Everyone agrees that constitutional freedoms are not absolute. There are limits to those freedoms. Thus, for instance, although we have freedom of speech, we can’t go around abusing and defaming people on that account. And although people have freedom of association, they can’t use that freedom to form gangs, which would then go ahead to cause anguish to the society… So on the one hand, we have the constitutional freedoms. And on the other hand, we have limits to those freedoms. And this brings about an interesting question, as to what reasonable limits to constitutional freedoms are. For although we agree that there should be limits to the constitutional freedoms, we are also careful not to limit the freedoms too much (as tyrants do). What, then, are reasonable limits to constitutional freedoms? That is the question we will be attempting to answer, in this article.
The ‘self-harm’ consideration
Sometimes people end up harming themselves while enjoying their constitutional freedoms. For instance, although people have freedom of worship, it is easy for them to engage in harmful practices (including ‘self-flagellation’) in the name of worship. We have also heard of sects that instruct their members not to seek medical care while sick. And there have also been reports of doomsday sects, that advise their members to leave their jobs, sell all their properties and go live in bunkers! That is how you can end up with a fellow who had a decent job at, say, Nordstrom, going to the Mynordstrom.com portal, and signing in into the said MyNordstrom portal, only for him to tender resignation from an otherwise good job — on the advice of such a sect. So there is potential for self-harm here. This needs to be avoided. And that makes it necessary for limits to be put in place, to ensure that people don’t end up harming themselves while enjoying their freedoms.
The ‘harm to others’ consideration
Sometimes, people may end up harming others, while enjoying their constitutional freedoms. For instance, although people have freedom of speech, it is easy for them to start insulting, abusing and defaming others – all in the name of enjoying their freedom of speech. So it becomes necessary to put in place limits to the freedoms, to ensure that people don’t harm others in the name of enjoying those freedoms.
We come to the conclusion that people should be allowed to enjoy their constitutional freedoms to the greatest extent possible. But limits should also be put in place, to ensure that people don’t either harm themselves or harm others in the name of enjoying their constitutional freedoms.