I was running with a friend one early morning recently when he started complaining about the gradual, seemingly inevitable, decline of freedom in the U.S. It takes a whole village, government intrusion, I’ve heard it all before, but this time I snapped.
“FOR EXAMPLE?” “Well, making fast food restaurants list the calorie count for every item on their menus.” “Wow, that is egregious, giving consumers more information to make better decisions. Maybe we should go into grocery stores and remove the same nutritional information from all the canned goods and other items. What else?” “Forcing people to wear helmets.”
I guess he’s correct, if by freedom we mean more specifically the right to eat crap without knowing it and the right to crack our heads open when we fall off our bicycles and motorcycles.
Then over breakfast, I kicked on National Public Radio and listened to Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera’s story. Nabagesera has just been awarded an international human rights award for fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda where homosexuality is illegal. Earlier this year, her closest colleague, David Kato, was killed, most people believe, for being openly gay.
And then we have the stirring examples of Tunisian, Egyptian, Yemenis, and Syrian democracy protestors willing to die so that their fellow citizens might have the right to assemble, vote, and speak freely.
The U.S. is imperfect, but thanks to our constitution, we can assemble, vote, and speak freely about our right to eat crappy food and crack our heads open. And we can choose where and how to live, work, worship, and raise our children. We can criticize our elected officials without fear of reprisal and we can tweet and blog until our heart’s content.
Maybe Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly should lead an Arab Awakening tour abroad so that my right wing nutter friend and his friends can better appreciate the freedom they seemingly take for granted.