Politics & Philosophy by Dr. Martin D. Hash, Esq.
There is a subtle aspect to collectivist thinking that liberty-practicing people find surprising: the "how does it affect you?" accusation. This question puts the liberty-seeker on the defensive to explain their reasoning for objecting to the actions of someone else, because liberty people are accustomed to the person impinging upon their liberty to provide justification, not the other way around. When you are in a public place, you do not expect to be forced into acting contrary to established norms: you may find it uncomfortable to address a man as a woman or meet a woman in the Men's bathroom. The Prayer-in-School and Pledge-of-Allegiance crowd use the same tactic: “Why can't you stand silently while everyone else pledges? How does it affect you?” Of course, liberty is the answer to both situations; with liberty, you recognize the wishes of others out of courtesy, not obligation, and you may withdraw your acquiescence at any time.
Control-seekers attempt to reverse responsibility of who must capitulate in a social conflict; they express the opinion that what someone else wants subsumes your preferences if it is more important to them then it is to you. If you object, the first time you are confronted, even accused, with the retort, “How does it affect you?” you freeze because you haven't had time to think it through. This is because you're acting and responding out of ingrained social courtesy, with the expectation that people will be courteous back. You don't have to explain yourself because your liberty is paramount; if others want to impinge upon it then they must provide the justification. It's up to them to get your permission, not your duty to accommodate them. Other people are simply allies, not friends or partners, and allies don't make unilateral decisions without violating the implied social treaty.
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