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Old 09-09-2005, 05:06 AM   #1
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This was prompted by Angela Harlem's comment that she believes Australia to be freer and more citizen friendly than US.
It started me thinking as to how much American freedom is myth and how much of it is practical day to day reality. It appears we have some of the strongest freedom-protecting laws in the world, but are we deluding ourselves that we practice any greater freedom?

Seems to me a fair generalization is that the more affluent you are, the more access to truthful information you have, and the more you exercise your freedoms, the freer you are, but that is not meant to be part of this discussion. Just wanted to get it out of the way.

Having not lived in other countries, but having visited several, I just wanted some opinions from people who have actually experienced the difference between countries.

1. Other than looser libel laws, is American press any freer than
any other "western" country? I love to read other country's papers and do not see any lack of government criticism there.
They are as mouthy as we are. And since many American newspapers and media practice self-censorship for varying reasons, do we actually benefit from a free press as much as we
think we do?

2. We do not have serious hate speech legislation as of yet, so perhaps, the ugliest practices of our free speech are more protected. What countries do have hate speech legislation?

3. When the key criteria for mainstream freedom of artistic and other expression is the bottom line (which leads to remakes of other films, music, etc. and reality TV), does it really matter that we have freedom to express when it is so underappreciated?

4. Do we have more freedom of movement than other countries?
Do we have more freedom to move from one social class or
economic class to another? Are our lives more private than
other countries?

5. Have we become so complacent about our freedom that we no longer appreciate it or use it, just brag about it? Is censorship for reasons of economics or fear of being controversial much different than legal censorship? Sometimes I find it so ironic that some of the freest expression comes out of the underground of the most repressed socieites. Maybe that is the way it works.

These are just a few issues to hopefully start a discussion. I wanted to keep out of other areas that might disintegrate, but I am curious about the reality of all of this.

Do Americans believe we are in actuality a free country and do other countries believe this?

Is freedom the legislation that protects it or is it the quality of the day to day practice of it? How valuable is it really? How much do we value it?

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Old 09-09-2005, 07:46 AM   #2
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We don't have as much free speech (see the case of the two Danny's ~ I refuse to be lectured about how Howard is robbing Australians of free speech by people who also advocate these religious vilification laws; religion is about ideas, it is not genetic, it is not race ~ people can conduct discussions with some maturity and not need the threat of legal costs or gaol), the OFLC bans video games and movies from being released like crazy (see GTA, Postal, Baise-moi, Ken Park and almost Mysterious Skin), illegality of certain drugs, the ACCC? (heres a question for you; a body that regulates and scrutinises business denying corporate freedom of action to enable a more competitive marketplace; freedom for consumers versus freedom for business ~ is that free?).

As far as the country goes I think that it is freerer in some ways, less so in others. Many people refuse to consider some aspects like the ability to own a gun to be an issue of freedom often on the basis of personal aversion and the fact that when you have guns floating about people inevitablely get killed. There is also the case of taxation and the effect that that has on the freedom of the individual.

Most people do not value the idea of liberty or freedom because they take it as a given and take no time to consider what they do in their lives and how it is related to, enabled or prevented by legal protections/obstacles or government interference. We generally live in pretty free societies ~ most talk about the lack of freedoms here is quibbling over things that are relatively speaking nothing at all ~ which is not to say that they are always unfounded, just that too often there is no sense of scale.

In a conversation recently my friend refused to consider either drug use to be alright or things that should be allowed in a free society on the basis that detrimental actions on oneself effects society. My response was more or less the primacy of the individual over the rest (not in one of the hardline objectivist sort of ways ~ I think that a productive society can exist in a state of maximised individual freedom).

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Old 09-28-2005, 08:43 AM   #3
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There's a NYTimes sitting in jail for an article she didn't write. And the official that leaked a CIA agent's name to a syndicated columnist is not in jail, nor is said columnist - and he actually wrote an article outting the CIA agent. Not sure how Freedom fits in there.
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Old 09-28-2005, 08:57 AM   #4
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I think the main problem with freedom in the US is our justice system. It works for some but not for everyone. It all depends on how much you can pay for a lawyer. Politics also play a big role in our justice system and I think that adds to the problems.
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Old 09-28-2005, 09:25 AM   #5
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A_Wanderer....I know it's not a freedom issue but how is housing in Australia and medical care. In America's a new condo on every inch of available coastline and medical care / costs are space shuttle bound.

Just curious as I have concerns which plague me about America's future and where it's headed...

thanks for any comments you may have

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