Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free
[Me and Bobby Magee]
I like freedom. And it seems to be the main subject of conversation these days. In my
Much of the talk about freedom lately is centered freedom of movement. The right to not be bothered by someone stopping you and asking for identification, proof you belong here. There seems to be a lot of people outraged over the idea that the police could demand identification just because of what you look like. They call it "racial profiling" and denounce any law which would appear to permit it or even hint at it.
I was raised in the 50's and 60's. Things were a little different then. In those years, the police were not restricted from stopping anyone at any time for no apparent reason other than a hunch and asking for identification and an explanation of why you were where you were.
When I was in my teens, this happened fairly frequently. I would be walking down the street with a few friends, or alone, and a cop would pull up and ask for ID and query me about where I was going and where I was coming from. I would get pulled over while driving and have my car searched and any passengers would be questioned along with me.
Complaints about this treatment would not help. Complaining to the cop at the time would only increase his suspicion and cause you to be detained even longer. Complaints to your parents would result in their questioning your behavior at the time.
"Just why were you there?"
"What were you doing that made the police want to stop you?"
You soon learned to not complain to anyone but your friends. But you really didn't even do that. Mostly you laughed about it. You figured out how to make any stop as short as possible. You learned to look innocent. You took it in stride.
It was just the way it was.
In late 1965, I found it could be even worse. I enlisted in the US Navy. Now not only could the police detain me but so could any officer or NCO (on base) or Shore Patrol personnel (off base). And they seemed to need even less reason. I needed to carry not only ID but some things called a "Liberty Card" or "Leave Papers" or "Orders" to be produced upon demand.
I still thought I was free. That I was living in a free country.
I look at the crowds in the protests these days and I realize most of them were not even born when I went through all that. Most of them had no idea what it was like. They would be outraged. Except they wouldn't. Because it wasn't all that outrageous then. You see, unless we were actually up to something, it was a minor annoyance that you put up with for the greater good. Because we didn't see the police as "the Gestapo." We knew there were no concentration camps. We knew we would be on our way soon enough.
And when we weren't all that innocent? We learned to avoid the police as much as possible.
While in the Navy, I traveled to a few countries. Some of them were a bit more restrictive than others. We were reminded to act as "guests", to behave as if we had entered someone's home. Most of us followed that advice.
I guess what I am trying to say is that freedom is a relative thing. It's a state of mind. There are always restrictions within a society. It is the nature of society. It is how society remains peaceful and cooperative. And safe.
I am not saying it is right or wrong. I am saying that, of all the places I have visited... of all the countries I have been in, this one's pretty good in terms of freedom. Liberty expands here. When a law is unjust, or unconstitutional , it eventually gets overturned or rescinded.
In 30 years or so, you may find yourself wondering what the fuss was all about.