What is freedom? I’ve come across this a lot this week. People have used freedom as an excuse for bullying. “Freedom of speech means I can say what I want!” I’ve seen them use it as an excuse for so many things. But the worst I have seen is the game designer who made a flash game in which the goal was to punch the image of a person as much as possible.
He was ‘free’ to do so. Did this make it right? No. There was irony though in the game. The person whos picture was being used was the face of ‘Tropes vs Women,’ Anita Sarkeesian. Tropes vs Woman launched a kickstarter calls Tropes vs Women in video games. The whole point of this kickstarter is to examine how the video game represents women in a web series online.
I will not lie. Sarkeesian is a feminist that I cannot stand to listen to. But that does not mean I will insult and degrade her for her work which is well-researched and rings true. There is a preponderous lack of women in video games who are not there for the romantic angle or who are not there to be rescued. This same lack occurs in many places in literature. A female heroine is rare. The only two I can think of are Samus Aran and Mulan, both of whom have their own problems.
Freedom is about choices. But when those choices harm others, should there be a limit? Should it depend on the type of harm done to the others. It’s hard to say. Should freedoms be limited at direct harm, or at potential harm. I have so many questions! I’m not the only one either.
I believe, however, that when you exercise your freedoms to harm others mentally, emotionally or physically that you are abusing their freedom to live unharmed. This is an abuse of your freedoms as well. However, merely because the potential for harm exists does not mean that it will be exercised. Take gun control.
I own a gun. It’s a .22 caliber long range rifle. I like to target shoot with it, and it was a gift. This gun gives me the ability to potentially harm someone. Will I?
Only if they threaten me in a significant manner first. That’s the catch. The gun is for target shooting. I’m not very good at it just yet, but enjoy it all the same. However it produces a show of arms. Not a great one, but enough to make a person threatening me think twice.
Admittedly, a .22 is a squirrel hunting gun, good for target shooting and very small game. The sort you make stew out of because there’s just not enough meat for anything else. (None of which matters, because I don’t hunt.) But does my having the potential to harm someone infringe on their freedom?
No, it does not.
A gun in the hands of a responsible owner is there for protection against those who believe that they are free to help themselves to your possessions, your money, or that they are free to harm you as they will.
These are just examples though. Freedom is choice. But with freedom comes the responsibility to make good choices. Everywhere I look, the ability to make choices, good or bad, is being eroded. Whether it is the choice to purchase health insurance or not, or the choice to worship as you please, without being called a terrorist, our choices are being eroded.
I worry. I worry about our nation, I worry about America, I worry about what we are becoming. We are a nation that values the individual’s ability to choose historically speaking. Lately, it seems more and more like Huxley’s Brave New World though. We are overwhelmed with the pressures of a culture that values pleasure above all else, and promises more of those pleasures if only we give in.
America used to be a nation of frontiersmen and women: people willing to go forward and bravely discover more. Now all America seems to discover is what’s going on in the life of celebrities and what so and so said and did over fifty years ago.
One Final Byte: Oh sweet America, where did your soul go?