"Our constitution, too, represents this appeal to the centre between the two extremes - a masterpiece of equivocation that can mean anything to anyone who wants to read it. Balance liberty and equality? Great! Treating everyone equally is a feature of free trade societies, so I’m in favour of that…. wait, what? Sorry? You think it means treating people differently to get equal outcomes, which obviously means scuppering many people’s liberty? Crikey! Yes George, what’s that? Ah you think it means finding a balance between the two of our positions because we’re both extremists?"
I was intending to get around to around to writing a response yesterday but then Eric Joyce resigned and well one thing, led to another, led to.... well, you get the picture. So before anyone accuses me of brown nosing the top ranked Lib Dem Blogger I hasten to add I'm only agreeing in part.
The part I'm looking at is 'treating people differently to get equal outcomes, which obviously means scuppering many people’s liberty'. This is something I agree with in principle, however, there are still occasions where there is some need to be treated differently that at present because the ability to experience full liberty has yet to be reached.
Charlotte is right of course, we preach liberty for all yet seem to be banning more and more stuff. Banning the wearing of religious imagery is one example. We want freedom for all religions, and those of none to abide side by side, yet just because somebody want to show their faith on their sleeve (more accurately round their neck, on their head, in their label etc.) we get all uppity.
There are exceptions of course the most prevalent is the smoking ban. The libertarians will quote that this is wrong because people should have the right to choose. I agree that people should have the right, should they so wish to inhale carcinogens straight into their ventricular system should they want, it is why it shouldn't be banned in people homes. However, public places are always going to be somebody else's place of work, and are you giving the employees who work there the chose not to inhale the fumes. The libertarians will then say but they don't have to work in an environment that allows smoking, but then surely by allowing the smokers to work wherever they chose you are limiting the liberties of the non-smoking worker to work in certain establishments.
What Charlotte has got right is that you can't always take a middle road between two extremes, you will still have both extremes present and both will be upset for you for trying to moderate their behavior, plus you become an absolute muddle. However, you have to cut out what is harmful while allowing what is expression of difference to occur. That is a fine line between liberty and being overbearing for the sake of something to do.
Freedom means not necessarily being able to agree with everything that goes on, you can only agree with everything that happens with absolute control.