Lewis: Freedom — above all else | VailDaily.com

Lewis: Freedom — above all else

The recent headlines are full of stories of our local and state governments and politicians implementing new “culture” laws and policies that strip away freedoms and demand subservient behavior from individuals and companies. I would have hoped that these actions would be universally condemned, but, for the most part, they have been met with praise by those in their respective parties.

The archetype of this phenomenon is Gov. Ron DeSantis. His “anti-woke” agenda has championed bills taking away LGBTQ+ rights, the rights of colleges to control their curriculum, and even vindictively punished companies like Disney for expressing criticism regarding his actions. This behavior is not limited to right-wing Republicans. Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, recently summarily canceled $54M in contracts with Walgreens simply because the company made the decision not to sell abortion medications in states where they were at risk of violating local regulations.

One of the most chilling potential anti-freedom laws is a bill proposed in Idaho to criminalize the provision of mRNA-based vaccines. This is not about vaccine choice — it would outlaw the option of anyone getting a potentially lifesaving (and FDA-approved) vaccine. How does that jibe with living in a free nation? Shouldn’t we get to decide whether to get vaccinated?

There has been condemnation in each of these cases, but it came almost exclusively from the opposing party. Those who support these cultural dictates and retributions appear willing to ignore the fundamental threat to our core principle of freedom as long as it furthers their agenda.

We are on a dangerous slippery slope. Ronald Reagan put it best when he said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

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Regardless of our own beliefs, we must, above all else, condemn and fight against despotism wherever it exists and whenever it occurs. Government leaders need to be met with universal condemnation when they punish individuals or companies for expressing an opinion, or belief, or taking legal action.

While many supporters are pleased by DeSantis’s anti-woke agenda, his actions should create fear for every American because these laws set precedence and put us all at risk of losing the thing we should value most — freedom. I am not gay nor trans, so I won’t be personally impacted by his current actions, but the concept that it is acceptable for the government to dictate what we are allowed to read, wear, say, or learn in college puts all of our freedoms at risk.

If we tacitly allow tyrannical behavior just because it aligns with our personal viewpoint, we are likely to experience that same behavior ultimately used against us. It’s that simple. Abraham Lincoln eloquently put it this way: “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.”

If you think this will not get out of control, you need to look no further than the most recent banning of the James Patterson science fiction “Maximum Ride” series by a Florida school district. I have read these books and it is absurd to think they should be banned.

We will always have different cultural beliefs. Regardless of what you believe, trying to fight the “culture war” with legislation taking away the rights of others is not a reasonable approach. Unlike what Rep. Lauren Boebert believes, the church (and by this I assume she means her church) does not direct the government. Our nation was founded on the principles of liberty and freedom and that means we are free to believe as we choose.

I hope we can all agree on one thing. Maintaining our freedoms is far more important than trying to “win” an unwinnable culture war.

Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.

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