It seems that in recent weeks, the news is full of items that appear to be great victories for lovers of freedom. I previously discussed why Eric Holder’s letter to Rand Paul stating that the President does not have the authority to assassinate American citizens on U.S. soil is still quite troubling. Two days ago, the New York Supreme Court threw out Bloomberg’s infamous ban on sodas of greater than 16 ounces on the grounds that it was arbitrary and would be difficult to enforce. While many are celebrating this as a great victory for personal freedom, I am quite cautious to hitch my wagon to the whims of a judiciary whose principal objections have nothing to do with personal freedom at all.
The way I see it, this is another prime example of the difference between easy arguments and hard arguments; the difference between principles and practicality. The judge in this case clearly did not object to the soda ban on principle, but merely on practicality. Unfortunately, many Americans seem to agree with the nature of his objection. By conceding that this legislation is well intentioned and that the “obesity epidemic” is in fact a problem that government should be attempting to solve, the public at large declares their willingness to surrender their personal freedom in favor of the orders and regulations of the nanny state.
Instead, it is once again critical that we engage the issue directly, even if the argument is more difficult to make to a statist audience. The soda ban is wrong because it infringes on our natural rights and liberties. We own our bodies; therefore we should be able to ingest whatever we want. We have freedom of association, therefore we should be able to engage in voluntary trade for mutual benefit, regardless of what any legislator, judge or board of health has to say about it. In order to make any headway on these issues, we must consistently and vigorously promote these ideas, and refuse to back down or compromise from them. We should resist the temptation to celebrate this seeming victory, and instead recognize it for what it is: one branch of the government overturning another branch of the government for absolutely the wrong reasons, while nearly everyone involved agrees that freedom is not a significant factor in the decision.
We must not only allow freedom to be a factor, we must insist that it be the only factor.