Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

I once had conversation with a libertarian friend who insisted that freedom was the answer to everything, ironic since he was getting married the following week.

“Freedom to have sex with others while married?” I asked.

“Of course not,” he said.

“Freedom for your children to do whatever they want?”

“No, that’s different,” he said.

“Freedom for everyone to have a nuclear bomb?”

“No, that wouldn’t be good.”

“Freedom for people to steal?”

“No, that has to be controlled.”

“You don’t really think that freedom is the answer to everything,” I said. “The real question is what to constrain and what to let go free. The question in social engineering is the question in all engineering. It’s a question of tolerances: What to constrain with tight tolerances and what to let run free with loose tolerances. That question is built right into the paradoxical declarations that we should all, “be intolerant of all intolerance,” or “tolerate all intolerance.”

“Sorry, that’s not my question,” he said.

“But why?” I asked.

“Because it’s hard and I don’t want to bother with it.”

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