"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
WMD of Freedom
The STR poll for last weekend contained a list of freedoms, and asked readers to vote for the freedom you treasure most.
I thought about it for a long time this morning. Given my mini-bio at the end of my columns, one might figure I would have opted for the second freedom listed, that of religion, but that is really recognized and merged with the first freedom, so as the First Amendment reads, the two are, in a way, one.
But let's examine the rest. Freedom of Association. That is certainly important, but do I treasure it most? No, because it cannot in and of itself guarantee any other freedom. I could hang out with whomever I wished, but if I said the wrong thing, all my freedoms could be gone in a heartbeat, especially given this politically correct age.
Freedom to bear arms. That one is leading by a 2-1 margin over its closest competitor. That is not surprising, but put that together with the previous freedom--that of association, and let my associates call themselves a militia, and we damn well better have a few camouflaged Abrams tanks, the F-16 warming up out back, and the cruise missile up and ready on the tractor trailer. Otherwise, what the local gun store has to offer is hardly going to keep the BATF out of the yard.
Freedom to contract. Seems that requires a few freedoms to exist prior, and without them, contractually speaking, one is out of business before even starting.
Freedom from taxes. I have to admit--that was tempting, but again, I would, and most do, suffer the loss of that freedom to keep the tenuous hold on the rest. Freedom is not about money, although money is a part of freedom.
Freedom from regulation. Only if we can free ourselves from politicians first, can we hope for freedom from regulation. But to get there requires something other than a freedom from regulation.
Freedom from search and seizures? If the government has progressed to the point that it can remove, at will, any freedom(s), this freedom is the least to worry about on the list.
The First Amendment is the WMD of Freedom. The truly great men in history did not win their battles for freedom by weapons and various and sundry rights, but they won by words. Some who could write well; others who might not write as well, but who could inject passion into what they wrote; and still others, who simply would not be silent as any freedom was threatened.
There is, embodied in the First Amendment, the "high C" note for the anarchist.
One is free to speak, and free to believe, as one wishes to do. All of the other freedoms in last weekend's poll march behind that freedom. From the ancient philosophers, to Jesus, to Luther, to Ghandi, to the Dali Lama and even the current Pope, there is a common thread. The great writers knew it as well, and the former Soviet Union was destroyed from within most by a prolific writer named Alexander, who knew his words were WMD.
Let a man speak about what he believes (which is the heart of the First Amendment), and he can rule his own life in freedom.
Stifle that, and there is no other "freedom" worth appreciating.