L. Neil Smith's
Number 336, September 11, 2005

"Freedom from Freedom Itself"

Twenty-Three Freedoms
by L. Neil Smith

Exclusive to TLE

If there's one thing conservatives, Republicans, the Bush Junior Administration, and Curious George himself talk about constantly these days, it's freedom. They speak endlessly of bringing freedom to the rest of the world, to Afghanistan, Iraq, possibly Iran, Syria, North Korea, and France—at gunpoint, if need be—whether folks in those countries want to trade their sovereignty for it (and their oil) or not.

Busheviks speak of freedoms that we Americans seem to enjoy almost uniquely on this otherwise benighted, squalid, and pestilence-ridden planet, freedoms that the rest of the world hates and resents us for so much that they're willing to steal gigantic aircraft from innocent, helpless, and very nearly bankrupt corporations, and smash them willy nilly into the grandest, most conspicuously shining symbols of Yankee mercantilism and the Aristocracy of Pull they can identify, murdering thousands of men, women, and children—and themselves—in the process.

Having something of a professional interest in the subject of freedom myself—each and every one of the two dozen books I've written so far is about very little else—I decided recently to find out exactly what freedoms our kindly and benevolent rulers are talking about.

Surprisingly, so far, I've come up with twenty-three.

The first, of course, is the freedom to agree enthusiastically with the Bush Administration's policies. After all, if you're not for them, you're against them, which can be a dangerous position to find yourself in. And there's a correlative freedom from having to voice any objection you may have to whatever the Bush Administration is doing.

That's two.

Now if you don't exercise those freedoms energetically enough -- if, say, you discover that, perhaps in a fugue state, you've fastened an anti-Bush poster to your dormitory bedroom wall, then you'll enjoy the freedom to be visited, interrogated, and threatened by none other than the original Waco Baby-killers themselves, the Federal Bureau of Intimidation.

You may also discover you now have the freedom not to travel anywhere you wish by airline. Naturally, you won't know for sure until you've bought your ticket and shown up at the airport, but simply say the word—or the right combination of words—and you'll suddenly find yourself free of 102 years of pesky and unwelcome transportation progress.

So much for all the Wright brothers' hard work, and that's four.

All of this stems originally from the freedom to vote for one of a pair of identical political candidates representing identical parties that everybody—especially the media—pretends there's an enormous and significant difference between. None of this would be possible, of course, without an almost uniquely American freedom from having to vote—or even from having your vote counted—for some third party candidate.

And that's six.

Of course you could never enjoy the freedom to lie awake at night worrying about having your door smashed in by masked, Kevlar-clad thugs carrying machineguns, if it weren't for the freedom to actually have your door smashed in by masked, Kevlar-clad thugs carrying machineguns.

That's eight.

None of this would mean anything without the freedom, created by the Lincoln Administration, to be kidnapped in the middle of the night and hustled to a secret prison so your family and your lawyer can't find you. To that, the Bush Administration has recently added the freedom to be arbitrarily declared an enemy alien (even if you were born and raised in America) and smuggled overseas where nobody will ever hear of you again. There you will enjoy the freedom to be sleep- deprived, beaten and tortured, exposed to bad weather, biting insects, snakes, and rats, sexually humiliated, and chained by your neck to the floor.

Which makes eleven.

What would all this mean without the freedom to have your home broken into and searched without your knowledge or consent? There's also the freedom to have your home and other assets stolen from you by government thugs so that you can't get "lawyered up", and the freedom to not get your property back even once you've proven yourself innocent.

And that's fourteen.

Never forget that you have the freedom to beg for government permission to assemble for a redress of grievances, or that in most states, now, we enjoy the freedom to apply for government permission to exercise our precious Second Amendment right to own and carry a firearm.


Somehow, this seems connected to the freedom to be stripped of certain of your "controversial" personal belongings if you ever manage to get on an airplane, items like nail clippers, multi-tools, pocket knives with inch-long blades, cigarette lighters, matches, none of which they'll attempt to return to their rightful owners, and all of which the airlines will accumulate by the ton and eventually auction off.


And how could we ever enjoy the freedom to be required to carry internal passports just like in the good old days of the Soviet Union—only we call them drivers' licenses—without the freedom to be fingerprinted, retinally photographed, DNA recorded, and issued government identification that would have the Nazis gape-mouthed with envy?


I almost forgot the freedom to worship as the Bush Administration wants you to, and a correlative freedom from unauthorized Brand-X religions like Islam or certain undesirable varieties of Seventh Day Adventism.


Probably most important of them all is the freedom to fork over half of what you earn to a combination of federal, state, county, and municipal governments whose sole reason for existing is to feed—at the involuntary expense of America's productive class—millions of parasites unwilling to work in the free market for an honest day's wages.


And finally, thanks to George—not to forget Bill, Hillary, and the George that came before, there is the twenty-third and ultimate freedom:

Freedom from freedom itself.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 24 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (w/Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" www.lneilsmith.org. Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is looking for a literary home.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May. A decensored and electronically published version of his 1984 novel, Tom Paine Maru is available online at http://payloadz.com/go/sip?id=137991. The stunning 185-page full-color graphic novel version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press www.bigheadpress.com has just won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at www.Amazon.com, or at billofrightsPress.com.


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