03.29.2013 1

The Perversion of Freedom

By David Bozeman — The perversion of freedom, or the freedom of perversion? That is the prevailing question in 2013.

Conservatives and libertarians casually toss around such concepts as “freedom,” “capitalism,” “individual liberty,” etc., as if listeners share the same outrage at marginal tax rates over 50 percent or Cap & Trade legislation.  We think if we just convey enough urgency and passion, we will get through.

Truth is, in the court of public opinion, we are often freedom’s greatest enemy.  After all, who are we to tell people who they can or can’t marry (though some opinion on the right is clearly shifting on gay marriage)?  Who are we to control women’s bodies by denying contraception coverage?

Furthermore, walk into most inner-city Democratic meeting halls and you will hear that it is the racist policies of the GOP that hinder freedom the most.  African Americans and other minorities do not see government as the enemy but rather as a protection from bigotry and social injustice.  We on the right must do a better job explaining what we mean by freedom and limited government and why progressive policies hinder rather than help the poor and minorities.

As for the perversion part, well, the idea is hardly original, but it bears repeating.  The idea of freedom has been twisted and diluted to mean hedonism.  Unfortunately, leftist culture’s spirit of laissez-faire does not extend to such less carnal areas as education, retirement planning, trans-fat consumption (in New York City) and light bulb selection, to cite a few examples.

Just before the 2012 election, Lena Dunham, the award-winning star and creator of HBO’s Girls, in a TV ad, famously likened her 2008 vote for Barack Obama to a first sexual experience:  a line in the sand, I was a girl, now I’m a woman and blah, blah, blah.  And yes, she cited all the stale talking points, the pertinent one being government-subsidized contraception.  Their love for big government clearly knows no bounds.  How can logic compete with the seduction of “edgy” pop culture?

Girls, for the record, concerns the sexual exploits of — why bother, except to mention that the show is laden with explicit dialogue and nudity.  Dunham is hardly a household name, though Entertainment Weekly dubbed her the voice of her generation.  Not likely, but certainly one voice, and, unfortunately, a voice that will garner far more praise and attention than any rational, adult — and fully clothed — conservative female voice in either Hollywood or Washington.

The word “freedom” is used either broadly or abstractly, and so, in popular opinion, affixes itself to no accepted definition.  We on the right must articulate freedom as ordained by God (or nature), enshrined in the Constitution and sustained by numerous civic and personal responsibilities.

Freedom, far from the mere absence of coercion, requires the vigilance of every citizen as protection from the ever-encroaching tyranny of the state.  Aside from voting and activism, one safeguard against big government is to not need it and to instill the examples of thrift, self-reliance and charity as the ultimate assurances that freedom will thrive for the next generation.  No less than Thomas Paine (truly, a voice of his generation) wrote that “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”

The ultimate task will be assuring that that vision, that very definition of freedom is preferable in the public eye to the pop culture pap associated with Dunham, Sandra Fluke, Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria and the rest of Hollywood’s beautiful set.  One of the major cornerstones of freedom is virtue, and if that word is too broad or uncomfortable, then how about restraint?  Some will clearly be uncomfortable with that concept, too.  The point here is not strict moral judgment but living in accordance with personal means and limitations — to put it simply, it means not asking your neighbor to bear the consequences of your own excesses.

The beauty of public restraint is that it inhibits the perversion of our cherished concepts.  Female entertainers of the 1950s, among them Doris Day and Sandra Dee (the voices of their generation?), certainly never demanded that Eisenhower recognize their sexual proclivities, not because they were goody-goody, but out of simple decorum, another forgotten concept.

David Bozeman, a former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

Copyright © 2008-2020 Americans for Limited Government