Protecting a Freedom By Denying a Freedom

Without getting too deeply into the reasons behind the French headscarf ban, I note that a consequence - intended or not - is that it simultaneously gives freedom to some (the freedom from being bullied/coerced/whatever into wearing a headscarf), while simultaneously denies freedom to others (the freedom to wear a headscarf if they want to).

Are there any other examples of laws from around the world that ostensibly protect freedoms, while in actuality denies them?

Well, MANY civil rights laws that are enacted to protect one group’s freedoms inevitably infringe on other people’s freedoms.

If you pass a law saying that a private club must admit women, you’re infringing on people’s rights to decide whom they socialize with.

If you pass a law saying that retailers may not discriminate on the basis of race, you’re infringing on that entrepreneur’s freedom to run his business as he sees fit.

Obligations and rights are two sides of the same coin.

To the extent that I have obligations and prohibitions, you don’t need rights or protections. Alternatively, the way the OP seems to be phrasing it, to the extent that you have rights and protections, I am not as free as I might wish I were.

It’s simple logic. I don’t see any other way around it.

Well Turkey and some other countries have a similar situation regarding traditional Muslim dress.

You want to be a bit careful of freedoms that are expressed as freedom “from” something. It would, for example, be a bit dubious to make the argument “My proposal making it a felony to serve anything other than Frosted Flakes for breakfast may indeed restrict freedom of choice, but it balances this by freeing everyone from the problem of deciding what to eat.”

(Bold added)
In other words, this is a variation of “Your freedom ends where my nose begins”.

Or, as I might put it, freedom is conserved. There is a fixed and finite amount of it in the universe; the best you can do is re-distribute it in a way that (depending on your agenda) is more universally fair, or more advantageous to yourself.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, thousands of people gained the freedom to, among other things, freely visit relatives from which they’d been separated for years. What was the corresponding loss of freedom?

Well, their former Communist overlords lost all their freedom to enslave them. If they were enslaving them for so long, they must have been getting something useful out of it, which they then lost.


That remark was partially facetious. But still, only partially, I think.

One argument against the full face hijab get-up is that society has the right to demand that people not hide their face in public, that can facilitate crime. In a way, my lack of freedom to wear a ski mask into a 7-11 or on the street (except in blizzards) matches your freedom from fear of being robbed.

The point with civil rights laws was always a good one too - by removing the businessman’s right to discriminate against customers, it also removed the threat to the businessman that even should he want to server minority customers, to do so might drive away a significant number of prejudiced but lucrative customers.

Another example - in the first world, there is no need to legislate family sizes. The problem is not too many children, but the opposite. In a country which had just finished a serious famine and saw no end in sight (since rational self-directed food production methods were off the table) population control was a necessary step… your right to have children ends where my pantry begins, so to speak.

The big question always is - is the trade-off in lost rights a fair trade and effective in producing the desired goial? Is that goal truly desireable, and what about the law of unintended consequences?

Well, that’s true, but the way we value freedom seems to be that more people having a smaller amount is better than some people having a really large amount. At a certain point, there’s no real point in more freedom.

In other words, we not only try to be fair, but to get the most user out of the freedom by spreading little bits around.

Just about all laws everywhere, I should think.

My freedom from the fear of being murdered takes away your freedom to murder me, etc., etc.

It seems that every freedom to do something must be balanced against your neighbors right to NOT do that thing (or be involved with, or impacted by it). Though this theory often gets ignored when people are absolutely certain they’re right.

Freedom from being visited by relatives.