“Screw your freedom.”
That’s what former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told Americans who oppose ever-changing government demands when it comes to masking as a defense against COVID-19.
“Because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities,” Schwarzenegger continued.
“We cannot just say, ‘I have the right to do X, Y and Z.’ When you affect other people, that is when it gets serious,” Schwarzenegger said, before comparing face mask mandates to traffic laws. “You cannot say, ‘No one is going to tell me that I’m going to stop here, that I have to stop at this traffic light here. I’m going to go right through it.’ Then you kill someone else, and then it is your doing.”
“This is the same thing with the virus,” Schwarzenegger argued. “You cannot go not put the mask on because when you breathe, you can infect someone else. And you can infect someone that then gets sick and may die.”
Before digging deeper, we should ask whether he would view this same logic as justification for a permanent and total society-wide lockdown, with no person-to-person interaction permitted for the rest of time. After all, COVID-19 is far from the only disease which can be spread, let alone a whole host of “Butterfly Effect” outcomes we could avoid if we surround ourselves in bubble wrap and live out our years in complete isolation.
On a more serious note, the key problem here is that Schwarzenegger has demonstrated an utter ignorance for the double-edged and bi-directional sword that is freedom, along with the reality of the mortal world we inhabit.
Freedom is inherently tied with responsibility. Freedom, at its core, is the ability to stand alone, make decisions, and live with the consequences of those decisions. However, Schwarzenegger blurred the line between this positive form of freedom and responsibility by referencing the notion of “obligation.”
First, under systems of freedom, no one is “obliged” to do anything. Instead, you can do what you want, but with a full understanding of the consequences.
Then, under this system of responsibility, since we are individuals who share the same civilization, it’s obviously true that we must limit ourselves to some extent when it concerns the freedom of others. There is no right to murder one another, for example. After agreeing that this line between freedoms exists, we must then understand that the definition of this line must be carefully placed.
Traffic lights, in this case, are the result of a long-standing debate over proven tools that allow a complex system of travel to become somewhat organized and allow people to travel freely while minimizing the risk for unintentional and intentional human damage.
But the fact that the “traffic light” freedom infringement is pragmatic does not mean that other infringements are equally pragmatic. The complete efficacy of masks as a tool against COVID-19 in real-life situations is still the subject of rigorous debate, and yet Schwarzenegger is declaring the existence of a conclusion without performing any of the crucial prior steps.
We agree that lines between freedoms must exist, but that certainly doesn’t give our pseudo-intellectual elites the right to skip debate and decide where those lines fall.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.