On liberty and bloodshed: a letter to Oroville’s mayor and city council


Courtesy of Fox News

Scott Thompson, vice mayor of Oroville, speaks on Fox News after the city declares itself a constitutional republic following California’s statewide vaccination requirement for schoolchildren.

“Every time you lose freedom, or a nation gives up freedom, it usually takes bloodshed to get it back.” 

Scott Thompson, vice mayor of Oroville, uttered this harrowing remark on Tucker Carlson’s talk show on Fox News after the city declared itself a constitutional republic. 

Oroville’s declaration is a response to a California mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all public and private schoolchildren. The rural Northern California city had previously refused to enforce the statewide ban on indoor dining and declined to propose a mask mandate. The city council argues that the vaccination mandate violates the constitutionally protected rights of American citizens.

The city’s refusal to follow statewide mandates and comply with regulations is not about public health or welfare — it’s about politics. It’s about defiance under the guise of “freedom,” nevermind how ruinous. It’s about proclaiming “the government can’t tell me what to do!” when asked to do something as simple as wear a mask for the safety of others.

It’s time to rethink our understanding of liberty by considering its implications with regard to others. The liberties we enjoy are predicated not solely on an individual’s actions, but also on those actions with respect to one another.

When Thompson goes on television and brazenly suggests that we are losing freedom by requiring vaccinations for school children, he’s displaying incompetence as a leader by failing to care for the safety of his constituents while exhibiting a reductive understanding of the meaning of “freedom.”

Thompson echoes the American obsession with freedom as an absolutist ideal in which unconstrained individual action is prioritized and indisputable. But positive freedom is inseparable from negative freedom. That is, it’s nonsensical to consider freedom to act upon one’s own free will and freedom from another’s own free will as separate concepts.

Rules like the requirement for restaurants to pass health inspections and carry a food license are why we’re free to indulge in a meal at a restaurant without the fear of dying from a food-related illness. Laws governing private property allow us the freedom to legally take ownership of property with little concern of someone taking our possessions by force.

Even liberals are mistaken when they argue that reaping the benefits of a civilized society requires that we give up some liberty for the general welfare. Such a claim is absurd. Lack of constraints are not the essence of liberty. Rather, they are a necessary condition that guarantees the preservation of liberty. 

Laws prohibiting murder do not limit your freedom — they guarantee your freedom. By restricting your ability to harm others, your own freedom from the harm of others is secured.

Mask and vaccine mandates are no different. They ask that we set aside trivial desires predicated upon personal preference for the advancement of everyone’s freedom. Thompson, like many others, clamor in opposition to these mandates in the name of freedom, but how much freedom do hospitalized victims in medically induced comas have?

Maskless and unvaccinated defenders of “American liberty” ultimately fail to grasp the concept that a pandemic threatens all our freedoms by limiting our ability to participate in a wide range of activities that were once routine. Negligence in the face of a deadly pandemic only serves to prolong a more extensive restriction of our liberties. That is the true threat to freedom.

Aldo Perez can be reached at [email protected] or @Aldo_Perez on Twitter.