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Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1392
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 01:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This topic seems to have outgrown the "Socialized Dentistry" thread, so I thought I'd move it here.

When you say, "America is a free country", what do you mean? What freedoms, specifically, are definitional here? What freedoms do Americans have the British citizens do not?

We do not swear fealty to a king or laird and any commoner can become president, so we are free from the constraints of heredity-based privilege. Then again, no one in England has really had to do much swearing of fealty in the last 100 years either, and noble blood won't buy you a cup of coffee in London.

What else? I look to the Bill of Rights for the clearest listing of the freedoms which are important to me. I think the list is pretty complete.

The demands for information which the government sends to libraries, video stores, ISPs, phone companies, etc., without judicial review, and the gag orders which accompany those demands and make it a felony to report receiving one, seem to me to be a serious infringement on a number of the most important. That would include: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom from unreasonable search.

That sort of brings up a second question: If you don't trust politicians to pick your dentist, why would you trust them to use such intrusive powers responsibly?
 

Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 1169
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 03:07 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't
 

Tom Callen
Member
Username: Tc2642

Post Number: 138
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 10:41 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,

I think to a large extent it is based on history and the culture which we were brought up in. I think that the UK should be a republic (the majority of voters don't so I accept that), but as stated elsewhere the monarchy has no real legislative power, she has to put her stamp of approval on laws but she's not going to say, 'no I don't agree with that I'm not passing it', it would evoke an constitutional crisis and possibly the dissolution of the monarchy. We have what is considered an 'unwritten constitution', bit of a misnomer but there are a set of principles that have been built up over many hundreds of years, Britain is conservative with a small c, it's about gradual progress and tradition to a large extent.

Bob, you are going to have to do a bit more explaining if you want to put your point across, merely saying "I'm free because I'm an American and I hate big government" really doesn't cut it. Another example which probably has a thread of its own is the fact that any adult without a criminal record or mental health problems can legally own a gun. You can't in this country without going through a massive amount of police checks and referees. I may be less free in regards to buying a gun but I'm hardly living in North Korea and most people in this country are glad that we have this law. Definitions count here.

It's also interesting to note that you do trust the government with some quite intrusive powers; would you rather be without the police or army?
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1394
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 12:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tom, I should apologize for the muddled wording of my original question. (Maybe I need an editor more than Randy Mosher does!)

I meant to add that, as far as basic rights and freedoms go, the right to bear arms is probably the one and only which is available to Americans and not to Western Europeans. All the others (freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, property; freedom from quartering of troops, unreasonable search, cruel and unusual punishment, self-incrimination, double-jeopardy; right to public jury trial, due process, and petition) are all shared pretty equally on both side of the North Atlantic. In fact, most of the US Bill of Rights was closely modelled on the English Bill of Rights of 1689, right down to some of the wording.

I apologize if, by forgetting to add that, I implied otherwise.

I agree that much of the claim of "freedom" is historical, but it is also confused. For instance, a settler here in the Connecticut Colony in 1700 had the religious "freedom" to be a Puritan. That is, the Church of England had no claim to monopoly. But a Quaker like me would be branded, have an ear cut off, and, if still unrepentant, be hanged. So there was hardly true freedom of religion.

Similarly, one of the most important freedoms (never specifically stated in the US Constitution) for immigrants 100 years ago was the freedom from the constraints of birth. In America, no one would say, "Because you were born poor, you will always be poor. Know your place." Poor commoners could get rich and buy land, raising their place in society. (Well, at least if you were white, and not Jewish.)

At this point, there are no longer any blood-line-based constraints on social mobility in Europe. So, again, it is a historical claim. (Poor people on both sides face the same economic constraints, which are pretty hard to jump.)

Overall, I think Americans are happy to trust intrusive powers to levels of government over which they feel they have some control. Local zoning and planning boards can be enormously intrusive. But we can usually affect such local elections pretty directly. I think that a lot of Americans have come to distrust the Bush administration not because of the powers they have arrogated to themselves but because they have declared those powers to be out of the jurisdiction of the normal checks and balances which might be used to control them.
 

Ron Siddall
Intermediate Member
Username: El_cid

Post Number: 436
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 02:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,

There is no answer to this question.

What you consider a freedom I might agree with a regulation to control. For example, smoking. There are a couple of city's in California (I don't know which ones although I would be willing to bet they are controlled by liberals) that just passed regulations outlawing smoking in appartments and condo's.

I was not arguing the definition of freedoms in the tooth post. I was wanting an explanation of the loss of freedoms Dan was accusing the present administration of taking away from me.

BTW, how probable is the felony (that you quote above) is of holding up in court long term especially in the 9th circuit? Possibly very low indeed. Therefore, your freedom will be protected by the checks and balances.
 

Mike A.
Intermediate Member
Username: Mike_a

Post Number: 367
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 02:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Freedom means no interference with individual rights and it requires tolerance of others behavior that you find to be abhorrent. The hardest part of freedom is letting others be free.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4937
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 03:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"The hardest part of freedom is letting others be free."

An excellent point!
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1395
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 04:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ron, The post which caught my attention in the Dentistry thread was from Bob Wall:

I guess the cultural difference lies in the fact that I am a free man living in a country founded on the fundamental principles of individual freedom. While you are a royal subject in a constitutional monarchy who needs to be cared for by a benevolent royalty.

I'd rather be free.


But I don't want to pick on Bob. It's something I hear a lot. The phrases "free country" and "free man" are embedded in our national psyche. Yet I just don't see what basic freedoms we have that Western Europeans don't. Except, of course, for the gun thing. Compare both groups with, say, North Korea, and the list of freedoms we enjoy is more obvious. Even when compared to a sort-of Western democracy like Israel, we are much more free (e.g., there is no civil marriage in Israel; the rabbis control whom you can and cannot marry). But between us and the EU, I just don't see a big difference.

As for the Patriot Act and its gag orders, this is all still very much in play. A US District Court judge did, indeed, rule that key parts of the law are unconstitutional. The government has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, some rather minor restrictions on the gag order (you can challenge one, but only to a FISA court and only after a year) are one of the main reasons that the latest re-authorization of the Patriot Act is facing a veto threat. If the Supreme Court overrules the District Court, or if the law is tweaked just enough to get the gag orders to pass constitutional muster, then they will remain enforceable.

Mike, I totally agree that tolerance is the hardest part of freedom. We all have a list of things we don't want the neighbors doing. It's hard to stay aware of the fact that their list may include some stuff we enjoy.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4939
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 04:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am thinking that the use of the word "free" and "freedom" are starting have the character of wrapping one's self in the flag.

"Freedom" is not an absolute term like "rock." It is a relative term like "big." When you hear it used as an absolute, consider the flag wrapping behavior. This is not a pretty image.

Wasn't it Samuel Johnson who said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel?"
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1396
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 04:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here you go. Another answer to the question "what freedoms have you lost under Bush?" As luck would have it, I stumbled on this while eating lunch.

In the Oct 13, 2007 issue of The Economist (not normally considered a hard-left magazine), on pg 67, in an article on freedom of the press, they write:

"Under American law, government documents may be classified only to protect national security. Presidents have at times no doubt stretched the definition, but George Bush has gone further than any. Partly as a result of an executive order of 2003, the number of documents being stamped secret or classified has almost quadrupled -- from 5.8m under Bill Clinton in 1996 to more than 20m last year, according to figures released by the Information Security Oversight Office (part of America's national archives)."

Further down, they say:

"Congress has repeatedly been denied access to documents; newpapers have been threatened with prosecution for revealing "state secrets" (such as Mr Bush's warrantless eavesdropping programme), and journalists have been jailed for contempt of court after refusing to reveal their sources."
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4940
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 04:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have heard of documents that had been declassified being reclassified. The default position in the current administration seems to be to classify unless you have a reason not to, not the other way around as it should be.
 

Tom Callen
Member
Username: Tc2642

Post Number: 139
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 05:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, sorry if I came across as being a bit belligerent, it was not aimed at you, in fact you are a joy to debate with.

I do find some of Bob's postings a little offensive, he seems to think that it is a prerequisite for me as a British citizen (well its still officially a subject but we can debate that another day ) to tug my forelock when a member of nobility passes my way, I find it a bit insulting that just because I believe in a institution which has helped me and my family and many millions of people that I am somehow wanting the state to do everything for me. This is not true, I do think that differing political views muddy the water somewhat but I am still a believer in democracy and obviously think that there should be limits to the power of government.

Another interesting aspect here is the freedom from something and the freedom to do something. We are essentially getting into a philosophical debate about what the term freedom means but the two above points should be taken into account when we look at this.
 

Mike A.
Intermediate Member
Username: Mike_a

Post Number: 369
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 06:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I think freedom is essentially the balance between those two points. An individual has freedom to do anything that does not interfere with another individual's right to have freedom from.

True freedom seems to me like a philosophical utopia that a society can strive for but never actually obtain. Unfortunately now in America, it seems we are heading the other direction.
 

Ron Siddall
Intermediate Member
Username: El_cid

Post Number: 441
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 07:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"journalists have been jailed for contempt of court after refusing to reveal their sources."

That ain't new under Bush.....

Those anti-terrorism laws will only effect a fringe few and will probably be overuled by the high courts. They will not hit the common man like Listerman, Siddall et al.

Dan, nothing is absolute. Even a rock succumbs to the hammer.

BTW, the Economist is a great read. One of the most unbiased rags around.

Paul, are you French by any chance? I noticed how you spelled programme...
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4941
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 07:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"Those anti-terrorism laws will only effect a fringe few and will probably be overuled by the high courts. They will not hit the common man like Listerman, Siddall et al. "

For a country that likes to bill itself as "principled," the above is nothing to brag about.

(Message edited by listermann on October 19, 2007)
 

Ron Siddall
Intermediate Member
Username: El_cid

Post Number: 444
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 09:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No one is bragging Danno. A country is the sum of it's people. Are you saying that you are not principled?
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4945
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Friday, October 19, 2007 - 09:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"No one is bragging Danno. A country is the sum of it's people. Are you saying that you are not principled?"

Great spin. Got more?
 

Chumley
Senior Member
Username: Chumley

Post Number: 5109
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Saturday, October 20, 2007 - 03:40 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Welcome Back, Mr. Listermann! The B&V has been a poorer place while you have been enjoying your Bavarian vacation.
 

Tom Callen
Member
Username: Tc2642

Post Number: 142
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007 - 12:54 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm not meaning to be offensive but why the amount of bile here? Why does the civility have to break down in a web forum? We all have opinions and some will agree with us while others don't. I respect Dan and Chumley and Ron and Mike and Paul and the many other contributors to this site, indeed it was because of this site that I met Jollybrewer. I know that all of the longtime posters on here are not trolls. It saddens me to see this state of affairs on a forum that got me deeply interested in brewing. A profession which I would love to do full time. You all have helped me learn how to make better beer and I thankyou for answering my noob questions some ten years back. You can tell me to off by all means, but lets get back to the point of the argument instead of bickering with each other. I respect all of you in this forum, we may disagree, that's just the way it goes.
 

Ron Siddall
Intermediate Member
Username: El_cid

Post Number: 450
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 03:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, you said the only difference between us and Europe was the gun thing. I seem to recall that another difference is the justice system. Here you are innocent until proven guilty. Over there my perception is that you are guilty and must prove your innocence.

Does anyone have any confirmation one way or the other on this?
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 4953
Registered: 03-2004
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 03:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

English law has innocent until proven guilty.
Napoleonic law is the opposite.

I somehow somewhere got the idea that Louisiana's law has Napoleonic influences.
 

Ron Siddall
Intermediate Member
Username: El_cid

Post Number: 453
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 05:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Interesting Dan. I know that while watching Eurpean cycling this year, any whiff of drug use or even association with a doctor who was accused of illegal performance enhancers got the rider a ban even without a positive test (Danalo Deluca). In this case, they were assumed guilty and had to prove their innocence. The courts seem to have upheld this type of policy too.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 7879
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 05:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

While the continental European justice system allows the accused many guarantees, some of which are not offered elsewhere, the specific presumption of inocence until proven guility is a legacy of the English system that has been preserved in North America. That doesn't mean that European defendents are presumed guilty, but there is a somewhat different burden of proof on the part of the defense.

There are also some differences in legal procedure in Louisiana that are holdovers from the French Napoleonic Code, but the presumption of innocence is specifically guaranteed there as it is everywhere in the US.

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