Never say Never
Commentary by Lenko Grigorov

The limit of liberty?

The recent events in Oregon, where a group of farmers was protesting the overreach of the state (such as being charged for grazing on public land), made me think about how liberty in the Western world is changing.

It is eroding on multiple levels. At the high level, there are ideas to discriminate people based on their religion – such as proposed restrictions on movement for Muslims – or on their origin – such as new legislation segregating citizens according to whether they were born in the country or not. There are also laws legalising indiscriminate snooping on all residents of a country (or even on any person in the world, if feasible). There are secret courts where the defendant is not allowed to see any evidence or to defend themselves effectively. There are efforts for gun control, online censoring, indefinite extentions of state of emergency, etc.

However, liberty is eroded also at the lower level and sometimes this is harder to notice. A friend relayed to me recently his experience picking his newborn baby from the maternity ward. He was not allowed to take the baby unless he came with a car seat for it – even though he could simply carry the baby home in his arms because he doesn't live far. Isn't it the case that the call for safety seems to trump common sense? The fear of litigation also creates situations such as one where I wouldn't be allowed to join an organized day-trip if I don't sign a form where I and my estate and any descendants release the organizer from any responsibility for everything forever.

On the other hand, there are also recent cases where liberty has increased via legislation. The most visible examples are the rulings legalising the wedlock of homosexual partners, and the decriminalization of marijuana in some states in the US.

I wonder, in which direction, overall, is the Western world moving? Reducing or increasing the liberties of the citizens?

Will the threat of terrorism ultimately lead to the transformation of the free countries into police states? Will the fear for personal safety ultimately lead us to become zombies who are unable to challenge the status quo? Will the abuse of litigation ultimately lead to a society where everyone is shackled? Undoubtedly, there are players who will have significant financial gain in these cases.

Ultimately, maybe there is no need to worry. History has shown us that revolution is a natural response to oppression.

— Toronto, Feb 2016

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