Land of the Free
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's one of the phrases that the
people of the United States of America like to use to describe
It occupies the penultimate line in our
We brag about our freedom; we revel in it. Why, every Fourth of July
we set off fireworks (if we're allowed to) to
have a party remind us of our
War for Independence.
Relatively speaking, it's even true. There is no shortage of places
in the world where the common man needs to keep his mouth shut and
toe the line, or face dire consequences. But we
are not strutting on our stage because we're somewhat less
oppressed than the other peoples of the world: we are the free!.
For the benefit of those Everythingians who are to come, here are
some examples of our vaunted freedom. (I realize that you might
think this is just primitive early 21st century humor, but it's
I am free to sell you a casket; if I obtain a
license and charge you at least the prescribed minimum amount.
In the city of Los Angeles, I am free to offer
to sell you a
used hat (really!); if the hat bears a clear warning that
it is used or secondhand, and identifies the manufacturer, and
I've posted a conspicuous sign that warns all and sundry that I am,
in fact, offering used hats for sale.
I am free to offer to braid your hair for
a fee; unless the state licensing board requires that I have a
cosmetologist's license, which I can get by spending a year of my
life and about $5,000 on a program of education that doesn't
include hair braiding.
In some places, a woman is free to kiss a man's penis, if he
wants her to. Even without a license! (Actually, that
particular service is not allowed to be rendered in
exchange for money.) In only some of the places may a man do so, however.
I am free to educate my children; unless the State
disapproves of the manner in which I do so.
I am free to insult the President of the United States;
though I may find myself in jail for it, as Patricia Mendoza and
Safeway is free to dangle before me the reward of
a free gallon of milk, if I buy 8 gallons before the end of the year;
except that California says that two-gallon packs cannot be counted.
All right, I know you've been
waiting for the drug reference....
I am free to smoke the dried leaves of a particular
plant which is known to cause death, though I am not free to smoke the
leaves of a different plant which has never killed anyone (though
deaths have been attributed
to its being withheld). And
large corporations are free to sell it to me, provided they
can cough up hundreds of billions of dollars in extortion money so that the
government will allow them to continue. Then we're all free
to watch as the states put their hands out for this free money
so they can "pay for tobacco-related health care" and "fund programs to
prevent the kids from smoking" by, for example, filling
potholes in Los Angeles streets.
Ahh, freedom. Let's breathe deep of it.