The Death of Liberty

November 3, 2009

In the formerly free West, liberty dies a little at a time.

From the U. K.’s Daily Mail, via Mark Steyn: The British government literally took a couple’s children away from them “over fears they would also become clinically obese”.  First of all, the parents aren’t even that fat; look at the picture.  But even if they were: What?  Since when does the government of a liberal democracy have the power to do that?  It’s tyranny, and it’s cruel.  God be with those parents, and their children.

As Mark Steyn says, one gets the impression that everything (including even children, apparently) is implicitly understood to belong to the state (as in Communism), lent out to the parents only at the state’s pleasure.  That’s completely at odds with at least the traditional American understanding that property originally belongs to individuals, and that the powers of government originally belong to individuals or to the people:  The people creates the government to serve the people’s interests, and the government gets only the property and powers delegated to it by the people.  Alternatively, you can understand all property and powers as belonging originally to God; Christians say that we don’t exactly own anything, but we are temporary stewards, in this world, of gifts or loans from God.  So you can say that our property and our children don’t “originally” “belong” to us, but that makes this kind of tyranny worse, not better:  In a way, the British state is putting itself in God’s place.

I said “since when”, but apparently the British state has had more or less this kind of power for at least ten years:  Again from Mark Steyn, we learn of the Greenwoods, also British, who were threatened with the confiscation of their child (immediately upon birth!) because they had epilepsy and “Social Services bosses” “doubted their ability to look after the baby ‘safely and effectively'”.  Again, note the direction of the presumption:  Under our system, you’re innocent until proven guilty, for example, and your children are sure yours until and unless there’s a reason to take them from you (and it had better be a very good reason); in Great Britain, apparently, your children are the government’s until and unless you prove, to the satisfaction of some government employee, that you “can provide effective and safe care”, for your own children.

Again from the Daily Mail via Mark Steyn: A little old lady wrote to her representatives on city council—you know, public servants, who are supposed to serve the people—to complain about the city’s “gay pride” parade.  Not only did the councilmen not agree with her point of view, but they informed her that, in the Orwellian world of “political correctness”, she might have committed a crime by writing to them.  No, literally, two policemen showed up at her house, although they mercifully let her off with only a stern warning.

Speaking of Orwell, Steyn also relates how the British government uses surveillance cameras to police whether you eat while driving, what time you put your children to bed (as Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up), and pretty much every moment of your life.  Hm, speaking of Greenwoods, if I may paraphrase one, I’m sure glad to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, at least until the death of liberty comes to our shores as well a couple of years down the road.

One Response to “The Death of Liberty”

  1. […] I spoke a little hastily when I said that in America, the presumptions are still in favor of liberty and against the government.  This […]

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