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[P]
Freedom to question our Freedom

By jabber in Op-Ed
Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 04:54:50 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Next week, the Fourth of July will be upon us and in the United States, it will be Independence Day. We'll get to watch o'er the ramparts as rockets red flare, or something like that. Hopefully some of us will take this time to contemplate what it means to be living in the Land of the Free.

From early childhood, we are told that we are Free. We're taught that ours is the most Free country in the world, and that we should cherish our Freedom, but we are never told what that means really, are we?

Any discussion of Freedom, or any abstract concept really, requires a fundamental definition from which to begin.


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It's that time of year again folks. Summertime, and the livin' is easy, and you know that that means. That's right, absolutely nothing, in the vast majority of the world. For over five billion people, it is just another day, but to those of us in the US of A, it is an opportunity. It is a chance to reflect on who we are as a Nation, how we got here and essentially slack off and drink beer on a day we would otherwise have to spend working.

Independence Day, the Fourth of July, gives us a chance to reflect on this country that we live in. We can take the time to consider the cost of the lifestyle and the Freedom we enjoy. But do we ever actually stop to think what it is that we have, what it means, and if it is even worth having?

Yes, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness come into play, but these are never really explained either. Interpreting the meaning of Freedom is at least as great a challenge as interpreting the Commandments, and there are as many definitions as there are interpreters.

www.dictionary.com defines:



freedom
(frdm)n.

  • 1. The condition of being free of restraints.
  • 2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression.
  • 3.1 Political independence.
  • 3.2 Exemption from the arbitrary exercise of authority in the performance of a specific action; civil liberty: freedom of assembly.
  • 4 Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition: freedom from want.
  • 5 The capacity to exercise choice; free will: We have the freedom to do as we please all afternoon.
  • 6 Ease or facility of movement: loose sports clothing, giving the wearer freedom.
  • 7 Frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve: the new freedom in movies and novels.
  • 8.1 The right to unrestricted use; full access: was given the freedom of their research facilities.
  • 8.2 The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship: the freedom of the city.
  • 9 A right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference: "the seductive freedoms and excesses of the picaresque form" (John W. Aldridge).




Definition #1

Definition 1 seems very straight forward, doesn't it? Freedom is not being bound with restraints. Duh! Well, what are restraints? Need they necessarily be physical things that restrain mobility? No, not really. In fact, most objectors who claim that there is a lack of Freedom say that the restraints are not physical at all. Yes, elsewhere, there are prisoners of conscience and dissidents who are held physically against their will. For the most part, in the US, this definition of Freedom has held up well, unless you're someone like Kevin Mitnick, who without a doubt committed crimes, but was detained and held without trial for much longer than he should have. Although, as in the case of Jose Padilla, the US Citizen held for having had conversations, and possibly the intention of building a "dirty bomb", even the fundamental definition of being unrestrained is becoming strained in these increasingly paranoid times. The first of these examples flirts heavily with the 6th Amendment, the second, well; we are after all at war, are we not?

However, physical restraint is not the only sort of means of limiting Freedom. There are various other restrictions and constraints which render one captive, the opposite of Free. Imposition of Religion and a prescribed practice thereof, for example, is a non-physical restraint. Requiring people to believe specific things, and act in specific ways, is abridging of their Freedom. By definition via the Constitution, the United States does not restrict or impose Religion. Yet those among us, who do not subscribe to the mainstream, conveniently packaged faiths that are derivative of Judaism, know better. In the US our Creator endows us with the inalienable Right to the Freedom of Religion. Consider the irony of that statement.

I am not saying, of course, that Religion should be mandated in schools, Heavens no! Instead, what I am saying is that it is something less than Freedom, to be denied the Right to pray, or hold an organized assembly under the umbrella of some faith, within the context of a Public Place. It is a subtle stripping away of Religion, and that is not the Freedom of it. Yet still, each banknote we touch bears the words "In God we Trust", so Religion, the most widely recognized Judeo-Christian one of course, is subtly imposed upon us. Thank God that the Constitutionality of The Pledge of Allegiance is finally coming into question. Well, thank the Judicial Branch at least.

I hope the example of Religion makes the point that even in this most Free country of all, we are not free of restraints that are non-physical. The legacy of the Founding Fathers and the Pilgrims follows us to this day. Any faith other than one of theirs is frowned upon, and all faiths are deliberately kept out of the semblance of Public Approval, while theirs is subtly imposed.

Onward.

Definition #2

This point is also seemingly straightforward. Slavery is wrong, imprisonment is a sort of denial of Freedom that's explained in Definition #1, and the Freedom from oppression implies that one should be free to act as one chooses, without the fear of punishment or coercion to act otherwise. But what if you want to give yourself to another person, or institution, to abide by external rules and to abdicate responsibility for your actions?

What if you want to be a slave? Should you not have the Freedom to make that choice? In ancient Sparta, slavery was a run of the mill fact of life, but with a twist. Every so often, each year, or three, or several - it really doesn't matter - all the slaves were declared free. And the cycle would begin again. People would surrender their will to masters for the comfort of being cared for, and in exchange, they would agree to do work, to serve. The Black, excuse me, African-American and White view of slavery that has been with us since before the Civil War is too simplistic to account for the idea of willful slavery.

Should not Free people be able to choose to be slaves? What if I want to give up all responsibility for my actions, and carry out only the will of my owner? Shouldn't this lifestyle be one that is accounted for under the Law? Shouldn't there be a document, sort of like a "living will" in which I could abdicate my Freedom to another person? I can, after all, sell my soul on eBay. Why should I not be Free to make my freedom a commodity or someone else's possession?

Imprisonment is another slippery slope. The United States has a greater percentage of its population in prison than any other nation, industrialized or otherwise, yet we are the Land of the Free. How do we reconcile the two extremes? Well, we say that those who are in prison deserve to be there for having broken the Law. Now, "Law" is an interesting animal in it's own right - it is the popularly agreed upon standard of conduct, a communal agreement that enforces the will of the majority onto the distal sigma of the populace. What was is that Thomas Jefferson, founding father, hemp farmer and rapist of his own slaves, said? "It is no more right for the majority to impose its will onto the individual as it is for the individual to impose his will onto the population", or something to that effect. Thanks Tom.

Why are all those people in prison? Well, why? They did not all violate "inalienable human rights" of others, they did not all commit treason. They are there on technicalities, on obscurity and mainly for reasons of aesthetics. I'm getting at the War on Drugs.

Yes, drugs are bad, m'kay? But think about it for a moment. What makes them so bad? The overdoses, the crimes perpetrated for drug money, the violent outbursts of junkies, or the danger inherent in trafficking in illegal substances? Isn't it true that the one thing about drugs that is most detrimental to society at large is the side effects and consequences of the enforcement of Drug Laws? In most cases, the bad side of drugs is directly related to attempts to curtail their use. Didn't we learn this lesson with Prohibition and Al Capone?

Drugs are, for the most part, a matter of individual choice. The negatives do not become significantly pronounced until that choice is taken away, until people are oppressed, repressed and deprived of the Freedom to do as they please with their bodies. Drugs are a health problem, they tear families and lives asunder, but what a person chooses to do to themselves, and what the consequences are for their loved ones, is a matter of that individual's choice. I say all that as a vocal opponent of drug use. To me, drugs are a bad idea aesthetically. The Law should have no jurisdiction over my own body however. I'm against seatbelt and helmet laws for the same reason. I wear both by choice, not by law. Law should not dictate aesthetics or forbid willful and deliberate disregard for one's personal safety.

Definition #3.1

This sets Freedom to mean "political independence". OK, well we certainly have that - no one forces us to be members of any particular party. But as independent political entities, we lack representation. Realistically, the US is run by two political parties, which are almost too well balanced for the equilibrium to be a coincidence.

We may have political independence, but when we claim that Freedom, we relegate ourselves to being politically inconsequential as well. After all, the most prominent alternative to the two party system, Ralph Nader, was turned away at the door of the Presidential Debate, to which he had a ticket. Never mind being able to participate, the man was not even allowed to be a spectator and witness the debate between Bush and Gore. Nader was free to watch the debate on television, like the rest of the unwashed.

Definition #3.2

Per definition #3.2, we have the Freedom of Assembly, and the right to gather without threat of authoritarian power. For the most part, I can not argue this as a valid Freedom. I've seen the Million Man March, even though only a select twenty thousand or so actually showed up. But I am haunted by images of assemblies gone wrong... Seattle, and especially Waco, cause me to severely question whether or not we are truly Free from the arbitrary exercise of authority. As Van Hagar told us "right now... your government is doing things that we think only other governments do".

We are not free to gather as we please, but we are free from the arbitrary application of authority. Those in control are anything but arbitrary about their application of authority. They reserve their power, they hold back, until we do something to threaten their hegemony, and then they bring their authority to bear.

It isn't about Justice, and it isn't even about Lawfulness, but rather about Shepherding. We can gather and protest and chant, as long as the issues we raise are innocuous and non-threatening to those in power. As soon as someone crosses that line, as soon as someone asks the hard questions, the swift hand of the Shepherd authority removes them from sight. As it should, lest they cause the other sheep to think for a minute about why things are as they are, and whether they necessarily need to be so.

Definition #4

This is different entirely. As I see it, Freedom from want and from the lack of something is not something that can be assured. In fact, is it not the very cornerstone of human nature to crave more than one already has? Nietzsche's notorious "Will to Power" rears its self-asserting head here, since once one's wants are satisfied, one wants for more. Defining Freedom in terms of the satisfaction of desires is misguided - it really ought to be phrased in terms of the ability to satiate needs, and satisfy the sense of lacking.

The Constitution defines as a Right the Pursuit of Happiness, not Happiness itself, since a person's Happiness is not something that can be granted or taken away - and the case is similar with Want. A State simply does not have the means to provide for arbitrary "want", so I feel the point is largely moot.

Yes, Freedom from Hunger, from Fear, from any material lack or emotional unpleasantness is a Good Thing. However, when considered from the perspective of the Social Contract, where individual responsibility for assuring such freedoms is abdicated to The State, the definition becomes meaningless - at least until The State demonstrates a means to feed, clothe, house and nurture the homeless.

Definition #5

This definition states that Freedom is the ability to make choices, and in pure terms, that is exactly what it is. Freedom, in essence, is the ability to do something, or do something else, or not do anything at all. Yet, when the choices are preselected and constrained, then Freedom is abridged - and if the choices are so crafted as to be inconsequential, then there is effectively no choice.

Consider the Freedom we have when buying a new car. We can buy any model, of any make that exists on the market. That, in and of itself is interesting, since certain rules and interests control what is "on the market" in the first place. But given the available options, we can "choose" among effectively peer selections. A Chevy Blazer might as well be a Ford Explorer, which might as well be a Nissan Pathfinder. The balance, horizontally, is splendidly engineered, though one can understand that this is simply an evolutionary, Darwinian result of competing corporations all vying for the same consumer dollars.

Where it gets interesting is the additional "illusion of choice" that the major players in the automobile market perpetrate on the half-suspecting public. Consider General Motors. You not only have to consider Chevy versus Ford, you also have to consider Chevy versus Oldsmobile, Pontiac, even Cadillac. The choices are artificially diluted to increase the probability that consumer money will end up in one of the pockets of the GM Corporation. Yes, there are different "price points" involved, especially where Cadillac is concerned, but Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, GMC. These differ only in the color of radio buttons and roundness of levers and dials. Each has a different set of colors on the fenders and marque emblems on the grille. Pretty shinny things to distract the eyes from the man behind the curtain. And one must not forget the "reputation" of the different makes - GMC is

"Professional Grade", Chevy is "All American", Pontiac is aimed at the younger crowd, since it "builds excitement" and Olds is "not your Father's Oldsmobile" and wills to abandon it's niche of stable and mature adults - thereby making exactly that niche feel a little younger. But guess what, all the important parts are interchangeable, and the stuff you don't see on the surface is exactly identical.

Not to be outdone of course, Ford treats us to Mercury and Lincoln, though the scarcity of options here, as opposed to the case of GM, suggests a more genuine attempt as separating out "price points." And this "illusion of choice" and therefore "simulacrum of Freedom" is not limited to the automobile industry, not by a long shot. There is after all only Coke and Pepsi to choose from, right? Have you ever noticed that certain fast-food franchises offer only Coke or only Pepsi as their cola of "choice"? They also offer only Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper? Care to guess who owns them? Yes folks, Taco-Bell, KFC. They're all one big happy, incestuous family. You can choose to either make a run for the border, or go to the heartland of Kentucky, as long as PepsiCo gets your pocket change. Most of the industries, food and drug, utility, software and almost any others you can think of, are incestuous oligopolies.

But wait, it gets better. Perhaps you've noticed the weeks when the World waited with baited breath to see who might take up the helm of the greatest Democracy ever, the Lone Superpower and the self-appointed global vigilante whose bounty we so enjoy. Humor has it that Yugoslavia actually sent observers to Washington, to oversee that the Election process was not compromised here more than it is in any other part of the World. Well, with the possible exception of the Congo where elections are routinely recounted after big men with machetes run through the villages of the opposition.

Suffice it to say, flipping a coin to choose a Ford or a Chevy results in greater variety of choices than deliberating whether Gush or Bore should represent the whole lot of us to the Global Community. Last I checked, 263 votes, 13 score of senile retiree "chads", made all the difference. Some choice that was. Then again, perhaps political apathy is a Good Thing after all, since it means that the majority to comfortable enough to not care - but that is not Freedom, so let's not be hypocritical about waving that banner, alright?

Definition #6

This definition does not really apply since it is in terms of clothing. Or does it? You do have to inform the DMV within 30 days of a change of address. Why? In a civil society, where crime is an incidental thing, rather than a premeditated one, should the State need to know your whereabouts with such precision? Yes, there's plenty of reasons for keeping that information on file, but are these reasons not an abridgment of Freedom? There are matters of participation in the process of government, and so verification of constituency is at issue there, but the only context in which locality should matter is when services are provided for that location. You pay for electricity, for the phone, for water, and these are things you yourself use, so your identity is necessarily bound to your residence. But need it be? Yes, if you fail to make good on your obligation to pay for what you use, you and you alone should be accountable.

However, in matters of social benefit, where the State provides a service to the population regardless of identity, does the binding of name and place not take away Freedom? Consider police protection of a neighborhood where the identity of the residents is known to be primarily within a certain minority group. Should the State, ideally a fair an impartial entity, have the means to use this information? Is not "equal opportunity" squarely at odds with racial profiling? Is not the knowledge of the identity and location of the individual the ultimate in identifying and singling out a minority? The individual is the smallest of the minorities after all.

Returning to clothing for a moment, have you been to a high school lately? What is the difference between wearing a Cross, or an Ankh, or a Pentagram? Public decency is a matter of personal aesthetic. Just some thoughts.

Definition #7

Frankness, Boldness, the Freedom of the 7th Definition, is something that is sorely lacking in the mainstream of America today. Yes, boundaries are pushed, shock-jocks abound, movies like Hannibal leave us swooning in the aisles and girls barely out of training bras are getting their second or third boob job. The bold has become the banal, and rampant mediocrity has shown us that while we all crave to "express ourselves" and "assert our individuality", few of us realize who we are, and can only express our individuality by forming up into legions of Britney Spears and Marshall Mathers clones.

The Freedom to be Bold and Honest about who we are is sold to us daily at The Gap, and Express, and a whole slew of other retail chains, which themselves are all braided together under the transparent umbrella of parent corporations. For every N'SYNC there's a Backstreet Boys. Once you outgrow the Weathervane, and move into the next price-point after you get a real job, you get to shop at Express, because they're one only one's selling that dress that looks like what Christina Aguillera was wearing when she said that thing about Britney, and you just need to buy it to show your support.

Wake the fuck up!

Realize that even the "grunge" counter-culture was sold to you. Rage music and even the counter-culture stores like "Hot Topic" take your money in exchange for a pre-packaged sense of individualism. Shoot your television, avoid the 8 second sound bite and the 8 minute vacuum between commercials. Look into thrift stores, and do not, ever, buy specialty soap - you don't know what it's made of.

Definition #8.1

The right to unrestricted use, and full access. One word: Napster. One more word: DeCSS. Another? DMCA [pdf]. Copyrights, patents, intellectual property rights, software licenses and the ability to fully use that which you purchase are in the middle of being reconciled as we speak. And it's not an easy process. Yes, there is the matter of tangibility of certain products, and when you buy a CD of music, you own the CD but not the music itself. These days, when digital technologies make it virtually cost free to duplicate intangible products, the old industry is reeling in the wake of grass-roots intelligence. There was a time when the sale of the medium upon which intangibles were distributed was enough to sustain the entire distribution industry.

Today, that is not the case, yet do notice that as means to privately duplicate such cultural artifacts have become available, the production and distribution industry has grown exponentially.

The increase in profitability of the recording industry has never been greater than since Napster and it's ilk have come upon the scene, despite the blandness of the music released. I know that I have made use of "pirate" music, mainly since I am unwilling to risk $20 on a disc I may thoroughly dislike. When I have found something new online, I have followed it up and purchased the Official distribution. I think most people are like me. Since I found music online, my consumption of for-sale music has increased.

The DVD consortium is another, albeit related matter. If some teenager somewhere can explain with pure logic how to access the content of a disc you have bought, should they be treated as a criminal? Is a corporation's Freedom to profit more valuable in our society than my Freedom to play a movie on my computer without having to pay Apple or Microsoft for the privilege? Why should I be subject to prosecution under a Federal Law, like the DMCA, for SPEAKING, even if the language in which I choose to express myself is C?

There is also the little matter of the U.S. DMCA Law being enforced against citizens of other countries. These other countries do not have a similar law on their books, and certainly do not play vassal to the U.S., yet seem willing to suspend their Sovereignty and their protections over their citizens when confronted by a potential loss of some corporation's profits. Ah, it's a matter for another rant entirely.

As an aside that's little closer to home, consider the nature of State and National forests. These exist because the State funds them, with tax money, yet we routinely pay admission as though they were a commercial attraction. Why should I pay anything at the gate? Is this some sort of deterrent against vandals? Money is certainly a restriction on use, which is all I'm trying to say. "Public" should be Public, not restricted to those who can afford it. This is why we got rid of the Poll Tax. Freedom should not only be there for those who can afford it.

Definition #8.2

Here we have the right to enjoy all the privileges of membership or citizenship. This sort of Freedom only truly seems to apply to those who do not innately have these rights, such as foreign nationals. Yet, there are different levels of "citizen", are there not? Recall the bit about Nader not being able to participate in the Presidential Candidate debate process? Not even allowed to be in the audience, like all other citizens. Security turned him away at the door. We're talking censorship here, a caste system drawn along the lines of belief, behavior, entitlement and party affiliation.

And once again it gets interesting. I'll spare the gentle reader the diatribe on consensual crime, but I will assert that the right to engage in sexual behavior of one's choosing should not be impinged upon or dictated by The State. What I do in the privacy of my own home, with a consenting partner(s), in any manner agreeable to all parties is nobody's business but that of the people involved. Government does not belong in the bedroom, yet I will invite the interested reader to look up information on "Paddleboro", and the very arbitrary "age of consent", both nationally and worldwide. Draw your own conclusions about the ability of certain individuals and groups to enjoy all the privileges of Citizenship. Which all brings us conveniently to Definition #9.

Definition #9

Freedom here is defined as the right or power to engage in certain actions without control or interference. How convenient that these "certain" actions are not named, but by their qualification, a circumscription is implied. They are "certain" actions not in the sense of their certainty, but rather by their definition as members of a set. These actions are permitted, you are Free within these bounds. The cattle are free to roam, within this corral. Who gets to define what these "certain" actions are, and by having the power to dictate the bounds of Freedom, are these defining powers more Free than the rest of us?

The claiming of Freedom within certain strongly enforced boundaries is a great way to create an illusion of absolute Freedom while obtaining or maintaining control over the population. How? Simply shift emphasis to the Freedom part, say it loud and proud, and capitalize it when you write. If anyone questions the bounds, claim they are there for the benefit of all, that some people need protection from too much Freedom. Try blaming it all on God. If all else fails, call the dissidents "terrorists". Claim responsibility for the lazy and ignorant by disclaiming that some electrical appliance should not be used while showering, and make individuals exempt from the process of evolution by doing so. Give people a set of rules within which they are Free to live. Assure people of Freedom from Responsibility, from Identity, from even Thought.

Conclusion

It is fascinating to observe that the Puritanical aesthetics of the children of Men who coined the term "Freedom" to be a staple of American culture, is exactly the thing that keeps that Freedom hamstrung and bound. It is also very educational to consider the deep, denotative meaning of the definition of the word Freedom, since it is something we are constantly expected to hold up as a perfect Ideal, to the point of being asked to die for it. Most of us probably accept as true the simple definition we are given in grade-school, and never again stop to ponder what it implies, while people more Free than we are, determine that which is best for us despite ourselves.

Now, after all that, please do not misunderstand my intentions in writing this. I love the United States, or more specifically the principles upon which it is founded, enough to kill and die for them. I believe that the US is, in fact, the greatest Nation on Earth. It has afforded me the lifestyle and the opportunities that my country of birth could not. IIRC, it was Rusty who put it most succinctly by saying "America sucks least of all", or something to that effect.

I wrote this piece exactly because I care about the ideals of the United States, and because it pains me to see them dismissed, subverted and exploited for reasons contrary to them. I wrote this because I believe that just because the United States is already the greatest country in the world does not mean that we should stop trying to make it even greater. I wrote this because I believe that Freedom is worth having, and that in order to have it and to keep it, what it is must be considered, weighed, measured and understood.

If the price of Liberty is eternal vigilance, then the price of Freedom is eternal consideration and deliberation of what it means, what is is, and what it should be. Please feel Free to disagree with me if you choose, especially since you are Free to do exactly that. But don't, for the sake of all the Freedom you have and still lack, fail to contemplate the ideal and the reality of your Freedom.

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Poll
Plans for the Fourth?
o None, you arrogant USian! 42%
o Work. It's a Thursday. 8%
o Beer and Bar-B-Cue. 13%
o Blow stuff up! 18%
o Contemplate Freedom. 10%
o Buy a car on SALE! 0%
o Move out of parents basement. 3%
o Inoshiro 2%

Votes: 129
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o www.dictio nary.com defines: freedom
o Kevin Mitnick
o Jose Padilla
o The Pledge of Allegiance
o choose to be slaves
o greater percentage
o War on Drugs
o turned away
o Seattle
o Waco
o "Will to Power"
o not Happiness itself
o machetes
o girls barely out of training bras
o "grunge" counter-culture
o sold to you
o specialty soap
o Napster
o DeCSS
o DMCA
o never been greater
o teenager
o consensual crime
o "Paddlebor o"
o age of consent
o exempt from the process of evolution
o what it is
o Also by jabber


Display: Sort:
Freedom to question our Freedom | 104 comments (87 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Uhhh (4.81 / 11) (#1)
by jmzero on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 03:40:02 PM EST

I was going to write a comment about how you didn't quite mention every cliche'd rant topic.

But I can't find anything you forgot to mention.

From DMCA to Microsoft and from silly lawsuits to Napster, you seem to have given a complete summary of things that have been over-discussed.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone can think of a standard rant topic you didn't touch upon.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

I can think of only one (4.50 / 2) (#2)
by Torgos Pizza on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 03:41:45 PM EST

I didn't see Nazis being mentioned. Doh! I just did. ;-)

I intend to live forever, or die trying.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, what's up with that? (4.00 / 1) (#5)
by jmzero on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 03:48:04 PM EST

He could easily have slipped in a Nazi reference at the end of number 9 there.

And why no mention of Israel and Palestine?  Doesn't he care about Palestineans?  He's probably racist.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Israel v. Palestine (4.66 / 3) (#8)
by jabber on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 03:58:33 PM EST

Not US-centric enough.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Israel and Palestine <nt> (5.00 / 5) (#3)
by bobpence on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 03:44:16 PM EST


"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
Bravo! (4.66 / 6) (#4)
by pb on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 03:47:25 PM EST

+1, FP!

...and the next time anyone tries to write another tired old article on any of these topics, point them to this article instead; it's brilliant!
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Why I voted +1 (5.00 / 4) (#9)
by Torgos Pizza on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 03:59:39 PM EST

I hoping that we can consolidate all the rant topics here so that we can move on in other areas.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.
[ Parent ]
Prayer in School is NOT Illegal (5.00 / 10) (#11)
by snowlion on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 04:20:48 PM EST

I am not saying, of course, that Religion should be mandated in schools, Heavens no! Instead, what I am saying is that it is something less than Freedom, to be denied the Right to pray, or hold an organized assembly under the umbrella of some faith, within the context of a Public Place.

It is not against the law to pray at school, it is not against the law to recite the pledge of allegience, it is not against the law to get up on a soapbox in the middle of the street.

It is against the law to require those things.

No subtle stripping of freedoms here, unless you mean the freedom to coerce.
--
Map Your Thoughts

So says common sense (3.00 / 2) (#12)
by jabber on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 04:26:05 PM EST

The issue is still very much a gray area, unfortunately.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

The web page says voluntary prayer is okay. (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by snowlion on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 04:41:49 PM EST

From the web page you cited:

Students have the right to engage in voluntary individual prayer that is not coercive and does not substantially disrupt the school's educational mission and activities.

I don't call that gray. I think it's clear enough.

What's the problem, you trying to set up a coercive or state sanctioned prayer group? Want to set aside ASB funds to pray?

I don't see anything in there that says that you can't pray in school. I don't see a gray area anywhere. You'll have to more explicitely point it out to me.

--
Map Your Thoughts
[ Parent ]

It's not that simple (2.50 / 2) (#17)
by jabber on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 05:55:29 PM EST

The straight and narrow idea of 'prayer in school' is not all that falls into that issue.

There is the idea of having an 'official' moment of silence, which  could be used for voluntary prayer. Such a moment of silence for the purpose of voluntary prayer is considered UN-Constitutional since it's thought to imply prayer. I disagree. Moments of silence to make room for voluntary prayer are no different, in my mind at least, from moments of silence to remember the WTC disaster. If you choose to talk to God, fine. If you choose to plan your day, fine as well. I see no implicit coersion here, yet it's not allowed.

Note also the more subtle matter of teachers being disallowed from prayer with or in the presence of their students. This is in direct contradiction to the fact that it is OK for students to pray voluntarily.

By simply praying, a teacher is not endorsing or implying their religion to the students, right? Then there's the argument of them being role models, but role models are people too, not just State sponsored automatons. Personal liberties here conflict with State sanction.

In fact, the whole idea of SoCaS is a paradox because if God is to be kept out of State business entirely, than the people who are part of the State must potentially limit their own Freedom of Expression and Religion while performing their duties as representatives of the State.

It's a fine line, and a very gray area indeed, and so it's worth discussing, again and again and again, until at least we all have an inclussive understanding of it all.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

So then.... (none / 0) (#26)
by losthalo on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 08:32:52 PM EST

Just call it a "moment of silence", rather than a "moment of silence for prayer".  Hey, call it a Contemplative Moment if you can stomach that. :-)  If people could leave out the "for the purpose of voluntary prayer" part, and just let people pray if they want to, or pick their nose or whatever if they want to, there wouldn't -be- a brouhaha over the Moment of Silence at all, would there?  I don't think so, anyway.

A moment of silence without the word "prayer" worked in around the edges wouldn't offend my sensibilities...

Now, as to public officials' right to practice their religion while "on duty", well...  that all depends.  A quiet prayer now and then, no problem.  Converting the heathen rather than processing my license renewal at the DMV?  No.  Your personal beliefs are left at the door at work, for the most part, whether the state, a private company, or aliens employ you.

Losthalo
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
                                        -Mark Twain


[ Parent ]

Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by Khedak on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 08:55:58 PM EST

In fact, the whole idea of SoCaS is a paradox because if God is to be kept out of State business entirely, than the people who are part of the State must potentially limit their own Freedom of Expression and Religion while performing their duties as representatives of the State.

No. It means they can't put the interests of promoting their religion ahead of the interests of the public, it means they can't discriminate to favor their religion over other beliefs. It means treating the viewpoints of all citizens with equal respect despite any differences in their religious beliefs.

It does not mean that you cannot live your life and make your decisions according to the "way" that your religion prescribes. If your ideals are Christian ones and you're going to approach your service to the public from that point of view, that's fine, so long as you stay within the guidelines listed above. All that's prohibited is proselytizing and favoritism, isn't there more to Christianity than that?

[ Parent ]
How is that a paradox? (none / 0) (#67)
by aphrael on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 02:47:59 PM EST

In fact, the whole idea of SoCaS is a paradox because if God is to be kept out of State business entirely, than the people who are part of the State must potentially limit their own Freedom of Expression and Religion while performing their duties as representatives of the State.

Ahhh, but they are choosing to be agents of the state, right? So this doesn't deprive them of their freedom, as nobody has coerced them into taking that particular job.

[ Parent ]

I have the freedom (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by greyrat on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 05:14:43 PM EST

to take two of my precious paid days off on the fourth and the fifth whether I like it or not. My employers close the campus for the holiday and, this year, for the day after.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Really? (none / 0) (#92)
by astatine on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 09:01:03 PM EST

My employer is closing the campus for the whole bloody week for the express purpose of reducing the total amount of accrued paid time off on the books! Bleh.

Society, they say, exists to safeguard the rights of the individual. If this is so, the primary right of a human being is evidently to live unrealistically.Celia Green
[ Parent ]
mainstream (4.25 / 4) (#19)
by dalinian on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 06:12:26 PM EST

Frankness, Boldness, the Freedom of the 7th Definition, is something that is sorely lacking in the mainstream of America today.
When did it disappear? Are you absolutely sure that it ever really was there?

Frankness and boldness cannot be mainstream. If they were mainstream, the words would lose their meaning. It is never bold to say anything mainstream, because boldness already implies disagreement with the mainstream opinions.

Also, there are some bold people living in the US today.

Good question (none / 0) (#25)
by jabber on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 07:23:34 PM EST

I didn't come up with the definition, I just picked it apart.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

My sig says it all (nt) (5.00 / 4) (#20)
by buck on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 06:25:57 PM EST


-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
logic and anarchism (none / 0) (#76)
by dalinian on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 06:23:34 PM EST

You say you accept any rules. But then you say you break any rules that aren't tolerable. This is not logically possible. You cannot both accept and break a rule.

If you could, accepting a rule would not mean anything anymore. If you accepted a rule, it would not mean you that don't accept it. The word would lose its meaning, because it didn't exclude anything.

Or maybe this is what you want? You would certainly be correct in saying that you can both accept and break a rule, if by rules you mean those rules that the authorities force us to obey (and not universal moral rules, for example), and if you believe that the state is not justified in using force. Because no matter whether we accept or refuse to accept the rules they set, we will still be punished for breaking them. But this would make you an anarchist. Are you?

Note: I have nothing against anarchism; I'm just interested.

[ Parent ]

Re: logic and anarchism (none / 0) (#91)
by buck on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 08:38:09 PM EST

You say you accept any rules. But then you say you break any rules that aren't tolerable. This is not logically possible. You cannot both accept and break a rule.
It's kind of like the idea that your right to throw your fist in the air ends when it makes contact with my face. Just because you need rules, via religion, laws, etc., to feel free, doesn't necessarily imply that I, or anyone else, does.

If you could, accepting a rule would not mean anything anymore. If you accepted a rule, it would not mean you that don't accept it. The word would lose its meaning, because it didn't exclude anything.
Again, acceptance doesn't imply obedience.

Or maybe this is what you want? You would certainly be correct in saying that you can both accept and break a rule, if by rules you mean those rules that the authorities force us to obey (and not universal moral rules, for example), and if you believe that the state is not justified in using force. Because no matter whether we accept or refuse to accept the rules they set, we will still be punished for breaking them. But this would make you an anarchist. Are you?
I do not identify myself as one, neither have I done any research into anarchism. I'll leave it to those more knowledgeable to say if this describes anarchism properly.

Note: I have nothing against anarchism; I'm just interested.
Neither do I.

---


-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
[ Parent ]
obedience (none / 0) (#94)
by dalinian on Sun Jun 30, 2002 at 05:34:03 AM EST

Again, acceptance doesn't imply obedience.
In my opinion, acceptance must imply obedience, at least in normal conditions. If you accept the rule that forbids people to steal anything, that means you promise not to steal anything. But in extreme conditions, if you absolutely must steal in order to survive, obedience is not required anymore in any case.

If acceptance does not imply obedience, what does accepting a rule mean?

[ Parent ]

Re: obedience (none / 0) (#100)
by buck on Mon Jul 01, 2002 at 05:46:20 PM EST

If acceptance does not imply obedience, what does accepting a rule mean?
Accepting a rule means that you acknowledge its existance, and that its necessary for some people to feel free. It does not necessarily define my freedom unless I obey it, but you can if you want to. My freedom is defined by myself alone to defend or surrender as I wish.

---


-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
[ Parent ]
points (none / 0) (#101)
by dalinian on Mon Jul 01, 2002 at 06:54:46 PM EST

Accepting a rule means that you acknowledge its existance
This does not mean much. Simply declaring that "this rule exists" has very little practical consequences. Maybe there are some metaphysical consequences, but that's beside the point.
and that its necessary for some people to feel free
I don't believe I've heard anything like this before. Still, it seems like a coherent - if cynical - view.

Do you believe that the only justification for laws (and other rules of the society) is that they make some people feel free? In other words, if this psychological effect disappeared, would laws not be justified anymore? If you are to be consistent, it seems you have to answer that no, they would not be justified, because the only thing that makes laws necessary is precisely that psychological effect.

[ Parent ]

more points (none / 0) (#103)
by buck on Tue Jul 02, 2002 at 02:29:22 PM EST

This does not mean much. Simply declaring that "this rule exists" has very little practical consequences. Maybe there are some metaphysical consequences, but that's beside the point.
...
I don't believe I've heard anything like this before. Still, it seems like a coherent - if cynical - view.

I have to agree with you here. I do tend to be rather cynical, but cynicism is a good thing - most of the time. :)

Do you believe that the only justification for laws (and other rules of the society) is that they make some people feel free? In other words, if this psychological effect disappeared, would laws not be justified anymore? If you are to be consistent, it seems you have to answer that no, they would not be justified, because the only thing that makes laws necessary is precisely that psychological effect.
In my point of view, that's correct. Laws, religion, etc. have been used by the few to control the many. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but at least as far as I'm concerned, they're irrelevant.

By the way, this has been a pretty good thread so far, eh?

---


-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
[ Parent ]
cynicism (none / 0) (#104)
by dalinian on Tue Jul 02, 2002 at 05:32:00 PM EST

I have to agree with you here. I do tend to be rather cynical, but cynicism is a good thing - most of the time. :)
I think it depends. I myself like scepticism more than cynicism, but they are not completely unrelated. In fact they are very similar.
In my point of view, that's correct. Laws, religion, etc. have been used by the few to control the many. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but at least as far as I'm concerned, they're irrelevant.
I see. But suppose a law was changed in such a way that it would make your life a lot worse. Let's say that ordinary people would not be allowed to live in a house anymore. A cynic with exceptional will power would still see laws as irrelevant (because like Diogenes, she would live in a tub anyway :-), but would you?

Of course you can say that no such law could ever be enforced, because people would not allow it. But then you would be dependent on other people, and could not want others to be like you. Universalizability is usually recognized as one of the defining characteristics of any theory of ethics, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

Hmm... this is getting quite interesting. I just realized that you could in fact want others to be like you, because if everyone (or at least the vast majority) was a cynic, then no laws could be enforced. I'm not sure how this fits into the whole picture of universalizability, but it is an interesting possibility.

By the way, this has been a pretty good thread so far, eh?
Yeah, I agree.

[ Parent ]
Frank Zappa said it best. (5.00 / 5) (#21)
by IHCOYC on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 06:42:48 PM EST

Free is when you don't have to pay for nothin' or do nothin'.

--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
Freedom vs liberty (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by libertine on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 07:07:43 PM EST

It would have been nice to see a comparison/contrast between the two concepts. Freedom and liberty are not the same thing.


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
Well, a friend of mine thinks: (2.20 / 5) (#24)
by Icehouseman on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 07:16:56 PM EST

Recently a friend sent me an e-mail with this written in it (This is just a small segment of the e-mail)
    Sometimes the desire for wealth is unwieldy. I see how much the government takes from me in taxes and can only imagine the horror that must befall other people's paychecks

    1. You get your check - taxes gone. Isn't even an option. Now one even asked.
    2. You cash the check - most places will charge you a fee to cash the check and that fee is charged tax.
    Or
    3. You stick the check in the bank - you are charges a monthly fee, and tax on the monthly fee.
    4. Should you withdraw the money from an ATM you are charged an ATM fee and ATM tax.
    5. Most banks will require you to pay a fee, with tax, should you write checks over a certain preset dollar amount.
    6. Once you get the money out after the payroll, monthly fee, atm taxes you go to spend the money - more taxes.

    And it is important to keep in mind that there are more then just one tax - Federal, State, County, City and any other number of taxes people feel like tacking on. For what? A national budget filled with deficits, a Medicare program showing signs of collapse and a social security program so full of holes nearly everyone on the planet is banking it won't be around in my golden years when I am a cantankerous old bastard who spends my days pissing my pants and walking around in Alzheimic haze.

I think to sum up; we're not truly free. Taxes are a huge burdeon on everyone and the government finds new ways to limit our freedom everyday. I'm not worried about private companies; if I don't like them; I won't use/buy from/endorse their company. The government gives us no choice. They raise taxes, send our children to government schools and delivers the mail slower than a slug and they waste trillions on stuff that just doesn't work.
----------------
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory
i love taxes (4.14 / 7) (#27)
by baronben on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 08:37:45 PM EST

I don't mind paying taxes. Yes, the goverment does many things that I don't like, that list is to long for here, but they do do a lot of stuff that I like. I like driving on roads with out having to pay a tole. I like being able to call the fire department if my basement starts smelling like rotten eggs. I like goinjg in an elevator and seeing that they have a certificet from the goverment saying that yes, this elevator is safe for my use.

When I buy meat, its nice to know that its safe because I see the "Inspected by FDA"sticker on it. Police drive by my house thanks to my taxes, and my garbege is taken from my curb thanks to that little percent taken from my check.

Yes, the goverment does a whole lot that I don't want my tax money going to, but I can rest easly because I know there is a very good chance that my tax dollars went to restore histroical monuments, and to repave hiways.


Ben Spigel sic transit gloria
[ Parent ]

Then your're an idiot. (2.33 / 3) (#58)
by Icehouseman on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 11:39:06 AM EST

my garbege is taken from my curb thanks to that little percent taken from my check.

Really? My cost for garbage is added to my utility bill. In this small town; all the utilities are all on one bill. Gas-Electricity-Garbage-Water; so I pay for garbage pick up.

Also, I get all my meat for free since my parents live on a farm. I never see the Inspected by FDA sticker on it and look I'm still alive. Yet, how many times have I seen Ecoli outbreak in certain parts of the country; even with Inspected by FDA sticker on it. Is anyone at the FDA held responsible...no, not really. The illusion of safety.

Police power spends too much time fighting drugs. I'm sure most cities could cut down the police force and spend more time on real crimes if they legalized drugs. Of course don't even mention the prison system which is filled with pot smokers who are sent away for life with no parole; while rapist are given parole after 10 years.

The point is that no matter how much good you think the government is doing; it still is wasting our money. You can try to twist some way around; but government just doesn't work.
----------------
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory
[ Parent ]

re: idiot (none / 0) (#73)
by baronben on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 04:19:54 PM EST

Garbege rates differ from community to community, sometimes, as in your case, it is done my a local busniss. Mine is done by a quasi public/privit corporation and is paid through my town taxes

As for meat, your lucky to get it as fresh as you do, most people never get the chance to get fresh killed meat. However, E. Ecoli doesn't occure often, less then 1% of 1% of the time. However, when you consider how much meat is sold in America, with out goverment controls that rate would be much higher, as it was before the FDA was created.

Yes, maybe, depending on your point of view, the police may go after drugs to much, I don't think so, but thats a topic for a diffrent artical. However, no matter how many teenagers they arrests for possesion, if I see someone sneaking around my neighborhood who shouldn't be, I can call the police, and thanks to my taxes, they will come over and check it out, and not charge me a penny if it turns out to be nothing.

The magic of taxes is that while I could certinly use some more money, if I was required to pay for all the services provided free by the goverment, I would have a lot less.


Ben Spigel sic transit gloria
[ Parent ]

FDA schmef-D-A (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by Pax Unix on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 04:46:20 PM EST

When I buy meat, its nice to know that its safe because I see the "Inspected by FDA" sticker on it.
If you feel that secure and safe because of the wonderful FDA, I strongly suggest you run out and immediately find a copy of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and read all about that safe and inspected meat you're buying.

I like eating meat. After reading that book though, I think twice every time I buy meat now.

[ Parent ]

re: fast food nation (none / 0) (#95)
by baronben on Sun Jun 30, 2002 at 01:00:22 PM EST

I've read the book, it was very good, you'd never think there was such a high urin content in McDonald's food :). One of the things I try to keep in mind when I read books like Fast Food Nation is that they don't write about the success stories. Yes, there is a lot of corruption in the meat packing industry, but Fast Food Nation way, by and large, a shocker book, its purpose was to shock the reader by providing descriptions of the horrid conditions of some plants.

How ever, for every pound of beef thats picked up by some worker after it fell into the vat of salmanela or E. Coli, there is a ton, or a hundred tons, that goes through every test perfectly fine. There are defenitly risks of eating meat that you yourself didn't slaughter, but with at least some goverment oversite, its a whole lot safer then with out it.


Ben Spigel sic transit gloria
[ Parent ]

Then move (3.50 / 2) (#29)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Thu Jun 27, 2002 at 09:43:37 PM EST


The government gives us no choice.

It's no different from any other corporation.  If you don't like your government you leave and find another country.  Plenty of people do it.

[ Parent ]
Have to renounce your citizenship (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by paxtech on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 01:38:35 AM EST

If you're a U.S. citizen and move to another country you are still required to file a tax return and all income over $80,000 US is subject to federal income tax. So even if you leave, you have to renounce your citizenship to be free of Uncle Sam entirely. You have to renounce it before you make the money too, or you'll still owe taxes..

That's pretty different from switching your long distance company. I mean, MCI doesn't make you irrevocably renounce your right to patronize them forever in order to stop billing you.
--
"Eggs or pot, either one." -- Ignignot
[ Parent ]

Renounced citizenship. (none / 0) (#49)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 09:51:50 AM EST

Very interesting. Any idea what would happen if you renounced ALL citizenship?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

You would be horribly screwed. (5.00 / 2) (#66)
by aphrael on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 02:44:40 PM EST

Very few countries will willingly allow people who are not citizens of any country to work there. Their own citizens, sure. Citizens of countries that they have agreements with, sure, if those citizens meet the criteria. Citizens of no country? Hell, you have no legal status at that point. Why should they care? In a sense, it's law of the jungle --- you have nobody to protect you at that point, and you as an individual are insignificant, so no country is going to take notice of your concerns/needs/desires.

[ Parent ]
One Word: Work (5.00 / 7) (#31)
by Harpalus on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 01:14:39 AM EST

I want to eat so I have to work
At work for 8 hours a day I have to do what someone else (who was definetly not elected)tells me. Then I come home relax for 4-5 hours and go to sleep. I don't consider sleep freedom time cause well I have to sleep.
So all in all I would say that I am free for about 3 hours a day once you account for eating and other miscalleneous things.

I have 12.5% freedom.

Time to go to bed, my 3 hours are up.....

Pile of crap (3.00 / 4) (#48)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 09:50:08 AM EST

No one forces you to eat. There are countless instances of hunger-strike to serve as precedent. Arguing a lack of Freedom from biological imperatives is sophistry. You are free to stay awake as long as Mother Nature allows it.

As for work, you are Free to quit and live on the street. You make a choice to remain part of the workforce. As a person with no income and no property, you would also be exempt from taxation, so your freedom would not be taken away for tax evasion.

And notice, you are Free to make stupid, contrary arguments. How COOL is THAT?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

It the follows that.... (5.00 / 4) (#59)
by Harpalus on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 12:00:10 PM EST

Following your argument,
People in Oppressive (read not free by the US definition of the word) are free to be dissidents but they don't have to be. They are free to decide to publish anti governement tracts but they they don't have to. However if they do they will face certain consequences such as jail. You are correct I am free to quit my job and live on the street. My argument might have been sophistry but yours most certainly goes on ad absurdum.

You are indeed correct that we are free to make stupid arguments, a right I often partake in.

[ Parent ]

Hear, hear! (none / 0) (#60)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 12:13:55 PM EST

I think you are the first person to see the true point of my article.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

The ultimate conclusion to that line (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by aphrael on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 02:41:37 PM EST

The ultimate conclusion to that line of reasoning is the statement that everyone is free except those who are physically incarcerated. The slaves were free, in the South, because they could have run away but chose not to; the serfs were free in the middle ages for the same reason. In fact, the very notion of freedom is sophistry, in that line of reasoning, because it's something innate that cannot be taken away.

Which is fine as a matter of philosophy, but useless as a matter of politics. The slaves were not "free" because they, for the most part, had a "choice" between remaining slaves or being killed. But what's the distinction between that and the state of a poor farm worker in the fields of California who has a "choice" between continuing to work at sub-survival wages or starving? Why is a political and economic system which allows and reinforces the former considered horrifying, while a political and economic system which allows and reinforces the latter is not?

[ Parent ]

Even better (5.00 / 2) (#72)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 04:07:36 PM EST

Freedom, ultimately, is a state of mind. A paraplegic can be free, and many rich and successful people (such as Kurt Cobain) are not. That is exactly the point of my article. Freedom is what YOU, or I, or any ONE person defines it to be. Freedom is not something that can be defined FOR someone. The meaning Freedom is something that must be contemplated by each individual, to determine what it is for THEM.

It is a thought exercise to be sure, and it is a matter of philosophy for the individual to grapple with.

Like all matters of personal philosophy, it becomes a matter of politics when there is more than one individual involved. A country's system of government, be it a democracy, or a republic, or a monarchy, is a reflection of the philosophies of the individuals of whom the nation is made.

If a people feel that they are Free, and see no need to change their circumstances as a result, then they are Free. This precipitates all sorts of hairy issues, such as the US championing the cause of democracy and American ideals in other countries. But that's a digression.

In a very material sense, the slaves who were freed after the Civil War, ended up worse off than they were as slaves. As share croppers, they had to struggle with economics as well as with the labor of farming, while still facing white attitudes of superiority, now coupled with hateful resentment. But they were (legally) Free, and I suspect few would have chosen to return to lives of slavery.

Freedom is a slippery eel as everyone's definition is different and each carries with it lengthy debates. The one single definition I chose to pick apart addressed, for me, many different perspectives on the single abstract ideal that has of late been tossed around by the politicians and the media, with practically reckless abandon.

We should go and hunt Al Qaeda to protect our Freedom! What? How? Why?

It's not that I disagree, but my answers to the questions can be very different than yours, and strikingly different than those of the Federal government if it's actions are indicative of its values. To me, the sacrifices of Freedom called for and forced upon people in the name of defending Freedom are far worse than at least some of the alternatives.

Freedom is such a vague term, that without really thinking about what it means to us, we should not permit it to be used as a reason for any action that carries very real consequences.

And that is my point. Yes, I do cast the net pretty wide to catch as many hot-button issues as I can, because the concept of Freedom is that far-reaching. Yes, in a way the article is a bit trollish, but the intention is to demonstrate that Freedom means what you want it to, and until we have a common definition we all agree on, at least until we have a baseline in common that is not paradoxical or contradictory, we really can't intelligently do anything in the name of Freedom.

Oh yeah, and it is also a composite rant of a wide array of issues, but that's the plot, not the theme of it.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Your boss was elected by you (3.00 / 4) (#53)
by p3d0 on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 10:36:36 AM EST

You elected your boss when you chose to work for him/her.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
USSR considered itself Free too. (4.50 / 6) (#33)
by nogin on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 02:24:48 AM EST

In USSR the official propoganda had it that soviet people were the freest of all. After all, they were free of "capitalist exploitation". And guess what - lots of people believed in it.

Just blindly repeating and believing that you are free (or that you live in a free country) would not make you so.

Precisely my point. Thanks. n/t (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 09:44:51 AM EST


[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

newslavery.vegdot.org (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by ip4noman on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 02:32:01 AM EST

A new weblog to discussion freedom, or the lack thereof. newslavery.vegdot.org.

--
Breaking Blue / Cognitive Liberty Airwaves
Jefferson. (1.00 / 1) (#35)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 03:44:19 AM EST

"hemp farmer and rapist of his own slaves"

Until you provide some substantiation for these (IMO) outrageous claims, -1.


-Kasreyn
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Jeferrson grew hemp (none / 0) (#39)
by salsaman on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 06:25:15 AM EST

As did George Washington.

As well as it's obvious use, it was (and still is) used to make paper and rope.

[ Parent ]

And don't tell me you've never seen... (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by salsaman on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 08:39:17 AM EST

this

[ Parent ]
Substantiation (none / 0) (#46)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 09:42:51 AM EST

On hemp and rape.

There's much more information out there. Google for it.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Get real! (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 10:13:44 AM EST

That article has not a single WHIT of factual evidence to support your thesis that Jefferson raped her. I've never seen so many "may"s, "could"s, and "might"s in one place before. Not to mention the author - a black man, what a surprise - is clearly biased as all hell.

I don't call that substantiation. Now, if you had a letter Hemings wrote along the lines of "massah rapes me", then I'd believe you.


-Kasreyn
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Getting real (3.50 / 2) (#51)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 10:32:47 AM EST

Do you really believe that a consentual, sexual relationship can exist between a Master and a Slave?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Do YOU believe (none / 0) (#54)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 10:54:39 AM EST

that just because a piece of paper says she's his slave, a woman is incapable of consenting to have sex with a man?

Sure, it's POSSIBLE she was coerced. And it's also quite possible she was completely free-willed about whether to sleep with him. My point is, I don't know, you don't know, and that spittle-emitting fool of a writer you linked me to doesn't know either.


-Kasreyn
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
You clearly feel very strongly about this (none / 0) (#61)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 12:28:01 PM EST

Why is that?

Yes, we don't know, but why call the author of one of the MANY articles on the subject a "spittle-emitting fool"?

Isn't that just as naughty of you, as you say is my suggestion that T.J. was a slave rapist?

At least in the case of my claim, there are people of significant authority, who have given the matter considerable thought. Do you have any substantiation for your claim?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 0) (#62)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 01:15:24 PM EST

"Why is that?"

Because I believe Jefferson was a great man, and I don't like to see the character of a man whose writings I deeply admire, besmirched by IMO baseless accusations by people trying to drag him through the mud to make a modern political "point" about slavery. Admittedly, I don't have all the facts. But I DO have his writings and a sketchy idea of his life, and it seemed a worthy one. You have to remember, slavery was NOT a crime at the time, and many well-meaning people participated, partially because the thought simply never entered their heads that things could or should be any other way. I've often thought about Jefferson's ownership of slaves, and how it does not jibe with the man who supposedly wrote the Bill of Rights. The possible explanations I have come up, rated in what I consider the order of their likelihood, are: * Perhaps he would have made too great a stir, politically, by freeing his slaves, to get any of the work done that he felt needed to be done. It was a case of free his slaves and lose his ability to change the nation for the better (at least, the better as he saw it), or not free them and still have his power. It must be remembered he was a politician. * Perhaps he considered his slaves more like servants, and treated them more as such. Perhaps he kept them to avoid them being re-enslaved to someone who might mistreat them. (despite what you or this author may *suggest*, I have never seen a single bit of evidence that Jefferson ever maltreated his slaves or servants) * Perhaps he really was so blind as to not realize that "all men are created equal" should include blacks. * Or, perhaps he was a hypocrite, a liar, outwardly a gentleman, in private a slave rapist and monster. These are the possible conclusions I've come up with. Possible more than one of them were true, to varying degrees. "Yes, we don't know, but why call the author of one of the MANY articles on the subject a "spittle-emitting fool"?

Because like us, he doesn't know either - but he pretends he does. He goes as far as to outright say, "I KNOW." (emphasis mine). He repeatedly makes biased statements with nothing supporting them except his own preconceived notions. His preconceived notions apparently being: that nothing but lust and rapaciousness can exist in the mind of a "master", and nothing but revulsion for the master and desire to be free of him can exist in the mind of the "slave". Something which is no doubt often true, but not always. Hell, maybe Jefferson and Hemings were sexual domination fetishists. =P

"I don't need the benefit of a scientific inquiry to figure out what brought them together. The odds are pretty good that it was neither love nor romance."

Where does he get these "odds"? As far as I can see, he pulls them out of his flaming ass.

"...at night was the object of his lust..."

One can just imagine the slaver dripping from Jefferson's jaws. Nice evenhanded language, there.

"Isn't that just as naughty of you, as you say is my suggestion that T.J. was a slave rapist?"

Last I heard, rape was a felony, and being a fool is still legal (sadly).


-Kasreyn
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Read THIS reply, not the other (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 01:20:30 PM EST

The other one I messed up on. Damn lack of an edit feature! Ahem, anyway.

"Why is that?"

Because I believe Jefferson was a great man, and I don't like to see the character of a man whose writings I deeply admire, besmirched by IMO baseless accusations by people trying to drag him through the mud to make a modern political "point" about slavery. Admittedly, I don't have all the facts. But I DO have his writings and a sketchy idea of his life, and it seemed a worthy one. You have to remember, slavery was NOT a crime at the time, and many well-meaning people participated, partially because the thought simply never entered their heads that things could or should be any other way.

I've often thought about Jefferson's ownership of slaves, and how it does not jibe with the man who supposedly wrote the Bill of Rights. The possible explanations I have come up, rated in what I consider the order of their likelihood, are:

* Perhaps he would have made too great a stir, politically, by freeing his slaves, to get any of the work done that he felt needed to be done. It was a case of free his slaves and lose his ability to change the nation for the better (at least, the better as he saw it), or not free them and still have his power. It must be remembered, he was a politician.

* Perhaps he considered his slaves more like servants, and treated them more as such. Perhaps he kept them to avoid them being re-enslaved to someone who might mistreat them. (despite what you or this author may *suggest*, I have never seen a single bit of evidence that Jefferson ever maltreated his slaves or servants)

* Perhaps he really was so blind as to not realize that "all men are created equal" should include blacks.

* Or, perhaps he was a hypocrite, a liar, outwardly a gentleman, in private a slave rapist and monster.

These are the possible conclusions I've come up with. Possible more than one of them were true, to varying degrees.

"Yes, we don't know, but why call the author of one of the MANY articles on the subject a "spittle-emitting fool"?

Because like us, he doesn't know either - but he pretends he does. He goes as far as to outright say, "I KNOW." (emphasis mine). He repeatedly makes biased statements with nothing supporting them except his own preconceived notions. His preconceived notions apparently being: that nothing but lust and rapaciousness can exist in the mind of a "master", and nothing but revulsion for the master and desire to be free of him can exist in the mind of the "slave". Something which is no doubt often true, but not always. Hell, maybe Jefferson and Hemings were sexual domination fetishists. =P

"I don't need the benefit of a scientific inquiry to figure out what brought them together. The odds are pretty good that it was neither love nor romance."

Where does he get these "odds"? As far as I can see, he pulls them out of his flaming ass.

"...at night was the object of his lust..."

One can just imagine the slaver dripping from Jefferson's jaws. Nice evenhanded, fair language, there.

"Isn't that just as naughty of you, as you say is my suggestion that T.J. was a slave rapist?"

Last I heard, rape was a felony, and being a fool is still legal (sadly).


-Kasreyn
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Point for point (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 03:33:30 PM EST

Thomas Jefferson certainly was a great man. But facts are facts, and he did grow hemp, and he did have sex with at least one of his slaves at a time when relationships of this sort were illegal, or at least frowned upon.

The argument that he's being held to modern standards is a cop-out, like all moral relativism. All that was done here is to point out some facts. Is it the word "rape" you object to? In Jefferson's day, slaves were seen as sub-human possessions, much as dogs are today. Even by the standards of the relevant times, what would you think of a great idealized hero of today (it's hard to come up with a name, which is a shame) if he was shown to have had sex with his dog? Looking at things in relative terms is a big can of worms that isn't worth opening.

  • Too great a stir politically? Do you honestly think that's possible? The man wrote the Declaration of Independence for goodness sake. He precipitated a war. I hardly think he was afraid of causing a stir.
  • Treated slaves as servants? Oh goodie! Don't you think there would be a shred of corroborating evidence to show this? After all, we know about the Underground Railroad. If Jefferson ran a Club Med for slaves, the word would have gotten out. Suffice it to say, Jefferson was completely unremarkable in regard to his treatment of his slaves. He did not stand out in a positive, or a negative sense. Due to this, we can assume that Jefferson's slaves fared pretty much the same as those of any other Virginia slave owner of that time. See below for what that means in terms of "odds".
Sounds too much like hero worship to me. Jefferson did some great things, so you're making up alternate realities to keep him from appearing to be a mere human.
  • Blind? Yeah, see, here is where I begin to nod.
  • Monster? Well, aren't we all, in one way or another? How can a priest rape children, but still offer perfectly good advice to a congregation? How can a CEO employ tens of thousands of people and give them good benefit packages, but over-inflate valuations causing multi-billion dollar losses and bankrupt pensioners? We're all people after all.
The author of the article is as entitled to his anti-Jefferson opinion and you are to your pro-Jefferson one. Jefferson made sure of that.

Unlike the modern Loving Dominant definition of "master" and "slave", in Jefferson's day, slavery was not something people consented to. Suggesting that there was a fetish involved, at least one in the modern perspective, is just silly. It gave me a chuckle, for which I am grateful.

Since we're completely hypothetical at this point, let's say that it is entirely possible that there was a slavery fetish involved. The irony would be too much, but yeah, maybe Jefferson, as many high-power, high-pressure executives and businessmen, had a thing for being sexually dominated by someone he typically dominated before the outside world.

Somehow, the image of Thomas Jefferson in chains and a cock-ring, licking the riding boots of a black girl, is a lot more disturbing than that of him taking (even forceful) liberties with her. I guess that too must be hero worship, on my part this time.

The "odds" you object to are a common-sense fact of the times of slavery. Rape was a common-place occurrence. It's all too well documented.

Even in the "modern" times, the standards of which you seem to feel are not applicable to the times of Jefferson, rape of "enemy" women by their soldier captors is a common-place event. Sexual relations between fathers and babysitters are also common.

Sure, there are those rare cases where the father and babysitter have found true love, and where the soldier is nice and rescues the captive woman from the prison camp, and rushes off and marries her, and all that other Romance Novel crap. But the "odds" are that this is not the case. Odds are about statistics, and statistically, slave women were raped, not romanced, by their masters.

Flaming ass? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're not implying anything about the author's sexual orientation. Instead, I'll presume that you feel that the article was a flame. I disagree. It may have been iconoclastic, but it's hardly character assassination. There are facts about Jefferson that seem uncharacteristic of the greatness that is pounded into the heads of school children. It is good and healthy and responsible to talk about these facts. The truth is what we are after here, not the creation of an idealized image of a dead guy.

I'll grant you the point for the "object of his lust" quote. That was just too Bram Stoker for me as well.

Yes, rape is still a felony, thankfully, though it is not punishable heavily enough IMHO. But I would hardly call speculation on the nature of the man we are told to idolize to be foolishness. It's justifiable inquiry into what the truth was.

Yes, this particular author was not very delicate in his handling of Jefferson's reputation. Your objection is completely aesthetic, isn't it? You object to the hypothetical violation of a comfortable image you have in mind. You resent the dissonance and the disturbance that comes with the possibility that one of the greatest men in American history was in fact, by today's standards, a genuine bastard. It's a possibility, based on some telling facts, and presented through someone else's opinions. As I pointed out, there are many other sources of information on this subject. Simply type "Thomas Jefferson slave rape" into Google and see what comes up.

If you ask me however, I'd say that considering the possibility that Jefferson was not the embodiment of the ideals that are his legacy is a lot less foolish than sticking one's fingers in one's ears and yelling "LALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" when someone suggests that very possibility.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Perhaps you're right. (none / 0) (#70)
by Kasreyn on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 03:55:14 PM EST

Just a few small niggling points to clear up

"Sounds too much like hero worship to me. Jefferson did some great things, so you're making up alternate realities to keep him from appearing to be a mere human."

(sigh) Maybe. I'm giving serious thought to whether my bias is a bit out of control on this one. I always have counted Jefferson as one of my heroes, albeit based much more on his writings than on his life and deeds. As a writer, I tend to idolize writers. =P

"Unlike the modern Loving Dominant definition of "master" and "slave", in Jefferson's day, slavery was not something people consented to. Suggesting that there was a fetish involved, at least one in the modern perspective, is just silly. It gave me a chuckle, for which I am grateful."

Glad to be amusing. ^_^ But I didn't mean that Hemings' slavery was consensual; I was just thinking whether the sexual aspect of it might have been.

"Somehow, the image of Thomas Jefferson in chains and a cock-ring, licking the riding boots of a black girl, is a lot more disturbing than that of him taking (even forceful) liberties with her. I guess that too must be hero worship, on my part this time."

And you, in turn, made ME laugh out loud with that one. ^_^

"The "odds" you object to are a common-sense fact of the times of slavery. Rape was a common-place occurrence. It's all too well documented."

That's not the odds I or the author meant. If you examine his wording, he's not talking about the odds for rape, he's talking about the odds AGAINST romance. He acts like it's impossible for love or romance to have occurred, which I feel strongly to be utter bullshit. Love is a totally irrational emotion. I've fallen once for a woman who utterly broke my heart, and I knew that she would, but I couldn't stop loving her until she'd well and truly broken it. Sometimes, these things happen, and for this author to say he "knows" that they couldn't have fallen in love is patently foolish, and makes me wonder if he's ever fallen in love himself.

"Flaming ass? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're not implying anything about the author's sexual orientation. Instead, I'll presume that you feel that the article was a flame."

Correct. I never remember that people use "flaming" to mean homosexual, too. Then people always misinterpret me. =P

"I disagree. It may have been iconoclastic, but it's hardly character assassination. There are facts about Jefferson that seem uncharacteristic of the greatness that is pounded into the heads of school children. It is good and healthy and responsible to talk about these facts. The truth is what we are after here, not the creation of an idealized image of a dead guy."

Yes, but I also have this sneaking suspicion that it was ALSO a character assassination job, by a journalist out to make a name for himself.

"Yes, rape is still a felony, thankfully, though it is not punishable heavily enough IMHO."

Agreed. Which is one of the main reasons, I guess, that I'm not wanting to believe this. Rape is IMO one of the most monstrous crimes possible, and my idea of Jefferson was always one of an honorable man. Talk about your cognitive dissonance!

"If you ask me however, I'd say that considering the possibility that Jefferson was not the embodiment of the ideals that are his legacy is a lot less foolish than sticking one's fingers in one's ears and yelling "LALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" when someone suggests that very possibility."

If that's what I was doing, I apologize. I always try to maintain an open mind in all things. If I haven't in this case, just let me know.


-Kasreyn
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Let's shake on it. (none / 0) (#74)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 04:33:34 PM EST

Jefferson's legacy and philosophy are things of true and inspired beauty. I just think that it is entirely possible for even very ugly men to create art.

I often claim that a man is defined by his actions, by the impact he has had on the world, but in considering Jefferson in the course of this conversation, I see that this is an incomplete guideline by which to live. There are absolutely no absolutes, I am sure. Jefferson was a sum positive human, by a great degree, but I'm willing to bet that he was hardly angelic, especially since the difference between Saint and Satan is subjective.

Churchill was a much worse person to be around that Hitler (I claim exemption to Godwin's Law, as this is in fact relevant to the discussion), given what I've read about their daily lives, yet in the final tally, Churchill was the better man for the sake of the world.

I still have a hard time envisioning Jefferson's relationship with a slave to be one of consent. It's a maybe, but I'd say the deck is stacked against it. Perhaps Jefferson didn't force it, perhaps there were positive feelings involved on both sides, but I can't believe there wasn't at least implicit coercion by virtue of their roles.

I think we can safely agree that the relationship was certainly a complicated one, and assuredly not one we would consider "healthy" by theirs or our standards.

And I'm right there with you on the involuntary love thing. Boy, if that doesn't just suck at times.

I've seen some rabid writing, and I don't think this article qualifies as such. Was it glory-hounding and scandal-mongering for the sake of getting exposure? What opinionated piece written by a modern journalist isn't all that? It's enough to look on the CNN home page at any given moment, and more harmful articles simply jump off the page. At least this one dealt with people long gone, today's media can sometimes speculate about people who have yet to have charges brought against them. Remember the circus that surrounded Clinton and Lewinsky? Shameful. Their actions? Shameful as well. Any of our business? Well, I haven't a clue.

Rape sucks. I know several victims of it, and I am in no position to have any opinion other than "It is evil". Right or wrong however, I can see Jefferson outright raping this woman, and rationalizing it given the status of slaves at the time. It doesn't reduce his legacy in the least, but it is dissonant.

Although, over time, I've seen enough heroes of mine self-destruct, that I've grown somewhat accustomed to the discomfort that the experience brings. Sort of like picking at a scab. Hurts, but you just can't seem to stop.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Jefferson spoke out against slavery (5.00 / 2) (#82)
by FlipFlop on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 03:08:22 AM EST

I've often thought about Jefferson's ownership of slaves, and how it does not jibe with the man who supposedly wrote the Bill of Rights.

Jefferson was ambivalent about slavery throughout his career-as a young politician he had argued for the prohibition of slavery in new American territories. Yet he never freed his own slaves. How could a man responsible for writing the sacred words "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal," have been a slave owner? He never resolved the internal conflict on this issue.

From Jefferson's biography at the University of Virginia

If you read Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence, you'll notice that he blamed the king of england for trafficking in slaves. Congress didn't like that language so they removed it. Jefferson also tried to have slavery outlawed in all new states, but once again, the opposition was too strong.

Of course, Jefferson's opposition to slavery makes his ownership of slaves even more ironic. It's possible he kept his slaves to avert suspicion about his relationship with Ms. Hemmings.

By the way, Jefferson's wife died during childbirth. According to the University of Virginia website, Sally Hemmings was a half-sister to Jefferson's wife.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 0) (#64)
by flimflam on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 02:05:04 PM EST

it could certainly be considered something like statutory rape. While it certainly wasn't statutory rape as there was no law prohibiting it, it probably is morally equivalent as there is a degree of coercion inherent to the relationship similar to that between an adolescent and an adult.

I'm not taking a stand on whether or not there was any further degree of coercion than that inherent in the relationship because I just don't know one way or the other.



-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Well, yes. (3.50 / 2) (#98)
by EriKZ on Mon Jul 01, 2002 at 02:37:29 AM EST

After all, until recently, wives were pretty much property of their husbands.

Are you saying that until recently history, all sex that took place between men and women was rape?

[ Parent ]

I really hate to have to point this out (3.50 / 8) (#40)
by tombuck on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 06:34:44 AM EST

But, shock horror, the fourth of July means fuck all to me! Yes, I'm sorry, but I'm not American and I do rather resent being lumped in with the "Us" and "We" talk here.

I mean, for goodness sake, surely Americans have a hard enough time shaking off stereotypes that label them as being self-obsessed and oblivious to the outside world. Articles like this do nothing but stoke the fire, sadly.

Acknowledge the world out there, it'll do you the world of good.

--
Give me yer cash!

As an American (none / 0) (#93)
by kurtmweber on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 09:54:09 PM EST

I don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks of me. I exist for just one person--me. I worry about what affects me.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Caty Lyst (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by MoonVine on Sun Jun 30, 2002 at 03:52:40 PM EST


i am frightfully going out on a limb here,

*gulp*

but, Tombuck, as you well may not be a gun toting bible thumping Puritan "Amar'can" and could give a donkey's fart about the Fourth of July...

Independence, (oy! from what?!), and the notion of freedom is what July fourth is all about. Now, you are correct in your assessment of ethnocentricism, a phrase coined by Usians no doubt, if this article is only an infection particular to the states, but it is my belief, that the coming holiday, serves an opppurtunity, through yet another catalyst, for everyone to reflect on what freedom and independence mean. Freedom, in general, I believe, is transnational, transgender, transcolor, transfootball... etc...

"Nowadays, though, artists make intentionally ugly art that's only supposed to reflect society rather than inspire it. So I guess we're all loony together now, loony rats in the shithouse of commercialism."-
Tom Robbins

[ Parent ]
You don't have to be American to be Free (none / 0) (#102)
by jabber on Tue Jul 02, 2002 at 11:29:07 AM EST

I pointed out in the introduction of the article, that July 4th means squat in the vast majority of the world.

I pointed out in the conclusion of the article, that the meaning of Freedom as an idea is a completely personal matter that everyone ought to consider for themselves.

Nowhere in the body of the article did I suggest that American Freedom is somehow better or worse than anyone elses.

At no point in the article did I agrandize American Independence, American Freedom, the American Revolution, or the beauty of fireworks on a hot Summer evening.

In fact, the only bit of US-centrism about my article, with the exception of my personal (it is Op-Ed after all) USian-tinted examples which I used to deconstruct the meaning of Freedom in American terms, was my poll. Even in that poll, I left room to acknowledge the fact that July 4th is an inherently American holiday - but my article had nothing to do with this Holiday at all. The holiday simply stood as a touchstone for the idea, since the idea of Independence is largely universal, and since there isn't a global reference to Independence (save maybe for D-Day, though that was a different meaning of Freedom entirely), I used the only thing I had handy.

If you'd like, I can repost this on Guy Fawke's Day, and we can discuss Freedom of Religion on British terms.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Nicely uneducated piece (2.66 / 3) (#45)
by wiredog on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 09:14:57 AM EST

The "freedom to be a slave" bit is a nice troll, sure to generate many flames. For starters, does the freedom to be a slave require the freedom to own a slave? Does this imply property rights? Are my property rights an inherent restriction on your freedom?

Not sure where you went to school, but I was taught that the US wasn't about freedom as much as it was about "rights".

The Declarattion of Independence isn't about freedom, it's about "certain unalienable Rights". The same is true of the Constitution. They mention 'free' or 'freedom' rarely, but 'rights' often.

By the way, you say in definition 4 "The Constitution defines as a Right the Pursuit of Happiness..." Sorry, the Constitution doesn't say anything about the "pursuit of happiness". Might help if you read it someday.

Can't sleep. The clowns will get me.

'Freedom to be a Slave' != Troll (5.00 / 3) (#80)
by Parity on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 10:53:31 PM EST

Freedom to be a slave isn't really a troll; there genuinely -is- a subset of the BDSM population that would like to be able to sign themselves into 'real' slavery. Granted, it's not a large population but does legitimately exist, and it is a fair, if extreme, example of the idea that we are not legally permitted to gain in all the consensual choices people would like to make.

The paddleboro case, although the charges have all been dropped, is a probably better example of at least the attempt to prevent people from engaging in consensual behaviour; it's certainly less controversial of an idea.

--Parity None


[ Parent ]

Constitution Question (none / 0) (#87)
by fhotg on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 03:54:20 PM EST

Although off-topic, it seems the place to have my curiosity satisfied. The idea of "private property" or "property rights" seems to be pretty engrained into American consciousness. GWB even used that idea as a defining criterium between good and evil.

I wonder if this is directly rooted in the constitution or just a rudiment from times when the self-definition of the US was dominated by the communism-capitalism dichotomy.

[ Parent ]

pre-Constitution (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by wiredog on Mon Jul 01, 2002 at 10:42:25 AM EST

The idea dates back to England, before the settlement of North America. Property rights is one of the rights of Englishmen that the US revolution was started in order to secure. The Revolution became a fight for Independence later, after it became clear that Parliament wouldn't give the Colonists the same rights as other Englishmen.

Can't sleep. The clowns will get me.
[ Parent ]
what if... (3.00 / 2) (#57)
by tbc on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 11:33:12 AM EST

Liberty was not the freedom to do what we want, but the freedom to do what we ought?

Well enlighten us. (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by Yellowbeard on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 03:56:58 PM EST

What ought we to do? And how do we know? Several great minds have wrestled with that question.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin


[ Parent ]
Know what the "great minds" have said. (none / 0) (#75)
by tbc on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 06:06:43 PM EST

Then think for yourself.

I've been pondering the question for almost two years now. I first heard it put in the context of a quote attributed to Martin Luther: "Christian liberty is not the freedom to do what we want, but the freedom to do what we ought." I haven't read Luther's works, so I don't know if he's the genuine source.

But you probably noticed the word "ought." 21st century culture doesn't like that word. They prefer the freedom to do what they want because they don't have a well-developed sense of morality to justify what ought to be done.

"Do whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt someone else" is an infantile motto. But that's the best that world culture has these days, it would seem. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

I agree with those who consider Christianity to embody the best-developed moral system. I figure it'll take me just epsilon more than a lifetime to master it. Meanwhile, it's a joy to make the attempt!


[ Parent ]

Luther (none / 0) (#77)
by paine in the ass on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 06:38:55 PM EST

Also farted to keep the devil away and once (in passing a gallstone, I believe) narrowly avoided drowning in his own piss. And you cite him as an authority on such things?

Seriously, though, his ideas of Christian "freedom" are not universally held even by Christians, and the idea of "do what you like, as long as it causes no harm" is no more than an implication of Christianity's own vaunted Golden Rule; do you consider the teachings of Christ "infantile", then?

Keep in mind you are also talking about freedom in a religious sense as opposed to freedom in a political sense. Granted many people in the U.S. these days have trouble seeing a difference between "religious" and "political", but it's still quite valid. Political freedom is encoded in law; it is what you *can* do. Religious freedom is encoded in each person's individual morality; it is what he or she *ought* to do (I have no problem with that word, by the way, I'm actually rather fond of it). So saying that freedom in the United States should mean freedom to do what we ought confuses the two and fundamentally misunderstands the concepts of political and religious freedom.


I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
[ Parent ]

The Golden Rule (none / 0) (#78)
by tbc on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 07:37:01 PM EST

is upside-down from the implications of the Zeitgeist motto, "do whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else."

Or put another way: "don't do anything to anyone else that you wouldn't want them to do to you." That is the negative expression of Jesus' teaching.

He said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." But he was summing up the Torah: elsewhere he says, "love God and love your neighbor."

Jesus' teachings demand a positive expression of service. Some Christians try to live by the motto, "I am third," which means they put God first, everyone else second, and themselves third.

In sharp contrast, culture is all about "me, me, me." Station WII-FM -- "What's In It For Me."

[ Parent ]

So to ask an age-old question (none / 0) (#79)
by paine in the ass on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 10:42:50 PM EST

If I'm supposed to live for everybody else, what's everybody else here for?


I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
[ Parent ]

What's the force that holds protons... (1.00 / 1) (#84)
by tbc on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 05:27:24 AM EST

...together in the nucleus of an atom?

[ Parent ]
Simple. (none / 0) (#85)
by paine in the ass on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 02:11:49 PM EST

Physicists call it the "strong nuclear force". You ought to read up on it. Now, answer my question.


I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
[ Parent ]

I apologize for being flippant. (none / 0) (#89)
by tbc on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 04:57:07 PM EST

(It would seem I'm still rusty as far as my dialectic and rhetoric go. How ironic that I've chosen a site called "Kuro5hin" to polish my skills.)

I related strong interaction to the discussion because -- despite all that is known about it -- it, like human relationships, is paradoxical and mysterious. Sure science has theories to explain how particles with a positive charge can remain in stable proximity with one another, but the math and esoteric experimental evidence aren't very comforting. (In contrast, we can all see the example of magnets: like-charge repels.)

But I confess that I don't know enough about quantum physics -- let alone unified field theory -- to sustain the metaphor.  So let me try a different way. You asked, "If I'm supposed to live for everybody else, what's everybody else here for?"

The simple answer is that they, in turn, live for you.  Marriage is the best example.  Marriage isn't a 50-50 proposition. It's not a partnership.  Marriage is a 100% commitment from both the husband and the wife.  They live for one another.

Tying back to my earlier metaphor, it could be said that marriage is the elementary atom with which society is built.  A marriage between a man and a woman creates a stable environment for the family.  Then families bond in communities, and communities into nations.


[ Parent ]

It's Jesus, silly (none / 0) (#86)
by fhotg on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 03:44:33 PM EST



[ Parent ]
For You (none / 0) (#97)
by MoonVine on Sun Jun 30, 2002 at 03:58:23 PM EST


(If your original statement holds true...)

"Nowadays, though, artists make intentionally ugly art that's only supposed to reflect society rather than inspire it. So I guess we're all loony together now, loony rats in the shithouse of commercialism."-
Tom Robbins

[ Parent ]
Jesus' Teachings (none / 0) (#81)
by jabber on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 11:23:12 PM EST

To live by Jesus' teachings is to take a huge leap of faith on marginal evidence. That's not to say Jesus' teachings are not of benefit for society, and all the individuals in it. It is simply saying that doing anything "because God said so" is not very rational.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Rationality is indeed the test. (none / 0) (#83)
by tbc on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 05:26:07 AM EST

Jesus' wisdom is acknowledged by a wide spectrum of religious and philosophical schools of thought. I suppose you've already investigated Lewis' poached egg argument and found it lacking?

[ Parent ]
Lewis' Poached Egg argument (5.00 / 2) (#90)
by mech9t8 on Sat Jun 29, 2002 at 07:08:48 PM EST

CS Lewis said:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Basically, as I read it, he's saying that a mortal who thinks he's god is mad and, therefore, cannot be a great teacher.

There's a thread elsewhere in this article about how Jefferson was a great moral thinker even though he owned (and may have raped) slaves. There are numerous other examples throughout history of flawed people. In fact, pretty much every "great person" had flaws. Why? Because they're people. People aren't perfect.

So Jesus could very well have been someone who came up with great ideas, but thought he was God. Why does he still have adherents, when the teachings of everyone else who thought they were God have faded away? Because of the power of those ideas.

He may not have even thought it to begin with, but at a time and place when all the Jews were looking for a Messiah, the strength of his teachings might have caused others to convince him of his divinity. He may not have thought he was God at all, but thought that "we are all children of God", and that phrase got misinterpreted. Maybe the whole "son of God" thing was added by his followers after his crucifiction. Or something. (These are all just possibilities. I'm not actually interested in debating any of them.<g>)

There is no inherit contradiction between "thought he was God" and "had great moral insights". Trying to act like there is will not convince a skeptic of Jesus' divinity. The fact that many Christians think that it is a compelling argument shows how far apart religions' often binary "right|wrong" "black|white" "good|evil" worldview is from the "shades of grey,nothing is certain" wordview of many skeptics.

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

-1: well-written... (2.00 / 2) (#69)
by lvogel on Fri Jun 28, 2002 at 03:45:48 PM EST

I would stick something like this in a blog. While it's a well-written piece, it's been a rather over-written topic since September, not only here but just about everywhere else. Maybe these things aren't a good reason to dump it, but then again, who says I need one?
-- ----------------------
"When you're on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog!"

-a dog
Freedom to question our Freedom | 104 comments (87 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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