The Cost of Living in a Free Society
We often hear the phrase "Freedom isn't Free", and we generally attribute that cost to the sacrifice our fighting men and woman make to preserve our republic. But we should all realize that we also must pay the price at times for the privilege of living in a free society. In the wake of the devastatingly crushing news of the school shootings in Newtown Connecticut on December 14, we are left pondering what we can do as a free society to prevent this type of tragedy from ever occurring again. Perhaps we should first ask ourselves, What price are we willing to pay?
Of course the first remedy after an event like this spouted by the simpleminded media and politicians with a larger agenda is to assault the Second Amendment. We are so accustomed to this attack on our freedom that many of us immediately begin to fret about the battle to come over gun rights instead of mourning the loss of the victims of the massacre. But we never have long to wait before a "gun grabbing" senator or even a president begin to capitalize on the tragedy to promote the idea that "El número dos" from our Bill of Rights is an outdated concept that needs to be ignored, altered, or abolished outright. But would a move to remove guns from legal firearms owner's hands ensure a safe environment for us and our children forevermore? Of course not. The worst school massacre in U.S. history occurred in Bath Township, Michigan in 1927. The deranged individual used a makeshift bomb made from commercial explosives to kill thirty eight elementary school children, two teachers and four other adults. In China, on the same day as the events in Newtown, a deranged man slashed twenty two school children with a knife. Crazy will always find a way to be crazy, and the world is full of tools that can be used to carry out such attacks. So are you willing to give up your freedom and security in the form of your firearms to provide an inadequate, destined to fail guarantee of safety as a result?
One course of action that some have promoted is increased vigilance by the state in the monitoring and control of those in our midst with mental health issues. Of course the state would first have to identify those individuals that are deemed (by them) to be a possible threat, no doubt predominantly at the public school level. And then take over their care, medication and or incarcerate them through commission to a mental health facility if they are evaluated to be a risk. While we do need to pay more attention to the folks in our society that are afflicted with mental issues that may affect that same society as a whole, forgive me if I doubt the government's ability to address the issue while protecting constitutional and parental rights in the process. As they have already shown, they have a dismal record of addressing behavioral and developmental problems (real or make believe) among our children so far. So the question is, are you willing to give up your rights as a parent or your own personal liberty to insure that anyone with the perceived potential to go postal at some point in the future as determined by some governmental bureaucrat are contained through mandatory medication or incarceration?
Another inevitable conclusion by some on both sides of the political spectrum after an event like Sandy Hook is the effect of violence in the media on young impressionable minds and their desensitization to death and dismemberment. The remedy they propose is the same song, different tune -- that we need the Federal Government to restrict in some way the production of violent movies, music videos, and video games and/or restrict access to them by our younger population. The Constitution gives no such authority to the government; in fact it specifically prohibits it in the First Amendment. Some would argue that the framers were not addressing entertainment with that amendment to the Constitution, that they were instead protecting only the freedom of the press and political speech. But if that were the case, why did they not specifically call out which types of speech they wished to protect? The fact is that the founders wished to have freedom of expression for all ideas and thoughts. These men were products of the age of enlightenment, and many had gained a great deal of their education through works that had at one time or another been banned in some parts of the world. In 1972 Thurgood Marshall addressed this issue directly.
Above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content. To permit the continued building of our politics and culture, and to assure self-fulfillment for each individual, our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought, free from government censorship. The essence of this forbidden censorship is content control. Any restriction on expressive activity because of its content would completely undercut the 'profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.
So are you willing to allow your government to decide what proper content for your entertainment is? Would you consider a movie like The Patriot to be too violent or graphic for young minds to absorb properly when it specifically chronicles young children shooting British troops?
Perhaps we should recognize that we cannot ensure a perfect utopia void of all risk in a free society. We can, however, help mitigate a lot of the risks by protecting freedom. For instance, if we refused to allow restrictive guns laws and the establishment of gun free zones in Connecticut in violation of the Second Amendment, it is very possible that some teacher would have taken their responsibility to protect their young charges seriously enough to have a firearm on them that day. We will never know if that would have been the case, but we do know that the wishful thinking of progressives that simply declaring that a school is free of firearms is an exercise in stupidity that puts our children in harm's way. The fact is that the cost of freedom is borne not just on the backs of our military but on ours as well. The question before us, is it worth the cost?
Johnny Alamo is a self-professed conservative leaning Libertarian and is a staff writer at http://undoctrination.org/