Extremism in the Defense of Liberty by Bill Kurtze

18 Feb 2022 11:43 AM | Anonymous

Extremism in the Defence of Liberty 

by Bill Kurtze

Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. 

These words were first delivered by US Senator Barry Goldwater in accepting the  1964 Republican Presidential nomination. At the time, the sentence and the  candidate were largely discredited. Today the emotions encompassing that  sentence are increasingly reflective of the views of a growing number of people -  witness the COVID/ Freedom Truck Rally.  

I support that some problems must be opposed using violent measures, but  believe that violence should only be used as a last resort. I also know that some  problems, even the gravest of injustices, and the most ambitious of principles,  require moderation. I dare to believe that most of the time, nonviolent means are  pragmatically most effective in reaching just ends.  

As to liberty, it has, for me, never meant that the only consideration is how  something affects me personally. If I choose to live in a society, then the  privileges I gain from living with others must be balanced against my  responsibilities to that society. Such includes my responsibility to act in an  informed and rational manner. If you make your decisions based on fear and  rooted in a lack of factual information, then it is hard for that society to have any  real freedom. 

If my actions infringe on the rights of others then it may be necessary to sacrifice  some of my freedom and that’s where the problems begin. Who says who  sacrifices how much? In a democracy, the answer must lie within the system of  governance that the people have chosen including any duly elected officials  selected to implement their laws. 

True freedom requires that individuals do not trample the rights of others. When  actions needlessly place others at risk, then those actions stop being an  exercise in personal freedom and become a selfish infringement on the rights of  others. If I decide that it is my right to help myself to the property of others, then  is holding me accountable for theft an infringement of my rights? No rational  person would say yes to that because the rights of others to property and safety  are an accepted part of our social contract.  

How does this relate to COVID-19 and how we prioritize the options open to  government to maximize the physical, mental, social and economic benefits to 

all its citizens? After two years of restrictions, Canadians are COVID weary and  want things to return to normal. While very few if anyone would disagree with  that, the real questions relate to how, when and under what circumstances. For  me, the answers lie, in part, in the decisions and actions we have taken to date.  

Science has gotten us over the worst of it. Our health system, although  spasmodically on the brink of collapse, has done an incredible job of caring for  the nation. The people who have gotten vaccinated and religiously self isolate  have gotten us to a point where we are now beginning to see our new normal.  Governments, for their part, have managed the pandemic without benefit of  hindsight and within a tolerable framework of restrictions and financial  assistance programs. 

We know what we have to do now. All we have to do is continue to do it. As for governments, perhaps it is now time for them to begin formulating a cogent  strategy on appropriate next steps as we move from a pandemic to an endemic  existence.


  • 18 Feb 2022 4:43 PM | Bev. Cumming
    Lots of food for thought in this piece!
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    • 18 Feb 2022 5:02 PM | Pat
      Well written, as usual
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  • 18 Feb 2022 5:28 PM | J. Kensit
    So wonderfully articulated. I have one more thought. Who is to say what ' normal' will be ?
    Post war UK looked and felt nothing like prewar UK. My mother loathed rationing and coupons, and it persisted for years.
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