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Is Freedom Finite?
oh really
I ask because there seem to be an awful lot of people out there who think it is. I have been set off by an op-ed in today's Sun (I'll spare you the details; it was written by Christianist far right whacko) who claimed that liberty has been restricted by 'don't ask don't tell', same sex marriage, contraception, et al. Meanwhile the Republicans are busily trying to make sure the 'wrong people' (read young, liberal, and esp. non-white) can't and/or don't vote. I don't understand this insistence that granting freedom to another person takes it away from someone else; I only see it as another person gaining freedom.

So what's the deal here?
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The key words here are "right wing Christian" and "Republican." It's where these intersect that you get the idea that freedom is only for people like them. :(

Sad to say, in social groupings, freedom is a finite ideal. We arrange in a pecking order, as do most animals. At the top are the "strong" (which grants greater territory, food consumption and sexual prowess), at the bottom are the "weak" and usually dispossessed. If the weak should find themselves climbing toward the top, the 'formerly' strong group tends to sink down at best, or are cast down violently at worst.

Right wing conservatives have been at the top in this country politically for some time. They are desperately afraid that granting any form of rights to those lower in the social pecking order will float those groups up and displace the authority of the "righteous". And it's accurate enough - the top of the chain is a transient place. Once a person or group makes it there, they don't want to dislodge because the only place left to go is down. Unfortunately, that's evolution. Those at the top will at some point slide down, usually to be replaced by those formerly at the bottom.

There are tons of examples, but I like this one best, taken from Howard Bloom's "Lucifer Principle" (pp 199-200): A group of langur monkeys lived in a small Indian town, another group outside of it. The "Bazaar" group had the easy pickings of tourists and townies, picked through garbage and lived happily on the rooftops of buildings. Being well-fed, they were strong and had the best females and territory along with a considerably easy life. The "Woods" group had a rougher time of it, picking for bugs and living in the more dangerous forested area where life was a daily struggle for survival. The "Bazaar" monkeys treated the "Woods" monkeys with contempt, chased them off routinely whenever they would creep in to pilfer food, and beat the hell out of them to keep them in the woods (where the Bazaar group was determined those nasty Woods monkeys belonged).

One day, a car sideswiped and instantly killed the alpha male of the Bazaar group. In that instant, the dynamic changed. The alpha male of the Woods group went up to the former Bazaar alpha's top mate with a swaggering posture and mounted her immediately in front of the monkeys of both 'tribes'. In the chaos that followed, the woods monkeys rushed into the town and beat the ever-living hell out of their former tormenters. The roles reversed. The former Bazaar Group became the Woods Group and vice versa.

The human animal does it, too. The Romans were once a little rough tribe under the greater Etruscans. One day they took over and subjugated the Etruscans and then went on to conquer quite a bit of territory. Eventually they subjugated a new upstart group called the Christians as their lowest of the pecking order. One day, those Christians took over the empire.

Today the Christians of our country (specifically the Right Wing faction currently in power) are subjugating several groups whom they deem inferior and threatening to the "American" way of life. And they are watching public opinion sway towards those groups more and more, little by little as the years pass. (There's an old Arab saying that once you let the camel's nose into the tent, the rest of the camel will soon follow.) So anytime those groups gain a freedom or a new right, that's another loss of their own prestige as the ruling class. Keeping empirical studies and promoting critical thinking in schools becomes very scary to folks who need to keep poisoning impressionable minds with party-line myths and legends so that they can maintain the status quo for as long as possible. And to sell a myth, you generally have to buy into it.

And that's why they think gays, blacks and atheists have an Agenda. We do. It's called, "hey, we want a part of the pot, too!", just like everyone else. That's the deal. That's how evolution moves forward.

And that's why many African Americans are anti-gay. To rise up, it's safest to stomp on the folks one level down from you, because everyone can agree they suck. Fair? No. Hypocritical? Definitely. Understandable in terms of social organization? Yes.

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