Freedom vs. Safety

Someone posted this on Facebook today — it’s a news brief on protests going on in Michigan against Governor Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19. I have been concerned about this for some time, and I’m glad to see that people are protesting, and doing it safely and with respect for other people.  But there’s more to it than that.

What I don’t understand is one person’s response to this article, which I’ll quote here in italics:  

What a bunch of ninnies. Our parents endured 4 years of gas, rubber and sugar rationing to feed the army in WWII. On the coast they lived in darkness to foil German Uboats.

Now these sissies can’t even bear to stay home a couple months with the comforts of cell phones, TV, movie streaming services and the internet. Oh what a burden!

Fortunately, they are in a small minority, acting like spoiled brats when 81% of us are willing to suck it up for the team.

Throw your tantrums and expose more people to a disease that is being defeated by a little guts.…/gallup-poll…/5147032002/…

I agree with the author of that quote that many Americans are wussies — especially compared to my father’s generation, and his father’s before him.  They were brave men and women, hardy souls who were faced with a grim situation and just buckled down and did what had to be done, cheerfully and without complaint.

What troubles me, however, is the ease with which so many people are willing to give up essential freedoms for what they perceive as a little bit of security.  They hear a Governor tell them “Close your business” and they do it, putting both themselves and their employees out of work.  The Governor says “Don’t drive in your car to your other home” and they obey.  The Governor says “You can buy toilet paper, but not seeds for your garden” and they obey.  After all, the Governor said so.  It’s like a for-real game of “Mother May I ….”

Here in Massachusetts, the Governor has shut down firearm retailers, claiming that exercising one’s Constitutionally guaranteed natural right to keep and bear arms is not ‘essential’.  But worse than that, in Massachusetts one can’t just go to a neighbor and say “Hey, can I buy one of your guns?  The gun store is closed!”  You see, unless you are licensed by the State to own a firearm, you and he both become felons for that transaction. 

And if, God forbid, your friend also gives you a $10 box of 50 cartridges, you could spend 1 year in prison for every single cartridge in your possession.  And why?  Because Massachusetts has draconian laws that prevent law-abiding citizens from exercising their freedoms unless the state condescends to let them.  Furthermore, a non-elected official (the chief of police in your town) can arbitrarily decide that you can’t have a gun.  And that’s that.

And why, exactly, does Massachusetts have such laws?  Because well-meaning citizens decided that sacrificing someone else’s freedom for a bit of their own imagined security was a good deal.  But that’s a bargain with the devil — the freedom they exchanged was also theirs.

Look what’s happened in California, where (surprisingly) gun stores have not been shut down yet —  All of a sudden, people realize that the foolish laws they passed to keep “other people” from owning firearms have backfired upon them.  And they don’t like it.

That’s the problem with trading freedom for security — it’s really hard to get it back when you need it.  And that is exactly what the protests in Michigan are about.  The Governor has decided that if you drive to the store, it’s not dangerous, but if you drive to your second house, it is dangerous.  If you buy toilet paper, it’s not dangerous, but if you buy seeds, it is dangerous.  What else will the Governor decide for us?  And on what grounds?

Consider this — why did so many people call for President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act and force factories to make health-related items that are in short supply?  (See this article: Do they really want Trump — whom they falsely accuse of acting like a tyrant — to become one in fact?  Apparently, they do.  In their panic, they would nationalize anything they think they need.  And that is so un-American.

No, the protesters in Michigan are not wussies, their protest is not a temper tantrum, and no, they are not exposing others to disease any more than the mother in the grocery store buying diapers is.  They are (safely and bravely) exercising their right to protest, and calling attention to the ever-growing risk of increasing governmental power over every aspect of human life.  Get over it.

Let’s get one thing straight — the protests are not, as that author claims, about being unable “… to stay home a couple months with the comforts of cell phones, TV, movie streaming services and the internet.”  It’s about whether or not we want a government that will define and enforce arbitrary restrictions on personal freedom at the point of a gun.  That’s exactly what those fathers and grandfathers of ours were fighting against in WWII.



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