Freedom: Part 2
Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?
I ENDED THE FIRST POST in this series in the middle of explaining the difference between conservative and liberal ideas of freedom, as evidenced in the case of school prayer.
I'd pointed out that the liberal position seems to interpret freedom as focused on the child, and the child's family. If a child comes from a Christian home, the liberal position is that that child should not be forced, in a public school, by a Hindu teacher, to pray a Hindu prayer to a Hindu god.
Teachers are employees of the government, and, as such, shouldn't be using their authority in the classroom to advance their personal religious agendas. Parents should be able to assume that their children's religious freedom is not violated in school.
And, of course, the same principle applies if the child happens to be Hindu, or an atheist, or any other religion, and the teacher happens to be Christian.
The conservative view, on the other hand, is focused on the freedom of the teacher to impose his or her religion on the children under his or her authority.
This gets a little tangled, and is difficult to explain.
Conservatives are not stupid—they are obviously aware that their children are allowed to pray all they want in school as long as it isn't in a form that disrupts the educational process. Teachers don't stop children from bowing their heads over their food at lunch time, or from crossing themselves prior to a test or a football game.
The complaint that children aren't allowed to pray in school isn't about that. It's about restrictions on prayers led by teachers or administrators in the classroom and at school events. The conservative position is, quite simply, that authorities have a right to impose their religion on students.
So it turns out that the conservative idea of freedom, in this case, is that those in power have the freedom to impose their religious view on students.
Of course, this includes the assumption that the authority will agree with the conservative about which god to pray to.
A parallel phrasing of the liberal idea of freedom, in this case, would be that children and their families have the freedom to exercise their own religious views, without coercion from those in power, whether or not those views agree with my own.
So much for prayer in the schools.
A second obvious case of disagreement between conservatives and liberals involves abortion.
Here, as well, from the conservative mind-set it's a no-brainer. A embryo has, from conception, the right to be born. Any interference with that right is a violation of the embryo's freedom.
A liberal, looking at the exact same circumstances, sees freedom completely differently. A woman has a right to make decisions about her own body and pregnancy. Any interference with that right is an infringement on her freedom.
Yet another no-brainer.
And, again, the question is what's going on.
I'll address that next time.
To be continued...