OPINION: The Alfie Evans Case is a Litmus Test


By Chris Rickerson

The Alfie Evans case is a litmus test for those who actually comprehend Classical Liberal ideas and those who simply pay lip service to them in order to stand on a moral pedestal above Communists and Fascists while unknowingly preaching the same philosophies as the collectivists to whom they wish to feel superior.

For those who may not know the details of the case, Alfie Evans was a very young British boy who suffered seizures over a year ago and was taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England. He never left the hospital and died a few days before the writing of this article after suffering for over a year from an as yet undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition.

He did not die from his disease, however. Alfie died because the British government chose to override his parent’s wishes and ordered their son to be disconnected from life support.

It took nearly a week for the toddler to die.

A week without food or water.

And the fact that so many people who claim to support Liberalist principles, principles like individual rights and self reliance, are arguing in favor of the British government’s actions has been giving me a real headache.

I think that people often forget that freedom means the right to potentially be wrong. Advocating that all people be given individual rights and self reliance implicitly means that you support all people’s right to squander the opportunities presented by this sort of freedom and to take actions with which you may not necessarily agree.

For example, a mainstay of the Liberalist movement is activism for free speech and we all would recognize that the freedom to say whatever you like does and must include the right to offend people and to say incredibly nasty things.

This was a notion that the late great Christopher Hitchens repeatedly and eloquently championed. The British people did not listen to Hitchens or heed his crystal clear warnings about censorship and now there is a movement scrambling to repeal Britain’s hate speech laws and reverse the damage being done by them.

Christopher Hitchens, author of “God is Not Great,” poses in this Jan. 9, 2007 handout photo. Photographer: Christian Witkin. Source: Twelve/Grand Central Publishing via Bloomberg News.

Hitchens pointed out in one of his great speeches in defense of free expression that the problem of censorship, and I would say that this problem also extends to governmental regulation of any right, isn’t so much a question of what ought to be regulated or censored as it is a question of who exactly it is who will get to do the censoring and the regulating.

The obvious implication is that governments are made up of humans and those humans are driven by political agendas, self interest, ideology, opportunism, and a multitude of other forces.

And it is at this point that I would ask:

What has the British government done lately to earn anyone’s respect or trust?

This is a government that is now in the habit of fining and jailing people for mean tweets and edgy YouTube videos and flipping the bird to traffic cameras. The British police have been caught again and again letting the large scale grooming, torture, rape, and murder of young British girls by mostly Muslim men go on unhindered for decades because of the fears of accusations of racism that political correctness has instilled. This is a government that has banned foreign journalists and activists explicitly for wrongthink while welcoming back ISIS jihadists with open arms. I believe it was just last week that the House of Lords voted in favor of reversing Brexit, which was the democratic will of the British people.

What makes you think that the British government has the best interests of the British people at heart?

Why would anyone think that it is a good idea to now trust that government the right to override parental rights?

In fact, the notion that a government has the right to override a parent’s right to decide what is best for their child when no definable crime has been committed is one consistently (and to my knowledge, exclusively) championed by collectivist ideologies.

The agoge of ancient Sparta tore children away from their parents and fashioned them into a tool of the Spartan state, if the child wasn’t ‘euthanized’ at birth for being unsatisfactory in the eyes of the Spartan government.

In Nazi Germany, Hitler is well known to have indoctrinated thousands of children into his ideology via the Hitler Youth programs.

Communist regimes are replete with examples of attempts to have the state act in loco parentis, or in place of the parents. Children would be indoctrinated so strongly that they would turn their dissident parents in to the authorities. Specific programs were sponsored to break up family units, thus make children more dependent on the Communist state for their upbringing and thus more vulnerable to indoctrination.  Ceaușescu, the Romanian Communist dictator, sponsored policies which resulted in the creation of massive state run orphanages that were replete with abuse and terrible living conditions.

I could really care less whether or not you think the British government made the right call in the Alfie Evans case.

What is important is the precedent that has been set here, which is particularly dangerous in Britain since the British government is built by precedent.

And, just saying, the British do have a literal Communist idiot with ambitious designs on the halls of power.

The British police blocked the doors of the hospital to prevent Alfie from leaving.

The Merseyside Police felt comfortable with trying to threaten people into silence on social media about this controversy by posting a pretty ominous message on their Twitter, which they have yet to delete at the time of the writing of this article.

More than anything else, the sheer brazenness of the British government in this affair and many others of late worries me deeply.