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Five things to know about liberty

link Kent McManigal

Local columnist

I see newspaper articles regularly offering five things to know about a person, an object, or a job that might interest readers.

Apparently nothing is as poorly understood as liberty — which is strange in a country supposedly founded to give regular people the best shot at achieving liberty.

Perhaps it is time for five things to know about liberty:

• Defending rights: Just because you admit someone has a right to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you approve of what they do or wish to join them. It simply means you realize when they aren’t violating any other person or private property you have no right to prevent them from doing what they are doing. Therefore, you can’t pass this authority you don’t possess to anyone on your behalf. You have a right to drink protein shakes, and I’ll defend your right to do so, but I’ll not be joining you.

• Defending scoundrels: Defending the rights of everyone doesn’t mean you agree with or like them. Unless you can stand up for the rights of your worst enemy, you are hypocritically expecting others to defend your rights. H. L. Mencken put it well: “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”

• Consistency counts: Being consistent means you will upset some people who believe you should make exceptions for their favorite rights violations and violators. This is the biggest stumbling block for most people. They easily see why the other guy is wrong, but when they do the exact same thing for their side, they see nothing wrong with it. Of course, being consistent doesn’t mean you are right — a person can be consistently wrong — but being inconsistent is an obvious clue something is wrong with your thinking or behavior.

• Anything can be better: Supporting liberty and opposing those who violate it doesn’t mean you hate America or should move to Somalia. It means you know things can always be better than they are, while appreciating the good you already have. Or still have, as the case may be.

• No forcing it: If someone doesn’t hunger for liberty and doesn’t want to understand it, nothing you or I can say will change that. In such a case you simply need to live liberty and leave them on their own — and hope they never force you to defend yourself from them. Maybe your example will create curiosity. If not, you’ll still have a better life.

Farwell’s Kent McManigal champions liberty. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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