Follow TV Tropes

Double-Edged Freedoms

Go To

A group demands a certain kind of freedom, legalizes it in some form, but does not take into account that everyone else has that same privilege.

This trope has been Nuked
Proposed By:
LavonPapillon1 on Sep 29th 2017 at 10:45:03 AM
Last Edited By:
marcoasalazarm on Feb 20th 2018 at 9:33:01 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

A specific group of people want something that they can't have. Unfortunately, in a land of equality and red tape, certain compromises had to be made. They can't just make it so that they can only have them. The only way that the minority can have what they want is to make it accessible for everybody.

Unfortunately, the kind of people who want these kind of things are usually bigots in one form or another, so they end up giving the kind of people they try to dominate the very things they try to dominate them with. In fiction (and sometimes real life), characters that make the demands under these circumstances are given A Taste of Their Own Medicine. Some circumstances plays up the "Original Position Fallacy" line of thinking for the observant viewer to figure out. More extreme and dramatic cases make this an Ironic Hell.

See also Hoist by His Own Petard.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    Calvin: I don't believe in ethics any more. As far as I'm concerned, the ends justify the means. Get what you can while the getting's good - that's what I say! Might Makes Right! The winners write the history books! It's a dog-eat-dog world, so I'll do whatever I have to, and let others argue about whether it's "right"or not.
    -Hobbes shoves Calvin into a mud puddle.-
    Calvin: HEYY! WHY'D YOU DO THAT?!?
    Hobbes: You were in my way. Now you're not. The ends justify the means.
    Calvin: I didn't mean for EVERYONE, you dolt! Just ME!

     Film - Live-Action 
  • The Purge and its sequels all are built around the premise that, in a dystopian future, for one night, all crime is legal and emergency services shut down, for the most part allowing people to kill each other with impunity. On the second film, it is showcased that (as would really happen if something like this existed) most people are completely reluctant and even afraid to go outside their homes and risk getting killed, which means that the New Founding Fathers must field kill-teams to pretty up Purge figures for propaganda purposes and it is in reality just a method for the rich to go out and Kill the Poor and maintain control. The third film has this trope going full-on when the New Founding Fathers decide that, in order to kill a presidential candidate that is running on an anti-Purge campaign, they must remove the up-until-then-enforced rule to not target government officials... which means that the anti-Purge rebellion is now capable to directly target said rich scumbags.

     Literature 
  • In Harry Potter, the three unforgivable curses are considered illegal because they can only be used to control, torture and kill, use of any of these three can lead to a one-way trip to the wizarding world's worse and cruelest prison Azkaban. By Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort and his Death Eaters have taken control of the Ministry of Magic and have since legalized these curses so that they could use them all they want without penalty (to the point where they enforce teaching them in Hogwarts). However, Harry, Ron and Hermione take advantage of this, using the Imperious Curse to break into Gringotts to steal Helga Hufflepuff's Cup. Harry would then later knock Amycus Carrow unconscious using the Cruciatus Curse when he insults Professor Mc Gonagall.
  • Discworld:
    • The idea of bringing democracy into Ankh-Morpork is occasionally discussed (the current system is of One Man, One Vote: The Patrician is The Man, he has the Vote).
      Vimes had once discussed the Ephebian idea of "democracy" with Carrot, and had been rather interested in the idea that everyone had a vote until he found out that while he, Vimes, would have a vote, there was no way in the rules that anyone could prevent Nobby Nobbs from having one as well. Vimes could see the flaw there straight away.
    • Pyramids: The Starscream wants Dios the High Priest and prince Teppic out of the way so he can take over and rule the country behind a Puppet King. He gets his wish when Dios is sent back in time and Teppic makes it known he doesn't want to rule, unfortunately, the new ruler Ptraci makes it abundantly clear that she intends to do it herself.
      He'd wanted changes. It was just that he'd wanted things to stay the same, as well.

    Video Games 
  • The Sith Empire of Star Wars: The Old Republic faces a lot of its problems because of this trope. Klingon Promotion is the main method of advancement for both the military and the Sith, but that means your subordinates are almost certainly planning to do to you what you did to your predecessor. The result? Constant infighting that does at least as much damage to them as The Republic does.

    Web Original 
  • The internet meme "I never thought a leopard would eat my face, says woman who voted for Leopards eating people's faces party" invokes this idea, and is typically brought up in response to real life examples.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Powerpuff Girls episode "Bought and Scold", Princess Morbucks buys Townsville, and makes crime legal, thus putting the girls out of business. This eventually comes back to bite her when the Powerpuff Girls use this against her by stealing everything from her mansion.

Feedback: 33 replies

Sep 29th 2017 at 4:43:34 PM

  • Discworld:
    • The idea of bringing democracy into Ankh-Morpork is occasionally discussed (the current system is of One Man, One Vote: The Patrician is The Man, he has the Vote).
    Vimes had once discussed the Ephebian idea of ‘democracy’ with Carrot, and had been rather interested in the idea that everyone had a vote until he found out that while he, Vimes, would have a vote, there was no way in the rules that anyone could prevent Nobby Nobbs from having one as well. Vimes could see the flaw there straight away.
    • Pyramids: The Starscream wants Dios the High Priest and prince Teppic out of the way so he can take over and rule the country behind a Puppet King. He gets his wish when Dios is sent back in time and Teppic makes it known he doesn't want to rule, unfortunately, the new ruler Ptraci makes it abundantly clear that she intends to do it herself.
    He'd wanted changes. It was just that he'd wanted things to stay the same, as well.

Oct 1st 2017 at 5:29:17 AM

  • The internet meme "I never thought a leopard would eat MY face, says woman who voted for Leopards eating people's faces party" invokes this idea, and is typically brought up in response to real life examples.

Oct 1st 2017 at 11:20:17 AM

In an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, Princess Morbucks buys Townsville, and makes crime legal, thus putting the girls out of business. This eventually comes back to bite her when SHE gets robbed. (NOTE: It's been years since I've seen the episode, so I'm not sure of all of the details. Help would be appreciated).

Oct 3rd 2017 at 3:52:15 PM

  • The Sith Empire of Star Wars The Old Republic faces a lot of its problems because of this trope. Klingon Promotion is the main method of advancement for both the military and the Sith, but that means your subordinates are almost certainly planning to do to you what you did to your predecessor. The result? Constant infighting that does at least as much damage to them as The Republic does.

Oct 5th 2017 at 11:52:20 PM

  • The in the third Sister Pelagia novel, a group of pilgrims aiming to build a utopian, perfectly emancipated commune in the Holy Land is accosted by a radical feminist who denounces them as fakes and, in protest, physically rips the constitution they are penning into pieces. Their leader, unperturbed, tells her that he would break the arms of anyone who destroyed their most important document, regardless of gender, and proceeds to do just that to her. She is so impressed with this, however, that she chooses to join their commune as soon as she is discharged from the hospital.

Oct 4th 2017 at 4:39:09 AM

This one has a lot of potential to become political fast. I have a real-life example about wedding cakes (we all know that story), but if the government gives one group the right to force people to do things that go against their conscience or philosophy, then everyone else has that right, too, so (for example) businesses who don't like the Trump administration wouldn't be able to refuse to do business with members of the Trump family, either.

I didn't format or phrase this as an example because I'm guessing that actually putting this example on the page would be like throwing a lit match onto a gasoline-soaked haystack. With that context in mind, maybe this should be No Real Life Examples Please?

Oct 6th 2017 at 7:41:59 AM

Though I agree about NRLE, this would make a good quote:

This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.

Oct 6th 2017 at 9:43:11 AM

  • In Real Life, being made an outlaw was essentially this trope as an Ironic Hell. The law no longer applied to them, but they also lost the protection of the law (meaning they effectively no longer had any rights).

Oct 22nd 2017 at 11:00:05 PM

The Purge and its sequels all are built around the premise that, in a dystopian future, for one night, all crime is legal and emergency services shut down, for the most part allowing people to kill each other with impunity. On the second film, it is showcased that, as would really happen if something like this existed), most people are completely reluctant and even afraid to go outside their homes and risk getting killed, which means that the New Founding Fathers must field kill-teams to pretty up Purge figures for propaganda purposes and it is in reality just a method for the rich to go out and Kill The Poor and maintain control. The third film has this trope going full-on when the New Founding Fathers decide that, in order to kill a presidential candidate that is running on an anti-Purge campaign, they must remove the up-until-then-enforced rule to not target government officials... which means that the anti-Purge rebellion is now capable to directly target said rich scumbags.

Oct 24th 2017 at 11:28:23 AM

Calvin And Hobbes:

Calvin: I don't believe in ethics any more. As far as I'm concerned, the ends justify the means. Get what you can while the getting's good - that's what I say! Might Makes Right! The winners write the history books! It's a dog-eat-dog world, so I'll do whatever I have to, and let others argue about whether it's "right"or not.
-Hobbes shoves Calvin into a mud puddle.-
Calvin: HEYY! WHY'D YOU DO THAT?!?
Hobbes: You were in my way. Now you're not. The ends justify the means.
Calvin: I didn't mean for EVERYONE, you dolt! Just ME!

Oct 24th 2017 at 8:00:53 AM

^ A quote by itself is not a valid example. TV Tropes More Like TV Quotes for reference.

Oct 24th 2017 at 8:37:19 AM

I agree that this should be No Real Life Examples Please The trope necessarily calls people stupid (at best) or bigots (at worst).

That said, the content in the description that is potholed with Ripped From The Headlines is unnecessary, and seems to be slipping through a loophole in NRLEP. The first two sentences of the first paragraph could be the following, with no salient difference in the trope's meaning: "A specific group of people want something that they can't have. Unfortunately, in a land of equality and red tape, certain compromises have to be made."

Oct 28th 2017 at 2:52:46 PM

This seems like The Same But More Specific of Moral Myopia. That Calvin and Hobbes example is even Moral Myopia's page image.

Dec 16th 2017 at 3:05:52 PM

Restoring this because it had a net of 6 hats and it doesn't look like there was much discussion about discarding it. It was discarded by its sponsor (Lavon Papollon).

Dec 18th 2017 at 8:11:22 AM

I discarded it because I was afraid that iwas The Same But More Specific like how Dust Snitch said and that if I published it, it would end up back here.

Dec 18th 2017 at 6:13:55 PM

Webcomics:

  • The xkcd strip "Free Speech" points out that freedom of expression only stops the government from preventing you from speaking. Other citizens have the same right to express themselves as you do, including telling you what a jerkass you are for what you're saying.

Dec 18th 2017 at 6:24:24 PM

I don't think this is The Same But More Specific. One-out-of-eight examples isn't that much overlap on its own. I do think it's worth discussing, though.

I don't think this is The Same But More Specific to Moral Myopia, which is more about a character (or group of people) being a hypocrite. This is more about a character being a moron or a tool. At least, that's what I get from the examples. There's clearly similarities here, but the types of people who do one and the other seem to be distinct to me.

Dec 19th 2017 at 2:36:52 AM

  • In an episode of Kerem A Kovetkezot, Dr. Bubó plays the role of a well-intentioned but naive Straw Liberal who proposes equal rights for all animal species. This backfires gloriously, as some animals do horrifying things in the name of "freedom of self-expression" or "freedom of religion", such as some predators using live animals to create works of art and large animals joining religious cults where they endanger themselves and others by living in snail shells or digging underground like moles.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 11:11:08 AM

I'm considering nuking this trope next week on the grounds of it being The Same But More Specific of Moral Myopia. To those who disagree, place your arguments in the comment section.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 12:09:21 PM

  • This is invoked several times in the early seasons of Sons Of Anarchy:
    • In season 1, after Deputy Chief Hale tells Jax that he knows what the club is up to, Jax reminds him that the members of the club are allowed the same presumption of innocence as everyone else.
    • In season 2, while the club is under investigation by the ATF, Clay points out to Agent Stahl that the reason she behaves so irrationally towards the club is that it bothers her that, despite her personal dislike of them, they enjoy the same constitutional freedoms and protections as everyone else.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 6:18:12 PM

^^There was a recent draft that pretty much was Moral Myopia by another name, but this one isn't it. Moral Myopia is fundamentally when an action is "good" according to Bob when Bob does it, but Bob considers it "bad" when Alice does it.

This draft is certainly a related concept, but it's more about rules: one character (e.g. the bad guy) not taking into account that giving themselves freedom to act in a given way also frees others (e.g. the good guy) to act in the same way.

Feb 20th 2018 at 5:43:08 PM

Literature:

  • The Succession Crisis that triggers the War of Five Kings in A Song Of Ice And Fire is born partly out of this. The nobles of Westeros, including the King on the Iron Throne, all traditionally adhered to the notion that their legitimacy comes from their line of descent, i.e. primogeniture succession. However, after Robert Baratheon rebelled against the "Mad King" Aerys II Targaryen to save his own skin and overthrew him, the idea that your "right" to your title(s) depends only on your ability to win it and hold it through force of arms starts to take hold. This is specifically discussed in A Game Of Thrones as King Robert lies dying: given that Crown Prince Joffrey is A: a bloodthirsty sadist and B: the result of an incestuous affair between the queen and her twin brother, Robert's youngest brother Renly hopes to get Ned Stark's support in seizing the throne for himself. Ned means to support the middle brother on the grounds that given primogeniture Stannis's claim is clearer, but Renly counters that Robert had no claim to the throne at all when he overthrew Aerys.

Feb 20th 2018 at 5:41:20 PM

^Hence why this is NRLEP.

Feb 20th 2018 at 8:46:51 PM

^ as long as it is also no opinions in examples, please that will definitely help

Feb 20th 2018 at 9:33:01 PM

I don't think the distinction Star Sword makes a few points up that this is about "rules" and Moral Myopia isn't legitimate. This trope, in its basic structure, has a group say it should have a freedom and then act on it, only to react when others use that freedom because they shouldn't have that freedom. This is in its DNA about moral hypocrisy described in Moral Myopia.

Top