Friday, January 13, 2006

I've lost that freedom feeling

There's been a lot of talk about Constitutional freedoms lately in the wake of the domestic wire tapping report and the Alito hearings with its impact on Roe vs. Wade. I know this is important stuff, but I have to say the whole debate confuses me. I'm not confused about the details of these issues; while I'm certainly not an expert they've been covered in enough detail by the press, that I get the jist of both sides of the argument. What confuses me is why we fight so hard for these when we gladly give up other freedoms.

When I was a child, I can recall a time when people had responsibility for the safety of their children and their own personal conduct. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, my family took a lot of weekend skiing and hiking trips. On almost every trip my father kept a couple of beers in the car for the ride home. Even now, 40 years later, I can still see the beer can sitting on the dashboard, with my father smoking his pipe, as we ride down Rt. 16 through Pinkham Notch in New Hampshire. If this wasn't bad enough in a modern context, the entire time, because I'm the youngest, I'm stuffed in the back of the station wagon with no seat belt or safety restraint.

A parent doing something like that today would be in a lot of trouble. They would not be allowed to decide how to safely transport their family, they wouldn't be able to decide to have a beer while driving, even if their blood alcohol levels was well within the legal limit. I'm not arguing that the laws that have been passed are somehow wrong from the sense of being unreasonable, they certainly make some level of sense. But that said, some restriction of freedom of speech or privacy makes sense too, especially if we're measuring personal freedoms against public welfare. From my layman's point of view, it looks like we've got ourselves onto a very slippery slope.

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