Fri, 13 Jan 2006

Freedom is about stupidity

"Why the hell would you want to do something that stupid?"

People may ask you that question. If you live in a free society, you don't owe them an answer. It is your right to do anything that doesn't violate an obligation you've imposed on yourself, or doesn't create an obligation on the part of someone else. E.g. if you want to run around in traffic, that's fine, as long as you don't expect people to not hit you, and as long as your estate can clean your blood off their car.

Freedom must include the ability to do stupid things. Of course, by saying that, I am imposing a value judgement on your actions. I am labelling them stupid from my point of view. Whether they are really stupid or not is a complicated philosophical question dealing with the nature of "really" and "reality". Without diving into that morass, we can say that whatever I say may or may not be true for you. By definition, in a free society, my feelings about the wisdom of your actions imposes no obligation on you.

Thus, any law which attempts to stop people from doing stupid things is by definition a reduction in freedom. We should protect the freedom of people to do stupid things, because things other people feel are stupid (like freedom of the press, or of speech, or of religion, or of assembly, or of petition) are likely things you value.

If we don't have the freedom to do stupid things, we have no freedom at all.

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