If you were to cast liberties in order of importance, how would you do so?
With the “Cartoon Riots” raging ‘round the world, it would appear we have a conflict of liberties. Satirists’ freedom of speech versus some Muslims’ narrowly (and dangerously) defined freedom of religious expression (a freedom in their minds - not one I'm suggesting is legitimate).
But, freedom of religious expression ought to stop somewhere on this side of deadly violence, because that is a violation of others’ right to life. This is a clear distinction for most of us most of the time.
If your religious or political beliefs include the notion that sometimes you must kill innocent people, then you are not free to practice those beliefs. It could be considered a restriction of an individual’s rights, but it is a restriction that is nearly universally considered necessary and right.
Generally, we recognize that the liberty to health and life ought to be right up at the top - if my freedom of speech conflicts with your freedom from oppression, you don't have the right to interfere with my freedom to live.
But I think it is a distinction that we don’t often think about and for which we don’t often define intricacies. What are the exceptions or are there exceptions? How would you design such a hierarchy? Or would you?
I think mine would be:
1. Freedom of life trumps most things...
2. Freedom of health (under which clean air and water would fall)
4. Speech (although, I may be cautious about how much "expression" I would include under free speech - I DON'T think giving money to political candidates falls under free speech - or at best it's a lesser form of free speech)
5. Religion (and I put religion this far down not because I think religion is less important than the above, but because I don't think most world religions endorse taking away life, health or speech)
What am I missing? How would you cast the order? What would you add?
I think one caveat I would add is that there are some freedoms to which I don’t believe we are entitled: The liberty of having an easy life, for example, or the freedom of convenience or instant gratification.
What are your thoughts?