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Freedom has a Price

July 24, 2016

This is a truth many of us find uncomfortable. Oh, we’re often willing to speak of the price others have paid for our freedoms. We can speak of how much it cost those in the past for us to be free now. What we prefer to not dwell on is this: freedom not only has a price, it has a price that must be paid by every generation. When we fail to recognize the cost, when we say the price of being disturbed from our comfortable lives is to high, we are on the verge of losing the freedom we take for granted.

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” ~ Thomas Sowell

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.” ~ John Adams

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” ~ Desmond Tutu

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” ~ Thomas Charlton

“Responsibility is the price of freedom.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Each one of these quotes, some of which are debated as to authorship, has something important to say. The freedom we now enjoy, even with ongoing efforts to chip away ever more of it, has cost far too much for us to allow it to be taken away in response to mere rhetoric. We really do have an obligation to use well the liberty that has been handed down to us. Remaining vigilant and recognizing all the things, events and people who might take away or severely reduce our liberty is a price we must pay if we wish to remain free. Ultimately, we are, indeed, responsible  for our freedom – and its loss, if we abdicate that responsibility.

Of all the things that might go on sale, of all the things we might purchase at true wholesale prices, freedom is not one of them. Freedom, I submit, must always be purchased at full retail and the price is outrageously high – especially to those for whom freedom is an inheritance. Our failure as a nation to recognize freedom carries a high price tag, coupled with what seems to be an ever increasing reluctance to pay full retail has placed that freedom at great risk. I believe we are most likely to experience that reluctance when my freedom is going to come with a cost we must pay. It is one thing to have others pay the cost. We can thank and even cheer them for their sacrifice(s) in the name of freedom. It is an altogether different thing when each of us, individually, must feel the burden of freedom’s sometimes overwhelming cost, or when it must be paid by those we hold dear or are sworn to protect.

I found the following quote on Quora. It is from Paul Harding, a law enforcement officer. Sadly, my techno ignorance is such that I can’t provide a link to the source. I share it with you because it shows the personal cost of freedom in all its stark relief.

“I, personally, and on more than one occasion, have sat across a table from men who, I felt fairly certain, had raped young children. On more than one occasion, I have looked that man right in the eye and said, “You’re free to go.”

When I said he was “free to go,” I meant it. I didn’t do a single thing to interfere with him in any way after that. One or more of those men might be raping a child right now, as you read this.

Why haven’t I done anything to prevent those men from getting near other children? We, at least, have this whole “registered sex offender” thing in this country, right? Should I have put them on “a list?”

The reason I didn’t do anything other than say “You’re free to go” is because the foundational laws of our country don’t allow me to do anything else. I won’t lecture, this time, on the specific functions of each amendment and how they apply, but at that point, the Constitution prohibited me from interfering with that man’s liberty in any way.

I can interfere with people’s liberty when certain standards of proof are met.

Reasonable Suspicion: I can detain a person for a few minutes and do a minimally-invasive pat down for weapons.

Probable Cause: I can take a person to jail, do a more thorough search for weapons or contraband. A judge, within 48 hours, will review this case and check that, at least, my side of the story actually indicates probable cause. The judge MAY impose certain bail conditions, limiting the person’s liberties while he awaits trial, or the judge may order the person left in jail to await trial.
at no point in that process do I have the lawful “power” to interfere with a person’s liberty in any way without being able to prove probable cause, with the exception of a few minutes of detention under reasonable suspicion.

I couldn’t prove probable cause on that suspected child rapist, so I couldn’t interfere with his liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.

The FBI couldn’t prove probable cause on the Orlando shooter, so they couldn’t interfere with HIS liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.

That’s why he was able to go buy guns, and that’s why my suspected child molester may, right now, just be finishing up that child rape that he started when you were reading the beginning of this answer.

Individual Rights and liberty are extremely dangerous propositions. In this country, there are real-life victims of your rights to due process, your right to be free from the removals of your liberties every time someone likeme suspects you of being a child rapist.

Some people don’t like guns. That’s a political issue. I get it. Do you like kids though? Do you like NOT being published on the internet as a legally-registered child rapist when you’re innocent? The price of keeping you (and me) off of that list when we’re innocent is that cops can’t put people on that list until a court finds proof of guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. At the least, a court must find probable cause before even bail conditions can be imposed.

You’ve probably heard “price of freedom” so often you’ve learned to tune it out. That child rapist who, right about now, is cleaning himself off while warning that kid to never tell anyone what happened? The suffering of that poor kid IS the price of freedom.

You and I are enjoying the freedom from unreasonable intrusion upon our liberties every time a cop suspects us, and that poor kid is paying the price for it. Want to give up that freedom?

If any of those men I released did hurt another kid, I have to live with the fact that I could have stopped them. I couldn’t have stopped them legally. I didn’t have the evidence. I could have stopped them though. I could have designed a frame up on another charge. I could have just murdered them – become a one-man lynch mob. I didn’t do those things though. I obeyed the Constitution. If that kid is suffering now, he’s paying the biggest price, but wondering whether that is happening right now, I have to admit, is exacting a little price on me as well.

100 or so people shot in Orlando, countless lives destroyed,- That IS the price of freedom – your freedom and my freedom to not have our liberties restricted for more than a few minutes by a cop with no more than reasonable suspicion.

The people in Orlando, and their families, really did pay that price. We all risk paying that price every day . We all pay that price, to a lesser extent, every time we agonize over whether it would have been better to violate the principles of the Constitution. . . Just this one time.

It IS scary. It is terrifying when you think hard about it. That is why, in America, just before we say “Play Ball” we sing a song which reminds us that if you want to live in the Land of the Free, then you had better be sure you’re the Home of the Brave.

Free Speech for people who right about now are thinking this whole freedom thing is just too scary and should be done away with. . .

Yeah, those guys are scary too when people listen to them, but that IS the price of freedom.

We can’t understand the value of the liberties in the Bill of Rights until we understand the price we are paying for them.:


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