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diabolical liberty #177923
07/03/08 09:38 PM
07/03/08 09:38 PM
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G
gaius novus Offline OP
stranger
gaius novus  Offline OP
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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?

Re: diabolical liberty [Re: gaius novus] #177925
07/03/08 09:49 PM
07/03/08 09:49 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 10,538
this too shall pass
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel
tsuwm  Offline
Carpal Tunnel
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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.

Re: diabolical liberty [Re: gaius novus] #177928
07/04/08 02:52 AM
07/04/08 02:52 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
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morphememedley Offline
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morphememedley  Offline
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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?

Re: diabolical liberty [Re: morphememedley] #177935
07/04/08 11:14 AM
07/04/08 11:14 AM
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
Netherlands, the Hague
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel
BranShea  Offline
Carpal Tunnel
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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 )


Re: diabolical liberty [Re: BranShea] #177941
07/04/08 02:22 PM
07/04/08 02:22 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
Tasmania
The Pook Offline
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The Pook  Offline
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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...

Re: diabolical liberty [Re: The Pook] #177943
07/04/08 03:08 PM
07/04/08 03:08 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,773
Apple Valley, CA, USA
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dalehileman Offline
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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'?)

Last edited by dalehileman; 07/04/08 03:10 PM.

dalehileman
Re: diabolical liberty [Re: dalehileman] #177945
07/04/08 04:07 PM
07/04/08 04:07 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 876
western NY
twosleepy Offline
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twosleepy  Offline
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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)

Re: diabolical liberty [Re: twosleepy] #177952
07/04/08 05:13 PM
07/04/08 05:13 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,773
Apple Valley, CA, USA
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dalehileman Offline
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Those who wold give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety--Ben Franklin


dalehileman
Re: diabolical liberty [Re: twosleepy] #177975
07/05/08 02:53 AM
07/05/08 02:53 AM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
Tasmania
The Pook Offline
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The Pook  Offline
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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.

Re: diabolical liberty [Re: dalehileman] #177976
07/05/08 02:59 AM
07/05/08 02:59 AM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
Tasmania
The Pook Offline
old hand
The Pook  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,067
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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