When the Gauls fought Caesar, when William Wallace fought the English, when various anti-colonial movements fought the British, French, and other European empires, they all claimed to fight for freedom. But they weren’t fighting for freedom – not really. Their wars were designed to replace a dictator from a foreign land with a dictator who shared their ethnicity.
Southern slaveholders argued for their freedom to hold other human beings in bondage. When President George W. Bush made the case for the Iraq War, he claimed that everyone all around the world wants liberty. As we found out, most just want to be the ones in power.
Many people just want to be free to enforce their will on others.
I thought about this historic misuse of the word freedom as I watched the general freak out over the Trump administration’s new policy allowing employers with religious objections to stop paying for their employees’ birth control. And that is as far as the new regulation goes. Employers without a religious objection are still forced by the government to include birth control at no cost to their employees.
But that little exception is being called “unfair, unlawful, and unconstitutional” by the Washington State Attorney General, who is suing to overturn the new directive. The ACLU (pronounced a-choo, the “L” is silent) also flied a lawsuit that would require the government to continue forcing employers to violate their conscience.
The logic is Orwellian. Editorial boards, non-profits, and State Attorneys General are arguing for the freedom to have the government force one group of people to pay for something in violation of their religious beliefs. When even elected officials and an organization supposedly dedicated to protecting civil liberties think this is a logical case, perhaps it is time to bring back civics classes.
Our Constitution was purposefully designed with a set of negative liberties (the freedom from), not positive liberties (the right to). This put freedom in its proper place. You have the Constitutional right to live your life as you see fit with minimal governmental interference.
Any other definition of freedom renders the word meaningless.
You do not have a Constitutional right to government handouts, let alone to private sector goodies.
You do not have the freedom to force someone else to pay for your birth control.
You do not have the freedom to force someone else to bake you a cake.
You do not have the freedom to force someone else to employ you.
You do not have the freedom to force people with opinions you dislike to keep silent.
If you believe the government can give you a right to someone else’s stuff, you do not have a proper understanding of freedom; you have the will to power.