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Freedom or Free-For-All?

Gadfly | November 14th, 2020


Is There Personal Liberty? When Does It Begin And End?

It was bound to happen to an inquiring mind. Scientists around the world are monitoring sewage for outbreaks of COVID-19 because victims of the virus have had the very infectious virus in their feces. At least 65 universities in this country are taking samples of sewage daily from dormitories and campus sites to see if the virus is present. When tests prove their existence, the residents of that sewage system are tested to see who is infected. It has proven to be a successful tool in discovery. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there has been no evidence-so far-of the virus spreading from feces to persons. They have also received calls questioning whether the virus could also be transmitted by flatulence. Scientists have been tracking the possibility since April but have not confirmed transmission by feces or farts.

Scientists are examining the issue. If there is evidence of transmission from the other end as there is from the nose and mouth, what will the people who object to wearing masks do? Should the government force them to wear N-95 underwear that prevents 95% of the droplets to pass through the mask? Patients with severe infections have had COVID-19 in their feces. Farts are rather difficult to check immediately. I’m sure there will be entrepreneurs peddling “ASSMASK N-95 UNDERWEAR” to make a fast buck.

When I was teaching English Literature to Fargo Central High seniors, I always used John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty to provoke discussions of what constituted “freedom.” His 18th Century philosophy still rules, “Freedom means doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow, without impediment from our fellow creatures, as long as what we do does not harm them even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse or wrong….The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

The Nose and Mouth Have a Great Deal To Do With Freedom

Sometimes Mill’s highfalutin’ 18th Century language requires some ordinary 21st Century examples. Let’s say a person who has not had a shower and has not wiped himself properly for weeks enters a public library or a private restaurant and immediately gets the attention of the readers and eaters because their olfactory nerves have been jerked to attention. Their noses have rejected his freedom to enter the premises. He is depriving them of the freedom of reading and eating because the smell is an absolute perversion. If he had showered and cleaned himself that morning, he most likely would not have alerted all the noses in the social spacing.

We recently had two maskless Fargo city commissioners vote against a mask ordinance while city, state, and national public health experts were battling a virus filling up testing sites, clinics, hospitals, food banks, and cemeteries. The two should put on their N-95 masks, go to the Fargo Public Library, check out copies of “On Liberty,” and read the essay instead of watching Fox News. This country has seen people shot over the wearing of masks, fistfights in malls over the wearing of masks, clerks are sworn at, punched, kicked, and spat upon over the wearing of masks. On one side we have people with masks who don’t want to spread the disease. On the maskless side, we have people who don’t give a damn about others and want the “freedom” to live their normal lives. In the middle of a dangerous pandemic, there’s nothing worse than stupid—but at least the virus also eats up the stupid-- helping to improve the gene pool.

The Singapore Government And Constituents Are Not Stupid

Why does Singapore have the lowest death rate in the world from COVID-19 and North Dakota the highest? First, Singapore is not known for its individual freedoms. Spitting on the sidewalk can bring you a public caning. I don’t think they have changed. Seatbelts and biker helmets are always worn. The Singapore government has decided staying alive is more important than most stuff. It has the highest virus testing rate in the world. Over 95% of its cases are among migrant workers who live in dormitories and employed in labor-intensive jobs like construction. Workers are constantly tested. It has aggressive contact tracing; the World Health Organization (WHO) says the best in the world. Vulnerable patients with other diseases are cared for in hospitals even if they feel well. Singapore was already a medical tourist country.

At the time of this writing, it had no COVID-19 patients in intensive care, 42 patients were in hospitals, and 490 light cases were in temporary facilities. Oh! I almost forgot... Singapore has a mandatory mask law that applies to 95% of the population. Five percent are excused because they have specific pre-existing conditions. The fine for not wearing a mask is $300. That’s how to run a country during a pandemic. The definition of freedom in any country does not include the freedom to get somebody else sick. It does not include the freedom to refuse to wear a mask in the grocery, store, church, or bar. You can’t sneeze on a clerk or cashier just because you don’t wear a mask. The sneezer is approving a death sentence. No society can function with that kind of freedom. Mill also wrote: “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

A plainer answer has been around for a long time: “Your freedom to do as you please with your fist ends where my jaw begins.”

To Democrats: How To Finally Make America Great

If you take over the government of the Divided States of America on January 20, 2021, the following should be just part of your program for the first 100 days. Have the names of four liberals ready to add to a Supreme Court of thirteen in a filibuster-proof Senate.

President Joe, forget this bipartisan crap of a 180-day court “task force.”Those bipartisan days are gone forever. Wake up to Trumplican reality. The Trumplicans just finished generations of court-packing in a power pandemic. They need to get stuffed in return. Get rid of Citizens United. Force the billionaires who own the white Republican Party to go through political bankruptcy. Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to eliminate voter suppression, gerrymandering, systemic racism, and the Electoral College. Reinforce the Civil Rights Act, worker’s rights, conceal-carry gun control laws, LBGTQ+ rights, police responsibility, and racial justice. We desperately need immigration reform. Welcome DACA members as citizens. Rejoin the community of nations and restore human rights as a goal. Then get busy on personal freedom issues. This is the only way to put the White Party away for good.

King Donald, whose only religion is himself, hasn’t a clue about what constitutes religious freedom. But he is now urging evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics to vote for him so they can turn our democracy into a theocracy. These two groups are in an absolute minority on the following subjects and want to ban them: contraception, divorce, abortion, homosexual sex, and same-sex marriage. Their only idea about religious freedom is to have a society in which they can legally discriminate against other religions and races. They don’t realize yet there is just one race—the human race.

With the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Court, Trump is trying to get more Catholic votes. We already know what the Vatican stands for. With six Catholics on the court, we need to know if they are conservative, orthodox, cafeteria, once-a-month, once-a-year, or Catholics like Newt Gingrich and his current wife, our “ambassador” to the Vatican. Remember, the Vatican insisted for 2,000 years that unbaptized babies who died could not enter Heaven, that they should spend eternity like circling dust motes in Limbo-Purgatory-or whatever. Finally, in 2007, Pope Benedict approved a 41-page document that his Vatican cardinals and bishops had been working on for years. It “emphatically” stated, “The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought to eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation. There are reasons (not stated) to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible (to baptize them).”

Well, that settles that, right? How many dead unbaptized Catholic babies does this document cover? I wonder how long it will take Pope Francis and the Vatican to approve homosexual sex and same-sex-marriage, contraceptives, abortion, climate change, universal health care, religious freedom—and the different colors of the human race. Well, somebody said God does things in mysterious ways. Actually, The Satanic Temple and the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster make more sense.

Under Which Economic System Does A Worker Have More Freedom?

Does a worker have more freedom under free-market healthcare or single-payer universal care? The Trumplicans, yelling “SOCIALISM!” at the top of their lungs, are trying to eliminate ObamaCare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security by court-stacking and replacing them with...what? They don’t say much about the medical care provided by the Veterans Administration.

A worker in the capitalist system has to fight for every necessity while an owner or investor fights for every profit while paying the worker as little as possible. Only when there is a shortage of labor is a worker’s wages increased because of competition for his labor.

Karl Marx, the old Commie who’s hiding under every capitalist’s bed with a manifesto, has made several good points, “The realm of freedom begins when the realm of necessity is left behind.” Translation: freedom means nothing if you don’t have enough to eat if you are denied access to adequate healthcare, housing, transportation, education, communication devices, and a safe, livable environment.

Is a worker better off in Scandinavia or Alabama? In Germany or Mississippi? In South Korea or South Dakota? Where is the best chance that individual capacities, particularly freedom, are liberated entirely from wants and needs? The role of a free society is to provide workers with basic necessities so they are free to do exactly what they want. That goal can only be reached by a country that merges Capitalism and Socialism. Some call it Democratic Socialism. Sometimes it takes a pandemic to realize this. Actually, the 14th Century Black Plague in Europe killed so many it allowed workers to create guilds and unions because labor was so scarce. When workers are plentiful and hungry, the Capitalist is free to say to the worker: “I want to employ you at the lowest wage possible for the largest number of hours possible doing exactly the work I specify. That is what I demand of you when I hire you.” Sound familiar? That’s right out of Karl Marx.

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