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#177923 - 07/03/08 05:38 PM diabolical liberty
gaius novus Offline
stranger

Registered: 06/20/08
Posts: 4
I've come across this phrase - "a diabolical liberty" - a few times recently, most notably in a Jeffrey Archer book. I've never heard it before. A Google search comes up with some bands, comics, and movies, all from the UK, which, combined with Archer's use, leads me to believe it's from across the pond.

Am I to assume it's approximately equivalent to "giving someone enough rope to hang himself" or a "double-edged sword"?

Is there any known etymology?

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#177925 - 07/03/08 05:49 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: gaius novus]
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10524
Loc: this too shall pass
here's an entry for diabolical from OED2 which you may find to be helpful:

3. slang. In weakened sense: outrageous, disgraceful; disgracefully bad. Also, used as an intensive, esp. in diabolical liberty.
1958 B. BEHAN Borstal Boy III. 231 Why ain't I given a chance to follow my trade in 'ere, eh?..It's a diabolical liberty. Geezers get no chance to follow their trade. 1965 Listener 30 Sept. 507/2 A parody piece..which took diabolical liberties with Eurovision song contests, British Beatlemania and other suitable themes. 1972 MITTON & MORRISON Community Project in Notting Dale 69 The names he called those kids round there was diabolical for any vicar. 1982 S. TOWNSEND Secret Diary A. Mole 94 Asked our postman about communications between Tunisia and England. He said they were ‘diabolical’. 1986 Observer 16 Feb. 50/4 From my point of view that pitch was dangerous. In fact, it was diabolical.

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#177928 - 07/03/08 10:52 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: gaius novus]
morphememedley Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/08
Posts: 155
I wasn't sure that I'd ever heard or read carnal license, but maybe I had; an exact wording Google search fetched 182 results. Might diabolical liberty and carnal license be alike in meaning, sometimes anyway?

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#177935 - 07/04/08 07:14 AM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: morphememedley]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5282
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
" The peasants mistook spiritual liberty for carnal license."
- Schaff, VII, §75, "The Peasants' War: 1523-1525"

"My opinion is that it is better that all the peasants be killed than that the princes and magistrates perish, because the rustics took the sword without divine authority. The only possible consequence of their satanic wickedness would be the diabolic devastation of the kingdom of God. "
(Letter to Nicholas Amsdorf at Magdeburg, from Wittenberg.)

From here "carnal licence" looks more like "licence to kill".
( 007 again )


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#177941 - 07/04/08 10:22 AM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: BranShea]
The Pook Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1067
Loc: Tasmania
 Originally Posted By: BranShea
" The peasants mistook spiritual liberty for carnal license."
- Schaff, VII, §75, "The Peasants' War: 1523-1525"

"My opinion is that it is better that all the peasants be killed than that the princes and magistrates perish, because the rustics took the sword without divine authority. The only possible consequence of their satanic wickedness would be the diabolic devastation of the kingdom of God. "
(Letter to Nicholas Amsdorf at Magdeburg, from Wittenberg.)

From here "carnal licence" looks more like "licence to kill".
( 007 again )

Both quotes concern Martin Luther's reaction to the peasants' uprising in (from memory, don't quote me on the date) ca 1525. "Carnal license" means giving free reign to 'the flesh' (which means the sinful human nature). The peasants, in Luther's view, were simply venting their uncontrolled hatred and fury in an orgy of violence. Though he didn't recommend either, Luther preferred even Tyranny to Anarchy, since at least in Tyranny the basic infrastructure of society remains intact, and there is less bloodshed. Maybe if Luther was President of the US in 2002 the course of recent history might have been different...

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#177943 - 07/04/08 11:08 AM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: The Pook]
dalehileman Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 1773
Loc: Apple Valley, CA, USA
I wonder if diabolical liberty might be another expression for the tendency of the Neocons to circumscribe our "liberty" with restrictions intended to promote our comfort and safety but which in the long run restrict our freedoms (Luther's 'anarchy'?), tending to the creation of a police state (his 'tyranny'?)


Edited by dalehileman (07/04/08 11:10 AM)
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dalehileman

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#177945 - 07/04/08 12:07 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: dalehileman]
twosleepy Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 876
Loc: western NY
That's what I thought, more or less, and all the defs flummoxed me! It seemed to be a deliberately oxymoronic phrase, pointing out that while freedom is highly desirable, it also has its "diabolical" drawbacks. :0)

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#177952 - 07/04/08 01:13 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: twosleepy]
dalehileman Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 1773
Loc: Apple Valley, CA, USA
Those who wold give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety--Ben Franklin
_________________________
dalehileman

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#177975 - 07/04/08 10:53 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: twosleepy]
The Pook Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1067
Loc: Tasmania
 Originally Posted By: twosleepy
That's what I thought, more or less, and all the defs flummoxed me! It seemed to be a deliberately oxymoronic phrase, pointing out that while freedom is highly desirable, it also has its "diabolical" drawbacks. :0)

I suppose the original (and literally diabolical!)concept of "diabolical liberty" (though not the phrase itself) is that offered by the serpent in Genesis 3. The knowlege of good and evil gained by an autonomous declaration of independence from God comes at the price of suffering the consequences of becoming evil, namely estrangement from God.

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#177976 - 07/04/08 10:59 PM Re: diabolical liberty [Re: dalehileman]
The Pook Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1067
Loc: Tasmania
 Originally Posted By: dalehileman
I wonder if diabolical liberty might be another expression for the tendency of the Neocons to circumscribe our "liberty" with restrictions intended to promote our comfort and safety but which in the long run restrict our freedoms (Luther's 'anarchy'?), tending to the creation of a police state (his 'tyranny'?)

Ironically the Iraq War/"War on Terror" seems to have achieved both simultaneously. In Iraq it has resulted in Anarchy in the name of providing Liberty from Tyranny. And in Western coalition countries it is resulting in a drift towards Tyranny by the erosion of Liberties in the name of protection from the forces of Anarchy. Oh what tangled webs...

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