Liberty's Loss Lamented

Liberty, like God, is frequently used on both sides of an argument. But both sides can't be right, according to Robert Garmong, senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute (

Liberty, like God, is frequently used on both sides of an argument. But both sides can't be right, according to Robert Garmong, senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute (Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, resulting in numerous protests.

"Those cartoons were an exercise of free speech, and everybody recognizes that," Garmong said. "But we have a growing part of the world that is violently, vehemently opposed to just that freedom. There have been people marching in the street, burning down buildings and killing other people in the name of opposition to freedom. There have been many sightings of people carrying signs and banners that say, 'Kill freedom of speech. Kill liberty.' It doesn't get any more explicit than that."

Liberals are supposed to be profoundly committed to the right of publishers, authors and cartoonists to say what they will, but the left hasn't defended freedom of speech, Garmong said. They're actually attacking that freedom with their silence on this issue, he said.

"If people are willing to jettison that freedom so quickly simply in the face of someone else's protest, then freedom is in a very sorry state," Garmong said. "Our freedom is in jeopardy."

What's at stake is our very survival, according to philosopher Ayn Rand. Garmong explained that human beings don't have large muscles or fangs with which to protect ourselves. Nor do we have the innate, powerful instincts. Unlike a puppy, who knows to chase a ball the instant it sees one, a human being needs his or her mind to survive. Rand said that liberty is essential for our survival.

The "rational mind" is what allows us to think, learn and figure out what will make it possible to exist, given our life circumstances and needs. Therefore, we must be free to use our minds.The role of government is to ensure that freedom, Garmong said. Within the constraints of our laws and dominant social structure, we need to be free from coercion in order for our minds to function.

"Ayn Rand argues coercion stops thinking," Garmong said. "Force is anti-mind. When someone is under the initiation of force, their mind is cut off from the world. It's cut off from their ability to act. For instance, I have that dollar in my pocket, and I think it should go toward buying me a hot dog. You step in and take my wallet. I know you don't deserve my money. You don't have any moral claim to it. But my action is divorced from that knowledge. I have to act as if you did and hand it over to you."

The disconnect between what a person knows and the freedom to act means survival is threatened. It is up to individuals as much as societies to expect to be free from coercion and the threat of coercion, Garmong said.

"Freedom is political fodder and a rallying point but is quickly abandoned when social, religious or political pressure is brought to bear," he said. "We have to choose a full and uncompromising view of the importance of freedom. We must understand, recognize and have the courage to implement the real nature of freedom and defend it in the face of tyranny worldwide and at home.

"Take up the case for liberty that has been abandoned by its pseudo defenders."

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