Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fair Play to Fly Your Freak Flag - Mill

Mill doesn't just argue for free speech, he also argues for fairly broad freedom of actions.  He writes about how each person becomes more valuable to themselves and others when they can lead life in the way they best think they can.
To give any fair-play to the nature of each, it is essential that different persons should be allowed to lead different lives. In proportion as this latitude has been exercised any age, has that age been noteworthy to posterity.  Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long as Individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.  
As I have been reading Mill, I've been thinking about current society in the Western world and wondering what Mill would have thought of it.  On this point I think he would have been well pleased.  Our society very loudly supports alternate lifestyles.  There are some exceptions to this, including some strange ones where traditional lifestyle choices come under attack.  (The one that jumps to mind is the one where parents are threatened with legal consequences for spanking their children.)  But in the main, we have a 'live and let live' society.

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