Monday, August 22, 2011

On Liberty and License

Ask most residents of any “free world” country the question of whether freedom is a good or bad thing, and they will think that you are crazy. The common response would be: “Of course, freedom is good! Are you out of your mind?”
In many cases, however, freedom – at least the kind of freedom most people consider to be freedom – is a very bad thing.
For not all freedom is created equal. There are two distinct types of freedom: liberty and license, and people often get confused between the two. There is a very important distinction to make between these two types of freedom.
Liberty can be defined as the ability to do what is good and proper. More simply, liberty is “freedom of,” so to speak. It is the freedom to be virtuous, to do what is right without hindrance.  
Liberty is true freedom. In the words of the famous saying, “Freedom is the right to do what one ought.” And freedom is impossible to achieve if one is impaired from doing what is morally right.
The nation of America was founded on the premise of liberty. The First Amendment guarantees the right of Americans to speak freely, to assemble, to petition, to publish, and most importantly, to practice their religion in peace, without government interference.
True liberty does not grant a man the right to be a menace to society. It does not grant a person the right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theater, to found a destructive cult that opposes the social order, and to publish lies and slanders in the press (well, not obvious ones, at any rate). The First Amendment does not give someone the power to do whatever he or she wants – one still must operate within the bounds of a moral order, even under a society that promotes liberty.
License, by contrast, means the ability to do whatever one wants. More simply, license is “freedom from.” It is the freedom from any restraint whatsoever.  
License is false freedom. A total lack of restraint leads to anarchy and chaos, in any society. Imagine a city without traffic lights, stop signs, and policemen. Absolute chaos would ensue.
Now, of course, very few people would argue for complete license – because most people see that there have to be some rules in society. But moral license – the idea that one should be allowed to do and act as he or she pleases – is promoted in society by a host of virulent influences.
Because of these evil influences, modern society is based on the delusion that license is true freedom. Margaret Sanger’s infamous slogan “No Gods! No Masters!” is a perfect expression of the license that pervades our culture. Society rejects God and scorns obedience to any moral or natural law.
The irony is, license essentially enslaves one to sin. A person who cannot refuse his own out-of control desires is a slave, fundamentally unhappy and bound to a dark master.
Moral license leads to divorce, rampant STDs, illegitimate births, and many other societal ills. The fruits of moral license ultimately prove to be a drain on society and enslave their practitioners in a web of sin and sorrow.
But liberty – the true liberty that a Christian worldview provides – is fundamentally freeing. Kept within the boundaries of faith by Christ, the Christian is free to be truly happy as he or she explores the wonders of God’s creation, within the moral bounds which Christ has set. The Christian who follows God's commands is free - in a way which those who are slaves to their own desires can only dream of.

7 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. I meant to respond to this comment, but deleted it by mistake! Here it is again - a response is forthcoming.

    Respectfully, in this post the spirit is there, but the reasoning -- and the facts -- are lacking. When respect for facts and reasoning is poor, the conclusions are weak. Weak conclusions are easily rebutted by those who disagree with you.

    And such weak work then is a serious threat to people who hold ideas of faith and freedom as important ideas. You let the other side win by your factual weakness, inattention to detail, shoddy reasoning and ineffective arguments.

    As an example, take just a portion of one sentence:

    True Liberty "does not grant a person the right to ... publish lies and slanders in the press."

    In fact, 'True liberty' grants nothing. It is an idea. Believers in the philosophy of Natural Law, as was St. Thomas Aquinas and the Founders of the United States, believe that every human is, and this may sound familiar, "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."

    Human beings have rights as a consequence of being humans. They are not 'granted' by any idea. They not even granted by an Constitution.

    But that Constitution is important. It is a law, instituted among men and women, as a means of recognizing and protecting those inherent, human rights.

    Thus, what the Constitution of the United States allows and does not allow is important, since it impacts directly how humans with the powers of government granted by the people through the Constitution will act, or are limited from acting, regarding the rights of individual peoples.

    The Constitution does not grant the right, as noted above, of a free press. Rather, the First Amendment of the Constitution recognizes that as an inherent human right and sets out that Congress may make no law 'affecting' freedom of the press.

    So, what about this hypothetical right "to ... publish lies and slanders in the press?"

    The conclusion must be that a person, at least in the United States, with their inherent rights and the government limited from limiting their press-freedom rights, DOES INDEED have a right to "publish lies and slanders in the press."

    This comports with the idea of free will, an other gift of being simply being human.

    And the Constitution prevents governments from restraining that published speech prior to publication -- once definition of the word 'censorship.'

    Thus, a person does have a right to "publish lies and slanders in the press."

    That is not regrettable, because this state of affairs -- this state of TRUE LIBERTY -- grants those who disagree with that speech -- who are slandered by that speech -- to use their own speech powers to righteously confront that slanderer.

    If it were any other way, it would not be TRUE LIBERTY -- since that system would be arbitrary -- it might allow, depending on human power dynamics, for the slanderer to speak and the victim to be censored into silence.

    LICENSE does not enter into any of these situations.

    Properly defined, license is the belief that any action is defensible as an act of freedom. Clearly license is not freedom because it includes in its universe the set of acts that restrict the true freedoms of others.

    This is the calculus of freedom the Founders used, and the calculus of justice that Jesus Christ himself used when he noted that one should act toward others as they wished to be treated.

    It is fair to assume that no person wishes to be treated unjustly -- and license that denies freedoms to others is unjust.

    That's your argument -- it's solid, grounded, fact-based, rational and time-tested.

    Respectfully, the article above is weak, not based on fact and shows poor reasoning.

    Thomas Aquinas would cut you to ribbons in a debate, even though he'd agree with your premise.

    Respectfully, go back and think and pray again on this.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your rather harsh but charitable response to this piece. This was one of my earliest pieces, when I was just beginning to blog, and my writing/reasoning style was somewhat limited. So the conclusions above certainly could use some fleshing out, and the inherent logic of the piece could use some work.
      I also strongly agree with you that weak arguments, even made in a good cause, harm the cause of truth.
      Nevertheless, I do wish to offer a few points in my defense:
      Nowhere did I say that the First Amendment “grants” anything. I specifically used the word “guarantee” to describe what the First Amendment does – implying that the First Amendment recognizes and protects already existing rights. I specifically said that the First Amendment “does not grant” certain things – a much different matter altogether! So we don’t disagree there.
      There are most certainly laws, even in our society which guarantees a free press, prohibiting defamation, slander, and libel. One may have the right to speak or print what one believes to be true in the public square, even if it is false. (Witness 90% of modern political discourse!) Nonetheless, one does not have the right to lie to defame another, even in a free society, if one knows what he is saying is false – slander and libel are forbidden by law, and those who publish such lies in the public square can be sued – or punished, if malice on the part of the defamer is proven.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation
      http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/libel
      Yes, Thomas Aquinas almost certainly would crush me in debate - as he would about six billion others. I am (or was at least when I wrote this piece) a beginning Catholic blogger.
      Thank you for your criticism, and God bless you.

      Delete
  3. This is a response to anonymous. Consider this to be a rebuttal from the spirit who at one time inhabited the body of the Doctor. Your conclusions are ridden with the same weaknesses as those present in the main article. I shall show, using your own terms, what must be the case about the cosmic order in order for us to accept that your conclusions are not merely word-play, but are a precise verbal image of the manner in which the cosmos exists, as well as human nature.

    1st Objection: "'True liberty' grants nothing. It is an idea. Believers in the philosophy of Natural Law, as was St. Thomas Aquinas and the Founders of the United States, believe that every human is, and this may sound familiar, "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."

    Human beings have rights as a consequence of being humans. They are not 'granted' by any idea. They [are] not even granted by [any] Constitution."

    Reply to the first Objection. If we grant that humans are not 'granted' their rights as a consequence of being humans from any existing (or verbal) entity, then we must grant that humans are humani ex nihilo: humans out of nothing. We are assuming that the status of being human and being human are the same thing. Thus, humans are not humans because of the forms of their bodies. We must conclude, since we assumed that the status of being human, and being human are the same, that humans do not derive their humanity from their bodies. There is no connection between a body and a human; we see the divide of body and soul, mind and body, res cogitans and res extensa here. Further, since bodies that belong to these consciousnesses that can no longer be called human are products of evolution, and since bodies are made of cells that are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, composed of electrons, neutrons and protons, whose interactions are governed by the Lorentz force, it follows that none of these things make humans human either. Just as much, humans cannot be affected by either their bodies, nor by the forces which were responsible for the evolutionary production of that body, including time. But this is absurd. No man of sane mind would accept those further inferences from your inference. It follows that your inference is unsound, since it forces us to accept even more unacceptable inferences.

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  4. 2nd Objection: "License is the belief that any action is defensible as an act of freedom."

    Reply to the second Objection: License is not only a belief. It is an pattern of behaviours that are motivated by that belief. It is intention to act in a nefarious manner, as well as the carrying out of that intention in nefarious actions. As mentioned in the main article, “'Freedom[, properly spoken of as liberty] is the right to do what one ought.' And freedom is impossible to achieve if one is impaired from doing what is morally right." What one "ought" to do is consistent, self-same, and independent of the fluctuations and alterations that are inherent to the objective world of appearances. The consistency, self-sameness, and independence of "ought", thus serves the basis for considering "what one ought to do" as a constraint. Clearly, "doing what one ought to do" is the logical negation of "doing what one wants to do", since doing what one wants to do removes the element of constraint that was present in "doing what one ought to do". It follows, that license, if we consider it to be a mere belief as you defined it, we must call it a set of thought-words, i.e. an idea. License is guilty of the very same thing you accused liberty of being. Further, it should be clear from the argument, as well as from fact, that license involves the negation of constraint. Thus, license too, as a mere belief, involves the negation of constraint. But constraint was defined as consistency, self-sameness, and independence. A simple negation of each of these terms reveals that licences is inconsistent, self-contradictory, and dependence. We can see the inconsistency in the second objection. It is not trying to do what it wants, i.e. being a rational argument, but is rather the circular reasoning of a rhetorical tautology. The belief that any action is defensible as an act of freedom is license. Therefore, you have stated, "license is license". Which reveals nothing new.

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  5. Recall also that St. Thomas mentioned that human law derives its validity from natural law, which in turn derives its validity from the eternal law. The Constitution, and any other human law, cannot be valid unless it carries out the precepts of the natural law. The natural law includes known laws of physics, the theory of evolution, and logic, i.e. logos. The natural law derives its validity from eternal law, which is the mathematical mind of God himself. Without this link, the Constitution is invalid. Further, if the kingdom of God were to return to earth, it would be the duty of all members of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches to step down, for the document makes their rule legitimate derives its legitimacy from the eternal law; to refuse to step down is a violation of eternal law, and therefore, the Constitution would fail to carry out the eternal law. By extension, it would invalidate the natural law, which in turn would mean that the Constitution would itself be invalidated.

    This goes to both anonymous and Mr. Rod. Lightning has struck you. Recall that the "social order" is the order of self-consciousnesses that emanate from the electromagnetic pulses continuously flowing out of and into the divine mind.

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  6. شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام تقدم خدمات لا حصر لها رائعة لتلبية طلبات العميل وتحقيق كل ما يتمناه في خدمات نقل العفش بالدمام فثقتنا في اعمالنا جيدة قد وضعتنا كخبراء داخل مجال نقل الاثاث حيث يتم التشاور مع حقيبة مختلطة من داخل شركة نقل عفش بالدمام عن اختيار المواد الخاصة بك والمواد أو الأشياء من على عتبة منزلك لتصل جميع ممتلكاتك بأمان إلى المكان الذي ترغب فيه
    شركة نقل الاثاث بجدة لدينا ميل الي التفكير في إعطاء نوع من الإدارات لدي شركة نقل اثاث بجدة التي تطوير انفسهم ومتابعة كل ما هو حديث في عالم نقل الاثاث المنزلي والبحث عن الطرق الحديثة التي تؤدي الي انجاز المهمة بكل سهولة والتي تترك نجاح باهر يمكن أن يساعد على ارضاء نفسية عملائنا.لدينا الميل في شركة نقل عفش بجدة إلى أن يشار جيدا إلى السيارات الحديثة التي نمتلكها علي انها ذات كفاءة عالية كما نمتلك عمال تنزيل علي اعلي مستوي كما يوجد لدينا في خدمة نقل عفش بجدة
    فنين فك وتركيب لديهم القدرة الكافية علي التعامل مع جميع انواع الاثاث كما اننا نمتاز باننا نمتلك المغلفون الذين يقومون بتغليف جميع الاثاث المنزلي للحفاظ عليه من الغبار والتكسير كل هذه العوامل التي تقدمها شركتنا نتيجة للمعيار والتنمية والعقل
    شركة نقل الاثاث بمكةتكتشف مجموعتنا الخاصة في فريق شركة نقل اثاث بمكة في خدمتك في أي وقت من اليوم وأنها مستعدة للبقاء طيلة الوقت لمساعدتك في نقل اثاث منزلك سواء كان بيتك كبير او صغير قهذه ميزة الشركات الكبيرة التي تقدم الخدمات المتميزة فنحن نأمل دائما لإعطاء أفضل انطباع من تجربة نقل ممتازة. يتم اتخاذ كل خطوة الرعاية من قبل فريقنا والتعامل مع أفضل طريقة ممكنة. لدينا في شركة نقل عفش بمكة المتخصصين هم أيضا على استعداد للرد على الاحتياجات الفورية لعملائنا الكرام.
    مستودعات تخزين الاثاث بالرياضالتعبئة والتغليف واحدة من أكثر المعترف بها في خدمة نقل وتخزين الاثاث بالرياض فخدمة التعبئة والتغليف لدي شركة تخزين اثاث بالرياض يمكن أن يحصل على انتباه الكثير من العملاء وهذا يرجع ببساطة إلى أننا نواصل الوفاء بطلباتهم. كما قمنا بتطوير وواصلنا تقديم أفضل الخدمات التي تحافظ علي ممتلكتهم في مستودعات تخزين العفش التي تكمل في الحفاظ علي الأموال المدفوعة في ممتلكتهم لحين الرجوع اليها مرة أخري
    شركة تخزين اثاث
    الشيء المثير للإعجاب بالنسبة الينا في شركة تخزين عفش بالرياض هو أن فريقنا على استعداد لخدمتك في أي وقت من اليوم لطالما كنت بحاجة لدينا فنحن نواصل إقناع عملائنا التأمين علي جميع العناصر الخاصة بهم. هذا هو السبب الرئيسي لماذا بقينا على أنها

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