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State, national columnists

Freedom is not free

By From page A11 | March 09, 2014

There may be something to the claim that all people want to be free. But it is a demonstrable fact that freedom has been under attack, usually successfully, for thousands of years.

The Federal Communications Commission’s recent plan to have a “study” of how editorial decisions are made in the media, placing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices across the country, was one of the boldest assaults on freedom of the press. Fortunately, there was enough backlash to force the FCC to back off.

With all the sweeping powers available to government, displeasing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices could have brought on armies of “safety” inspectors from OSHA, audits from the Internal Revenue Service and many other harassments from many other government agencies.

Such tactics have become especially common in this administration, which has the morals of thugs and the agenda of totalitarians. They may not be consciously aiming at creating a totalitarian state, but shameless use of government power to crush those who get in their way can produce totalitarian end results.

The prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza for contributing $20,000 to a political candidate, supposedly in violation of the many campaign finance laws, is a classic case of selective prosecution.

Thugs who stationed themselves outside a polling place in Philadelphia to intimidate white voters were given a pass, and others accused of campaign finance violations were charged with misdemeanors, but D’Souza has been charged with felonies that carry penalties of years in federal prison.

All of this is over a campaign contribution that is chicken feed, compared to what can be raised inside of an hour at a political fundraising breakfast or lunch.

Could this singling out of D’Souza for prosecution have something to do with the fact that he made a documentary movie with devastating exposures of Barack Obama’s ideologies and policies? That movie, incidentally, is titled “2016: Obama’s America,” and every American should get a copy of it on a DVD. It will be the best $10 investment you are ever likely to make.

It doesn’t matter what rights you have under the Constitution of the United States, if the government can punish you for exercising those rights. It also doesn’t matter what limits the Constitution puts on government officials’ power, if they can exceed those limits without any adverse consequences.

In other words, the Constitution cannot protect you, if you don’t protect the Constitution with your votes against anyone who violates it. Those government officials who want more power are not going to stop unless they get stopped.

As long as millions of Americans vote on the basis of who gives them free stuff, look for their freedom – and all our freedom – to be eroded away, bit by bit. Our children and grandchildren may yet come to see the Constitution as just some quaint words from the past that people once took seriously.

The arrogance of arbitrary power is not confined to the federal government. An egregious case in Massachusetts involves a teenage girl from Connecticut named Justina Pelletier, who was being treated for a rare disease by doctors at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

When her parents brought this 15-year-old girl to an emergency room in Boston, the doctors there decided that her problem was not medical but psychological. When the parents objected, and sought to take her back to the doctors who had been treating her at Tufts University, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families charged the parents with “medical child abuse,” and were granted legal custody of the teenager.

Once given arbitrary power over Justina, the Department of Children and Families bureaucrats kept her all but isolated from her parents for more than a year. To add insult to injury, a judge issued a gag order, forbidding the parents from discussing the case publicly.

Only after Megyn Kelly on the Fox News Channel brought this case to national attention did the Massachusetts bureaucrats back off and turn the teenager’s medical care back to the doctors at Tufts University. Whether her parents will get to see their daughter freely again is still up in the air.

Arbitrary power is ugly and vicious, regardless of what pious rhetoric goes with it. Freedom is not free. You have to fight for it or lose it. But is our generation up to fighting for it?

Thomas Sowell is an author, economist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Thomas Sowell


Discussion | 11 comments

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  • Mike KirchubelMarch 09, 2014 - 12:48 am

    It costs a buck oh five, according to Team America.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 09, 2014 - 7:10 am

    The price for freedom is eternal vigilance Mr. Sowell. What a hypocritical obnoxious piece of crap this is! Where were you last week when the Conservative regime was way too close in allowing legal discrimination? You really should be ashamed and embarrassed for this trash-laden column.

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  • Mr. SmithMarch 09, 2014 - 7:36 am

    Once again, Sowell knocks it out of the park. The current administration has set the tone for its vast network of government minions, who now feel empowered to do just about anything they want to stifle the freedoms that most Americans hold dear.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 09, 2014 - 7:48 am

    Mr. Smith, what?! Freedoms Americans hold dear? I didn't see you standing up for Americans' freedoms last week. Oh yeah, it wasn't gun laws so no big deal right? Wow this is getting worse all the time.

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  • Salty DogMarch 09, 2014 - 8:41 am

    CD: when are you going the stand up for the freedoms of americans I do not see you standing up for the freedoms of Christians to not have to support a sinful life style that they do not agree with. but it is no big deal coming from you the atheist.

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  • The SugarJarMarch 09, 2014 - 9:05 am

    Perhaps those Christians who object to providing services for LGBT folks have the freedom to take a non service related job. Or open a non service related business.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 09, 2014 - 9:06 am

    Salty Dog, "freedom for Americans?" WHAT the hell do you think I've been doing? You clearly are incapable of thinking at all or you wouldn’t spout that silly ideological nonsense. You have NEVER answered anything I presented you with, what are you talking about? You disappear then come back with more childish regurgitated garbage and nothing to back it up. Where was your support for freedom when AZ was trying to make discrimination legal? You were hiding behind your god and justifying your argument by saying that alleged entity didn't create gay people. GROW UP kid, and STOP playing the poor abused god-lover. You ever been denied service or asked to leave because you’re a “Christian?” It doesn't matter who is or is not "different" or why, they are still entitled to their civil rights! And your contradictory hypocritical religious BS does not have a say in the matter. Come back after you graduate sixth grade.

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  • Salty DogMarch 09, 2014 - 8:17 am

    Mr Smith: Mike and CD do not want freedom they want to be told what to do and when to do it, that way they will not have to think for them selfs so they can continue to watch CNN and MSNBC and live in their utopian world where Papa Obama provides for them.

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  • Mike KirchubelMarch 09, 2014 - 10:15 am

    SD, i cannot speak for CD, he does a great job speaking for himself, but speaking for my self, if you think i parrot anybody else, please give me examples. I would like to read more of his/her works.

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  • Mr. PracticalMarch 09, 2014 - 4:13 pm

    Mike, it all honesty, most of what you've commented regarding Obamacare is pretty much verbatim Jay Carney and Obama. Everyone that accuses others of "parroting," (which my parrots take offense to btw...) whether it's from Fox News, the White House or whoever, is all crap and lacks credibility. There are only so many points of view. Obviously many people are going to share any one of them. I started watching Fox based on your recommendation. The news itself is truthful and is often not reported in other media. Sometimes the editorializing is not completely accurate, but neither are you and I.

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  • PornacMarch 09, 2014 - 10:38 am

    Corporations are people my friend. No Kenyans served here.

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