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so what does "freedom" mean to you?(50 posts)

so what does "freedom" mean to you?DougSloan
May 16, 2003 11:55 AM
It appears that some of us have vastly different ideas of what freedom means. I won't even begin to build the strawman (sorry, strawperson) argument, for how the extreme left or right would view it.

To me, it means ability to do as you please, without hurting others. It means the ability to live your life with absolute minimal government intervention or regulation. It means the ability to try things and fail. It means living secure, knowing that a good balance of police and military protection is in place to guard against those who would take away your freedom, property, or life. It means the ability to speak as I choose, think as I choose, worship--or not--as I choose, with no government coercion or interference. It means I can purchase what I want in a free market economy, work at what wage I can bargain for, under the conditions I assume. It means there are no beaurocrats holed up somewhere deciding these things for me, even if in my best interests. It means I can do all of these things, as long as I respect and do not interfere with the freedom of others. I think that's essentially it.

Left vs. RightCaptain Morgan
May 16, 2003 12:06 PM
The differences between the left and the right seem fairly wide to us, but perhaps in the context of all of the different political systems in the world, we are not so far apart.

Naw, not really, but I thought it sounded good for a minute!

P.S. Anyone see the ad banner on this page advertising the "weasel" deck of cards? Instead of Iraqi leaders, it has people like Tim Robbins, Michael Moore, Kennedy, Charlie Sheen, etc. I thought it was hilarious!
is that what the stink is about?DougSloan
May 16, 2003 12:16 PM
Check the Site Suggestions Forum. Someone raised that issue. I hadn't seen it. Nothing but opportunistic entrepreneurialism, I suppose.

How do you define hurting others?czardonic
May 16, 2003 12:15 PM
Who decides what constitutes hurting others? Who acts to prevent one person from hurting another? Who punishes those who hurt others? "Big Government", that's who.

It would be great if everyone behaved themself such that "Big Government" is not needed. But "Big Government" is only a symptom of a problem of mankind's inability to live in a society where everyone acts out of the kind of hyper-rational self-interest that Libertarianism is predicated on.
some things are more obvious than others, certainly nmDougSloan
May 16, 2003 12:23 PM
anyone read this lately...?DougSloan
May 16, 2003 12:25 PM
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

[bad stuff the king did omitted]

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
30 seconds ago.czardonic
May 16, 2003 12:35 PM
Question: How would you compare the state of freedom in the UK to the US?
don't knowDougSloan
May 16, 2003 12:40 PM
I'm not familiar enough with the UK to discuss it intelligently. From what little I know, they are fairly similar. That's about it.

I have the same impression. It interests me because. . .czardonic
May 16, 2003 12:58 PM
. . .we fought a war to seperate ourselves from tyranny, and have been in various states of internal conflict ever since to define and apply the equality and liberty we set out to obtain.

Yet, the very tyranny that we felt such an urgent need to throw off seems to have disovled of its own accord and in its place has sprouted a society of seemingly equivalent freedom. Moreover, it seems to have progressed at not an altogether different pace.
democracy does thatDougSloan
May 16, 2003 1:01 PM
Maybe in relatively free democratic countries, the freedoms ultimately realized are similar; that is, things tend toward a natural state of freedoms when there is no tyranny. The desire for liberty is fairly universal.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--

Those were smart guys.

You are very good at making our point for usLive Steam
May 16, 2003 1:52 PM
You just agreed with those of us who believe that there is too much government involvement in our day to day lives as well as being overly burdened by taxes levied against us in the name of just cause. Even you were able to recognize the similarity between the monarchy we tossed more than 200 years ago, with the intrusive government we now have. Congratulations! Your one of us now! :O)
Take from my comment what you will. . .czardonic
May 16, 2003 2:11 PM
. . .but I wouldn't be trumpeting that particular interpretation.
btw, do you agree with it? (the Declaration) nmDougSloan
May 16, 2003 12:43 PM
I agree with the underlying sentiment. (nm)czardonic
May 16, 2003 12:59 PM
but not the wording, I assume? nmDougSloan
May 16, 2003 1:11 PM
Right. Grandiosity was acheived at the expense of clarity.czardonic
May 16, 2003 1:27 PM
E.g. "all men are created equal. . ."

Where they using "men" to refer to all of humanity, or specifically to men as in the male portion of humanity. Or only white men?
probably have a problem with some other parts, I assumeDougSloan
May 16, 2003 1:51 PM
I think that's probably the least of your concerns. What about the references to "Creator," "God," "Supreme Judge," and "divine Providence"? They must have been some religious right zealots, right?

They did mention "mankind" several times, and I think that is what they meant by "men," too.

But Doug, he agrees with its "underlying sentiment"moneyman
May 16, 2003 1:54 PM
That makes it perfectly clear, doesn't it?

That was merely an example.czardonic
May 16, 2003 2:02 PM
I agree completely with what seems to me to be the underlying assertion of equality and right to liberty. But, due to certain ambiguities, the actual document can be interpreted as applying to a much more narrow subset of mankind. All you and I can do is "think" what they meant.

Thus, If I am right and they intended to claim unalienable rights for all of humanity (but failed to account for the self-serving perversions their words left the door open to), then my only issue is with the wording.

While it is all but certain that they were deeply religious, there is very little to suggest that they were either right-wing or zealots.
sort of tongue in cheek exampleDougSloan
May 16, 2003 2:12 PM
Isn't anyone who uses the word "God" reverently a right wing zealot? These guys did it several times, in several forms, all in the same document, and a public document, no less. If the same document were offered today, based upon that wording, there would be a lynch mob lead by the media demanding their resignations.

Those who would force others to say "God" are the zealots. nmczardonic
May 16, 2003 2:24 PM
I can live with that. nmDougSloan
May 16, 2003 2:33 PM
How dim can you be?Live Steam
May 16, 2003 2:34 PM
It was there country as they saw it and there rules to make. They came here for many reasons and among them was the pursuit of religious freedom. However they were Christian and Anglo/European, so let's hold that against them in the name of tolerance - which you are so well known for.
Dim enough to respond to your posts, evidently.czardonic
May 16, 2003 2:40 PM
What the hell are you talking about?
Right. Grandiosity was acheived at the expense of clarity.Spoiler
May 16, 2003 4:51 PM
or only all FREE white men
or only all US citizens?
What does THAT mean?moneyman
May 16, 2003 1:22 PM
It always appears so easy for you to have it both ways. "I agree with the underlying sentiment" is a real cop out. Doug asked if you agreed with the document, and you don't have the guts to say yes or no! Come on, czar, stand up and be counted. I know you have the passion to make a choice, now combine that with integrity and courage and make a stand. Don't give us the politician's answer of "I agree with the underlying sentiment" crap. That sounds like a "moderate" Senator up for re-election, not wanting to offend anybody and not having any strength of his convictions.

What's it gonna be, boy - Yes or no? (Thank you Meatloaf)

It's pretty damn obvious.czardonic
May 16, 2003 1:31 PM
How is agreeing with the underlying sentiment, i.e. the very foundation, a "cop out".

Move on. Nothing to see here.
That's what I thoughtmoneyman
May 16, 2003 1:51 PM
You are afraid of insulting people with respect to such a revered document, so instead you say you agree with it's underlying sentiment. Tell us what you think the "underlying sentiment" is, please. What parts do you not agree with? I can respect someone who says he disagrees with something and then says why he disagrees, but to agree with "underlying sentiment" without defining what the "sentiment" is, is the act of a squishmeister, i.e., regardless of what anyone tries to pin on you, you have an out by saying "That's not what I meant". Agreeing with the "underlying sentiment" could easily be read as that you disagree with parts of the document, but you don't have the courage to say what.

There's plenty to see here.

Are you slow? I agree with all of it. . .czardonic
May 16, 2003 2:09 PM
. . .as I interpret the sentiment behind it. But the words are such that they can be interpreted differently by different people. Hence the entirety of America's complicated and conflicted history since the Declaration.

I don't think I can put it any more unequivically than that, so you'll just have to make do.
you sure about that?DougSloan
May 16, 2003 2:17 PM
Not to belabor it unduly, and I do grant you some points for playing along, but do you really agree with these parts?

*"they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"

*that they were "appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions"

*and that "for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence"
I don't see any ambiguityLive Steam
May 16, 2003 2:31 PM
The wording is very deliberate. It is clear and simply stated. That is the magnificence of it.
May 16, 2003 2:37 PM
Let's remeber that they were attempting to establish a legitimacy that would trump the throne. Even if they weren't deeply religious men, "Because we think it is a pretty good idea and it just seems fair" doesn't have the same gravitas.

Anyway, I don't personally care where they drew their inspiration from. It is what they were inspired to do that matters. Whether in absense of or in spite of their personal spirituality, they recognized that while God may have given us these rights the Church should not play a role in administering them.
The ends justify the means?moneyman
May 16, 2003 2:51 PM
"I don't personally care where they drew their inspiration from. It is what they were inspired to do that matters."

I believe that says an awful lot about how you see the world. No base from which to make decisions. As long as the outcome is what I want, does it matter how I get there?

Gravitas? Are you still hanging on to your 2000 Presidential Election Democratic Handbook?

As a general principle, no. In this case, yes. (nm)czardonic
May 16, 2003 2:59 PM
Are you slow? Yes, but you still haven't answeredmoneyman
May 16, 2003 2:44 PM
The question. Tell us about the "underlying sentiment" as you interpret it. I don't think the words are ambiguous at all. I certainly don't think that it is the entire reason for "America's complicated and conflicted history since the Declaration."

Just for review, Doug asked if you agreed with the document. You said that you agreed with the "underlying sentiment." I asked you to have the courage of your convictions and define the term "underlying sentiment." I then accused you of being a squishmeister, because you, like a moderate senator seeking re-election, avoided answering the question for fear of offending someone.

I have read the Declaration many times. I have (Gasp!) taught young and impressionable students about the Declaration. I have wept at the beauty of the text, and at the message of Freedom that it sent to mankind. It's statement of determination to be free from tyranny has been used as the model for democracy by countries across the globe. I don't think it has any ambiguity or problems. I think it is as close to a perfect document as has ever been written.

I think your poor excuse for not answering a challenge is a cowards way of not taking a stand.

I may be slow, but I know for a fact that I am ahead of you.

Very funny.czardonic
May 16, 2003 2:58 PM
You know for a fact that you are ahead of me?
Ironic, huh?moneyman
May 16, 2003 3:02 PM
Facts aren't always what they seem, are they?

But you digress and STILL avoid the answer.

Indeed. I forgot who I was dealing with.czardonic
May 16, 2003 3:22 PM
And now you've got me all turned around so that I don't even know what question it is that I am so purposefully avoiding.

The last I remeber, we were talking about the Declaration, and I said that I agreed with all of it, but felt that much confusion could have been elimintated if certain points were elaborated on.

Perhaps you think it is perfectly obvious that "men" and "mankind" only refers to white male land-owners and that anyone who thinks differently is off their rocker?
You're getting closer...moneyman
May 16, 2003 3:32 PM
That's a beginning. I am certain that you are holding out with respect to the rest of your disagreements to the "underlying sentiment."

Now try this - think about context, as in when the Declaration was written and who it was written for. Then ask yourself if Jefferson, an eminently just man, would have excluded given today's sentiment?

I'm sorry to keep troubling you. I know how confused you can get when asked the same question repeatedly.

If only.czardonic
May 16, 2003 4:01 PM
I read Jefferson's sentiment to be a recognition of equality among mankind regardless of race or gender, and believe the Declaration to be an assertion of that sentiment.

There's seems to be a pronoun missing from your question, which isn't helping my confusion. If the question is who would Jefferson, an eminently just man, have excluded, then the answer is no-one.

The problem is that concepts such as "just", "men" and "God" are subject to some confoundingly bizarre and often contradictory interpretations.
If only.Live Steam
May 16, 2003 7:31 PM
"The problem is that concepts such as "just", "men" and "God" are subject to some confoundingly bizarre and often contradictory interpretations."

Yeah, sort of like the word "is", is. Get real and stop parsing words.
It is truly a masterful work of literature!Live Steam
May 16, 2003 12:47 PM
It is so powerful yet unequivocal in it's message. How could we screw it up so badly?
Yeah Doug! What he said!!!!!!!!!! Woof woof!! Argh! nm :O)Live Steam
May 16, 2003 12:34 PM
I'd really ad only one thing.dzrider
May 16, 2003 1:00 PM
Where you say "without hurting others" I would add "or denying others their right to do as they please". The dilemma often arises as to what hurts others.

Does carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term harm the mother or does an abortion harm the foetus?

Does arresting people for marijuana offenses harm the users and dealers or protect society from the harmful effects of marijuana? Is the reasoning the same for alcohol or tobacco?

Should people be required to carry automobile insurance, or is that taking away a person's property?

Is unfettered gun ownership worth the lives it costs?
I think that was more than one thing :-)DougSloan
May 16, 2003 1:04 PM
oops, hit enter too soonDougSloan
May 16, 2003 1:10 PM
In any system of rights, there are heirachies. A mother has a right to control her body. Arguably, at least, the child has a right to live. We are often called upon to decide which rights are superior to others. To me, the right of the child to live exceeds all other rights.

Also, there is a continuum of rights with respect to potential harm caused by exercising those rights, as compared to personal responsibility for not handling rights properly. Yes, you should be free to own guns. Yes, you should be responsible for misusing them.

The idea behind mandated liability insurance is financial responsibilty. Incidentally, you need not carry insurance, if you can prove you would be financially responsible for harm you cause in an accident. It's a trade off for being granted permission to use public roads along with everyone else, sort of a social contract. Unless you own the roads, you have no inherent right to use them, so society can place conditions upon doing so, is the line of reasoning.

Decl. of Indep.: Who gets to Declare Indep. Now?PdxMark
May 16, 2003 2:49 PM
Should anyone be able to assert it now in the US? Any group of people? Any state?

The delaration was masterful in part because it expressed for the first time, in glorious prose, the Right of a People to separate themselves from their government. In the context of Locke's political philosphy of the time, it was both elegant and intellectually cutting edge. THe references to the Rights being endowed by our Creator are also relevant to the age. I suspect that modern political philosophers, of which I am not, could justify personal and human rights other than as a gift from God.

The universality of the DofI is that it can be applied by anyone upset with any government. Every string of governmental slights, especially tax-based, can fit the mold.

So the question is, who now has the right to stand up and shake off the yoke (yolk for some) of US government oppression? A major difference between us and the colonials is that we chose our government (usually).

What level of indignity must one endure as a law-abiding citizen before it is unreasonable to continue under the government elected by the people? Some folks on this board would say any single tax dollar spent on any "undeserving" way is an unreasonable intrusion on their personal sovreignty. For those folks there is a fundamental problem. Those tax dollars were usurped by law through acts of their elected representatives.

So I guess I have a few rambling points. First, some people think the DofI can be asserted anytime anyone is upset about any governmental action. I think that's not right, but I don't know how far the government must go before people can "lawfully" rise up to overthrow the US government.

Second, we are in a fundamentally different governmental circumstance than the the colonials were. This is our government. Not someone else's. A major distinction between the DofI and now is that there isn't a foreign power over us. If the US Supreme court says acts of the US governemnt are constitutional, we have a logically closed system that supports it's own validity. In the context of this system, it's not clear when someone is justified to revolt.

The magic of US stability (and other countries') is that people accept the underlying legal framework of the system. If the acceptance of that framework is undermined, then the stability of governemtnal transitions is no longer guaranteed. That's why I find it amazing that folks who love this country will attach it's very foundations of justification over minor details like the levels of taxes.

Our tax burden is 16th lowest out of the 20 OECD countries -if I remember correctly (TJean will correct me if I'm wrong). Mexico, South Korea, Japan have lower tax burdens, and don't have the military we support. I find it amazing that people think that level of taxation is an unreasonable governmental intrusion...
Decl. of Indep.: Who gets to Declare Indep. Now?Spoiler
May 16, 2003 5:07 PM
"The magic of US stability (and other countries') is that people accept the underlying legal framework of the system. If the acceptance of that framework is undermined, then the stability of governemtnal transitions is no longer guaranteed."

So unacceptance of the legal framework would be the single greatest threat to our government. From within.

To combat this, the government instills the idea that citizen's freedoms are inseparable from the government and our freedoms and rights are bestowed upon us from our government. There is the idea that the workings of our government are the only thing protecting our freedoms, without our government, we have no freedom, so the government is justified in withholding some freedoms so they can protect others.
The greatest threat to peoples' freedom might be the criminalization of any efforts that introduce instability.

random ramblings
My point with that statement...PdxMark
May 16, 2003 8:59 PM
Was that generally universal acceptance of our underlying institutions and laws has provided an unprecedented 210+ years of smooth transitions between successive governments. There are few places on Earth where a court could arbitrarily decide a closely contested election without having a virtual collapse of a government, much less society.

I don't think it's governemnt indoctrination. I think it's universal acceptance of the ideal of America, and it's institutions. It truly is something amazing.

And it makes me crazy to have people who profess admiration for these ideals to suggest that the miracle of the Untied States of America is slipping into tyranny because they think the near lowest industiral tax burden in the world is oppressive.

If we were maintaining the world-leading infrastructure we inherited from our parents and grandparents, or were simply covering our own costs rather than passing on perpetual interest payments to future generations, then I could see some reason to their point. As it is, I see parasitic narcissism by which people seek to maximize their own personal income at the expense of a society to enabled that income...

Ooops... I lost it...
don't forgetDougSloan
May 17, 2003 7:37 PM
People seem to forget, unless I'm remembering the horror all wrong, that Gore went to the Florida courts to obtain relief from the apparent election results first. Gore attempted to obtain an "arbitrary" reversal of the results. The US Supreme Court simply reversed the Florida Supreme Court, right?