USA: How much do we REALLY value freedom?

It seriously bothers me anytime a fellow citizen crows about how “free” we are. I can’t see it as being anything other than empty rhetoric.

What have we done recently (like in the past 20 years) to advance freedom within our own country? Because in my view as time continues to go on, we are becoming less and less free. This is evidenced by the fact that our lawmakers are overwhelmingly voting to criminalize activities versus legalizing them. It’s been 34 years since we’ve had a Constitutional Amendment that expands freedoms (allowing 18 year olds to vote). It’s been 24 years since the proposed Equal Rights Amendment died a quiet death.

The last two proposed Constitutional Amendments that gained any serious traction would have the effect of taking rights away from people instead of expanding them (Flag Burners and Homosexuals).

100 years ago marijuana was legal nationwide and prostitution was legal in several states (as opposed to just Nevada now). A couple years ago Ephedra and Prohormones (precursers to steroids) were legally available, and now they are not. Before the mid 1980s a lot of states allowed people under 21 to buy alcohol. Until recently Montana allowed passengers in cars to consume alcohol. It’s depressing to think about freedom slowly ebbing away.

It’s like the (flawed as it applies to actual frogs) analogy of the frog that’s put in water that’s slowly being heated up, and the frog ignores the temperature change until it’s too late and gets boiled to death. Like the fictional frog I feel like our society is slowly being boiled to death with new rules and regulations, and the temperature is never going downwards.

The picture looks grim to me. Our country needs to actually do something about freedom. Waving tiny american flags and putting yellow ribbon bumper sticker just doesn’t cut it.

Are you talking about “freedom” as defined by the ACLU or the Libertarian Party or the Heritage Foundation? Significant differences there.

Except that neither one of those proposals gained any serious traction. Well, I suppose that depends on what you mean by serious tractionk, but there was no danger of either one being made into an Amendment. Plus, the homosexual one wouldn’t really be taking away a recognized right since, so far as I know, homosexuals really can’t get married in most states right now. Maybe I’m just nitpicking.


The Flag Burning Amendment was ONE vote away from passing Congress and going to the States.

It would certainly screw over those who were already married in Massachussetts. But even if that weren’t the case, it’s still troubling to see an amendment whose primary goal is to prevent freedom from happening (even if it hasn’t happened yet).

The ACLU most definitely. Parts of the LP platform I agree with. But I don’t agree with the LP that “big government” is neccesarily an impediment to freedom. I don’t think we need to privatize the roads or shut down government run school systems. Although that might make us more free on paper, the actual effect on the average persons ability to pursue happiness would be hindered if they had to pay tolls every couple of miles to pass from place to place, or worse, if a billionaire monopolized the roads and prevented people he didn’t like from crossing.

That gets a big “eh” from me. Nobody expected the Flag Burning Amendment to get anywhere it was just a big ploy by the GOP to make themselves look good to their constituents. “See, we really care about this issue and we tried to push it through.” The same could be said about the Amendment over who can get married.

If anything I see it as a good sign. Personally I don’t think gay marriage nationwide is all that far away. Those people currently railing against it are doing so loudly because it just might become a reality (not just in some states).

As to another point in our OP I’m wondering what significance there is in no Amendment being passed that expanded freedom since 18 year olds were given the right to vote in 1971. So what? Amendments aren’t exactly suppose to be easy to pass. Does it make you feel any better that no Amendment curtailing freedom has been passed since 1919?

As to how much we value freedom, well, that depends on how we want to define freedom. Someone else on this board once remarked that a Mongol wouldn’t feel very free here because he couldn’t just put up his tent on any patch of land he desired like he could back home. You pose a very interesting question, Blalron, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think the simple answer is a yes or a no. In some ways I think we’re more free then people were 100 years ago but in other ways perhaps not so much.


I agree that the gay marriage/flag burning amendment proposals were “boob-bait for bubbas”, i.e., political ploys to shore up the dominant party’s unwashed base.

Amendments to the Constitution are going to be exceedingly rare in the future. Right now I can’t imagine an issue contentious enough to need ratification that could actually make it through the process.

By the way, what exactly did the ERA promise? I was very young at the time (girls were icky!).

Also, why is it that all our “freedom” issues seem to be about sex & drugs?

Well I did mention the Flag Burning thing (speech) and gay marriage isn’t entirely about sex either.

Not enough. Everyone is for the freedom for people to do the things with which we agree.

Unpopular things are an entirely different breed of cat. I once had a coworker who insisted that Sammy Davis Jr. shouldn’t be allowed to sing It Ain’t Necessarily So on the radio. His reason was that a lot of people think it is necessarily so.

Sometimes rock ‘n’ roll, too. Remember Tipper Gore’s labeling campaign?

Wow. Now they’re going after George and Ira. Scary shit.

The Equal Rights Amendment:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Equality != freedom. Sometimes they conflict. Other times they go well together, but they’re still not the same thing.

“I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality.”

John Randolph of Roanoke


A couple of godless Yids from the New Deal era? Doesn’t surprise me at all.

I put it to y’all that many Americans do not value freely given freedoms (speech, religion, press) nearly so much as they do purchased freedoms (dealing with, say, guns and property).

Certainly not all of them, but those are big ones because they’re a significant (especially with drugs) government invasion into something that’s clearly none of their business. I mean - no knock raids in the middle of the night, throwing people in jail for longer than murderers for dealing drugs, a hundred other grievances, all for the sake of inflicting the tastes of one aspect of society onto another. (For the record, I don’t personally have a stake in the drug issue - I don’t do them, aside from alcohol occasionally). The sex stuff isn’t nearly as powerful, but seriously, there are tons of laws regulating the ways in which people can have sex. Absurd.

What would be the point of that? Does, or did, the federal government discriminate on the basis of sex? How so? What would the amendment accomplish?

[QUOTE=Beware of Doug]

I don’t think that’s true. When there is a threat on free speech, there’s a huge outcry. But the main factor, I think, is that speech, religion, and press freedoms aren’t really in any major danger, however, gun rights and property rights are much more so, and so you see more people fighting for those issues. It doesn’t signify their relative importance, but rather, the relative degree to which they’re under attack.

I created a GD thread a while ago that touches on this topic in a related way.

I usually try to put a historical perspective on the level of freedom in the USA. For example, I don’t consider some of the more recent constitutional abuses that resulted from 9/11 to be more agregious than say, the Palmer raids or the McCarthy hysteria.

That said, there is one thing resulting from 9/11 that I can’t put in historical perspective for some reason. While standing in security check lines at airports, I would find myself thinking (silently) that these tedious checks for fingernail files are really not make air travel any safer. At the sime time I was thinking that, I would hear someone say, “I guess it’s okay, as long as it makes us safer.”

That would make me wonder: How much freedom would the American public be willing to give up to be safe? That worries me more than anything else about the terrorist attacks, because I heard similar comments many times. I even heard, more than once, “… it makes us feel safer.”

I wonder, in the '50’s, were people saying, “I know what’s happening is wrong, but it’s okay as long as it protects us from the communists.”

:rolleyes: If there’s one thing that made me hesitate to vote for her husband in 2000 . . .

And that’s a preacher singing! :smiley:

All laws restrict our actions in some manner and it’s just a fact of life that politicians will pass more laws than they extinguish. Freedom of speech, as it currently exists, is much broader today based on Supreme Court interpretation. Laws regarding drugs and prostitution follow community standards, which change over time (as will the laws).

If you want to compare freedom in the United States to other countries you might find that we still have it pretty good here. So all I can say is cock-a-doodle-do.