Independence Day Greetings
Today is Independence Day, the anniversary of when the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, which is the foundation for the freedoms that are enumerated in the Constitution. In a society based around individual freedoms, we have to recognize that our freedoms are constantly threatened from within and without. If you view our freedoms as coming from the Supreme Court, then those freedoms will be subject to removal at any time by that court. Watching the Court's back-and-forth movement on any contentious social issue (e.g., Guantanamo) does not inspire the greatest confidence that they will continue to uphold our freedoms.
We face threats to our freedoms from external sources, but many of those threats have arisen as reactions to decisions our own leaders have made. Here in the Western Hemisphere, for example, there were multiple military actions where our forces invaded to stabilize a banana republic. It just happened that those revolts threatened the control American
businesses corporations had over those nations' economies. A nation's economic assets must be managed for the good of its citizens. One of the big reasons we are an independent country is because our national assets were being managed to benefit the British East India Company rather than the local citizenry.
Our nation is not doing so well right now. By giving corporate organizations rights as though they were individuals (albeit very wealthy and long-lived individuals), we have given them super-citizen status. This also gives corporate leaders the idea that they are immune from the laws that apply to the rest of us. It then spreads to those involved in financing (through stocks and bonds) and those involved in regulating (that is, politicians and the heads of regulatory agencies) corporate activities. Examples abound, but the way that Microsoft is manipulating the political process to force our state governments (and their citizens) into economic slavery (using Not-so-open XML to lock out competition in the office software space) is going to be taught in our B-schools for many years. As a California resident, I am really disappointed in our Legislature for caving in so easily. Similarly, the big telephone and cable monopolies are fighting Net Neutrality, trying to force the small businesses that provide most of America's jobs out of the online market ("e-commerce").
The gravest threats we face come not from foreign attackers hiding in caves, but from internal groups that seek to protect us from some perceived "threat". These range from law enforcement and other agencies that wish to monitor every move Americans make to watch for the slightest sign of unpatriotic thought or criminal intent to those who suppress individual expression in the name of protecting someone from exposure to someone else's beliefs, to those who believe that schoolkids lose their constitutional rights to freedom of belief and freedom of expression as soon as they enter the schoolyard that they cannot legally refuse to enter. This even happens to college employees. Some even want to censor or at least edit the Declaration of Independence, because it mentions that our rights come from our Creator.
MJ and I discussed freedoms and patriotism today. My view is that it is patriotic to talk about why you think high schoolers should be able to wear shirts that say "Bong Hits For Jesus", even though I have never used drugs and am very Christian in my outlook. I also believe that someone who legitimately wishes to express himself by burning a flag should be allowed to do so. Why? Because you are not free to honor and respect a flag that you cannot likewise dishonor and disrespect. I don't like it, just as I wouldn't like that T-shirt. But we have far more serious problems in this country than someone who wants to express an ungrateful viewpoint. Why don't we skip the speck in the eye and deal with the log in the eye, as a very famous person once phrased it?