May 2008

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Like Franklin said, "they who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security. Here's an interesting book,


Like Franklin said, "they who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security. Here's an interesting book,

Kent McManigal

Just after you posted this, I ran into my own wall of censorship.

Scott Alan Miller

Actually, the US Federal "Freedom of Religion" refers to the fact that the federal government cannot regulate the religion of the "states" not the "citizens". The difference is that individual states can, if they want, declare total freedom of religion (take that to mean what you want.) But they can also, like Massachusetts at one time long after the rule was in place, declare Puritanism (the same religion that based its financials on slavery, colonialism, pursecution, etc.) the official religion and arrest anyone that they want who won't wear buckled shoes or a big silly hat (Texas has the hat law still, for example.)

So, in reality, the US does not have freedom of relgion but simple 50 religious "zones" that each determine their own level of religious freedom. I supposed that the District of Columbia may actually not be allowed to declare their own in the interest of national unity but who knows.


Imagine it is 1770, the King of England passes 'The Patriot Act'.

The Founding Fathers of the United States are terrorists. Imagine Ben Franklin sitting in 'Gitmo' having his Bible pissed on.

I wonder how Americans feel when they realise that they passed legislation which makes the whole foundation of their country illegal.

Adrian D.

Claims of "sin" are baloney. All they are are statements of "god says so." In Mel's example, he would be claiming that failing to allow him to cut off pinkies was a "sin."

Anything genuinely morally reprehensible is harmful -- in some way -- to some entity that deserves protection from the harm. Most claims are instances of groups of people sticking their collective noses where they do not belong.


Well in my religion salvation requires the sacrifice of one comic strip artist's left pinky. This must be delivered to the gods in the front seat of his newest vehicle. wrapped in pink ribbon. and don't you dare deny me that right.

If prostitution and abortion are allowed, then theft and arson should be too.
First I argue most laws are to protect people other than the offended. Yes, this includes drug laws and euthanasia, just think about it here.
It is also true some things are simply wrong. Morally reprehensible. Abhorent to humans and humanity. Period. Whether it hurts someone else or not, freedom to lasciviousness, wanton evil and sin (yes I said sin) is not "freedom" it is bondage to whatever gross corrupt thing you want. And "wanting" something doesn't make it right or allowable.

Joshua Z

I think a general rule to be followed is "your right to throw a punch stops where the other person's nose begins". I think a lot of the rights you're probably thinking about have been illegal in the U.S. for a long time because they can be seen as crossing that boundary.

For example, some rights that could be seen as negatively affecting the rights of others:

-Smoking: We've all heard the statistics on the dangers of second-hand smoke. Is one person's right to enjoy themselves worth endangering the life of someone else?

-Prostitution: Sure, it doesn't sound like it's hurting anyone, but when you see the side effects commonly associated with it... For example, in certain asian countries, human trafficking of children and women for prostitution is commonplace. In a society that allows such a practice, women in poverty can be forced to resort to such work not willfully but to survive by finding the most readily available work, and of course run the risk of STD's and other dangers. And that's not even mentioning the harm it can cause to marriages and relationships. If you view adultery as robbing someone, then prostitution definitely crosses a line. Those marriage vows? They are essentially stating you belong to one another, even though many people no longer honor them.

-Polygamy: This often gets tied to child sex where children are forced into marriages, or sometimes even adults. And of course there are inevitable relationship problems. Again, it can be a case of one person's rights infringing upon those of others.

-Abortion: I'm not going to go into whether this is right or wrong. All I'm going to say is that for most of the U.S.'s history killing an unborn child was considered the same as killing a child. And by U.S. law killing a woman with child is considered a double homicide. My point is, there's precedent for people to consider this "right" as infringing upon the right of another person.

I think in America, people are taught to stand up for their rights and that is the all-consuming ideal espoused by our society. However, what is swept under the rug is that to take the flip side, we are not proclaiming our DUTY to protect the rights of others, and the end result is a selfish proclamation of our rights that refuses to see the side of others and how our rights might be abusing theirs.

Adrian D.


Yeah, I bet you wish you could have put nooses around the necks of people like Paine, Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin. First they complained. When they got enough people to agree with them, they took action. Terrible. No one should ever try to *change* a situation; they should only be able to choose which cage they want. Right?!


I, myself, am a little torn. On one hand, I believe that people should be able to avoid, and not do business with someone they don't like. And this can be because of voiced opinions. On the other hand, if a group of people acting together effect confinement or starvation of the person, the group is effectively an oppressive government. When people generally lived self-sufficiently on farms, this was not an issue. Today, effective coersion is a valid concern.


I am so tired of hearing people say "America's not free"

If you really believe that, grow some balls and fuckin' move to another country.


So, free speech should have no consequences; not just from the Government, but from other people as well?

Well, that's just godd*mned stupid. I mean if you're going to inflict idiocy like this upon me, you're d*mned well going to hear about it. At the very least I'm going to be telling you what I think of your foolish little pity party while I wonder what kind of moron-Neanderthal mentality went into creating your pointless whiny opinion. Honestly I might avoid you (and therefore your place of work) just to avoid the stress of not violently choking the stupid out of you.

Oh, and if you don't like the above; would like to respond, etc... then you're cramping MY "free speech". And you wouldn't want to do that, because there shouldn't be any repercussions from my previous rant; right?

Does that help explain the foolishness sufficiently?


From what I can work out from the history channel, the American government were complicit in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. They knew the Zero's were coming but they needed an excuse to get into the war in 1941 when the public were against it; they needed something BIG. The story is that "yes they were sent the message a few days before, but they forgot". Really, that's the official explanation and they're sticking to it.

Would it be completely unreasonable therefore that someone knew their history and did it again? "For the good of the nation?"

Of course, if America hasn't entered the 2nd world war, they wouldn't have been able to nab all the fleeing Nazi rocket scientists and use their knowledge to invent A-bombs, and IBMs or get to the moon. The British were way ahead on cryptology and computers at the time, as were the Europeans.

Therefore if the US government HADN'T conned its citizens in 1941, America might just be a backwater at the far end of the Atlantic?


A few random comments:

At work recently, a guy was fired for shouting something inappropriate loudly enough that many customers were able to hear him. He was angry at one of the managers and he shouted, "Well why don't you just paint me black and call me your slave!" He could've shouted something angry and rebellious, like "No, I won't do that!" or "Leave me alone!" or "Shut up!" or just about anything, but he got fired because it was specifically about black people and slavery. Everyone who talked about the incident was mostly offended by the racial aspects of what he shouted, and less offended by the fact that he was rebelling against a manager who made him angry. If he had only shouted "shut up!" or something neutral like that, he might have been told to go home, or take some time off, or something. But because it was racial, he got fired. They all said, "We just can't keep him if he said something like that." It crossed the taboo line. That's a socially enforced economic consequence for you.

You can get thrown in a psychiatric institution for saying various things. You can collect a lot of good things for the taboo list by listening to the ravings of people who are considered crazy.

Unfortunately I have personal experience with opinions you're not allowed to express to just anybody. But often, it's HOW you say it that makes people respond negatively. If you talk about a taboo subject as though it's really causing you misery and you're on the verge of "doing something about it," people react badly. But if you talk about it in a calm, detached, indirect way, on an abstract level, you can avoid that. Something along the lines of "Suppose this were hypothetically possible," or "Imagine this happening in some faraway country, in the distant past or the distant future," so that people listening wouldn't be quite as upset about the "nearness" of the taboo subject. If it seems like it's impossibly faraway, happening to people you'll never know, and it could never invade your safe life, it's easier to listen to a taboo subject.

Nowadays, I just preach to the choir. I don't usually bother trying to convince people who don't agree with me. I only try to convince skeptics about things if some unusual event puts me in a position where I absolutely have to get help from them for a problem.

Author Edward de Bono wrote about ways to use illogical, impossible statements to generate creativity. This is a little different from the phenomenon of social taboos, because he's talking about how to use this during meetings at work, or during an attempt to solve a problem. (He's not talking about the types of taboos that people live with in daily life, where you can't say such-and-such in public.) He called it "green hat thinking" in his book Six Thinking Hats. When you're "wearing the green hat," it means that everybody agrees to tolerate inconceivable, impossible, nonsensical, illogical ideas, for the purpose of seeing where it takes you, creatively. "Imagine cars have square wheels" is a typical green hat discussion. Then you find out what might be good or useful about that idea, or you say what it makes you think of. Perhaps it would help cars park safely on a hill without using the emergency brake. Maybe it makes you think of how to improve the shock absorption system. Then, at the end of the discussion, you collect those new and unfamiliar ideas and turn them into something which can be used in real life. Under the green hat, you tolerate the fact that the statement is nonsense, and you don't try to "fix" it. He says you can use this in a way that's similar to your "curious robot" method, where you can tolerate things that cause painful cognitive dissonance by putting on the green hat.

Tomas Liubinas

Well, generally the law is not a bad thing and most likely nobody of us could say that we are totaly free, but at least others comparing to some americans do not walk around and shout about "the most free country".

Greetings from Lithuania


Gambling is legal insofar as the government gets it's cut. Think of it as a tax on the stupid.

it's me

It's the age old paradox: You can't have freedom without having laws to protect it.


This is what some french intellectual call : Dictatorship of the "single thought" (it is hard to translate). You can find a beginning of explanation on

Jonas Islander

While it is true that we have a lot of social taboos that prevent us from saying what we want in a modern democracy, there's still a HUGE difference compared to a country where you can go to jail for expressing political opinions. In those countries, it's not possible to criticise the government; here we do it all the time.

Yes, if you criticise the government in some respects that are taboo, you may be subject to social and economic sanctions, but there will be a few people who choose to express their views anyway, and don't care about the sanctions.
In a country like China, those people are simply put in jail, where they can't reach out with their opinions to anyone.

Steven McDaniel

"Is the USA a soryt of dictatorship that soon enough will disappear ?
I think so also.
If you have a big brain, feel free to come to France, we don't have full freedom yet but more than the USA.
And Holland (freedom land) is very near to us (a couple of hours by car).
Creationist, please stay in the US." Cdirk

O, Cdrik, Cdrik, methinks your brand of freedom may be one of these one-sided 'freedoms', which really means the freedom to put restrictions on those whose beliefs you disagree with. So you'd feel right at home in France. However, if I were to come to France (not too hard to get access), and wanted to preach the Gospel to the French counterparts to the FBI, all I'd have to do would be to start a meeting or something, as evangelical meetings tend to be very popular with the French "Quai des Orfèvres" who mingle in with the faithful for some reason. However, it might be harder for me to leave the country: witness what one of your governmental purveyors of 'freedom' said just recently:

French MP Philippe Vuilque told the National Assembly on May 30, 2001, that:
"..We will fight Bible-based, Koran-based, Talmud-based groups.." Freedom in France is mainly for secularists only, whereas in the USA anyone, even Michael Moore, has a right to lawful assembly without harrassment (although they'd probably put an armed guard around the food). Now, as your brain is so big, I'm betting you can figure out a way to get your rhetoric back into the bull's butt!


Darth Mommy,
Your list of things you "shouldn't" say in America are actually all things that are very easy to say in America, with clamorous approval, mostly, but not entirely, from the Left.

I have no idea what Scott's list of things he couldn't say was, but I doubt if it included anything on your list.

I agree,for example, that you shouldn't say that 9-11 involved complicity at the highest levels of US government, but that's because it's an idiotic thing to say. If you do say it, though, you'll find yourself in a cosy little group of like minded thinkers. Unless you interpret disagreement with your views as persecution, you won't get any backlash.


Brian said that citizens are supposed to read the bills and object to them before they become laws. Then he said, "The main problem is laziness."

Firstly, while I agree that we all should be more aware of what our "Congress-critters" are doing, I would like to point out that the fundamental problem is that there are simply *too many* bills and laws. Our elected representatives usually do not even read the bloody things themselves; the bills are not only too numerous, but too long. The federal register is already too long for a normal person with a job and family to read. That's why we elect the representatives -- we *pay* them to do what we ourselves have no time for. The primary problem then is that virtually every single politician is a lying, stinking weasel who gets drunk with the power of his position and will forever thereafter do whatever it takes to maintain it. "All those who gain power are afraid to lose it."

Re: syn and that the laws against polygyny are to protect vulnerable 14-year-olds: no, they're not. That's what age of consent laws are for, and laws regarding legal majority entitling one to enter into a binding contract. Laws against polygamy in all forms are, as Scott said, largely religious in nature. I've got a fundamentalist Baptist friend, who was not only valedictorian of our senior class, but is now a professor of biology and graduated with her Master's from Georgia Tech (which is not a charm school). I mention her bona fides simply to illustrate that she is not unintelligent. She is, however, blinded by her faith and regards monogamy as being the naturally intended order. No, it isn't. All marriages are contractual in nature, and we should be able to deal with polygamy in any form by contractual law.

Kaitlin Sherwood made some excellent points, but I think that the issues regarding who gets final say in the hospital should be handled the same way it is with a single person, or one who has no living relatives, etc.: a designated person has medical power of attorney. That would not mean that you love one spouse more than another, it simply means that the buck has to stop somewhere and it was agreed upon before the need arose. By setting up a medical power of attorney when marrying the third or subsequent spouse, and delineating a succession should it be required, it would be clear and legal which spouse has the right to make the necessary decisions. As far as visitation goes, hospitals in my experience have never stopped anyone at the door to inquire what his or her relationship to the patient was, so I don't know that it is really an issue.

As far as the third party issue goes, could not contract law deal with that? And if there aren't any precedents, would not contract law evolve to meet these needs?

To Pro-Persian(the cat): Excellent points, excellently made. The only thing you forgot was that marriage means nobody gets any.

Moving on, I would have to say that polyandry is an optimal solution. With polygyny, you have one man and, say, two women: that means twice as many children with less monetary income. If you have one woman and two men, you can have the same number of children as you would in a monogamous situation, which is naturally limited by the number of pregnancies the wife can and will have. However, you get the benefits of two incomes, which if both husbands work would be larger than a dual-income monogamous couple, as women statistically earn less than do men. With both husbands working, the wife could still be a stay-at-home mother. This maximizes the economic benefits, in that neither income-earner would have to miss work to stay at home with a sick child, nor lose a day of pay to attend conferences or take the children to the dentist, etc. Babysitting is built in, so that means you'd save money there, too. One husband takes out the wife while the other watches the kids, then the wife keeps the kids while the husbands go to Hooters. In the event of a disaster and one parent is killed, the children still have two parents to care for them and the economic impact of the death is lessened.

Polyandry also solves the dilemma of men who don't get any becoming violent. More men have women, even though they have to share; but is not some better than none?

Stan V.

10 things you shouldn't say in America.

1. 9-11 involved complicity within the highest levels of our own government
2. Israel is the aggressor. Our tax dollars buy their bombs
3. Our president lied in order to take us to war with Iraq.
4. As a result of that lie, we have killed hundreds of thousands innocent Iraqis.
5 Church leaders ignore these facts in order to maintain their tax excempt status
6. Our soldiers are not "dying for freedom", they are not "keeping us safe." Our soldiers are dying so corperations can get rich.
7. Corperations do not give a rats ass about your child, or my child.
8. A lot of Americans still believe Bush is doing the right thing.
9. A lot of Germans thought Hitler was doing the right thing.
10. Our media has been compromised.


In cha'Allah (amen brother).


I agree with anonymous above; Paul Graham's essay is great.


America land of the free? I think not. At least not anymore. Since Americans often don't know what else is going on in the world, they don't realize that so many other countries have more freedom than the US.

My husband and I moved to one such country - New Zealand. We feel safe here without having to give up freedom of religion or freedom of speech.

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