The limits of public interest and the consequences of private freedom
It is absolutely vital that we agree on the right of every individual to their personal freedom. This is a foundation stone of LIFE philosophy that we believe is born not of a decision but of a recognition of what is a universal truth. A truth that, to quote the founders of the United States of America, “we hold to be self evident”.
The reason that establishing personal freedom as a universal right is so vital is because of the consequence, that it directly obviates any right to moral imposition by any person on another person. This is not a political choice or position, it just is.
There are nuances to the definition of ‘personal freedom’ and this is a review of those subtleties.
It would seem that we can agree easily that what we do, on our own, in our private space is no business of others and of no concern to the public interest.
OK, so let’s explore the consequences.
If I can do whatever I like, on my own, in my private space then I can do any of the following:
- believe anything
- think anything
- read anything
- write anything
- take my own life
- take drugs
You could add to that list, we all could, and we would have as long a list as it is possible to conceive of activities that you can do on your own.
So where is the problem?
If we believe in personal freedom, why aren’t we allowed to do all of those things?
There is no good reason.
It is so patently obvious that it defies contradiction. It may be difficult for us to accept the conclusions of the logic for our own personal, moral reasons but that does not alter the inescapable logic that stems from our belief that personal freedom is a universal truth.
This leads to the first challenge we must all face, if we are to truely adopt a system of laws that honors and respects the truth of life.
We do not have a right to intervene in the private space of others, however good our intentions are or however firmly we hold our spiritual convictions.
The limits of personal space
There is a limit to our right to private freedom and that is reached as soon as our activity impinges on the personal space of another.
The definition of ‘space’ in this context is important. In this context and so far as the law is concerned, the definition of ‘space’ must be confined to the five physical senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing and oral taste. To extend the definition beyond the physical senses defies the natural boundaries of our existence and launches the practice of law out of the rational mediation of disputes into the netherworlds of moral discrimination.
It follows then, that any activity that one might engage in that can be seen, heard, felt, smelled or tasted by another person falls within the realm of public interest and the law. This is the definition of ‘in public’.
Group private space
It is possible that a group of people could come together to engage in an activity that affects their physical senses but does not offend them, even though it does offend others who are not present and are not impacted by the activity. The extent to which this situation is also determined to be outside of the public interest, and therefore outside the remit of the law, hinges on whether all of the people in the group are there voluntarily. Furthermore, the extent of the privacy of the space and its absolution from the confines of public law does not remove from each individual the right to withdraw their consent to be a party to the group at any time.
So there can be a private space for a group that retains all the rights of personal private space and, as such, is outwith the limits of the public interest and the law. But everyone must be there of their own free, informed will and have the right and ability to leave at any time without cause or reason. Only within the confines of these conditions can such a ‘group private space’ exist beyond the law.
The next challenge is to guage the actuality of the consent of each individual in their merging of their personal space with others to form a group space. The assumption must be that a compus mentus adult is capable of making an informed consent and that must be the starting point for any review. The two key factors here are: adult and informed.
Each community or society will reach their own decisions about the age at which we become adults but surely any proposal that such an age is greater than 18 masks a desire to bend the rules and enable moral imposition.
Whether or not a person is informed is difficult to determine and rests on whether they received sufficient information and if they have the capacity to understand whatever information they received. These are matters for a court addressing the specifics of a situation before them, remembering that the onus must be to prove that the adult in question was not informed.
So, once again, the journey down the road from common sense obversation and exploration of the fundamental aspects of our humanity and existence, leads us to a common understanding of the nature of a subject, that turns out to be at odds with its practice in the societies we live in. Funny that, isn’t it?
There are very important consequences that flow from this basic understanding of the limits of public interest and the extent of personal freedom and one of the most important of those is that by adhering to the logic and principle of our own conclusions, we will move ‘law’ from its status as the means of oppression, to its rightful place as the expression of our means.
Now comes the difficult part, the part that really challenges us. We must change our laws to follow the principles we have concluded.
UN Human Rights declaration – 1948
Dying with Dignity
Guardian Liberty Central