Sunday, November 4, 2012

How I Would Fix America Part II: The Restoration of Freedom

"Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!" (Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775 at the Virginia Convention)

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same." (Ronald Reagan)

"Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way the respects and enhances the freedom of others." (Nelson Mandela)

"It's all for nothing if you don't have freedom." (William Wallace, Braveheart)

The above are some of my favorite quotations about freedom.  We have lost so much freedom in America and it has happened in such minute increments that many people are unaware. Freedom and personal liberty have been attacked at every level of government from local to federal. 

But what is freedom? I agree with the definition, "Do what you want, but first do no harm."  Harm means physical injury to body, property or finances.  It does NOT mean harm to someone's "feelings."  With the freedom to speak one's mind comes the risks and consequences that someone may respond to said speech by taking it personally and feeling offended.  Well, people don't die from being embarrassed or having their feelings hurt.  In fact, having one's feelings hurt is a choice. We always have the choice on how to respond to what we hear, see and experience in this life.  Choose to grow a spine & suck it up; don't take things personally and do not let what others' say affect you. Obviously our friends and loved ones are normally an exception to this rule because we allow them to be a part of our psychology and emotions.)Think "You always hurt the one you love."  It's not out of intent!) However, what some bloviating politician or talking head has to say should not have such an effect if one is rational.  I guess rational is the key here and being so is also one's choice.

I long to be free to say and do as I please, to define my life as I see fit, free to take my own risks knowing that the consequences are mine to deal with, to associate with whom I please, to marry whom I please, to have sex with any consenting adult with whom I wish, free to worship what or whom I please or to refrain from worshiping, free to ally with any political party or ideology I choose, free to travel the country and world without first being treated like a criminal in order to do so, free to put into my body anything I choose, free to fail, to succeed, to try again. 

So here are some thoughts, many of which will be unpopular. I am and will remain a hardliner on personal liberty.
  • Freedom of speech is absolute (Political, religious, hate, love, etc.)
    • Yelling "Fire" in an open theater would cause harm, so it should not be engaged in. 
  • Remove government from marriage completely
    • Marriage is a symbolic joining of two or more freely consenting adult individuals into a unit of love, mutual support, compassion and nurturing. It does not need to be licensed.
    • This would make gay, polygynous, polyandrous, polyamorous and other unions perfectly fine, which they should be.
    • Ceremonies may be religious or secular. No officiation is necessary to make such a commitment.  It could be as private or as public as desired. Just set aside the time and make it special. 
    • Civil law can take care of any issues resulting in the disintegration of such unions, just like it does any other verbal contract or professed oath.
  • Freedom of privacy shall be upheld
    • No government entity may gather information, spy upon, eavesdrop on, search the garbage of, track the electronic footprint of or surveil in any way without due cause
    • Government entities must prove that there is just cause prior to engaging in the surveillance of a citizen
    • FBI, CIA, Military, Government agencies, drones, etc may not gather information of any kind on individual citizens except in a criminal investigation where parties to be surrveilled are specifically identified and presented to the court for approval 
  • Freedom against unlawful search and seizure 
    • TSA practices shall be abolished 
      • Flight safety shall be the responibility of the carrier
    • The search of any person by an organization, corporation, transportation service, entertainment venue, etc is strictly prohibited.
      • If such an entity believes an individual to be a threat or criminal, they must have evidence, report it, and abide by the need for a writ of habeas corpus
      • The presumption of innocense shall be upheld
  • Habeas corpus shall be fully restored 
  • Freedom of religion shall not be infringed upon
    • Adults freely choosing to adhere to a religious doctrine may do so with zeal so long as it
      • Does not harm others physically, psychologically or financially
      • Does not infringe on the personal freedoms of its members as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights
      • Does not require members to cause harm to others
    • Absolute separation of all religions from all government buildings, functions or recipients of funding
      • Since there is no evidence of a supreme creator, this separation must be so.
        • Should such an entity make itself known unequivocally such that all humans agree, this can be revisited
      • This assures freedom of religion and the freedom from religion in the public sector
      • Religious-based organizations shall not be exempt any differently from property or other taxes than any other private entity
      • Those serving or being paid by any public institution may not display or wear religious artifacts or images while on the job.
        • Having such items on their person or in their possession out of view is permissible
      • Similarly evangelizing and proselytizing any religious view may not be engaged in while on the job by those serving or being paid by any public institution
      • The Pledge of Allegiance shall be returned to its original pre 1954 form, removing "under God" from its phrasing
      • "In God We Trust" shall be removed and "E Pluribus Unum" restored as the official motto of the United States
        • The change was irrational, taking place in 1956 during the Cold War when atheism was equated, or at lease intricately tied in the minds of Americans, with communism. 
      • Where "God" appears on statues, buildings, memorials, etc prior to the adoption of this freedom will serve as a physical historical record and not necessarily be removed
        • Removal shall be the first option (as to a museum, etc)
        • Architecturally imbedded religious imagery shall have a plaquard of explanaiton
      • No corporate prayer shall be engaged in by public organizations or on government-owned property
        • Except by private organizations utilizing a public building as a meeting or gathering place
      • "So help me God" shall be removed from oaths in courtrooms or any government swearings 
      • Bibles shall not be used for oaths in courtrooms, government swearings or any public proceedings 
        • Bibles may be carried out of view for those employed or volunteering in the public sector while on duty and out in the open when not on duty
    • Private, non-public groups and organizations may self-decide how they wish to incorporate religious beliefs.
      • May display religious symbols and artifacts in and on the organization's property
      • May engage in the practice of excluding those who do not share common beliefs
      • May create and engage in religious ritual so long as no one is harmed and all members are free to disengage from the group at any time for any reason without coercive attempts to keep them.
      • Adherents may wear and display symbols and artifacts on their property and person
        • Exception is if they are employed by the state in any way and only for the time when they are on the job (they may however keep such things on their person and out of view while on the job.)
  • The right to keep and bear arms shall be restored
    • Exceptions:
      • Prisoners convicted of a violent crime may not possess firearms after release from prison
        • Severely mentally ill persons (schizophrenia, severe paranoia, sociopaths and those who cannot discern reality, etc) may not possess firearms
      • States may not abridge this basic right or regulate it except for the provisions above
      • No firearm shall be registered
      • Personal firearms may be carried in automobiles or on one's person
      • Firearm safety shall be taught to all children from a young age as part of the public curriculum and greatly encouraged in private educational institutions.
  • The right to vote is secured
    • The voting age shall be restored to 21 years of age
    • Voting is limited to legal citizens of these United States
    • Identification must be presented at the polls in order to receive a ballot
      • States shall shall ensure that all its adult citizens, no matter how remote have such identification
    • Every effort must be made to secure the votes of citizens serving outside the country
  • The rights of a person regarding his or her body shall not be a matter of the state
    • Abortions may be sought for any reason and without prejudice during the first trimester of pregnancy
      • Abortions later than the first trimester must meet certain criteria
        • Survival of the mother is paramount
        • Viability of the fetus
          • If the fetus could survive outside the womb without excessive intervention, alternatives must be considered and the wishes of the mother may be denied in such cases
          • Severe disability of the developing fetus (i.e. anencephaly, abnormal development, etc)
    • A complete end to the "War on Drugs" shall be enacted
      • Recreational drugs shall be legalized, regulated and taxed
      • Truthful education on the risks and consequences of utilizing recreational drugs is required in all schools both public and private
      • Individuals choosing to utilize drugs to excess shall be denied certain services until they stop such use (i.e. welfare, food stamps, etc)
      • Employers may not base dismissal on presence of drugs with their employees, but solely on performance
    • Prostitution shall be legalized, regulated and taxed like any other industry
      • The health and well-being of those in the sex trade shall be protected
      • Occupational Safety guidelines shall be proposed and enacted
Again, I could go on with many more specifics but the overarching ideology is that individuals shall be responsible for their own choices and the consequences thereof. Do what you wish to yourself, but do no harm to others.  It's a simple premise and one of the few which government should have a role in protecting.