Land of the Free? 1

What is America? What does it stand for? The most common description given for the United States involves some form of the ideas of liberty and justice for all men. But what does this actually mean? Are these purely subjective or can they be objectively measured? And most importantly, are these actually even accurate descriptors of America?

I would be willing to bet that most people still believe that America stands for freedom and justice for all. Quite obviously, due to the subjective nature of the beast, it is impossible to prove this in the positive. Everybody likely has a different definition of liberty and what constitutes violations of freedom versus that which is acceptable due to the social benefits. This entire concept, however, begs one simple question: should a person be allowed to act in his own best interest so long as he does not intrude upon the liberty of others?

A person can dream up nearly an infinite number of examples of victimless crimes in the United States which, by itself, says something of the extent of liberty actually experienced. For starters, let us consider the stop light. There are likely many thousands of intersections throughout the U.S. which force people to choose between their own judgment and an arbitrary law. Late in the evenings, during times of low traffic, or perhaps those areas which are sparsely populated present drivers with a red light informing them to wait despite the existence of no other traffic on the road. Should a person exercise good judgment and recognize that it is completely safe for him to pass through the intersection, his action would be considered a crime. He could literally be the only car on the road and it would make no difference. Is this liberty?

What about something a little more controversial such as suicide or euthanasia? Suppose a person is in so much mental and/or physical anguish that they see death as the best of poor choices. Who is the victim? Why is it illegal for him to request the assistance of a medical professional? Rather than being able to purchase services from a doctor, a person wishing to end his suffering must perform the act himself with, often enough, questionable results. To top it all off, if the act is unsuccessful he is generally considered a criminal for attempting to end his own life. Do we really own our own bodies?

There is ample evidence available which shows the medical benefits of marijuana. In fact, some studies show that marijuana is safer than typical tobacco cigarettes and many alcoholic drinks. So why is marijuana illegal? Why can’t a terminally ill person partake in the benefits of a substance even when a doctor testifies that this particular drug is the only substance available to reduce pain? Who is the victim here? How many people die every year from alcohol and tobacco related incidents versus illicit drugs and how many of those deaths are directly due to the fact that these drugs are illegal? Should problems arise, a person is able to take issues surrounding licit drugs to court whereas issues with illicit drugs must be dealt with by force.  Does the drug cause crime or does the legality of the drug cause crime?

Many people will argue that if individuals were allowed to do whatever they wished that society would turn to violence and chaos. Those with the greatest taste for blood and aggression would triumph over the rest of society. For these people, no consideration is given to the propensity of people to band together into defensive groups. No credit is given for the fact that the vast majority of people around the world desire cooperation and the simple ability to live in peace. They claim personal defense encourages crime while ignoring the fact that our society already abounds with murderers and thieves and fraudsters. Although they claim to protect us from danger, in truth they prohibit us from protecting ourselves.

The people, they claim, have no right to self-defense. The average person should not be allowed to carry guns since some of them might choose to use these weapons in aggressive acts. Only the police should carry guns. Privacy and anonymity are only useful for people who are trying to avoid the law. Lawful citizens should have no qualms about random searches, wiretaps, traffic checkpoints, full body scanners, warrantless searches, and the myriad of additional “tools” used by government. After all, why should you care if you have nothing to hide?

Recently, another American citizen was assassinated overseas by the government. Anwar al-Awlaki had a laundry list of crimes he allegedly committed against the United States and, therefore, was killed without trial. The internet abounds with attempts at legal apologia. Lawyers cite obscure laws and similar cases in a great show of justification and legality for the government’s actions. But does “legal authority” even mean anything when considering assassination? Do we have no morals?

I was recently engaged in a debate with a handful of lawyers on the forums at I simply asked how this action could be even remotely considered legal considering the Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Notice how it doesn’t say “no person other than declared terrorists“.  Their reply?  The Authorization for Use of Military Force and case law allows the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” Judge, jury and executioner. I was banned because I chose to cite the U.S. Constitution over case law. Freedom indeed!

The United States is not a free country. Liberty has been hijacked and all we are given is a choice to choose the color of our shackles. If you doubt me, I challenge you to think of a single thing we are allowed to do without the implicit or explicit permission of the state.

Libertas vel nex.

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