Front Page Forums Liberty What is liberty?

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    A working definition of liberty for this forum:

    The freedom to communicate and take action without fear of prosecution by the government, within limits. Those limits include violating or conspiring to violate other people’s rights, violating or conspiring to violate the law and applicable regulations, and imposing obligations on others.

    We have a lot of liberties that are easy to overlook: to find employment that is suitable for us, to start a business, to meet with friends, to drive on roads, to visit and enjoy parks, and many more.

    Liberties may be temporarily or permanently constrained by consensus such as passing a law or enacting regulation, or changing conditions in the environment. For example, a city may limit the speed at which vehicles may travel on some roads. People no longer have the liberty to drive at any speed they want on those roads — driving at a speed in excess of the posted limit may result in a fine or arrest. For another example, people may visit the beach but when the waves are dangerous the local authority may restrict beach access to protect people who may not realize the danger.

    In general, people in a “free” society have more liberties in quantity and extent than people in an authoritarian society. However, there is no clearly defined threshold between free and oppressed. To remain free, the people must always be vigilant and resist attempts to reduce or remove their liberties and, wherever possible, strive to expand their liberties. A continuous effort must be made towards being a free society in order to remain a free society and possibly become even more free.

    When a dispute arises about whether something is allowed, we should generally decide in favor of more liberty when the impact on other people is limited or non-existent, and find solutions that provide the most liberty for the most people.

    Example: Some people want to play with their dogs at the park while some people are afraid of dogs biting them or their children. Even one unleashed dog at the park can be scary for people who are afraid of dogs and makes that park unusable to them at the time. One solution is to designate dog parks where unleashed play is allowed, ideally with a boundary fence to prevent the dogs from going outside of the designated play area; and to require dogs to be leashed when in public. People with dogs still have the liberty to play with them unleashed at designated dog parks, and people who are afraid of dogs still have the liberty to enjoy their time and not be afraid at other parks.

    Example: Some people want to be topless or naked at the beach, while other people don’t want to see any private parts at the beach such as breasts, buttocks, or genitals. If just one person is topless or naked, it can be said that other people can just look away. However, if a parent doesn’t want their children to see other people’s private parts at the beach, or if multiple people are topless or naked at the beach and it’s difficult to enjoy the beach because there are private parts in most directions, there is a conflict. One solution is to designate certain areas of the beach as topless or nude, and designating other areas of the beach as clothing required, while leaving people to dress how they like in all non-designated beach areas. The quantity, size, and locations of such designated areas can then vary according to popular demand. Designated clothing-required areas can have a buffer zone around their boundary where clothing is required because people in the buffer zone are visible from the designated clothing-required area, but where there is no expectation to not see someone topless or naked who may be in an adjacent designated clothing-optional area and visible from the buffer zone.

    Example: Some people want to smoke, and other people don’t want to breathe in smoke. One solution is to have designated indoor smoking areas with sufficient ventilation that it won’t affect other people in the building. Another solution is to have designated outdoor smoking areas with sufficient buffer zone around them that the smoke and smell would be hardly noticeable outside of the buffer zone.

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