Liberty and Justice for All
Freedom has been used as a reason from people to support Trump’s mismanagement of the COVID epidemic. This is an increasingly prominent theme to justify actions that are certain to harm others. A recent commentary by Michael Tomasky in the New York Times traced the philosophical arguments for freedom and it is apparent that early discussions of this concept also included a strong component of responsibility that is necessary for freedom to exist. A person’s freedom exists only so far as it does not impinge on another person’s freedom. Given the imperfect nature of humans we have all at some time in our lives impinged on others’ freedom when exercising our own. Sometimes this has personal consequences and sometimes potentially more serious when the “law” gets involved.
It seems to me that increasing personal responsibility engenders increased freedom and vice versa. Those in our current crisis who wish to ignore their responsibilities to contain the virus ultimately result in us all having less freedom. Some of these individuals have suffered personal consequences such as ill health or death for them or their loved ones whether they accept that or not. When they willfully neglect their responsibilities and endanger others then society in the guise of the “law” has the right and obligation to take action to prevent said persons from impinging on other people’s freedom. Some who think this violates their “rights” may be ignorant of the connection between freedom and responsibility but others are simply selfish.