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Freeing Britney Spears is a Victory for Natural Rights

Freeing Britney Spears is a Victory for Natural Rights

The #FreeBritney movement emerged as a grassroots effort to spotlight Spears’s ongoing deprivation of rights—which were essentially the natural rights to life, liberty, and property.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

No, these aren’t the lyrics to pop-star Britney Spears’s latest hit song. But we won’t be surprised if the words of the Declaration of Independence make an appearance on her next album.

As we all know by now, after a publicized 2008 incident involving an apparent mental breakdown, a Los Angeles Superior Court ordered that Britney Spears’s assets and decision-making powers be placed into a conservatorship. Her father, Jamie Spears, was named the conservator, and would thereafter exercise responsibility for Spears’s life and livelihood.

But what was supposed to be a temporary conservatorship lasted for an astonishing 13 years. Finally, on November 12, 2021, the conservatorship came to a long-overdue end.

For those 13 years—spanning parts of four presidencies, from Bush to Biden—the Princess of Pop’s financial decisions were governed against her will, and her ability to keep the fruits of her labor was thoroughly undermined. For instance, Spears’s “Circus Tour” was one of the highest-grossing tours of the 2000s. It grossed $131.8 million in 2009. And yet, reports indicate that her conservatorship granted her a paltry $1,500 per week “allowance” during that time. Artists who collaborated with Spears even reported that they occasionally saw Spears being restricted from drinking soda.

Other allegations of abuse were even more concerning and should shock anyone concerned with individual liberty. In court hearings, Spears testified that she was repeatedly medicated against her will, prevented from marrying and having children, and threatened with lifestyle restrictions if she did not cooperate. All the while, Spears was pressured to perform her role as a pop-icon, touring to sold-out stadiums, judging the show X-Factor, and branding perfume lines, while having little control over the money she earned.

Although Spears’s private medical details were generally kept confidential, the situation seemed amiss. How could someone take on so many projects—and be subject to the legal contracts that necessarily came with them— but also be deemed unfit to exercise control over the essential parts of her life? Many people struggle with mental health challenges at some point in their lives, but few are placed in conservatorships like Spears was.

The #FreeBritney movement emerged as a grassroots effort to spotlight Spears’s ongoing deprivation of rights—which were essentially the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. #FreeBritney held numerous rallies, issued public condemnations of the conservatorship, and maintained its own website. Spears even succeeded, perhaps inadvertently, at furthering the cause of liberty in Washington, DC, by getting both Republican and Democrat lawmakers to issue statements of concern regarding unduly restrictive conservatorship.

Of course, it is easy to dismiss Spears’s situation as just another strange Hollywood tabloid scandal. However, looked at in the proper light, the end to Spears’s conservatorship should be seen as a victory for liberty generally. Without being tongue-in-cheek, we say that the groundswell of support for Spears ought to be understood as a public vindication of natural rights.

After all, the Enlightenment philosophers, like John Locke, who inspired the birth of our American Republic, would have been appalled by the idea of putting Spears’s freedom and livelihood in the hands of another person for such an extended time, especially as Spears seemed well enough to take on new projects, appear and perform in public, and cogently condemn her own conservatorship in court.

And the signers of the Declaration of Independence—who risked death to proclaim the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”—could hardly imagine a world where, more than two centuries later, an American citizen would be forcibly medicated her against her will and prevented from marrying or procreating through threats and acts of coercion.

Indeed, conservatorships like Spears’s have much in common with totalitarian governments, which Americans have always rejected. Authoritarian regimes, for example, are rooted in the thoroughly anti-Lockean idea that a strong, centralized government is a better decision-maker than the individual. A conservatorship operates similarly, under the belief that a conservator is a better decision-maker than the individual.

And for those who despair that the cause of liberty and natural rights is suffering in the United States, take heed: The public has spoken out overwhelmingly in support of Spears’s freedom from oppressive, state-sanctioned control. In this way, the public has revealed a kind of Lockean moral instinct—a belief that one shouldn’t be forced to distribute her wealth among others who didn’t generate it, and that an individual shouldn’t lack control over her bodily integrity and personal decision-making.

The public’s support of Spears’s legal effort reflects a powerful American devotion to individual freedom—one that remains deeply ingrained in our society more than 200 years after the Declaration was signed.

Supporting #FreeBritney is the natural consequence of rejecting the concept of an emboldened state that increasingly seeks to regulate every aspect of our lives. You don’t have to be sheepish about it, just because it involves a Hollywood pop star.

Let’s celebrate: Britney is free, and that’s a win for us all.

—by James Donovan and William E. Trachman

[Featured image via YouTube]

William E. Trachman is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education and is General Counsel for Mountain States Legal Foundation, where James Donovan is a fellow.

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Comments


 
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UserPeabody | November 25, 2021 at 7:41 pm

Now if only our country could be free of Biden the way Britney Spears is free of her totalitarian conservatorship.

…and if we tell you the name of game, boy;

It’s called ‘riding the gravy train….” – Pink Floyd, Have a Cigar


 
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OldProf2 | November 25, 2021 at 9:02 pm

I don’t understand how she could be deprived of so many fundamental rights for so long. The law should state that after one year any conservatorship automatically ends, and it can only be extended by going through the original process to show once again that it is absolutely needed.


     
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    irv in reply to OldProf2. | November 25, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    I disagree. If she wasn’t able to control her own life, she should have been committed until she was deemed well enough to release. The “conservatorship” was always an abomination. It’s like should not be allowed.


       
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      Lucifer Morningstar in reply to irv. | November 26, 2021 at 9:40 am

      It’s like should not be allowed.

      Or at least if a “conservatorship” is going to be imposed upon a person then then under no circumstances should a family member be appointed as conservator. Family should be removed from the equation and a neutral third-party individual should be appointed to oversee the person’s life and finances.


         
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        OldProf2 in reply to Lucifer Morningstar. | November 26, 2021 at 2:13 pm

        I have to disagree here. Both my mother and father went through several years of dementia before they died. My mother was my father’s conservator, and I did the job for my mother. In both cases, the family finances were conserved and lasted until death, or close to that point.

        I’ve seen other cases where a lawyer or accountant has been the conservator, and the professional fees have drained the family’s finances prematurely. Once there is no money, the conservator withdraws and the old, demented person is left with nothing. Having an expensive professional conservator would work for Britney, but generally not for Grandma.


           
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          irv in reply to OldProf2. | November 26, 2021 at 10:13 pm

          Good point. There are valid reasons for a conservatorship to be set up. There seem to be no controls stopping unscrupulous people (meaning, not you) exploiting it for their own gain. That’s a serious problem.


           
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          Idonttweet in reply to OldProf2. | November 27, 2021 at 10:23 am

          There’s a difference between dementia and a young woman having a nervous breakdown. That she was still performing and fulfilling contractual obligations should tell you that her situation was not comparable to dementia.

          It’s good that she’s able to make her own decisions now. Given the history, hopefully the first thing that happens is her lawyers make sure her “conservators” don’t have signature authority for anything related to her finances, business dealings, postage stamps, etc.. Then, have a full financial audit conducted covering the time from when the “conservatorship” was ordered to the present, to see how much money was skimmed off the top from her. Then, lawsuit city.

    A fool and her money are soon separated. A lunatic and her money are separated even sooner. But, it’s a free country.

    Now that she’s on her own and in charge of everything (including millions of dollars), we’ll see how she does.

    We do wish her the best.


 
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E Howard Hunt | November 25, 2021 at 9:03 pm

I had to stop reading at “as we all know by now.” You must assume that all readers of this blog are celebrity-following morons. I only vaguely know her name as some jacked-up pop singer.

Perhaps there is some interesting legal angle to your article, but that phrase is highly offensive.

Her situation is a nutshell of the “conservatorship” the left wants to put us in. Rigid lifestyle controls, keep ans spend our hard earned money. Glad she got free.


 
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healthguyfsu | November 25, 2021 at 9:43 pm

Now this is a stretch…


 
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ThePrimordialOrderedPair | November 25, 2021 at 10:00 pm

Of course, it is easy to dismiss Spears’s situation as just another strange Hollywood tabloid scandal. However, looked at in the proper light, the end to Spears’s conservatorship should be seen as a victory for liberty generally.

I think that’s backwards. What can be said is that the insane crime perpetrated on Spears by the court and the appointed guardian (and all others involved) was beyond any reason. It was clear proof of the insanity and depravity that infests our judicial system. Of course, we are talking about a system that now brings charges of criminal activity against property, that mockingly piles on redundant charges against disfavored defendants (not as either-or choices but as separate and “independent” (LOL) charges, so maybe there shouldn’t be anything to be surprised about with an adult being made a slave by the court (all over some idea that she might not handle her own money as others think it should be handled). Along these same lines (of idiocy in our courts) I remember a case many years ago when a court actually swore in the separate personalities of some lunatic schizo as “several witnesses”. That was an omen.


 
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henrybowman | November 25, 2021 at 10:00 pm

It would be interesting if a person under conservatorship could “file for emancipation” under exactly the same criteria as a minor can.


 
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JohnSmith100 | November 26, 2021 at 3:44 am

It will be interesting to see how well she functions now.


     
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    TargaGTS in reply to JohnSmith100. | November 26, 2021 at 9:38 am

    She’s a paranoid schizophrenic whose disease was so pronounced that she lost custody of her children and to this day, is only allowed supervised visitation (something many people don’t realize). Prior to the conservatorship being enacted, she had no less than two minor-involved incidents that prompted intervention from law enforcement. This is why she lost custody.

    Paranoid schizophrenics can lead reasonable ‘normal’ lives outside of an institutional setting so long as they’re receiving continuing, robust treatment. If, absent that conservatorship, she still has a well-intentioned support system around her that can ensure she remains on her therapeutic regimen, she’ll do likely do fine. If she doesn’t, this will end badly as it does for most paranoid schizophrenics who don’t have that support system.

I wonder how much better off our country would be if the Dems/Progs would stop their quasi conservatory and truly allow free markets to function?

They want to control everything, all the time. They know how to live your life better than you.


 
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FarOutWest | November 26, 2021 at 8:28 am

This was not a legally devised ‘conservatorship’ that protected Ms. Spears’ right of due process and equal protection under the law; rather, Ms. Spears suffered as an indentured servant, a slave by every definition.


 
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CommoChief | November 26, 2021 at 10:01 am

The situation with Spears was always very suspect. It always appeared to me as a controlling father grifting off his daughters success and exploiting her along the way.
Sadly this isn’t a limited issue. Many veterans have had their financial and 2nd amendment rights curtailed based on nothing more than a diagnosis of TBI or PTSD.

When a service member is moving through the process of a medical discharge they are assisted with the very Byzantine and somewhat opaque joint claims to the service, the VA and Social security. Some of the folks employed to assist are better than others.

I was adjudicated as 100% disabled based on the cumulative impact of eight injuries/conditions. The folks at Social security deemed me presumptively ‘incompetent’ based on nothing more than a clerk reading a file. My first face to face meeting with Social security was, unbeknownst to me, scheduled to determine who would be appointed as my guardian to direct my financial affairs.

That meeting didn’t go very well for the clerk who agreed that I appeared competent, lucid and well spoken, able to articulate complex ideas and with command of all the facts in my case file. However, the clerk had already checked the box for me to be assigned a guardian because of my diagnosis. This was during the last term of Obama and the admin was using this process to revoke 2nd amendment rights by placing a flag due to the SSI determination.

There were no hearings, no correspondence, no due process at all. Just a low level clerk reviewing the case file and checking the box based upon their guidelines. I was able to get a supervisor in the room and a conference call to a regional supervisor to reverse the decision. Other less forcefully or less knowledgeable veterans already beaten down by the very lengthy, 13 months for me, and adversarial process were unable to do so.

The mental health community has much to answer for. So long as there are incentives to simply issue prescriptions for light antidepressant to mild mannered members of the middle and upper class v treat the very real and complex cases they currently ignore the problems will persist.

The government at all levels is not to be trusted with health data, especially mental health data to make any independent decisions unguided by respect and adherence to due process. Govt employees will act just as the low level clerk did in my brush with this. They are clerks who enter the codes assigned and dictated by the partisan ideologues at the top.


 
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Chewbacca | November 26, 2021 at 10:35 am

Britney’s situation reminds me of the movie “I Care a Lot”.

I’m so old, I can remember Anna Nicole Smith stumbling her way to death because there was no legal remedy or intervention.

We have friends with a 20 something daughter who WILL die for lack of the ability to have her rights removed. She has diagnosed and treatable mental issues (hear’s angry voices among other things). Walk around any blue city hell hole and see how many of these people are targeted by drug dealers and living on the street.

Britney got to be this old because she had her rights removed. Pretending that isn’t true is as stupid and maligned as saying we should allow kindergartners to switch genders because they say so.

A bunch of non-mental health experts demanding she be free and celebrating it is absurd.


     
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    ThePrimordialOrderedPair in reply to Andy. | November 26, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    I’m so old, I can remember Anna Nicole Smith stumbling her way to death because there was no legal remedy or intervention.

    That was her right as a free person.

    Maybe all rock climbers and motorcycle riders should be put under conservatorships because they are risking their lives for insignificant pursuits?

      Just the bipolar ones who won’t take their meds. Sort of like a couple of shirt tail relatives who were bipolar and are dead now. One stole a shotgun and blew his brains out (often on drugs). Another died in a similar manner. His daughter went on to be a drug addict and had a kid via another drug addict- went to prison for multiple stints and has string of kids in foster care.

      But yeah- that’s totally their right as free people.

    Amy Winehouse is another example.

    But we allow armies of insane people to roam the streets of our cities, and worse: hand them ‘disabilty’ cash at the beginning of each month.

    So what’s the big deal about turning a millionaire loose?


 
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herm2416 | November 26, 2021 at 4:06 pm

“In this way, the public has revealed a kind of Lockean moral instinct—a belief that one shouldn’t be forced to distribute her wealth among others who didn’t generate it, …”

Oh, like being forced to financially support illegals, grifters, et al?


 
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maxmillion | November 26, 2021 at 6:00 pm

Hey, people have a right to be bi-polar.


     
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    Andy in reply to maxmillion. | November 26, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    …and its cruel to make them take their meds. It’s also cruel to keep guard rails on their lives so they remain productive citizens rather than be homeless, in jail or dead (most bipolar people I’ve come in contact with).


 
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MajorWood | November 26, 2021 at 7:28 pm

I always thought this was the best take on the situation as it was unfolding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZVWIELHQQY

Brittany Spears should lead the Republican Party: she’d probably do a better job and show more guts than McBums running it how (McConnell and McCarthy).

Will you allow these corrupt, backstabbing bums to be at the helm when we re-take Congress?????


 
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MajorWood | November 27, 2021 at 10:42 pm

Britney found herself in a similar situation to many in Hollywood. They build an entourage of parasites around them who aren’t friends, but first-rate moochers. What she needed to do 3 years ago was just take an entire year off to get her life back together, but instead, they kept her at the trough to feed them. I bet there is a similar pattern to all kid-actors who have their lives taken over by narcissistic parents. Think of Michael Jackson’s dad and how Michael turned out. Don’t even get me started on the sickness that surrounded poor Joan Benet Ramsey. I have a rule to never judge anyone until I have met their parents. A lot of kids really never had a chance in life and the pattern is just too common.

I have worked in the drug and alcohol field for a few decades and I can safely say that we look at the role of the family in our assessments, and a lot of the time people are better off if they do not have their family involved in their recovery. This stuff does not come from a vacuum. The portrayal of the young girl in the semi-documentary Dopesick is a pretty good example of how family members who are ignorant and put their needs first are often a source of continuing damage.

I don’t know all of the details of Brittney’s story, but my SWAG is that she was kept on a short leash for the benefit of those who are not her.

It’s a whole lot easier to applaud this development if there is no description of the mental state of Brittany Spears that led to the conservatorship.

If she had paranoid schizophrenia as one commenter noted, I could well understand both her ability to perform and also the need for her to be substantially limited on her bad days.

Some people only function properly when they are on powerful meds, and those meds have side effects. Some of those side effects include eventual liver damage, and death. Such people cannot function consistently in the real world, and the struggle by family members is exhausting.

All that said, the influence of money on her case does raise some natural suspicion. Not all parents are what they should be.

wasn’t it in early 2008 that she converted to scientology?
did she try to get out soon after and that maybe caused this?

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