Commitment to Freedom

January 2019: I read this essay and added commentary for Episode 263 of the Everything Voluntary podcast.

On May 5, I posted some excerpts from a paper written by economist Walter E. Williams that included the following:

"The true test of one's commitment to freedom of expression does not come when one permits others the freedom to express ideas with which he agrees. The true test comes when one permits others to express ideas he finds offensive. The same test applies to one's commitment to freedom of association, namely when he permits others to associate in ways he deems offensive."

This test must be used for freedom in general. As I talked about in my last post, those members of society on "the Right" support laws that make it illegal for adults to prostitute themselves, take hard drugs, and other acts they deem immoral. Don't get me wrong, I believe prostitution is extremely immoral, as is lasciviousness and homosexuality, among many other immoral acts. But my commitment to freedom is tested when I allow others the freedom to do immoral things.

This is true for my commitment to all types of freedom, as Dr. Williams explains. As a free human being, I believe that I own myself. After all, if I don't own myself, then who owns me? Does society own me? If they do, then I hereby declare my independence from society and claim title to myself. But they don't, at least not in the country that I live.

Of course that isn't entirely true in most places as many states and cities have laws against using hard drugs, prostitution, or committing suicide. I believe these laws show just how committed those states and cities are, to freedom.