In the comments to the previous post, Rational Anarchist makes some interesting observations about restrictions on freedoms.
Denying others their freedoms, particularly "for their own good" is a bad thing, if you ask me.
It's a fair point, but isn't that what the law is for? Not for denying freedoms to people "for their own good", but certainly for the good of society.
I should say that I am also opposed to imposing restrictions on people "for their own good". This is why I am against such things as compulsory seat belts for adult car occupants and compulsory crash helmets for motorcyclists. As a driver I have always worn a seat belt through choice, but as a motorcyclist I preferred to ride without a helmet as it restricted my vision so much - a crucial thing for a motorcyclist.
I understand that seat belts and crash helmets save lives, but whether or not one wears either is only likely to have an impact on that person - therefore I can not see what business it is of the state to insist that we wear them.
Now, leaving aside the issue of imposing wholesale restrictions on Sunday trading - which I don't actually particularly favour although I do believe there should be some - the trick of a liberal democracy is balancing freedoms against restrictions in a way that does not harm society. In my view that balance was pretty much right around 30-40 years ago, but in the last few decades it has increasingly moved out of balance to the point where society is suffering as a result
Certain freedoms which we once took for granted have seen massive restrictions imposed on them. The recent revelation of the BNP membership list, for example, exposes the myth that we are free to belong to any legitimate political party - serving police officers can be members of any party except the BNP - and I'm sure that plenty of people on that list will be wondering what their employment prospects are now.
The freedom to discriminate has been eroded too. Discrimination is a dirty word these days - unless it's against a member of the BNP! - but it is an entirely natural thing to do. Everybody discriminates every day - whether it be the choice of television programme, newspaper or who they choose to employ. It is all based on being "discriminating" - making judgements based on your perception of something or someone. We all do it, but the law now imposes restrictions on it.
Freedom of speech is a prime example of where we have seen our traditional freedoms restricted too. These days you can be sacked and even arrested just for holding an opinion which is considered offensive by law.
On the flip side of this, certain things which had restrictions imposed on them have seen increasing liberalisation allowing more freedom for those who behave a certain way - some of those restrictions were societal based while others were enforced by law (in many instances today those restrictions remain but are largely ignored).
Divorce, for example, is an area where the legal restrictions have largely been lifted and the consequence has been disastrous for society.
Similarly with teenage sex - once restricted by societal values as much as the law - the removal of social stigma, the wide availability of contraception and abortion has led to an increase in teenage sex, STD's, abortions and teenage pregnancies and all of this has had a detrimental effect on society.
I could go on and on, but it's probably getting boring already. The point is that there is a fine balance to be achieved between freedoms and restrictions. That balance was pretty much correct around forty years ago - a little fine tuning here and there, but nothing major was required. Instead we got massive upheavals in the balance - virtually tipping the whole thing on it's head - and the consequences for this country have been catastrophic.
We need to regain that balance and the only way to do that is to go back to where it all started to go wrong.