The Health Secretary has Covid. The Prime Minister and Chancellor are meant to be in isolation as a result, but as usual have bent the rules to suit their own self interest (Barnard Castle, here we go again). And tomorrow is supposedly ‘Freedom Day’, although that’s now downplayed by everyone except the media who were pump-primed to repeat it ad nauseam before the witless who have supposed responsibility for Covid related issues realised just how dangerous a message that was.
The question I asked myself was what does freedom mean in this context? The Cambridge Dictionary appears consistent with others in its definition (and is shorter than the Oxford version). It says that freedom is:
the condition or right of being able or allowed to do, say, think, etc. whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited.
The definition in that dictionary and others accepts that there are many nuances to this, but an essence of this idea is captured by that phrase. And who could object to what freedom represents if that is how it is defined?
Actually, I have to say that I can. That definition appears like many others to be intensely egotistical in its interpretation of freedom. It is written solely from the perspective of the individual. There is no consideration of the possibility that there may be very good reason why the freedoms of some may be restricted.
I very definitely restricted the freedom of my children when they were young. I make no apology for doing so. It was for their own protection. We all know that is reasonable.
I also think there is a role for prison to protect society from some people. Freedom can be removed with good reason in that case.
Some other freedoms, whether to abuse, or pollute, or constrain economically, may appear to be freedom to some, but they are most definitely oppressive to others. This is not some random opinion: vast swathes of legislation are based on the idea that these constraints are justifiable, and that is accepted as fair within society at large.
The right to ‘freedom’ is in that case always constrained. This is the lesson that the government and its far-right anti-lockdown supporters seem not to understand. Their perspective is that which the dictionary appears to promote, which is the individual’s right to do what they wish without consideration for others is the definition of freedom. But it is not. The right of the individual does not extend to the right to abuse others. Infecting a person without a serious illness by being indifferent to the risk of contaminating them fits within the definition of abuse in my view, but as far as it would seem, not that of the government.
Is tomorrow ‘freedom day’ in that case? It clearly is not. It is in fact more reasonably ‘abuse day’. And we already know what the consequence of that abuse will be. There will be hundreds of thousands of additional Covid cases that could be avoided. There will be many deaths and large numbers with long Covid. Choosing that is not a definition of freedom, unless the definition of freedom used by those making the choice includes the right to impose serious harm.
The ‘freedoms’ permitted tomorrow are not freedoms at all. They are the exact opposite. This government has revealed its moral bankruptcy with this definition, motivated solely by its hatred of the state. It is morally bankrupt. We will pay a very high price for that, and that price does not represent one for freedom.