My vision of Freedom is rather simple: I believe that as long as what you do, what you believe, or what you say, doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s ability to do, believe, or say what they like, then all is right with the world. And I believe the Government’s job is to protect those Rights… not to interfere with, or out-right deny, them. Here are some examples of what I’m getting at.
1) Freedom of Religion
A person’s belief that a Higher Being exists, or does not exist, has absolutely no impact on the lives of others. It is the worship of said Deity, or lack thereof, which has the potential to cause problems. Therefore, as long as your act of worship does not impose upon others, you are completely entitled to it. Pray, sing, dance; do it alone or with others from your community. It is not, nor should it be, the business of anyone else to interfere with your celebration of those beliefs; especially not the Government’s. That being said, I don’t want people knocking on my door to tell me about their Deity. If I wanted to talk about their God, I would go to their church. My property is for my beliefs; I do not go to their church with mine, they should not bring theirs to me.
2) Freedom of Speech
There is absolutely nothing you can say that won’t offend someone else. Nothing. The entire concept of “taking offense” is archaic. We do not require Legislation prohibiting what you’re allowed to say, in any venue. If you want to say “Fuck” in church, knock yourself out. Now, the owner of said church- being the owner- has the Right to prohibit you from being on his/her property. The police, however, should not have the Right to give you a ticket because someone took offense to something you said. Either we acknowledge that everyone has the Right to say what they wish, or we acknowledge that this Right doesn’t exist at all. Allowing government agencies to censor, and punish, us for having our say goes against the very nature of our society.
And this brings up my original point. You have the Right to speak your mind as long as it does not infringe upon someone else’s Rights. Yelling “Bomb” or “Fire” when there isn’t one imposes a significant danger to those around you. Thus, it is illegal.
In the case of instances like the Westboro Baptist Church folks going to funerals to protest, here is why I believe they’re wrong. The people holding a funeral are practing their religious beliefs without bothering anyone, while the protesters are actively disrupting those ceremonies. See the difference?
3) Freedom of Thought
I only have the ability to control my own mind. This means that no-one else has the power to stop me from thinking whatever pops into my head. I bring this up because the world is full of bigots; that is to say, all of us. Granted, not everyone acts upon those initial thoughts, but we all make a first impression upon those we meet, and that first impression is not always a positive one. We need to stop acting like this is a crime. There is no single outfit that everybody approves of, or one lifestyle that we can all agree on. I do not find everyone I meet attractive, and every woman looking for Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome is sure to be disappointed when meeting me. Prejudice is as natural as any emotion we feel, and no Law will ever stop us from following our instincts and passing judgment based on those first impressions; nor will any Law ever change what we each find attractive and agreeable in another person.
When it comes to business, an employer is not allowed to ask certain questions: like asking about your religion. I say let them. If it’s your business, run it however you wish, and man it with whatever personnel you like. If an employer wants to only hire Baptist rednecks, I say let it happen. While his competition is getting rich due to their wide customer base, the bigot will either change his views or fail. We must also make sure the Government isn’t getting involved, either by stepping in to bail business out, or selectively choosing which businesses to bail out or loan to in the first place.
We are an adaptable race, and, through experience, will learn that diversity is strength. But we have to see for ourselves- Legislation doesn’t change minds or teach lessons. Instead, let stupid people be stupid, and allow the laws of nature, and business, to weed them out.
4) Freedom of Action
This is the big one. We spend far too much time conceiving, creating, and implementing Legislation to ban non-interfering actions. What a person does in their own home, for example, should be entirely their own business. A recent story from Texas tells of a couple that held sex parties at their house. While some may find such actions offensive, and even immoral, I argue that it’s none of their business. And what if there was money exchanged during these parties? Still none of anyone’s business.
What you do of your own free will, so long as it does not impose upon the free will of others, should be your Right. Legislation should never, ever, be used to determine and/or dictate morals. When the majority of the country considered slavery moral, we passed Laws to govern it and keep it acceptable. We should have been following, instead, the very foundation this country was built upon and recognized the oppression of slavery. But that is what happens when we give the government control of morals.
Protesting is your Right. Given, of course, that you aren’t blocking the sidewalks and streets, and thus impeding the travel of those around you. Also, so long as you are not causing harm to another. I’ve seen protesters throwing rocks at, or otherwise attacking, those they were protesting. I feel like the police should simply open fire into such mobs and set the precedence: chaos will be matched with deadly force. Sure, not every protester is violent… but I guarantee it would make people more aware of the company they choose to keep, and their support for such actions amongst the company they keep. It is society’s responsibility to maintain order, not just a select few in uniform.
You see, one of the biggest issues we have with Freedom of Action is the lack of consequence. When your actions do not interfere with others, the Government should stay out. The Law does not exist for determining morals, it exists to establish a guideline for protecting the people and maintaining justice and order. Once you cast that first stone, you are no longer a protester, you are a criminal.
1. Protester = Protected
2. Criminal = Tear Gas, the Beat Stick, and Bullets
I also believe nudity should not be against the Law. Public Indecency is just as ignorant as public obscenity. The human body is what it is. To choose any specific appendage and declare it “indecent” is just… well, ignorant. We laugh at other countries for making their women wear head-to-toe clothing as to not expose their skin. The women can’t show their face, their arms, their ankles… and we consider it uncivilized. How is forcing women to cover their breasts any different? Not all women consider their breasts to be erogenous zones, and some folks get turned on by having their ears caressed. Should we start wearing earmuffs and lose the bikini tops? It’s no wonder we’ve built a society full of depressed and negatively self-conscious people. The human body is not obscene, or sinful. Yet as long as we continue to treat it as such, people will never learn to be comfortable in their own skin.
Maybe you’re gay. Yay, you. I don’t care, and nor should anyone else. I don’t like the thought of two guys being intimate, yet nor do I like the thought of anyone making out with ugly women. But just because I don’t like it doesn’t give me the Right to suppress it. It’s not my lifestyle, and thus has zero bearing on my life. Therefore, we should cease passing Legislation on whether or not being homosexual is “acceptable”. Of course it is. Just like I didn’t make a conscious decision to like shorty, busty, redheaded women, gays didn’t wake up one morning and decide to find the opposite sex unattractive. Passing Legislation to force and control public opinion is an abuse of power and should neither be allowed nor tolerated.
In closing, I’ll end with this.
Freedom is an illusion. By that, I mean the word ‘Freedom’. The reality is that we’re all equally free to do, say, and believe whatever the hell we want. The only reason we don’t is because we often find ourselves outnumbered. That’s all a Law is: the majority imposing its Will on the minority. The problem with America is that for all our talk and pomp on how “Free” and great our system is, we’re still a bunch of petty, judgmental individuals forcing our beliefs onto everyone else. And we do it with blind justifications. Certain countries are wrong for covering their women, but we’re not because it’s America. Foreign countries are wrong for oppressing their people, but bashing gays is fine because it’s America. We’re trying to force a democratic vote overseas so that their people can have a voice, yet we pass Laws to keep our own citizens quiet.
We’ve come a long way, America… but we’re still a far cry from Free.