Saturday, February 11, 2012

Unholy Alliance

Try to wrap your head around this one: the government seeks to preserve religious freedom by forcing insurance companies to provide birth control.

That's what happens when the government starts to pay for everything, and to tell others what they must pay for: you end up in the ridiculous position of defending "freedom" by changing the way you force people.

But you can't pretend people have choice (or rights) when you are telling them what they must do. The administration's policy change in response to Catholic protest merely shifts the coercion to another party (insurance companies), and now they don't have any choice in the matter. What if Catholics work for them? What about the insurer's right to offer whatever products they choose? It merely moves the inherent and insoluble problem somewhere else, notably to a group that is less vocal and less popular with Americans, since most people aren't going to hit the streets to defend the rights of insurance companies, even though a loss of rights for them is a loss of rights for all of us.

A few points I would make about this:
  • This is not about religion or contraception. Religious freedom is not some special right, it's merely a particular application of the more general right to choose how we live our lives and dispense with our earthly goods.
  • Religious freedom does not mean an equal right to government favors, or being subject to equal goivernment mandates. It means the right to be free from interference.
  • Like it or not, private parties (as opposed to governments) should legally be permitted to discriminate based on whatever criteria they choose, no matter how objectionable they are to the rest of us. That's part of freedom. The fact that they may receive government funding merely suggests that we should stop funding of that type to everyone, so these contradictions no longer arise.
  • We don't support freedom and free speech because we like everything other people are doing, we support it because is a moral right that we all share as individuals, and in order to have that freedom, we must support it for others with whom we disagree.
Bottom line, the notion of supporting religious or any other freedom in an environment of mandates and forced behavior is impossible. Any alliance between religion (or any other personal ideological preference) and government power is inherently unholy, if it means forcing it on others.

If we want freedom of any kind, we need freedom from government telling us how to do business and what we can or can't buy. Otherwise, government will continue to be a game of choosing who to exempt from having their rights violated, which is usually whoever yells loudest.

Apparently that's where church choir practice comes in handy.


  1. This is one of your better political commentaries yet. Thanks for your thoughts.

    ...even though a loss of rights for them is a loss of rights for all of us.
    Rarely does anyone get this until it is too late. It is easier to ignore when someone else is being denied a particular right. At some point, it hits home and then it is too late.

  2. HappyTrails - Thanks.

    That's the problem with laws based on narrow criteria, rather than traits we all share: you necessarily create an us-versus-them climate.