The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. – H.L. Mencken
A timely sentiment in today’s world, where we have sucessively thrown the rulebook aside when dealing with inconvenient groups of people that we don’t like:
Civil liberties were hard-won by our ancestors. Here in Britain we used to transport petty criminals and social activists in penal colonies on the other side of the world. At the time, that was the humane option as opposed to public execution. Part of the success story at the end of the twentieth century and the start of the present one was the gradual extension of freedom to previously marginalised people within our society. Yet even as this has been happening, the scope of what is permitted has been remorselessly shrinking year on year. Freedom of speech, freedom of association, privacy, the right to strike, the right to peacefully protest, all have become weaker with each passing year of my lifetime. I was born in 1984, during the great miner’s strike. Can anyone imagine something like that being allowed today?