The future of freedom
By Lady Liberty
The New Year seems to be the one time of year when almost all of us simultaneously decide to take stock of our lives. We look at the year gone past; we make all of the best intentioned plans for the future.We consider our successes of the last twelve months and hope to build on them; we (hopefully) dissect our mistakes and determine to learn from them. I'm no exception to that annual personal review.
A few years ago, just a few months after 9/11, I resolved to become more politically active. That's a resolution I (obviously!) kept when I first established Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House web site. Shortly thereafter, I wrote my first editorial commentary. In those early days, I often held something back though I didn't really realize it. But one day, as I was preparing some news headlines, I was having a problem writing a sentence or two offering my own take on a particular news story.
I wrote something. Then I deleted it and wrote something else. That, too, proved unsatisfactory, so I started again. Since I usually don't have much of a problem thinking of something to say, I started to wonder why I was having so much trouble with a brief comment. I looked at what I'd written the first couple of times, and then it struck me: there wasn't anything wrong with what I'd written. It summed up what I thought nicely, and it said exactly what I wanted to say. But I was erasing the comments and trying again because I was worried about repercussions!
It was at that moment that Lady Liberty was truly born. When I realized that I was permitting my own fears to hamper my freedom of speech, I promised myself I'd say whatever I thought needed to be said from then on. I wouldn't worry about what any government representative might say or do about it until somebody actually said or did something.
Looking back, I can see that I might have been just a little paranoid. After all, I couldn't possibly have been important enough for anyone in government to take notice of what I was saying let alone take any action to keep me quiet! Three years later, I still don't think I'm all that important. But I have a very bad feeling that the government is taking notice anyway and making provisions to keep an eye on me — and you — wherever we go accordingly. Absent paranoia, what on earth would make me come to that kind of conclusion?
Well, let's look beyond ourselves for just a moment and take a collective look back at the year that was. In 2005:
There are, of course, other things that happened in 2005 that didn't favor freedom. (Of a total of over 3,500 news stories I highlighted during the year, almost 2,000 of them had negative repercussions for liberty.) But these are some of the worst of the offenders.
I said at the beginning of this column that many of us use the New Year as an opportunity to look back at our mistakes, and to make resolutions to do better in the coming year. Our mistakes — re-electing politicians who don't keep their oath, failing to protest when enough voices might engender change or at least delay — means that freedom was grievously wounded in 2005. If there's even the slimmest chance it can recover, we're going to have to make — and keep — some significant resolutions this year:
We must demand accountability from our politicians. That includes adherence, once and for all, to their oath to uphold the Constitution. While some in Congress have already started making noises that the president should be impeached over his orders instigating domestic surveillance by the NSA, it's my contention that most of them deserve to be impeached as well for betraying the Constitution they swore to uphold. At the very least, virtually every incumbent in Washington should not be allowed to serve another term.
We must demand responsibility from ourselves. When we see something happening or about to happen that we know to be unconstitutional, we must stand up and insist such efforts be discontinued immediately. We must speak up even if our names do end up in databases, on "no fly" lists, or on secret indictments. We must determine to live free and then actually start working to do so.
Over the course of at least the last six decades, we've been steadily losing liberty in exchange for entitlements or perceived security. But 2005 represented a real watershed year when it was actually acknowledged that some liberties were being infringed, but that such was "necessary" for our safety. 2005 was the year when some of the largest ever chunks of freedom were actually taken in gigantic government gulps, and too many stood by and watched it happen because it was "for your own good."
If 2006 isn't to be the year when freedom is lost all together, we're going to need to do something dramatically different from what we did — and didn't do — in 2005. A year from now, what do you really want to look back and see?
Lady Liberty is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at
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