• Ryan James Carlson

“Freedom” ain’t freedom

The “freedom” arguments swirling around are not valid. This is not a normal moment. There are always rules/restrictions in place to protect individuals against the behavior of others. Your rights end at the point where you are doing something that would infringe or curtail my rights and vice versa. Normally, the environment itself is not dangerous and people are not dangerous to each other simply by going about their affairs, so there is no valid reason to restrict people's movements or activities and any attempt to do so is a violation of our rights. But right now we can harm each other simply by being near each other. We can inflict worse damage on a person – even kill them – than would normally be possible short of attacking them with a weapon. None of us thinks it's ok to attack people with weapons, right? We don't feel oppressed not to be able to do that. So why would we now?

Normally, the lack of restrictions on conducting business and performing work is an opportunity, even a necessity, and anything else would violate our human right to pursue survival. But that right to pursue survival changes perspective entirely when the imperative switches from obtaining sustenance to avoiding peril. No one thinks: “I have the right to harvest beans in a hurricane.” Your paramount right at that moment is actually not to have to harvest beans for any reason. Your most basic right would be infringed if anyone tried to make you do this thing which otherwise would be your right to do. That would be as much of a violation of your rights/freedom as it would ordinarily be if they tried to prevent you from doing it. Our most basic right is survival and survival, right now, is all about avoiding harm.

Ultimate freedom: not dying

The maximum freedom I can have right now is to make any decision that will protect my life. While it is normally a happy opportunity to have a job, right now if anyone has the right to make me do my job in a perilous situation, I actually lack the right to protect my own life. How can that be right and proper? It's true that no one can force me to go to work, but if a state or an employer creates a situation in which I have to work or lose my job for the future and the protections I have in place right now, what is my choice really? They are depriving me of the right to take care of my life and my future prospects at the same time. Some freedom: They make my most basic human rights mutually exclusive and then I am allowed to choose which one I wish to keep.

Many people in more fortunate situations do not face this dilemma; but their actions do factor into determining whether or not other people will face it. The same principle as always is in effect – you can't infringe someone else's rights with the exercise of your own. The big difference right now is that the space in which your actions are not infringing my rights is much smaller than usual – many things that seem like ordinary rights and which normally do not infringe anyone else's rights, do infringe other people's rights now because we have the ability to kill each other by breathing. That space is even smaller yet because none of us can estimate with certainty, over time, the danger we pose to others, so if we want to be sure of respecting other people's rights, we have to keep our sphere of activity very tight right now.

If you act normally at present, that limits my right to go about my life with the lowest possible risk of death, and vice versa. It goes without saying that if you force someone, directly or indirectly, to work in close proximity to other people, you are infringing their right to protect their life. (Note that the most obvious way to start changing this equation would be to enact sensible precautions and give people knowledge concerning risk. More tests would mean enlarging the space in which is possible to act safely, so it's quite a fucking mystery why this is not a priority. Instead, some people want the “right” to endanger others without bothering to obtain information that would be possible to obtain. And they are the ones who bleat about rights!)

Another way to put it is that if you force someone to choose between self-preservation and their job, you are a gigantic asshole and a criminal.

#Freedom #Coronavirus #Covid-19 #SARS-CoV-2 #HierarchyOfRights #HumanRights #HarvestingBeansInAHurricane

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