Liberty: Joy and Sorrow

Liberty, even when it allows for the foolishness of mankind to flourish, is better than bondage.

We must be cautious not to forget that personal liberty should not come at the cost of the liberty of another. The wise understands that liberty, responsibility, and compassion are intrinsically intertwined. Without all three, it is easy for liberty to become nothing more than a mask for self-interest, greed, and apathy.  

Once liberty loses its meaning due to the foolishness of mankind, it becomes easier to convince the unwise to give up liberty in hopes of preventing the sorrow generated by foolish behavior.

Rather than rejecting liberty, it is better that we learn to find joy even when surrounded by the sorrow mankind generates through its foolishness. Liberty with foolishness and sorrow will always be better than bondage.  

Is it Justified?

I have just read of the new law waiting to be signed by the governor of Virginia. It would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an transvaginal ultrasound. The first article I read was an outraged editorial opposing the law, but what upset me was the rhetoric of the proponents for this law. It reminded me of other times civil liberties have been violated by the government. I searched and found to my dismay that versions of this law were being considered in other states as well.

Regardless of which side of the abortion debate you stand on, I ask you to consider whether this rhetoric, and the intent behind the proposed Virginia law, is not an abhorrent violation of moral decency and civil liberty?

It appears that the intent of the forced transvaginal ultrasound is to ensure that a woman seeking an abortion fully understands what she has chosen to do.  This seems reasonable on the surface, but as with any controversial issue, the debate around this policy has become embroiled with little reason and volumes of appalling opinion.

So I would like to pose three comparisons; and please bear in mind I am not trying to make light of any of these issues.

Okay so let’s assume you believe abortion is murder.  A legalized murder, kind of like suicide is for all intents self-murder and is not illegal, mainly because you can’t prosecute the deceased for their own death. (I would hope you would not prosecute anyone for attempted murder if they failed to succeed with their suicide.)  So you can’t stop the woman from seeking a legal murder, but you feel you must impress upon her that she is killing a living being.  So you force her to recognize the beating heart by “penetrating” her body against her will.  This violation is justified because you are trying to prevent a murder.

Next let say you would like to go on a hunger strike, maybe even to oppose abortion. So you set out to starve yourself until abortion is abolished.  Others would try to talk you out of it, but to no avail.  So the state steps in and force feeds you through a tube, preventing you from murdering yourself.  This is justified because the state is preventing a murder, a self-murder, but still a murder.

Finally let say you are a terrorist and you are planning to murder many people because they teach principles that are abhorrent to your moral beliefs.  You are captured but your partners are not.  So the government steps in and tortures you so you will divulge information which might put to an end your murderous plans.  This torture is justified because it might save many lives.  The government recognizes that you really don’t fully understand the magnitude of your actions, that your moral beliefs are misguided and you are obviously incapable of fully understanding what you have chosen to do.

It is not my intent to weigh in on the abortion debate, again it is the rhetoric that upsets me.  Have we learned nothing from our past?  Is there not a better way to save lives or are Machiavellian ideas to always be the justification for the disregard of civil liberty?