morning after pill. (It is vaguely shameful that I should know American politics in such depth: are they so interested in us?) It never got onto African Americans.

      In the UK, we have to defend the NHS against Conservative encroachment.

      My good Samaritan argument should work for all who profess themselves Christ-followers, and I can atheize it if you like: sometimes QALYs are extremely cheap, and all of society benefits from its members being well.

      I also read complaints about doctors charging for unnecessary tests. They want to avoid being sued: I read (in 1988) that “informed consent” in the UK meant were you aware of the risks of the operation, but in the US meant “Would you have consented to the operation if you knew this risk would be the outcome?” US liability insurance premiums were greater than UK doctors’ salaries.

      And in the US, hospitals create insanely inflated charges, which the insurance companies then negotiate down. So the hospital only charges the named price to the uninsured.


      • I recognised the comment so I didn’t hit the link. Must have read the other one elsewhere on my sad travels.

        Yes it is 😀 and no they aren’t!

        I have no understanding of why the Conservatives (especially under Thatcher) consider the American health care system to be any good. For all its flaws the NHS is light years ahead. Actually the major flaw is politicians meddling in it.

        Your good Samaritan quote is fine by me, your blog is Christian so visiting here, one would expect to see such references. I would not expect to see bigotry or discrimination however, which is what makes your blog different to some other Christian blogs I have read. I am sure plenty of non-Christians do charitable and helpful acts too, just as some Christians won’t, but we are all different.

        Back when I was working in the NHS, informed consent was still not fully being explained everywhere. About the only good thing about US health care is that citizens are more aware of what’s going on because it costs them directly. That’s still no justification for insurance companies and hospitals to make a profit from ill-health though, which I consider to be totally immoral. A bit like ambulance chasers.


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