By pitting the rarefied ideals of classical liberalism against a straw man of authoritarian “progressivism”, Tim Wilson (“Both sides of politics should cease nanny-state meddling”, The Australian, 8/1) reduces complex issues of individual freedom versus social good to a simple black and white cartoon. So devoted to these ideals is Wilson that he indignantly defends even the freedom to sell addictive carcinogens. This is unsurprising since his employer, the IPA, is funded by the tobacco industry. But I wonder if his outrage extends to speeding and seatbelt laws, or restrictions on guns and explosives, or the prohibition on the sale of heroin. After all, as adults we all know the risks and responsibilities our actions entail.
In the real world, the very existence of society has always meant some restriction of individual freedom. In some cases it is because the individual may not be capable of a true choice, as in the case of addiction. In others, it is because the social consequences of a bad individual decision are too severe, thus gun laws. It is not as simple as black and white.