Oh America — or more specifically, oh a certain subset of Americans. You’ve had it drilled into you for your entire lives that you are blessed with this magical thing called ‘freedom’.
You can’t quite put your finger on what exactly ‘freedom’ is, but you’re sure you’ve got it, and you’re pretty damn sure it’s something the rest of the world doesn’t have.
I’m sure you’ve got some vague concepts that you could run up a flagpole. You might say that ‘freedom’ is the right to bare arms. But you don’t have the freedom to own lawn darts (banned for the “severe danger that they present”) or rocket launchers, or a switchblade. So really you have the right to bare exactly what you’ve been allowed to bare, as covered by some 20,000 laws.
You’ve got that freedom of speech, right? You can scream racist epithets through a loudspeaker driving down main street — is that what freedom is? Hmm, well you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre, and can’t insult a rich person with an untruth unless you wanna be dragged through a legal battle that will leave you penniless. Doesn’t sound real free to me.
Even drivin’ down the street honking your horn to protest staying home — you’d better have your seat belt on, and stick to the speed limit, and be sober, and have a licence, and be insured, and have a certificate saying that your vehicle is roadworthy.
Hup to, soldier.
Oh and if you break any of these rules, your government will not be shy about locking you up in a cell. Millions of you fall into this trap — not a lot of freedom for those folk.
It’s quite clear what’s happened: to varying degrees, y’all have grown up inside a rigid and complicated framework of rules — with severe penalties, including being murdered — while being sold the idea that this is what ‘freedom’ is. And not only that, you’ve been sold the idea that this thing called freedom is your right (but don’t think too much about exactly what it means for freedom to be your ‘right’).
Which brings us to the shitfest that is 2020. The strict framework that you’ve grown up in — that you’ve been gaslighted into believing is freedom — has changed. Like a straight jacket you’d forgotten you were wearing being taken in at the waist, now it feels uncomfortable.
It’s clear that the more an individual bought into the whole ‘freedom’ construct in the first place, the more of an affront this recent change in rules — stay-at-home, wear a face mask — feels like.
To quote a phone-filmed retail attendee, when pressed on his failure to wear a mask: “last time I checked, I woke up in a free country”. I’d like to point out that this man was wearing pants. He is not free to go shopping without pants on and he knows it. Pants have been a condition of this man’s participation in society since the day he was born, but he can’t seem to connect the dots and see that covering up the hole at the other end is merely one more rule.
Another illustration of how much people cherish these ‘freedoms’, these ‘civil liberties’, is this sheriff who says “my job is to protect the citizens”. Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad. Oh wait, there’s more: “my job is to protect the citizens’ civil liberties and their God-given rights under the constitution”. Aaah, I see. You will not be surprised to hear that he is one of the few who opposes limiting the spread of the virus. When you think about it, he’s fighting for the freedom of the virus more than anyone else.
With this freedom obsession, it’s no surprise that of all the countries on earth, it’s the USA that is kicking and screaming the loudest at the idea of being locked down and gagged. And it’s no surprise at all that the ones throwing their toys out of their cots with the most vigour are the ones with the biggest guns and the biggest flags.
(It’s really quite telling that gun sales are up, I guess they’re a kind of freedom pacifier. I can’t get my hair cut so I’ll by an Uzi. Yeah, that feels right.)
For comparison, this is how New Zealand locks down (and it was never really faced with a serious threat) compared to the USA (who were pretty clearly in dire straights right from the get go).
Which of those looks like a country working together to squash a virus, then getting back to work when the job is done?
All this because the thing cherished above all else in the US of A isn’t togetherness, or community, or humanity, it’s freedom.
Maybe we can come up with a solid definition for ‘freedom’ after all: freedom is doing what you want. Freedom is not having to sacrifice for the greater good. Not even to save the lives of your fellow citizens.
Freedom is looking after number one. It’s your God-given right, right?
My heart goes out to all the reasonable Americans — the vast majority of you. I’m sorry that you’re trapped in a country with these folk who rally so hard against an attack on a freedom they never had, while their leader cheers them on and the rest of you suffer.