Thursday, September 01, 2005

Freedoms...

It's true that you can find almost anything on the Internet...if you know where to look or are willing to take some time to find it. That's both good and bad of course, but I think it mainly depends on the person and not so much the information.

Two kind of unrelated things got me thinking the about something that I don't think we spend enough time actually thinking about. First off, Zombie Slayer had a post about the First Amendment and did a good job of explaining it. Zombie Slayer's post got me thinking about how cool it really is to have the freedoms we have here in the United States, but it also got me thinking about how easily we tend to give up those freedoms a little bit at a time - trading them for the illusion of more security.

The other thing that got my mind going was a post on Flogging the Simian a while back. It was shortly after the London bombings and she was giving a good breakdown of the various reports about the bombs themselves and pointing out some inconsistencies between the official statements and the reality of the type of explosives said to be used. In her post, the author explained, as part of the background (but in a fairly detailed way), how one would likely go about making the type of explosives that where being pointed to as the ones used in the bombings.

It was very compelling reading and was well written, but I couldn't help but think that there are probably a lot of people who would get upset that someone explained explosive making. After all, who knows who could read that, right?

On the other hand, it really made it very clear to me that if someone wants to cause destruction and hurt people, all they have to do is stop at a couple of stores, clear the kitchen table, and spend a couple hours doing some basic chemistry. It's scary to know how easy it is, but that information makes me feel more informed and able to understand that 'the war on terror' absolutely can't be won by simply trying to suppress it.

What's the connection between bombmaking and the Constitution?

Well, looking back to the time of the American Revolution - and make no mistake, it was a bloody revolution not a pretty little patriotic picture - many people in the Colonies were chafing under some pretty oppressive taxes and laws imposed by the government. Don't you mean the British Shawn? No, actually it was the government...how quickly we forget that our Founding Fathers were citizens of England.

The unrest caused some anxiety in the high places and in low too (don't forget that the majority of the people in the Colonies didn't want to fight the British - their government). The government responded to the threats by limiting freedoms further. Many of the freedoms they tried to limit were the very ones later placed into the Constitution when this new country was formed.

The Founding Fathers realized that many freedoms are impossible to completely take away, but without protection governments are likely to try anyway. The British feared allowing free speech because they feared what might be said. In trying to suppress it, they only hardened the resolve of those trying to talk.

It was the same when it came to allowing freedom of the press (which back then was far more literal than today). The government feared what might be printed, so they tried to limit the presses. Funny thing about ideas though, they tend to get out no matter how firmly the cap is placed on them. Instead of being addressed in the open, these ideas went underground to be passed from hand to hand, one broadside at a time.

Historically speaking, if at any one or two moments leading up to the revolution, the government had loosened the reins and addressed the underlying problems and grievances instead of trying to suppress those asking for a chance to speak, we would be singing "God Save the Queen" at the start of baseball games and we sure wouldn't be arguing about whether Dubyah has done one good thing for this country or not.

Anyway, maybe that's why I get so upset when freedoms are chipped away a bit at a time by things like the Patriot Act and similar laws, or say a ban on 'assault type rifles,' without more than a whimper from the majority of the voters in the country.

The Patriot Act gains us no more real security from terror than paper armor would likely stop a hand grenade - but a small piece of freedom has been traded by making it law.

The same could be said of banning some guns because they look kind of like military weapons. Hate to say it, but a rifle is a rifle is a rifle. Some are better made, more accurate, or more comfortable to shoot...but the big differences aren't on the outside of any of them, the big differences are with the bullets they shoot. That's a whole other tangent though. The point is that assault rifles can cause plenty of big time damage, but not any more than a $100 surplus rifle picked up at a show, or through the mail, or as Christmas present from Grandpa.

I suppose I just wish that we didn't allow freedoms to be traded away without a thought simply because it doesn't directly affect us. And that's what we do when we don't question our government every time they try to limit freedoms in any way, not just in ways that hit our individual buttons.

Am I happy that it's easy to find out how to build a bomb? Not very. But I also don't think it's wrong to talk about it. What do I know though? Not much other than I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers put too much thought into protecting our freedoms to just give them away for a false sense of security.

10 comments:

Miranda said...

Yeah, I wish that too. articularly after seeing the what the eminent domain ruling can do.

Slade said...

agreed...I feel that we are always pushing for "democracy" in other countries, but have less and less of it happening in our own country.

Laura said...

Again... I tie this to the decreased value placed on history and civics in schools. And the apathy of American voters. In a country where half the population doesn't get off their collective fat ass and vote are we really surprised that they don't realize their rights are being trampled?

Laura said...

as for the bomb thing... that information has been published for years and years. A person who is going to look up that information and build a bomb to kill people is the type of person that would have found a way to get the information no matter where it is located.

Miranda said...

Laura: I'm happy to finally be able to say that I agree with you 100%. What happened to civics?

Slade said...

Laura, well said!!!!!!

VOTE you mo-fos!

Miranda said...

But before you vote, figure out who and what you're voting for.
It's easy just to vote for a change, but it's best to make sure the change is for the better.

Has anyone come up with any plans lately?

Jason said...

I'd run for prez, but I don't want to move to DC, even if Kris is there.

Shawn said...

Yes...my plan is to become Emperor of the Universe. That ought to be good.

All other plans pale in comparison.

D.C. also has the Smithsonian. That's worth some points. And it's not like the White House doesn't have air conditioning. Besides you get to take 5 week vacations to your 'ranch' in Texas...no wait that's Bush...but I'm sure you could take a vacation too.

The Zombieslayer said...

The Patriot Act gains us no more real security from terror than paper armor would likely stop a hand grenade - but a small piece of freedom has been traded by making it law.

Nicely put.


The same could be said of banning some guns because they look kind of like military weapons. Hate to say it, but a rifle is a rifle is a rifle.


I'm so glad someone out there understands that. If I wanted to kill someone, I could just as easily do it with one of my hunting rifles as with one of my "assault" rifles, but my "assault" rifles are scarier looking.