Those who are willing to sacrifice essential freedom
for security deserve neither.
In order to avoid really convoluted language,
this writeup assumes that you live in a country with a robust form
of democratic government.
This writeup does not assume that you must live in
such a country in order to believe in freedom!
Believing in freedom
Truly believing in freedom means (in no particular order):
- also believing in democracy
- understanding that a genuine belief in freedom is much much more
than a few patriotic slogans
- understanding that all of the mainstream democracies in the world today
Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain,
Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
the United States - please see notes below)
provide their citizens with essentially equivalent levels of freedom
(i.e. no one country has a monopoly on freedom or a significantly
greater amount or belief in freedom than the other mainstream democracies)
- believing that the other person's rights and freedoms are as
important as your rights and freedoms
- believing in freedom of speech even when you disagree with
what is being said (see notes)
- believing in universal sufferage (i.e. all citizens of an appropriate age have the right to vote with a definition of citizen which is quite inclusive)
- believing in the right to be presumed innocent until proven
guilty even when the bastard is obviously as guilty as sin
- remembering what Benjamin Franklin said
Those who are willing to sacrifice essential freedom for security deserve neither.)
and really believing it to be true
- believing in the notion of habeas corpus
and that it applies to everyone
- understanding that there is no such thing as a free lunch
- keeping in mind that, ultimately, the only thing that anyone can
force you to do is die
- understanding that your rights stop when they are about to infringe
on someone else's equivalent rights (see notes)
- understanding that true freedom is worth risking your life for
- understanding that you can't possibly truly believe in something
that you don't understand
- understanding that truly believing in freedom is hard work
The proverbial to-do list
You're right - it isn't a very long list.
Feel free to take your time but get on with the job.
P.S. I'm a long ways from personally completing all of the items on this list.
- I have no plans to expand the list of examples of countries
which have mainstream democracies (it is representative even though it
is not complete).
I will reduce the list if I've made a mistake (i.e. included a country
which doesn't belong) so feel free to "clue me in"
- While I'm a strong believer in freedom of speech, there are
a few qualifications including:
- freedom of speech doesn't give someone the right
to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater (unless, of course, there is actually a fire)
- freedom of speech doesn't given someone the right to libel
or slander someone
(this is not a complete list of qualifications)
The whole notion of the relative importance of different rights is
far beyond the scope of this writeup.
Suffice it to say that the courts have, do and will make decisions which
balance or trade-off various rights.
The "to-do" list needs to be longer. Any suggestions?
None of the statements above is aimed at any particular person, group
of persons or country.
This specifically includes those statements which appear to be aimed at a particular person, group of persons or country.
The Reporters Without Borders published their first worldwide press freedom index on 2002/10/23. It's an interesting list with a few surprises.
By making a belief in freedom symmetric (reflexive?) with a belief in democracy, my intent is to make it clear that they come as a pair (i.e. you don't get to just believe in one of them).
I will grant that this doesn't quite match the formal definition of democracy which includes the possibility of mob rule (as pointed out below by robwicks's writeup below) but that's part of why I tied a belief in democracy to a belief in freedom.
This writeup is a companion to my believing in democracy writeup.
They both exist as separate writeups as it may be useful to be able to
link to either of them.
I'm a Canadian citizen living in Canada who happens to believe that the greatest danger facing freedom in any of the mainstream democracies today is the complacency of their electorates.
P.S. I agree with the views expressed by robwicks
below. The caveats that he places on belief in democracy are REALLY important. Fanaticism of any sort, including a fanatic belief in democracy or even freedom, usually leads to lots of pain and sorrow all around.
I should probably also say that I am more than a little uncomfortable with the notion of pure democracy (a form of government in which, roughly speaking, the entire electorate is elligible to vote on every proposed law). The mainstream democracies are, without exception, representative democracies for a very simple reason - the typical citizen does not have the time to properly educate themselves on each issue so the citizenry elect representatives who are expected to "make a full time job" of casting "informed votes" on the issues.