Abuse of Liberty

Abuse of Liberty

The United States of America was founded with the idea that people should be guaranteed a broad range of liberties that had not been seen before. The right to free speech, the right of worship, the right to bear arms, the right to a fair and timely trial - all of these and more are considered to be intrinsic rights that a person is born with. These rights are not given by the Constitution, they are recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution, which the government is obliged to follow.

But not everybody uses their freedom responsibly. Much as somebody can decide to drive recklessly, somebody can use their freedoms recklessly. Consider Alex Jones, the face of Infowars and unrestrained paranoia. Claiming that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged and that grieving parents were paid shills, families already shattered by the needless slaughter of their child found themselves besieged by his listeners. He was recently banned from most social media sites; claiming that his banning was a violation of his free speech, Alex Jones is adamant to continue on his legacy of ensuring American freedom from globalists. Which is odd, considering his lawyer claimed that his unhinged red-faced ranting was a character and Alex Jones is actually a performance artist. Alex Jones serves as the poster-boy for abusing freedom of speech.

The right to worship is paramount in importance because the government must not compel the people to think a certain way. Unfortunately, some ambitiously greedy individuals figured out that people are susceptible to conversion when going through periods of difficulty, and convinced these people to give them money in return for spiritual comfort. Scientology’s excesses are well-documented, but Christianity is not immune from this. Protestant megachurches have popped up across middle America, and spiritual snake-oil salesmen such as Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland have defended their private jets and mansions as expressions of God’s favor and majesty.

The right to bear arms is a necessary facet of dissuading a government from becoming tyrannical; unfortunately for the United States, firearms are also being used recklessly by law-abiding citizens and criminals alike. Parents that neglect to keep unattended firearms away from children cause unspeakable consequences while enterprising merchants of death purchase firearms in Wisconsin (which has loose gun laws) and smuggle them into Chicago (which has strict gun laws) and sell to the violence-prone.

The right to a fair and speedy trial is a way to prevent the government from detaining someone for a lengthy period of time without bringing charges. But this does nothing to stop the wealthy from taking advantage of the court system - President Donald Trump, in his less complicated years as a real estate mogul, used the threat of a lawsuit to browbeat contractors that he stiffed for the simple fact that he can hire a lawyer much longer than the stiffed contractor can. Wealth also affords a defendant a better lawyer; lack of access to this is why over 90% of those in jail are there from a plea bargain. It also doesn’t take into account administrative failures, such as when Chicago police failed to show up to 11,000 court cases, keeping the accused in jail without trial for far longer than necessary. Another example would be the nightmare of Jerry Hartfield, who spent 35 years in prison without being brought to trial.

Despite these abuses, the basis for each of these freedoms remains unchanged. We still need freedom of speech to ensure a democracy; we still need the right of worship to ensure individuality; we still need the right to arms to avoid a monopoly on power; we still need the right to a fair trial to give everyone access to justice. We should strive to reaffirm these freedoms while doing what we can to mitigate the damage that the careless, stupid or sociopathic may inflict on us.

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