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You mean the Verizon agents aren't going to abduct and waterboard you until you agree to sign a contract with them? You can choose which carrier you do business with, some of whom carry the NARAL texts?

Kinda puts a dent in that "enemy of freedom" argument doesn't it?

Not giving you everything you want is not the same as depriving you of liberty, especially in the context of private relationships voluntarily entered into.

Which is why my fiancee is not moved when I argue that, by refusing to allow me to sleep with other women, I am being oppressed.

Disregarding Conrad, Verizon — a common carrier — has reversed it's decision.

Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Rights Messages

Conrad, what are you talking about? I don't assume anyone has to do business with Verizon. In fact, I assume otherwise. You will note in my post that all I do is say I'm not going to do business with Verizon because I think their content control presumption is an infringement of freedom -- which is certainly would have been.

If a Verizon customer wants certain messages and Verizon won't deliver them, that's a limitation on that person's freedom. The remedy for that -- at least according to my post -- is to not do business with Verizon.

So, uh, what is it you're objecting to?

Your wrong Tom. No one's freedom is being infringed.

Indeed, as things stand now both Verizon and its customers have near perfect freedom. Verizon is free to provide whatever services it chooses and its customers are free to do or not to do business with them.

Your complaint is that Verizon declined to provide a service that some of its customers wanted. So friggin' what? McDonalds declines to serve me beer with my Big Mac (the bastards). If I want one I -- like an abortion supporting Verizon customer -- have to get it elsewhere. The horror! Maybe I should call the ACLU to pry the repressive heel of Ronald McDonald from my throat.

In fact, now that Verizon has backed down in the face of complaints, one could say (with equal validity and equal foolishness) that it's Verizon's customers who are the enemies of freedom. Forcing poor Verizon to supply content it objects to.

Monks are being gunned down in the streets of Burma, homosexuals hanged from cranes in Terhan, children sold into slavery in Cambodia, death camps operate in North Korea, while Functional Ambivalent takes a fearless stand againt authoritarian talk show hosts and repressive telephone serice providers.

Talk about liberal bed-wetting. Sheesh!

Ok, the bed-wetting comment was a bit snotty.

Liberals used to be funny and engaging. Then they acquired High Seriousness. There was no time for anything but That Which Matters Most -- usually some horror in a place far away.

Here you are exhibiting the same tendencies. You scorn me for being concerned with things that don't make your list of Important Issues -- various horrors in places far away.

OK, you're right. Inspired by your moral clarity and consistency, I will convert this into a blog about child slaves in Cambodia -- an issue about which I have no expertise, insight or involvement. And I will express my outrage about this subject ad nauseum to an an audience of no one, doing nothing to actually solve the problem but feeling better about myself because I'm righteous.

Lots of liberals are like that, and I'm absolutely sure you think them foolish. (Actually, I think you think everyone is foolish.) And I agree with your scorn. People like that lack perspective, and they're boring. You can't talk to them about the sandwich you had for lunch without them reminding you that people are starving all over the world.

I bitch about stuff that makes me mad, a subconscious calculation that is personal to the point of seeming -- to you, at least -- random and unworthy. That the calculation includes an element of proximity -- I care more about what happens close-by more than stuff that happens far away -- is a moral flaw, in your estimation.

Do I care that children are sold into slavery? Yes. I just can't really do anything about it except to make sure that that which I can influence becomes a force of gravity in the right direction. Core to that is making sure that my country remains, to the benighted world, a beacon of the possibilities that freedom and education and civilization provide.

To do that, I get worked up about actions advocated nearby that are not as bad as actions taken thousands of miles away. I get pissed about the lack of sidewalks in my neighborhood even though, in the grand scheme of things, it's not as important as child slavery. I think Rush Limbaugh's advocacy of torture is reprehensible, even if it's not as bad as the rough beheadings practiced by our enemies.

Perhaps you could provide me with a prioritized list of the world's evils so that I can make sure to concentrate my valuable time and blogspace on those things which are most important. I'll try to stay focused on those things and those things only.

And the bed-wetting thing? That wasn't snotty. The rest of your comment was snotty. The bed-wetting thing was kind of funny.

I seem to have failed to express myself clearly. Let me try again.

1. Neither telephone companies nor radio hosts can be authoritarian on account of not having any, you know, actual authority.

2. Neither Rush nor Verizon can deprive you of your freedom so long as you are free to turn the dial or switch providers.

3. When folks -- on the left or the right -- equate disagreement and inconvenience with an assault upon their rights, they sound shrill and silly.

4. McDonalds should serve beer.

Another interesting exchange between the astoundingly-literate lawyer and the amazingly-insightful refugee from TV.

I'd just like to point out that, more often than not, the shrill and silly people whining about an inconvenience as though it were "an assault upon their rights" are, in fact, liberals and leftists.

Unfortunately, these shrill and silly people are all-too-often taken seriously.

Incidentally, I find it hard to believe that a man as cosmopolitan as Conrad would frequent McD's often enough to want to have a beer there, much less to want to drink whatever evil yellow liquid they would pass off as "beer." (Or is this your GHWB & pork rinds/WJC & McD's appeal to the common man?)

OK, Conrad, you astoundingly literate lawyer, take this:

1. Rush Limbaugh is authoritarian, in my thinking, because he is an advocate of authoritarian government policies. In checking my past posts which use the word "authoritarian," I'm finding it primarily used not as a label for any particular person, but for the urge among Republicans to use the government to control everything from political protest to people's sex lives. In this particular thread, the first use of the word was in a comment by Conrad. So was the second. I observe that in these discussions there are lots of objections to things I didn't actually say.

2. True. But if i'm under contract with a common carrier like Verizon and Verizon decides to suddenly install a policy that limits the information I can receive through my contracted medium, something of consequence has happened, and it is something that limits my freedom.

3. Agreed.

4. If McDonald's served beer, Hardee's would counter with Absinthe. I don't think any of us want that.

And as for you, Squid, I've got two words for you: Brent Bozell. It's hard to complain about rights not being protected when your policies are based largely on taking rights away. Still, this Christmas we will hear lots from conservatives about how oppressed American Christians are. I look forward to your noting how silly and shrill they seem.

Your attempt to limit me to criticizing things you actually said is an authoritarian outrage.

But McDonald's serves beer - in Europe. The ironic thing Conrad fails to see is that the reason for McDonald's not serving beer at your place probably started with some company thinking it's the nice and decent thing to do and not let people have their choice - and a lot of other companies joined in. Up to a point where everyone is used to a limited set of options and not questioning it anymore.

I happen to be something of an expert on McDonald's, since the company's founder, Ray Kroc, is one of my heroes. Kroc believed that predictability was key to the franchise concept. People had to be confident that the hamburger they got at a McD's in Midland, Texas, would be the same in every way as the hamburger they got in Boston.

McDonald's, according to Kroc, was a place to get hamburgers, fries and milkshakes. (Especially milkshakes. He was a blender salesman when he stumbled across the original McDonald's in San Bernardino, California.) He resisted anything that would complicate the ownership and operation of his restaurants. For example, hi franchise agreements banned jukeboxes and pay phones. And, in order to make sure that every McDonald's was like every other McDonald's, he allowed no innovation on the part of the franchisees.

While this is an limitation of franchisee freedom, it's a limitation the franchisees agree to in advance, as part of their contract with McDonald's.

There's no question that agreeing to play by McDonalds' rules paid off handsomely for everyone involved. Kroc's simplified, disciplined approach to restaurant operation made more millionaires than any other idea or method in human history.


An amazing post. Literally every word in it is wrong.

Uh, my first sentence stands strong and unchallenged!

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