Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Robbing Any Citizen's Freedom Limits Everyone

Society should protect the innocent from despicable acts. Murder, sexual and physical abuse, destruction of property and reckless behavior need to have severe legal consequences in order to deter them. However, the more laws enacted, the less free the society. The more choices citizens are able to make, the freer the society.

When governments attempt to legislate preferences, manners and decency it is over-stepping its boundaries. It is going down a slippery path of oppression.

Our government has passed laws against smoking in restaurants, beaches and even in one's home. NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg, decided educating the people about the dangers of trans fats would be ineffective. Instead he decreed that restaurants had to stop serving trans fats. Congress has established laws, which have curtailed our freedom of speech by making it a crime to utter certain words. A common expression today can be a hate crime tomorrow. Now California is attempting to require "programmable communicating thermostats' in homes so the government can control our heat and cooling during what is deemed an "emergency event."

Unnecessary laws are stifling our liberty. Free people collectively make better decisions than do government elites.

Most Americans have dropped their love affair with smoking being cool. Cigarettes have lost favor in our culture. Very few non-smokers have empathy for smokers. Cigarette smoke stinks and can cause allergic reactions. Many smokers have been persuaded to stop smoking for the sake of their health. Free people can be convinced to live without trans fats and can learn to stop saying politically incorrect things. Laws are not needed to tell us how to live our daily lives.

People in a free nation have the right to associate with anyone as long as they do not advocate violence against others. Some individuals who want to control their neighbor can join a deed-restricted community. Each individual voluntarily agrees to limits his choices as well as his neighbor's. These deed-restricting contracts can stipulate the color or one's house, number and kind of plant allowed and exclude children from the homes of community residents. These rights are not being taken from them; instead they are expressing their freedom to live in an environment that decreases their neighbor's and their own options. They agree to restrict their own freedoms.

It is a radically different act when the federal government limits individual's rights and freedoms. When government robs us of our positive choices it is not in the interest but against the interest of the people. This is despotism.

Even though all citizens should be agitated by the government abridging our freedoms, most of us do not protest. Our silence allows government to whittle away our independent choices. Limiting the rights of specific groups of people creates a political environment that makes all of our freedoms vulnerable.

Proposing new laws to correct a perceived problem usually enhances a politicians ability to be elected. These issues are often manufactured by special interests using dubious polls. Our society should not be changed by the whim of politicians passing laws motivated by special interests but by free individuals making choices over time.

In the past smoking was "cool," Oreo cookies and donuts were the rage, saying what you meant was valued. Today these all have lost cultural favor. People have made decisions on their own to change their behavior rather than being directed by "Big Brother."

America is a country with shrinking liberties. We are unwilling to recognize that government's attempt to unnecessarily restrict any of us will eventually affect all of us. Since most of these laws do not restrict us personally we take the lazy citizen approach and ignore them.

Laws and regulations are strangling our once great and free nation. Our children, our land, homes, eating habits, water and air will be the domain of the state. We are losing our rights and privileges. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

Our liberties will be lost by our not being vigilant to stand up for the rights of others. Losing our liberties in a dramatic coup or piecemeal still ends in a tyrannical existence.

Dr. Maglio is the author of Invasion Within and Essential Parenting. He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School.



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