Memorial Day and the Deprecation of Freedom

On Memorial Day, we pause to reflect on those who died to protect our freedom.  But today I have to wonder:  In this year 2018, what proportion of Americans seriously value freedom?

Recently I encountered a meme on Facebook that went something like this:

Keep telling yourself that America is the land of the free while the rest of the developed world enjoys universal healthcare, free college, paid maternity leave, and a ton more vacation time than any of us get.

Nothing there about free speech, freedom of religion, or even freedom to pursue one’s chosen career.  How many people think this way?  I’m afraid it’s a nontrivial number and a growing one.

I don’t think I even need to post a lot of links in order to demonstrate that individual freedom is being devalued by many in America today:  the evidence is too well known.  There are surveys showing that large numbers of college students view ‘avoiding offense’ as more important than free speech.  There are on-line mob attacks, and sometimes physical-world mob attacks, against those with dissident views.  College students who do hold such dissident views often feel they must keep those views to themselves, and this is increasingly true in the business world as well.  Americans have become tolerant of bullying bureaucrats and of virtually unlimited discretion on the part of prosecutors.  There is surprisingly little concern about the shadow thrown on free speech by the murderous threats (and sometimes actions) of radical Islamists:  draw a cartoon that offends them, and you may have to go into hiding.

So my question for today is:  What factors are driving the devaluation of freedom in America today, and what can be done about it?

27 thoughts on “Memorial Day and the Deprecation of Freedom”

  1. “Nothing there about free speech, freedom of religion, or even freedom to pursue one’s chosen career.”

    Your misdirection is a bit strange. You think we don’t have those things in the various advanced first world countries? I would say you are less free, and that’s not improving.

  2. The main point is that the quoted passage attempts to contradict the idea that America is the land of the free while talking about things that have nothing to do with freedom in the classical sense, but are rather a demand for benefits.

    And that benefit of ‘free college’ in other first-world countries is typically linked to a considerably lower % of people who are allowed to attend college and to a tracking system that begins quite early.

    Also, are you really not aware of the increasing hostility toward free speech that exists in, for example, Britain?

  3. Tommy Robinson was jailed immediately as he had a suspended sentence for doing the same thing. In civilized countries you cannot harass people waiting for trial, for your youtube channel.

  4. PG confused yet again. It’s tyrannies where you cannot photograph perps being led into court and courts can issue gag orders to suppress freedom of speech. In civilized countries you have freedom of the press so that citizens are informed of what their government is doing to and for them.

  5. The word harass has legal meaning your country as well. Anyone who has looked at the encounters he engineered, for his youtube channel, can see why.

  6. Freedom vs. Security. That’s the conflict, always. A couple of generations ago, the government gave you nothing. Now it gives you a pension, and your health care, and for many people their income in lieu of actually having a job. We’re now a nation of People Who Are Owed. Freedom comes in second.

  7. “In civilized countries you cannot harass people waiting for trial”
    That rule only holds for certain people, of course.
    My understanding is that the families and friends of the r@pe g@ng animals typically harass witnesses outside of courtrooms, with no repercussions. Similar to how the relatives of that scumbag stabbed to death while breaking and entering harassed the guy who did it, so that he and his family had to go into hiding.

  8. Although you think I’m a lefty its not so. There is little real need for government anymore. So the governments of the world have cemented their usefulness with endless bullshit about the immense danger everyone is in.

    This is where most of the crap that might kill us all comes from. Freedom from these awful people is a useful goal. Fighting among ourselves about what that word means is far less useful. Most of the extremes we suffer from, are directly the result of governments paying off Peter and ripping off Paul.

    The hounding of people whose religion you do not like is infantile, and again useful for those that would limit our freedom.

  9. Whatever may be the case in other countries, this post is concerned particularly with trends in the respect for freedom, or lack thereof, in the United States.

    A Gallup/Knight poll indicates that “The report shows that more than 70% of students believe in protecting free speech on campus and classrooms which favor open debate more than environments which limit offensive speech” (I would have said *only* 70%) “But when asked to prioritize free speech or diversity and inclusion, 53% of students responded that diversity and inclusion are most important in a successful democracy.”

    Especially disturbing: “37 percent of college students in the poll said that shouting down speakers was acceptable, at least sometimes. Another 10 percent said it was acceptable sometimes to use violence to prevent someone from speaking.”–unless-it-offends-them/2018/03/09/79f21c9e-23e4-11e8-94da-ebf9d112159c_story.html?utm_term=.99573c617bf5

    This isn’t just theoretical: “The University of California at Berkeley said a visit last fall by the conservative writer Ben Shapiro cost more than $600,000 in preparations and security. ”

    “Some scholars have noted that one reason current college students are ambivalent, sometimes even hostile, to the idea of free speech is that they were a generation raised to recognize that bullying is wrong. They equate hurtful speech to bullying, said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California at Berkeley’s law school and co-author of a book released last year called “Free Speech on Campus.””

  10. Civics hasn’t been taught in public schools for quite awhile, as it? Funny the “free healthcare” was offered in the Soviet Union and Cuba – Amazing that a naturalized American, by virtue of tests they have to pass, probably knows far more than the “native born” American

  11. What factors are driving the devaluation of freedom in America today? My #1 suspect is Gramscian Damage.

    “You think we don’t have those things in the various advanced first world countries?”

    Correct. I think freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the freedom to pursue one’s chosen career, and various other freedoms are seriously crabbed and limited in other first world countries compared to the US. Or to put it another way, I think other first world countries are significantly more authoritarian than the US.

    But the difference is narrowing, and not in a good way.

  12. Canadian journalist Neil Macdonald’s take on the British Columbia Human Rights Commission’s prosecution of Steyn for hate speech:

    Speaking as someone who’s lived in the rough-and-tumble American marketplace of ideas for many years now, I prefer the speech-versus-speech approach.

    I have read Holocaust denial material here and I remain convinced the Holocaust happened. I’ve read tracts demonizing homosexuality and don’t consider gays a threat to anything. I’ve read accounts by reporters who laid bare national security secrets and I’ve watched other reporters interview jurors at the end of a criminal trial — all things that can be suppressed in Canada.

    There is no chance whatever that either Mark Steyn’s or Mohamed Elmasry’s utterances would be censored here.

    Here, they’d be left to argue with one another and the public might be better informed for having listened.
    CBC News, 13 Jun 2008

  13. What factors are driving the devaluation of freedom in America today, and what can be done about it?

    What is driving the devaluation of freedom in America is the replacement of Christianity by hedonistic materialism. I doubt anything can be done about that.

  14. ZeroHedge is reporting protests over Robinson’s imprisonmentin the UK, Germany, Israel, and Australia:

    The arrest, imprisonment, and government-ordered media blackout of UK journalist and activist Tommy Robinson has set off a firestorm of protests around the world….Equally as disturbing are the implications of a court-ordered media ban, making it a criminal offense for news outlets operating in the UK to cover Robinson’s arrest and incarceration. In a page straight out of George Orwell’s 1984, several news outlets were forced to pull articles which were published before the ban.

  15. There are surveys showing that large numbers of college students view ‘avoiding offense’ as more important than free speech.

    Ehhhhh, this is actually not accurate. It’s just they don’t get called on their hypocrisy…

    Clearly, regardless of your position on the issue itself, there are PLENTY of people who find kneelers at football to be offensive. Yet I will assert that those same caterwauling boneheads who claim the right to stifle at first offense will scream “FREEEEE SPEEEEECH!!” at the NFL’s recent injunctions.

    In the end, what they REALLY want is the same power tyrants all through history want… the power to silence speech THEY disagree with.

    “Rules for THEE,
    but none for ME…”

    Let us pray we keep the second intact, that the others also remain intact.

  16. PG

    What protects the citizens from crooked, or influenced courts, especially in this case were you have organized social agencies, the supposed police, prosecutors and other powerful government agents whom advocated, supported, conspired with, and together for many many years. But trust the police, to investigate the police, and the prosecutors to prosecute the police, and fellow prosecutors. Sure. Right.

    And whom other than Robinson and his ilk have shown any, consistent political interest in these events? Maybe if the posh, oh-so-propper types would or do, the vacume of justice wouldn’t been filled by Tommy…But as in other things, no one will look after the working class, security or economically but the workers.

    Lefties always liked a rough working class when the workers could be infantry in their lefty schemes, but not when by and for themselves.

  17. The people who show up with TR to harass people waiting for trial scream invective and threaten all manner of things while claiming the protection of free speech. Its hypocrisy, which laughably is legal, to some extent in your country.

    He was not jailed for taking pictures with his cell phone, it was his gang of threatening clowns that brought down the arm of British Justice … such as it is. ;)

    I think they are seriously flawed in their reaction to this. Denying press coverage is insane.

  18. Glenn Reynolds linked this post about what is going on it the UK and commented: The British authorities have behaved contemptibly here. Their behavior is what one might expect from an occupation government under a foreign conqueror.

  19. In 1913, in Georgia, Jewish businessman Leo Frank was convicted (probably wrongly) for the murder of a girl employeee (who had also been raped).

    The governor commuted his death sentence to life in prison, and US Senator Hoke Smith called for a new trial. This offended Populist firebrand Tom Watson, who hated Smith. Watson began denouncing “the lustful Jew” in his magazine and newspaper, and incited the lynching of Franks. (Yes, the lynch mob dragged him out of prison.)

    What is the difference between Robinson and Watson? Both noisily accused members of a minority religion of committing sex crimes, with the apparent protection of authorities.

    The obvious point is that Watson was wrong and Robinson is right… but the procedural issue is the same in both cases: while the fate of the accused is being tried, someone is whipping up public rage. Britain has an explicit law prohibiting this, which Robinson has chosen to violate.

    And I would argue that in both cases, the agitation is misdirected. The real problem in Britain is not Moslems, it is politically corrupted law enforcement.

    Suppose Robinson gets his apparent wish: the British people drive all Moslems out of the country. The corrupted authorities will remain in place (other than a few scapegoats). And other politically favored men will commit sex crimes with impunity.

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