The Nature of Freedom


(I promised, on reading SHG’s 231 Years and Still Trying, to write about the nature of freedom, the power of fear, and the abandonment of American Ideals. This is the second post in the series; it covers the first topic.)

When we talk about Americans’ freedom, what are we talking about? The freedom to shop at Wal-Mart? The freedom to drive Hummers? The freedom to live in safety?

No. Our freedom is the right to speak our minds without governmental censorship. It’s the right to practice our religions without governmental interference. It’s the right not to have the government searches us and seize our things unreasonably. It’s the right to habeas corpus. It’s the right to a jury trial. It’s freedom from being imprisoned without due process. It’s freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. It’s the right to vote. It’s the right not to serve involuntarily. At last ditch, it’s freedom to bear arms to overthrow a government that would deprive us of those rights.

In other words, our freedom is the package of rights that the founders fought and died for (I read somewhere in the blawgosphere on Independence Day, that a higher proportion of Revolutionary War soldiers died than in any American war since then; I wish I could give you a link) and enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Amendments.

Attacks on our freedom could come from within or without. It’s been a long time since there was an external enemy who threatened our constitutional rights. Flying a thousand planes into a thousand office towers wouldn’t put a dent in the Bill of Rights. The only thing that threatens our freedom is our government. Because government is hungry for power and because government power is the lack of human freedom, our government will take away as much of our freedom as we let it.

Any time someone from the government talks about “freedom”, keep one hand on your wallet . . . and the other hand on the Bill of Rights.

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