By Jack Peat, TLE Editor
When I first read that Cecil the Lion had been poached by US dentist Walter Palmer I wasn’t immediately concerned about animal rights, cruel blood sports or even the protection of endangered species; I was concerned about freedoms.
Individual liberty, after all, is what allowed Palmer to stand proud over his trophy catch with no thought about the aforementioned consequences. He had grabbed the very sustenance of life in a mockery to those choiceless beings who live in absolute obedience to the law. He, like the fox hunters of Britain who continue to turn a blind eye to the law, is exercising his right to do as he chooses, and perceives himself liberated as a result.
But here’s the catch. “It does not follow that man is more free where there is least law and more restricted where there is most law,” says H.G Wells in the acclaimed novel Modern Utopia. There is no freedom under anarchy; “Consider how much liberty we gain by the loss of the common liberty to kill”.
The US constitution is widely regarded as a bastion of individual liberty, but in the 21st century the cracks are becoming increasingly apparent. My reaction to Cecil the Lion is the same reaction I have when I hear that someone with a legal right to carry a firearm takes the life of another individual, or individuals, governed by the same constitution. The Second Amendment provides US citizens the right to bear arms, but how many times this year has that liberty infringed on another’s basic right to live?
What most people see as selfish acts to harm, kill or endanger, I see as spendthrift liberties that waste liberty. Personal freedom is at the heart of any fair society, but it is increasingly man, and not the state, that is compromising these liberties.
In the parlance of Johne Lock, “when there is no law, there is no freedom.” Those who consider themselves to be above the law are actually the people most deprived of liberty: