How Free Are We Really?
2007 Selwyn Duke
Americans take great pride in our freedom. We
call ourselves “the land of the free, home of the brave,” have Lady Liberty
in New York Harbor and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
America is synonymous with freedom in the minds of most.
Much of the rest of the world, however, is thought a land of darkness
which doesn’t benefit from our unencumbered bliss.
Thus do we speak of the free and unfree worlds.
reality, it’s not that simple. There
is neither such thing as a people with complete freedom nor one completely
bereft of it; it’s a matter of degree.
many realize this, few understand that there is a barometer with which liberty
can be measured: The number of laws in existence.
definition, a law is the removal of a freedom, as it dictates that there is
something you cannot or must do. If
the former, you’re not free to do it; if the latter, you’re not free to do
rightly point out that some laws free us from the tyranny of our fellow man.
Prohibitions against murder, rape and theft, for instance, provide us the
freedom to walk down the street unmolested.
Yet for two reasons this barometer of liberty is still valid.
First, when we speak of how free a nation is, we refer to freedom from
government intrusion. Second, while
such laws are necessary and just, they do nevertheless deny us certain freedoms.
Only, we’re not going to worry about freedoms whose removal only
bothers Tony Soprano.
we long ago transitioned from making just laws to just making laws, which is why
I look forward with a sense of foreboding. Every
year our nation enacts more and more laws but hardly ever rescinds any, which
means every year we become progressively less free.
I call this “creeping totalitarianism.”
this is the big picture, we usually just focus on the little picture.
Currently it’s fashionable to bemoan the Patriot Act and wax apoplectic
about how the sky is falling, as if it’s 1789 and we’re confronted with our
very first extra-constitutional measure. Oh,
I’m not saying good people shouldn’t debate these matters; no one stresses
strict adherence to the Constitution more than I do.
But the danger is that when we stare intently at and stand too close to
one piece of the puzzle, it appears bigger and seems like the whole world.
And if we fail to take a step back and gain perspective, we won’t see
that there is a big picture, one formed by countless prohibitionary
truth is that unconstitutional and excessive laws have increasingly become a
staple of government for many decades. They
are a product of a statist mentality which, while endemic to the left, infects
both major parties and most minor thinkers.
America now has more than 250,000 laws . . . and counting.
That is the big picture. And
it looks an awful lot like Big Brother.
is one reason I’m big, too – on small government.
When people lament the Patriot Act or some other boogeyman du jour, they
often warn that we’re losing our “democracy.”
What should concern them is that we have lost our limited constitutional
republic. What is democracy?
In point of fact, it’s entirely possible for a people to tyrannize
themselves. Democracy is sometimes
just millions of people slowly and inefficiently making the bad decisions that a
dictator could make with the stroke of a pen.
is why one of the worst decisions is saying “There oughta’ be a law.”
While we do need protection from the tyranny of our fellow man, we also
need protection from the tyranny of our fellow man in government.
Making just laws accomplishes the former; resisting excessive laws
accomplishes the latter. This is a
law of liberty.
our failure to understand and obey this law – not a particular politician,
party or policy (although statism thoroughly imbues the Democrats) – that has
allowed for the trampling of the Constitution.
how free are we really? The most
relevant answer is that we’re not as free as we were 20 years ago, not nearly
as free as we were 50 years ago, and we’ll be even less free 20 years hence.
That is, unless we free ourselves from our
No one knows why the symbol of freedom I mentioned earlier, the Liberty Bell, cracked in 1846. But it hasn’t rung since. The cracks in our liberty are more easily understood, if not so easily repaired. Let’s hope it, with the right combination of tones, still rings for our children.
Selwyn Duke is a freelance writer out or Larchmont, NY. He has written for various publications including: IntellectualConservative.com, AmericanThinker.com and is a regular columnist for RenewAmerica.us.