If Madonna is the “Queen of Pop,” then Britney Spears is undeniably America’s princess. Even in our current era of polarization, her enduring popularity transcends politics — Americans across the political spectrum rallied to support her in her fight against her suffocating conservatorship. However, in light of recent events, it’s time to admit we were all wrong. Someone needs to take away this lady’s phone, wallet, and keys — and they need to do it fast.
The #FreeBritney campaign was a fan-led movement to free the singer from the conservatorship a California court placed her under in 2008. Claiming she was “gravely disabled,” her father and a host of glorified handlers gained near total control over life. For 13 years, she couldn’t drive, make her own financial or medical decisions, choose her own legal counsel, or even get married. She was forced to work while remaining essentially a prisoner in her own home — while her conservators paid themselves handsomely for their services. (RELATED: Britney Spears Freed From Conservatorship After 13 Years)
A grassroots movement built around all of the highly publicized injustices. Millions took to social media to weigh in on the #FreeBritney hashtag. Podcasts and social media accounts popped up to follow the singer’s legal progress. The New York Times released a documentary, “Framing Britney Spears,” and the New Yorker took a deep dive into the conservatorship’s origins. Activists clamored around the courthouse with megaphones and neon signs demanding her release. Finally, in November 2021, Britney won her freedom when her father petitioned the court to terminate the conservatorship.
Finally freed, Spears celebrated the “best day ever,” but her situation quickly devolved from there. Always the reliable source of celebrity gossip, E! News documented the “highs, lows and drama” in the pop star’s life since the conservatorship ended. Allowed to control her own social media for the first time, she dished family secrets and made a series of lewd and crude posts — nude photos galore. She married her long-time boyfriend before he filed for divorce within 14 months. She got pregnant and sadly lost the baby. Her children moved to Hawaii with their father in order to distance themselves from her, citing her behavior online. Now, she’s in trouble yet again for dancing in Mexico with her nipple hanging out. (RELATED: Britney Spears Slips Out Of Her Dress In Wardrobe Malfunction Caught On Camera)
Britney Spears living her best life in Mexico is a mood pic.twitter.com/IXzQLXJBHy
— Fan Account (@breatheonmiley) September 6, 2023
Britney’s erratic behavior has prompted fierce speculation over her mental well-being, and police reportedly made 21 wellness checks at her residence over the past four years alone. In light of this, it’s worth considering whether the “Free Britney” movement suffered from a trove of misplaced compassion.
Britney’s position under the conservatorship offered a confluence of ideological sympathies. On the one hand, female liberation is the natural inclination of the left’s “my body, my choice” ethos. Britney is a (relatively) young, financially successful, and powerful woman — she should be able to make her own decisions.
While conservatives reject the shallow feminist sloganeering, they nevertheless could find common cause in Britney’s plea for freedom. She undeniably suffered under the control of her conservators, who reportedly exploited their position at every turn, and her cry for help resonates with the latent libertarian streak ever-present in American conservatism. Conservatives can disapprove of someone’s life choices and still defend their right to the pursuit of happiness, however they define it.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but perhaps in Britney’s case, it does not bend toward justice. Over 13 long years of trying to escape, it seemed like granting this pitiable woman the freedom she so desired was the only moral choice. But she has proved unable to competently put her house in order. She has engaged in objectively destructive behavior and pushed away those closest to her. Perhaps the just choice would have been continuing to provide the help she clearly needs.
Americans, whether right or left, both think more freedom is always the better option. They may differ on their definitions of freedom, but nevertheless many have lost sight of the implicit requirement freedom entails. A system based on individual freedom cannot work unless people can be trusted to make responsible decisions. (RELATED: Britney Spears’ Head Cracked Open During ‘Explosive’ Fight With Husband, TMZ Founder Alleges)
The Founders understood this. John Adams wrote, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Moral responsibility is the foundation of our nation and necessary for a society to be free. Britney is clearly failing to live up to this ideal.
This is not to say that everyone who posts their bad decision on the internet should be locked up — far from it. Does Britney’s current behavior warrant putting her back under a conservatorship? Likely not. But those closest to her likely knew that this would happen once she was released. Rather than caving to a “Free Britney” mob, those responsible should have continued to protect her from herself.