No Freedom Is Absolute

Georges van Hoegaerden
Georges van Hoegaerden
Founder, Author, and Managing Director of methodEVA.

I hear all these people express concern about their rights being taken away because they are required for certain activities to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Collective Interests And Personal Interests

Kids in California now need to get vaccinated when they go to school. Leaving the country and reentering, without quarantine, requires the same. Freedom, as I have explained many years back, cannot exist without paradoxical rules. For the trust in freedom can only be secured when the interest in collective freedom is protected from the vile maxims of individual freedoms.

Here are some of the paradoxical rules of freedom of speech, protected by the first amendment by way of “Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech”, as listed on the Federal Courts website:

Freedom of speech includes the right:

  • Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag).
    West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
  • Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”).
    Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
  • To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages.
    Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
  • To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns.
    Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions).
    Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
  • To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest).
    Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).

Freedom of speech does not include the right:

  • To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”).
    Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
  • To make or distribute obscene materials.
    Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
  • To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.
    United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
  • To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration. 
    Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
  • Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
    Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
  • Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.
    Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __ (2007).

There are many examples of paradoxical rules of freedom applied to how we operate in society.

Paradoxes Everywhere

In traffic, you are free to determine where to travel. But the paradoxical rules to that freedom, design to protect other travelers, stipulate you must obey traffic rules to do so. And yes, discrimination is the foundation of a meritocracy that applies specific rules to specific people at specific times. You ought not to drive when inebriated, for example.

So, the next time you argue freedom, realize that freedom is a relativity theory. A theory in which the trust in, and unleashing of collective freedom is determined by the lack of infractions negatively affecting the freedom of other participants.

So, next time you argue about getting a shot, don’t argue your rights are violated or more important than others. Argue the science that believes it is in your best interest you should.

The sign of an intelligent nation is its willingness and ability to reinvent itself, upstream. Let’s inspire the world with new rigors of excellence we first and successfully apply to ourselves.

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