Letter: Freedom and responsibility should be linked


There’s a great deal of posturing from the conservative wing about freedom — freedom from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, freedom from mask mandates.

There seems to be an attitude that that “freedom” must be absolute and defended by violence, even if it results in the ongoing spread of COVID-19, hospitalizations and death for these freedom fighters, not to mention their children, relatives, neighbors, co-workers and strangers on the street.

So what about the concept of responsibility for oneself and for others’ health and well-being?

Here’s my challenge. Do a Google search combining the words “conservative” or “Republican,” coupled with the word “freedom.” You’ll get millions of hits, because that word “freedom” is beloved by conservatives, who frequently and constantly use it in letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, speeches, sound bites, websites and entire programs from the right-wing media and pundits like Ingraham, Hannity, Carlson, Levin, Bill O’Reilly and the late Rush Limbaugh.

Now do a Google search combining the words “Republican” and “responsibility.” When I did those two browser searches, the word “freedom” came up twice as often as “responsibility” when combined with the search term “Republican.”

Why is that? I seem to recall that the Republican Party used to pride itself as the party of personal responsibility. No more.

What I see happening is that conservatives are claiming absolute freedoms to own rapid-fire weaponry, not get vaccinated, not mask up and never accept responsibility for personal, political and legal transgressions. If conservatives do utter the word “responsibility,” it is always focused on their political, cultural and economic foes and their transgressions.

Freedom for me, but not for thee.

Responsibility for thee, but not for me.

Those are the core dictums for today’s conservatives. Have Republican presidents ever accepted responsibility for Watergate, Iran/Contra, the Great Recession, 9/11 or Jan. 6?

Absolute freedom, without responsibility or accountability, becomes anarchy or might makes right. Think white plantation owner.

Absolute responsibility, without freedom, sounds like the authoritarian states of North Korea and dictators like Mao, Stalin or Hitler. Think obedient, responsible gulag prisoner.

There has to be balance between the two concepts.

There has to be compromise and flexibility.

Absent balance, compromise and flexibility, I fear we are headed for increasingly violent conflict between the two tribes, Red and Blue.

I hope I am wrong.

Brodie Farquhar


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