The Public Eye

printed 02/05/2021

I’ve been trying to figure out this freedom business everyone’s fighting and screaming about, and it occurs to me that the big disagreement is over whose version of freedom gets imposed on me.

I think it’s a safe bet that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all freedom, since what we’re talking about really isn’t freedom, but who gets to define what freedom is and who gets it.

Logical thinking, which was last seen furtively skipping along a remote forest path with Bigfoot, the Jackalope, one or more Chupacabras and the Mongolian Death Worm, would seem to dictate that I get to decide what kind of freedom I want, rather than having someone else decide that for me.

But no, it appears that various groups, sects, sides and parties in this great debate are arguing over what they get to do to me without so much as a howdy-doo.

It’s like being asked not whether you want to be smacked upside the head, but on which side of the head you would prefer to be smacked.

Unfortunately, and I’m really beginning to believe this, we have way too many people and not enough freedom to go around:

“Now, Johnny,” says the sixth-grade teacher, “You can’t bring freedom to class unless you brought enough for everyone.”

On the other hand, the situation is not unlike my earlier years when my mother would tell me what I liked. That’s what happened when I wanted a pair of super-cool shoes that snapped closed with mousetrap-like contraptions attached to the shoes’ tongues.

“You don’t like those,” she told me as we walked into the store to get me shod for the upcoming school year.

“Yeah, I do. They’re really different and ...”

“No,” she interjected, “you don’t want them, you want something, um, more traditional.”

“If I don’t want them,” I countered with my still-in-development contrary nature. “Why did I say I wanted them?”

“Well, young man, it could be because you’re a little idiot who’s not paying for them.”

You can see the logic of her argument. This was not a dispute over style, or over my right to want what I want, or mousetrap shoes versus what I got, which were known in the day as Bata Bullets, a Maryland-made, black high-top sneaker with a fish head toe.

No, this was about the money and who is in charge, as all things generally are after you peel away the multiple layers of bull-pookey about principles, rights and other constitutional whatnot that may or may not apply.

The problem, though, is that the pursuit of these things — money and being in charge, rather than the bull-pookey, which is available with free shipping just about everywhere — has come down to telling me what I’m going to get, like it or not.

Honestly, I prefer my own house rules, which, as stated by the person in charge here, is that I can do whatever I want as long as I’m willing to deal with the consequences.

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