Friday, November 10, 2017

Respecting those who have died for our freedoms

Freedom has various axioms associated to it such as “Freedom isn’t free.” There are costs both financially and in lives which have gone unnoticed.

Often it seems that we take our freedoms for granted. Just asking a citizen to recite the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution can elicit a befuddled response. A survey, conducted in August by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) and released on 12 September 2017 showed that 37 percent of Americans could not name any of the five rights protected by First Amendment, and only 48 percent named freedom of speech. Shoot for the other four yourself before looking down.

Well here are the explicit ones, succinctly;
Petition Government

The first freedom is enjoyed by everyone at all times. It could be through gassing up the vehicle and heading to a place of worship, viewing a religious representative presenting an oratory through television broadcast, or it could be doing an online search and finding material about a religious text. Additionally, and the crux of the right, is that it includes not being compelled to participate in religion through government intervention such as displays on government property or compulsory indoctrination in schools.

At this moment you are likely online engaging in that second freedom. You are reading my thoughts on a subject which I have expressed over this electronic medium which you may share with someone. Likewise, you are free to respond or post your thoughts without limitation imposed by government. You are free to express your thoughts, supposedly, without government retaliation or prohibition. If you care to engage in a little condemnation of government officials you can test whether the right actually extends to that activity.

The third freedom is one which you are exercising at this moment. Whether it be an online blog posting, a television news broadcast, a printed newspaper or printed magazine the government may not restrict the thought content transmitted through these mediums. That is not to say that the White House won’t withdraw press credentials from anyone who doesn’t tow the line.

The fourth freedom is becoming less embraced as cynicism about the governing process and citizen input waxes. Through our constitution, government emanates from the people and is instituted to protect the rights of the people. Those still inclined to express their concerns and seek redress of their grievances may send emails, sign petitions online, call their representatives, or actually attend and speak at a public forum. They may do so individually or en mass.

This brings me to the fifth right. The freedom to peacefully assemble. The progenesis of this right was the actions of government troops in disrupting meetings of people engaged in discussing thoughts of opposition to government action. Thus, under this right, the government is prevented from disrupting assemblages of people not posing a threat to public order. Interestingly, some people rioting after a sporting event have proposed that police violated this right by dispersing these crowds or arresting instigators as though they were in parity to a group of people meeting in a library conference room to discuss a proposed local ordinance. Of importance here is the specific provision of “peacefully” assembling.

As I read the text of the First Amendment I didn’t see the sixth freedom I had listed in my outline. It is the freedom to associate. This is a right that has been ferreted from the amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court which found an implicit right of private membership in organizations or gathering with others to pursue protected interest. This is the right that would prohibit any government agent from questioning, harassing, or dispersing citizens gathered based upon a mutual association such as an affinity for Communism. Thus, any elected official or government employee who violates this right is clearly an anti-American fascist who opposes constitutional liberties for individuals.

The Bill of Rights contains other rights which are generally subordinate to those in the First Amendment or are procedural. The right to bear arms and the prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure are among them.

Our rights are continually subject to challenge and it is the vigilance and dedication of individuals and organizations, both private and governmental, that seek to maintain the security of these rights.

Imagine if you will that the continental United States was impacted by an electromagnetic pulse [EMP]. An EMP can effectively shut down our electrical grid which traverses the US and Canada. The Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat of Electromagnetic Pulse to the United States of America was investigating means to protect the grid from an EMP but was shut down on 30 September of this year.

Thinking back to our First Amendment rights, consider which of these you engage in without the use of electricity. Have you travelled by vehicle to a place of worship or a protest? The pump dispensing fuel into your vehicle used electricity. Did you engage in speech over the internet or a wireless phone? Both use electricity in their respective grids. Did you read something on a lit screen or on printed paper produced using an electrically powered printer?

EMPs aside, a more common assault to the electrical grid comes from natural disasters such as storms, landslides/earthquakes, trees, and high demand. Some of the threats to the delivery of electricity on a more localized level are, again, high demand, vehicles colliding with line poles, excavation, and normal decay.

Whether your electrical supply was interrupted by a local storm or a hurricane taking out power generation stations far away there is an army of line workers who respond immediately to restore the integrity of the grid and power to you. Like other emergency responders, these workers are deployed within minutes of awakening from sleep and they will work extended hours until the job is complete.

In a typical year 30-50 per 100,000 of these workers will die while trying to supply electricity to you which affords you the convenience and opportunity to enjoy your First Amendment rights. This is more than twice the rate for police and fire workers. They do so without calls to be labeled heroes, they don’t ask for special recognition such as a holiday, and they don’t elevate themselves to a worshipped class. Bagpipes don’t play at their funerals, media representatives typically don’t cover them, flags aren’t lowered, and public officials don’t deliver prepared speeches.

These are dedicated workers who are being productive, are not sponging off the taxpayer for doing so. They deliver to us the ability to engage in our rights without raping women, killing children, or destroying the infrastructure on which other people rely upon for their basic needs. The provide the means by which hospitals keep life supporting equipment operating, food from spoiling, and heat to homes. In short, they not only protect liberty but protect life.

Today should be a day in which you contemplate how electricity facilitates your freedoms. Likewise you should consider and appreciate the work performed by electrical line workers, especially those who have given their lives in service to you and protected your freedoms.

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