Liberty much like buffet choices

(My Clovis News Journal column for April 1, 2016)

Buffets are nice. You get to choose what you like from all the glorious possibilities offered, picking and choosing your favorites. If you see something you find disgusting, skip it and move on to the next item. No single buffet can possibly offer everything, but no one can tell the buffets what to offer. Consider them all together and your dining choices are practically unlimited.

Some people think of liberty as a buffet, but they want to be in control of what’s offered so as to limit the choices others can make. They want to pick and choose between the things they personally like while claiming everything they don’t like is off-limits for everyone. This is the opposite of liberty.

With liberty you can choose anything which doesn’t violate another person or their private property. The popular, the offensive, the wise, and the foolish- they are all there. Things you love and things you hate. The only thing not available is the authority to tell others which selections they can’t choose. Neither are you allowed to slap the choices you disapprove of from anyone’s tray.

No one will force you to take part in things you don’t like, but they are there if you ever change your mind. Your power lies in making the choices for yourself, not for anyone else.

In other words, you don’t get to decide what is on the buffet, even as you decide which parts to enjoy.

Be warned: this liberty buffet has many choices which may offend you. Some of the offerings may even offend the majority of people. But as long as one doesn’t use private property against the wishes of the owner, nor use violence against those who are not being violent nor violating someone else’s property, it’s simply none of your business. Being offended is your personal problem, not a license to push others around.

This is hard for a lot of people, even some who claim to support liberty. People react strongly to those things which offend or disgust them, forgetting that things they see as normal probably disgust and offend someone else.

It’s painful to see someone who says they love liberty trying to limit other people’s choices on the grounds that those choices are disgusting.

Respecting liberty doesn’t mean you approve of everything others might do, it means you recognize where the limits of your power lie. It’s an issue of boundaries.

– 

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