The pronouncements have been coming in thick and fast, so much so that Java has been muttering under his breath about George Orwell getting his dates wrong by about twenty-five years.

We’re not exactly sure of the order of the pronouncements, but the ones to catch our attention were the ones about banning ‘adults only’ films, taking off the porn sites (again, not sure of the extent of this exercise) that could be accessed by Sri Lankans at home, banning school children from having mobile phones in school, getting heavy on the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs and generally creating an atmosphere that seems (to freedom loving folks anyway) to be very ‘Talibanish’, or repressive. And if this is only the beginning, God (for want of a more suitable term) help us!

Just what the hell is going on with the mindsets of those in power? The recent victory over the enemy created a sense of relief and hope in most of us – hope of ‘reconciliation’ and ‘rehabilitation’, not to mention hope to have the freedom to move around without restraint and paranoia. However, it doesn’t appear that much has changed, particularly considering the fact that efforts are underway to increase the number of soldiers by many thousands. Does any of this make sense to anyone other than those who are making these decisions?

‘Freedom’ is loosely defined as ‘the ability to act freely – a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions’. Obviously there is a whole lot more that is encompassed by the term and there are many different types of ‘freedom’. For instance, the section on ‘political freedom’ in Wikpedia, states: “Political freedom can be described as the absence of interference with the sovereignty of an individual by the use of coercion or aggression, a definition which is also known as negative liberty. Political freedom can also be described as having the power and resources to act to fulfill one’s own potential, as in the definition of positive liberty. Presumably within both definitions, the members of a free society have full dominion over their public and private lives but positive liberty addresses the notion of human agency, whereas, the definition attributed to negative liberty addresses only an individual’s actions and not his/her social circumstances.

The opposite of a free society would be a totalitarian state, which highly restricts political freedom in order to regulate almost every aspect of behavior. In this sense ‘freedom’ refers solely to the relation of humans to other humans, and the only infringement on it is coercion by humans[1], as suggested within the definition of negative liberty.

Milton Friedman, another classical liberal, strongly incorporated the absence from coercion into his description of political freedom: The essence of political freedom is the absence of coercion of one man by his fellow men. The fundamental danger to political freedom is the concentration of power. The existence of a large measure of power in the hands of a relatively few individuals enables them to use it to coerce their fellow men. Preservation of freedom requires either the elimination of power where that is possible or its dispersal where it cannot be eliminated.

Here in Sri Lanka we have already been subjected to a number of ‘laws’, one of which tell us what not to eat and drink on specific days – it doesn’t matter that this ‘law’ is based on one of the  religions practiced in the country, but must apply to even those who do not practice the particular religion. What is even more absurd with this ‘law’ is that even tourists and other non-nationals are forced to comply.

Just what is wrong with adults watching ‘adults only’ films? Is this a new kind of morality being foisted on Sri Lankans? Will they ban books that have any sexually explicit content in them next? And just how far will they go to control the freedom we have been used to for so long? Is there a ‘process’ that is used to come up with these decisions or are these the ideas of one man or perhaps a group of men in power? Don’t the citizens have any say in the matters at all? Is this democratic? And are these pronouncements made in the best interests of the citizens of this country in this day and age?

What do you think?

And please don’t tell us that to question all this will make us ‘traitors’.