I just finished my first reading of an excellent resource on chicken raising, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. Not something anybody’s likely to pick up and read just for laughs – as the name implies, it’s about raising chickens. A few people will find that interesting, most won’t.
I was expecting a dry and hopefully useful how-to book. What I didn’t expect was the rather angry freedomista sub-text that kept popping up. The author, Harvey Ussery, is no fan of government regulation. That should come as no surprise, I suppose, since it seems government regulators are no fans of his.
Most people, myself included, don’t consider “food freedom” all that big an issue. You buy food, you eat it. What’s the big deal? It turns out that if you believe you have the right to raise your own healthy food and sell it to whoever wants to buy it, it’s a very big deal. A deadly serious matter. The government is determined to protect these people from themselves, even if it has to kill every one of them. Unregulated food, it seems, is as dangerous to American society as unregulated drugs. But fortunately the drug warriors can spare some SWAT teams to keep us safe from it.
Now, the freedom to join the hippies at the local food cooperative is probably not the particular hill I’d choose to die on, but at least I can understand the foodies’ perspective. If somebody came along and tried to dictate to me what I may and may not eat, I might get a bit testy with that person. But there are other people, undoubted freedomistas, whose perspective I really don’t understand at all.
For example, there’s this guy named Sandy Sandford whose work I’ve enjoyed for quite a long time. We’ve never met but he’s a good friend of Claire’s, and Claire is a fine judge of character. She likes me, after all. Now, Sandford’s big thing is expatriation. For several years he has beaten the drum that it’s time for freedom-loving Americans to take their business elsewhere. He could be right about that. The obvious problem, of course, is where else would you go? If, like a lot of freedom-lovers, your big shibboleth is guns, some of the places he suggests sound like hellholes. Out of the frying pan, etc. Gun rights, though I gather he’s in favor, just don’t happen to be his big thing.
Then there are other people seeking their own kind of freedom, with whose big issue I don’t have the slightest sympathy. Randy and Vicky Weaver, for example, moved away from “civilized” society because, among other things, they didn’t want to rub shoulders with anybody but white people. Even a sympathetic description of the Weavers – and that’s an excellent book on the subject, by the way – makes them sound like people I’d ask to move away. And yet they weren’t hurting anybody. They may have been genuinely unpleasant people, I don’t know, but what did they do to deserve being hunted and slaughtered? They had views they didn’t share with other people, so they took them elsewhere. Cool. So did I.
I’ve said it a couple of times before: If you don’t want freedom for people you despise, you don’t want freedom. And if you’re not banding together with the ones you don’t despise, even the ones you think are maybe being a little wrong-headed or silly, you’re missing a great bet for safeguarding your own kind of freedom. Because it’s not a question of who’s right or who’s wrong in the greater freedom movement. They’re all right. And the ones oppressing them are all wrong.