From the Left- The Daily Commercial: Freedom isn’t free, nor is it as simple doing as you wish
Freedom isn’t free … nor can it be purchased at the point of a gun.
Each of us earns our freedom every day by not hurting other people, or if we do harm someone, by taking responsibility for our actions. This is the very foundation of our social contract with each other.
Today we are warned about people who are out to take our freedom.
Examples given are the freedom not to wear a mask, be vaccinated, or even be asked about our vaccination status. It’s as if we have earned some new right to harm one another.
Florida law already gives me the right to shoot someone if I feel threatened or, as of this year, to run over a protester if they are in the street and inconveniencing me. These aren’t freedoms, they are a license to wield power, and they don’t work very well if you are black or brown.
Our country was conceived with the words “all men (I say persons) are created equal.”
Our freedoms should be equal as well.
When you hear the expression “Freedom isn’t free,” it is usually used to commemorate those who died defending freedom. We remember and honor our heroes because “It is meet and right so to do.” But when we don’t acknowledge the equality of that freedom, we dishonor their sacrifice and deny what makes America great.
This equality of freedom is, in fact, enshrined above the entrance to the Supreme Court in the words “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Of course, when our country was formed, it was legal to own people, so we’ve been working on this for over two hundred years now. We still have a way to go.
I wonder if you can imagine what equal justice under the law would look like.
The poorest person in the community and the wealthiest, having committed the same harm, would have the exact same experience with the law, from the police and prosecutor to the courts and prison system.
If that sounds far-fetched, it just shows how much we still need to do to achieve equal justice.
Laws that advantage the wealthy would have to go. No more system of “As much justice as you can afford.”
Victimless crimes such as drug possession and addiction would have to be re-evaluated.
We might decide that drug use, mental health, homelessness, and domestic abuse would be better addressed by agencies equipped and resourced to deal with them.
The police function would move more toward protection of victims and away from locking people up to get them off the streets.
The history of policing in America includes slave patrols. After emancipation and an aborted attempt at “Reconstruction,” the patrols evolved into the procurement and control of cheap, Black labor.
The Jim Crow laws of today aren’t as blatant (think James Corvid, Esquire), but are still designed to disadvantage exploitable communities (think “right to work”, red lining, voter suppression, unlivable wages, no healthcare.) If police are to earn the trust, respect and support of our citizens, we must do two things: First, weed out officers who are in policing for the power they can exert over others.
Second, do away with the unjust laws we are now asking the police to enforce. The motto “Protect and Serve” could then truly be applied to every citizen equally, which is what the best and brightest signed up for in the first place.
Freedom, in the context of equality, is complicated. It is something we are still growing into.
When someone stokes the fear that our freedom is being stolen, it hijacks the process of evaluating how our laws should work and understanding the true outcomes of our decisions.
The proclaimed threat and false promise of an easy fix are intended to divert us from arriving at solutions that work for everyone equally.
We are offered instead the populist notion that a “strong leader” will “protect” us.
But folks, there is a reason our constitution begins with “We” instead of “He” the people. (I mean, other than just the grammar thing.) Benjamin Franklin once said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
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