— In Concord, they came for the water bottles, and I did not speak out, because I drink Gatorade.
— In Arlington, the came for the weed-whackers, and I did not speak out, because I do not whack weeds.
— In Amherst, they came for tobacco, and I did not speak out, because I do not smoke.
— In Boston and Chicago, they came for Chick-fil-A, and I did not speak out, because I eat at Burger King.
— In New York, they came first for the Big Gulps and then for baby formula, and I did not speak out, because I do not drink soda and I am not expecting a baby. . . .
Why is it that modern-day liberals specialize in limiting freedom of choice?
Whether because of a perceived threat to the environment (water bottles), the personal political views of a company’s CEO (Chick-fil-A), or an alleged public health crisis (Big Gulps, outdoor exposure to second-hand smoke, and baby formula), many liberals today seek to use government to impose their personal opinions and aesthetic preferences on the whole of American society.
Oh, they’re all for freedom of choice to abort inconvenient or unhealthy babies. But just try and feed a newborn a bottle of formula, and they may just call in the Gestapo.
The irony, of course, is that, while many liberals today use government to limit choice, classical liberal ideology is rooted in notions of individual autonomy and personal freedom that are antithetical to government paternalism. Anti-choice liberals rationalize this conflict by convincing themselves that the obvious moral force of their cause (protecting the environment or reducing obesity) outweighs any restrictions on liberty.
Sometimes, they condescendingly claim that consumers (read: you and I) suffer from false consciousness — that is, an inability to understand the risks of our behavior or to act rationally when presented a choice.
Liberals, you see, are so much smarter than the rest of us. And so, it is only right that they be empowered to protect us from ourselves.
That liberalism has become subsumed by the arrogance of political correctness is not new. Back in the 1980s, when I was a student at UMass-Amherst, liberals were the ones seeking to ban this, that and the other thing: military recruiters (because of the position of the armed services on gays in the military); Coors beer (because of the CEO’s support for the foreign policy of Ronald Reagan); the Minuteman symbol (it was “sexist” and “pro-war”).
Once upon a time, before any of us under the age of 50 can remember, liberalism was synonymous with liberty, tolerance, pluralism. But for decades, it has been conservatives, not liberals, who stand for freedom.
As John Adams famously noted, “facts are stubborn things”:
— Gatorade bottles pollute the earth as much as water bottles (and they can all be recycled);
— The U.S. Constitution protects the right of all citizens (even corporate CEOs) to express their political views without threat of government sanction;
— Overweight people will find other ways to consume calories even without access to 32-ounce sugary sodas. (Clever consumers might even purchase two smaller beverages instead of one larger one!);
— And it is now clear that the major studies purporting to prove breast feeding superior to bottle-feeding are based on flawed methodology.
But many liberals are not interested in facts or even common sense. They are interested only in enforcing social hegemony and flexing their political muscle.
Recent attempts to ban everything that offends liberal sensibilities may seem almost satirical. But the threat to our liberty is real.
It’s time for all of us to speak out.