Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Freedom Means

Nobody supports reducing her own freedom, meaning things she is allowed to do.

But flip it around and ask yourself this: How many people have in the last week posted a message saying that they'd be okay with a law against someone else's doing something that the poster disapproves of?

That is where our government gets support for things like mandatory spay/neuter (MSN), no tethering, anti-crop/dock, no-debarking, no use of e-collars or prong collars, no leaving pets in cars, and so on.

Freedom, folks. It means absolutely nothing if you're free to do only those things that Walt (or any other person) approves of. Meaningful freedom is "freedom to do things that many (or even most) people disapprove of."

Only when there is close to 100% agreement that there's no good reason to ever do a thing and very clear reasons not to -- drive drunk? shoot off a firearm in your backyard, in town? -- should freedoms be restricted or eliminated by law. How many of the proposed new laws we're dealing with in pets would pass that test? Okay, no dog fighting ... can you think of even one more that's on the HSUS agenda?

But for every one of the laws on the list above (MSN, no tethering ...) we know people who want their freedoms to do the things they think are okay, but don't support your freedoms for your somewhat different list.

That's why these laws are so hard to fight. Most people in California actually think that all pets should be spayed/neutered. They don't think deeply enough to understand the issues, so because they don't want that freedom, they support laws that will take it away from you, too.

There's no understanding that 'freedom' means 'freedom to do things that most people disapprove of.' And that as a result, we need a very clear reason -- one that just about everyone agrees with -- to pass a law against something. Trying to fine-tune what you (or I) consider good behavior with laws is not just futile but against the very principles on which this country was founded.