Freedom. It sounds great, but what is it? Obviously freedom is just a word like any other. For instance “Dog toffee.” In many ways these are just the same and that is why freedom can be confusing. I suppose it might be easier to ask the question: “What does freedom mean?” The problem with questions is they always lead to more questions.
Like, “What do you want for dinner?” and you probably say, “I dunno beans or something,” and then the next fucking question is “do you want salad with it?” Which leads to, “Do you want it in a bowl or on a cup or shall I just throw it at you from the kitchen and you can catch it in your mouth like a big seal?”
That is the big problem with freedom really. It involves choices. Choices are time consuming and tiring, especially if all of the choices are not worth choosing or you can’t be bothered to think about salad.
Here in the People’s Democratic Republic of Shopping, we love freedom. We love it so much that if other people don’t like our freedom we go and punch them in the face with bombs until they do. Freedom is like that. Sometimes it sucks to be the unfree person when free people are jumping up and down on your head, even if they are doing it for your own good.
Guns are a big part of freedom. If you haven’t got a really big one, somebody who is more free than you might come and try and jump up and down on your head. The problem is, if everyone has a fucking gun and is trying to be more free than everyone else, it turns into a very unrelaxing situation and even the freest people in the world need to relax sometimes.
In our western supermarket conglomerate democracy, you are free to choose between fifty different flavours of margarine and smoothies. Good luck with that.
In the film, “Wild at Heart,” somebody does a little dance wearing a jacket made out of snakes. The person says, “This is a snakeskin jacket, it’s a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom.” Not for snakes, it isn’t.
There are two types of freedom. Nice freedom and nasty freedom. You can probably choose…if you have a big gun or if you aren’t a snake.
Nice freedom is just consensual sex stuff between adults and not jumping up and down on people. Nasty freedom is about being an asshole because you can.
Those choices again, huh? Did you think freedom was just a walk in the park? No FUCKING WAY! Freedom is quite hard… especially for people that have been in jail since they were born. When they get out they are confused by trees and margarine. Some people that have never been to jail are confused by freedom, too. Now we’ve got the science out of the way, let’s look at the facts.
For some people freedom is walking down the road in a comfortable dress and feeling a nice breeze on their thighs. For other people, freedom is a bit like an airport with lots of cameras and tense lines of people getting strip searched before going on holiday. Freedom is amorphous and wafty, like a cloud and, like a cloud, it looks like many things to many different people.
Some people say, “LOOK, that cloud looks like a cow.” And other people say, “No it doesn’t.” Often this ends in a fight.
Freedom is hard to punch and it is difficult to go to war with because actually it is all in your mind. Like a dream or something else that doesn’t exist in a way, but sort of does. Freedom is like women in Tampax adverts and, because of that, freedom is bad for the people who feel a bit weird about that stuff (mainly men). In the olden days when women were talking to the moon in a gang they used to all go and live in a comfortable shed at the bottom of the garden for a while and do knitting and plot revenge while the men fought bears and talked about their feelings. Now there are no bears and everyone has forgotten how to knit. That is why freedom has changed into the internet and abstract feelings about wanting to keep chickens and “the good old days.” I had a girlfriend once and I built her a nice shed at the bottom of the garden but, weirdly, I ended up living in it instead because she said if I liked freedom so much then I could go and get used to it by myself.
Freedom is sometimes fried, occasionally boiled, sometimes eaten raw like a salad AND EVERYONE PRETENDS TO LIKE IT BECAUSE IT IS GOOD FOR YOU.
Birds are free but they still have to flap their wings when they fly, otherwise they crash and that can be tiring, too. Joplin said: “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose” but once I was in a bar and I accidentally spent all my money on booze and some wisecracker said I was free and I started crying because I couldn’t pay the rent and I got evicted from my bedsit the next day. Because it can be so confusing, sometimes people just pretend to like freedom but really they prefer it when people tell them what to do so they can say it is not their fault later when it all goes wrong.
Freedom is a bit like being in a forest without a map. There are trees and squirrels and they all seem happy enough, but it is raining and getting dark and you are a bit scared and hungry and you don’t want to sleep on the ground because of spiders. People say that art is freedom but they have obviously never tried to record an album in a forest with no electricity.
Pretty soon you’ll be running back to boring old civilization saying sorry and asking for your old job back and then you’ll spend the rest of your life telling stories about the ten minutes when you actually were free. Inside, you might feel a little bit sad, but now you have a fridge and prescription drugs and sometimes those things can make you feel quite free even if you aren’t.
Freedom is probably best left to the professionals. That way when it all goes horribly wrong for them, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and relax in the cozy prisons we endure in the name of safety.