Simon Williamson

What freedom actually is

2014-06-20 08:29

Simon Williamson

The great state of Texas is represented in the governor's mansion by Rick Perry, the state’s longest serving chief executive.
One of the great contributions Rick Perry makes to the public political discourse is mass confusion of what freedom (a word he drops all the time), and being able to live under a government that respects liberty, is. The difference between these ideas of freedom are, for example, allowing people to live freely as long as they are not harming anyone else, versus forcing them to bend to the way you want to live by outlawing the way they choose to live.
Perry, who you may know from his three-agencies-that-are-gone-commerce-education-uh-uh-uh-oops-sorry presidential run in 2012, decided last week to venture into an in-depth discussion about homosexuality. This was a significant entry, because the Republican Party of Texas, which overwhelmingly controls the state, decided last week to add anti-gay conversion therapy to its official platform. The wording of this nonsense reads, "We recognise the legitimacy and efficacy of counselling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy."
Messing with gay people

In other words, despite things like facts and science and medical professionals and any sort of idea of freedom, the Texas Republican Party believes in changing those it doesn't like to fits its template. Despite the fact that this has been repeatedly shown to be bullshit, and despite the fact that the freedom-loving governor wishes to regulate those he doesn't like, and despite same-sex couples (and non-couples) having absolutely no bearing on the lives of their heterosexual peers, freedom-loving Texas Republicans are all in for messing with gay people.
(This is not to say that people who do not want to be gay should have no avenue to try it (if we're aiming for a free society). The government should have no say in adults doing pretty much whatever they want with themselves in his sphere. If people don't want to be gay they can go and see whatever sort of spiritual guide and wish the desire for a matching set of genitals away. But you shouldn't get to harm minors in this fashion, and neither should government be recommending anything in this regard. This is not a field in which government should be playing at all.)
So after his party added bigot-crusted language to its platform, Perry decided to explain exactly what he thought about gays, telling an audience in San Francisco (I know, right, San Francisco) that homosexuality was like alcoholism: "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."
This is an obviously dunderheaded thing to say, but fine, I'll explain it to you. Gay people are not like alcoholics in that they are not sick. Gay people are not like alcoholics in that they are not more predisposed to aggression. While being gay, gay people drive with as much skill as those who are not gay. Gay people are not like alcoholics in that they are not addicted to the person they are shagging or dating or marrying or addicted to how they are doing any of the aforementioned things.
Peddling in outright lies

And on top of that, gay people have absolutely no reason to not date and shag whoever they hell they want, except for the bigotry of other people, and homophobic laws.
On top of that, Perry said that the most important issue in the gay rights debate is that each state should decide its laws for itself without Washington's (ie, the federal government's) interference. In other words, his government should be able to restrict the rights of gays, not the national one. Go figure.
Anyone who claims to love freedom, but believes government should dictate who you can and can’t love, or bump uglies with, or spend the rest of your life with, is talking a massive amount of kak.
Anyone who backs the idea of possibly harming people with a crackpot version of what they consider therapy, which has been decried by a consensus of medical opinion, is peddling in outright lies, and is trying to legislate against things they don't like - not anything that has the faintest effect on how a free society should work.
It really has nothing to do with Rick Perry the governor, or Rick Perry the private individual, or the Texas government, or the US federal government, or the United Nations or Patekile Holomisa or the South African government as to what people choose to do, unless they are hurting or harming someone else.
Government should have zero mandate to dictate society's morals.
That is freedom. Not banning what you personally don't like.

- Simon Williamson is a freelance writer. Follow @simonwillo on Twitter.

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