A day after the Las Vegas massacre, Slate tweeted out a scathing story about how conservative media was covering the incident, characterizing that coverage as such:
Today in conservative media: I'd rather be free than safe. https://t.co/AsyA1C2iqT pic.twitter.com/e4aQW4yEqU
— Slate (@Slate) October 4, 2017
It made me sad (and quite mad) to think that there are people in this country who consider themselves intellectuals yet don’t have even the slightest hesitation at scoffing at the idea that in this world, freedom isn’t something that gets handed out like condoms at a Chelsea Handler show.
It’s a cliché, but freedom isn’t free. When people living in countries like Canada or Norway criticize our second amendment and how it impacts mass shootings, they neglect to recognize that this is a huge country. There are 325 million people (probably more) living within the borders of this great nation.
With so many people living, working and playing side-by-side every day, the social compact we all agree to is that in order to live freely and prosperously we must all be free to make the right choices. In order to be free to make the right choices, we must also be free to make the wrong choices.
Tragically – infuriatingly – sometimes those wrong choices are very, very wrong.
We all have the right to freely move about our neighborhoods, our towns, our country. Some people make the choice to do all that movement while they’re intoxicated and sometimes they end up hurting innocent people.
We all have the right to produce children. Some people take that freedom and choose to have kids while they’re addicted to crack, jobless or in an abusive relationship.
We all have the right to say what we want. Some people choose to say awful things that are very hurtful to the feelings of other people.
As Americans we all make a tacit agreement to do our best to honor the laws that have been set before us. Some people choose to break those laws with unjust and disastrous consequences.
Does this freedom of choice negate the anguish we feel when one of our own chooses evil and depravity?
It’s cold comfort to anyone who’s ever lost someone at the hands of someone else’s selfish decision.
This does not erase the difficult truth of what it means to be free.
In a place like North Korea, we may not hear much of mass shootings at country music concerts, but the North Korean people aren’t free to enjoy country music concerts or travel or prosperity. They sacrifice freedom for “safety”. The cost of that safety was to relinquish control of everything to one entity that in turn uses that power to deny the basic human rights of its citizens. This is the natural end result when the people allow their government to prioritize safety over freedom.
Have my colleagues on the left forgotten about the cringe-worthy Patriot Act so soon?
It is times like these when we all bear witness together to the excruciating cost of freedom. Some people willingly lay their lives on the line for that freedom. Others become undeserving victims of the evil that necessarily comes to rest at the feet of Lady Liberty all too often.
It isn’t absurd to choose freedom over safety. The Founding Fathers made that very choice at the risk of their own lives. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr….each of these great Americans chose freedom over safety and thank God they did.
That any person could find such a decision offensive indicates just how cushy life in America has become for too many people. We’ve come so far from the days when ordinary Americans laid down their lives just to sit at a lunch counter and enjoy a meal unmolested. Younger generations have completely lost touch with the intrinsic value – and risk – of a culture of freedom.
This week, the cost of this American life has been unspeakable. It is almost too much to bear.
The solution to such an egregious and sickening abuse of freedom is not to restrict the liberties of Americans. In fact, to do so would be a slap in the face to anyone who has made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of this grand, God-given experiment we call the United States of America.
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