James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, September 26, 2016

Freedom is Free

Jose Fernandez, Marlins ace pitcher, was killed early Sunday morning in a boating accident. He was just 24.

He was born in Cuba. Before he was even 16, according to Wikipedia,
Fernández attempted to defect unsuccessfully three times, with each failed defection attempt followed by a prison term. Fernández, along with his mother and sister, defected in 2007. On that successful attempt, José's mother fell overboard when the boat hit turbulent waters, and José had to dive into the water to save her life.[5] They reached Mexico, and then moved to Tampa in 2008
Hearing about his life on Sportscenter yesterday made me feel gratitude for already living in the United States and never having to take such a risk.

My gratitude, however, is relative. I feel fortunate because most of the world has not been born into the favorable circumstances of  countries like America.

I do not, however, feel like I owe something to society or to political authorities for my relative freedom. Those who say, "freedom isn't free" are wrong. An early libertarian blog was called Freedom is Free, with the tagline "Who owns you?"

Fernandez and his family risked quite a lot for freedom. The Castros owned them, and they escaped.

That's a price they should not have had to pay.

To say "freedom isn't free" is to suggest that hierarchy and coercion - slavery of one kind or another -is the natural state, and freedom is a modern innovation. It's also an implied threat: As long as you obey these laws and fight these wars, you deserve to be free. If you don't, you should be locked in a cage.

To say "freedom isn't free" is to say Cubans who are unwilling or unable to escape or rebel somehow deserve the Castros.

It's to say that freedom is a privilege, not a right.

It's to say that freedom is what you get to have after rulers do what they want to you.

But I would ask again: Who owns you?

The price of freedom is nothing. Nothing.

If you live in a place where the price is higher, that price is not being set by people who are protecting you or have your best interests at heart; it's being set by criminals.

2 comments:

  1. I get your point, but this column reminds me of the joke: Nothing is better than eternal happiness; a ham sandwich is better than nothing; therefore a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness. That is, it's a game of word manipulation.

    When people say "freedom isn't free", they mean simply that in practice, one's freedom must be defended from those who would take it away. And yes, "hierarchy and coercion - slavery of one kind or another -is the natural state", if we aren't eternally vigilant. But that doesn't mean we "deserve" such a fate, any more than a rabbit "deserves" to be eaten by a fox. It simply means that we, and the rabbit, must take great care to preserve what we cherish from anyone who would rob, kill, or enslave us.

    "That's a price they should not have to pay."

    Agree, but that shining sentiment and five bucks will get you a small coffee at Starbucks. The world is not how we would like to imagine it to be, and I think it's Utopian to fantasize that one day it will be rid of foxes.

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    1. The tone I perceive from people who say "freedom isn't free" is one of condescension, as if there is nobility in sacrifice and as if freedom isn't doesn't unless obligations are attached. So I didn't mean to be utopian, I just wanted to restate the moral fact that freedom is indeed free. Because many don't understand that.

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