For which we stand: A Lexicon of Liberty
There always seems to be a compelling reason in the minds of
some to take away more of the basic freedoms and blessings of Liberty.
The history of recent decades has been a story of the continual erosion
of the personal Liberty and privacy of Americans. That erosion has been
so complete that few Americans now ever ponder or consider the meaning
of the word "Liberty". Those who have chipped away at Liberty have
always have seemed to have a reason for the destruction of one more
aspect of personal liberty and the further intrusion of government
control, regulation, and oversight in matters long considered to be
appropriate for personal choice and privacy: The war on drugs, the war
against terrorism, the war against crime, or a compelling crusade to
establish or maintain someone's notion of morality by government force:
But there are those of us who think that personal Liberty is a
moral value, too. In fact, our ancestors chose to put the word
“Liberty” on all American coins. They might have chosen “Decency” or
“Moral Order” or “Law and Order” or even “United We Stand”, but they
chose “Liberty”. That decision by our forebearers was made at the start
so all generations might remember - every day - that Liberty from the
reach of government power is the cornerstone of our American values.
The immigrants arriving by ship in New York harbor did not look up to
catch a glimpse of the Statue of Decency; They saw the Statue of
Liberty when they sailed into port - and if co-existing with some
perceived indecency was the price of breathing their own free air, it
was a choice they were generally delighted to elect because the price
of freedom includes tolerance of the freedom of others. . .
It was precisely to preserve the American way of life - and
its reverence for personal Liberty as a moral value - that inspired and
justified the call to brave young men in every generation to take arms,
to suffer, and sometimes to die. It is in this spirit that our Pledge
of Allegiance points to a flag with red stripes and identifies us as a
nation with Liberty for all - and why our national anthem asks each
generation whether that flag still flies over the Land of the Free: It
is why Lincoln, in dedicating the cemetery at Gettysburg which he said
was already consecrated by sacrifice, described our nation as conceived
in Liberty - and why Kennedy, during his inauguration, promised that
that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,
support any friend, and oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival
and the success of Liberty. Any generation that neglects its duty to
preserve and protect Liberty trivializes the blood shed by patriots on
faraway beaches and fields and deserts in its defense because, to
Americans, Liberty is a sacred value.
The winds we now feel from the approaching storm portend a
struggle broadly between tolerance and intolerance, between freedom and
control, between Liberty and repression. The battle we will wage - and
win - is not a narrow struggle merely about what is permissible in
porn, but rather about the range of the human soul to freely dream,
express, and receive. And in this struggle, we defend not only the
adult industry and its customers, but the Liberty of the American
People to make their own decisions about what they view, read, and
hear. Personal freedom and privacy need no excuse. As an advocate for
clients involved in the adult industry, I know that as I defend them,
it will be with both feet planted firmly in the traditions,
constitution, laws, and history of a free People. The narrow, fringe,
dogmatic zealotry of our opponents will be exposed for what it is. Come
what may, we shall together assure that the People who came to these
shores in the hope of freedom will remain free.
In an era increasingly hostile to the notion that Liberty is a
positive good in its own right that needs no excuse, it is fitting to
remind ourselves of what our political and societal forebears wished us
to understand about Liberty.
Proclaim Liberty in the
land for all its inhabitants. Lev. XXVI: 10
The idea of Liberty has
ultimately a religious root; that is why men find it so easy to die for
and so difficult to define. G. K. Chesterton: A Miscellany of
Give me Liberty or Give
me death! Patrick Henry
Eternal vigilance is the
price of Liberty. Wendell Phillips, 1852.
Liberty will not descend
to a people; a people must raise themselves to Liberty; it is a
blessing that must be earned before it can be enjoyed. Charles
We shall pay any price,
bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe,
to assure the survival and the success of Liberty. John F.
Kennedy, Inauguration Speech, 1961
I pledge allegiance to
the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which
it stands, One Nation, under God, with Liberty and Justice for All. Pledge
of Allegiance to the Flag.
Liberty is not a matter
of words, but a positive and important condition of society. Its
greatest safeguard after placing its foundations on a popular base, is
in the checks and balances imposed on the public servants, and all its
real friends ought to know that the most insidious attacks are made on
it by those who are the largest trustees of authority, in their efforts
to increase their power. James Fenimore Cooper: The American
Democrat. On Distinctive American Principles.
The liberties of our
country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending at
all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We
have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors:
they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure
and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will
bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation,
enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by
violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices
of false and designing men. Samuel Adams: Article, 1771.
The history of civilized
man is the history of the incessant conflict between Liberty and
authority. Charles T. Sprading, Introduction, Liberty and the
Liberty - not Communism -
is the most contagious force in the world. It will permeate the Iron
Curtain. It will eventually abide everywhere. For no people of any race
will long remain slaves. Our strength is in our diversity. Our power is
in freedom of thought and research. Earl Warren, Address,
Columbia University, 1954.
The only sure bulwark of
continuing Liberty is a government strong enough to protect the
interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough
informed to maintain its sovereign control over its government. Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, Fireside Chat, April 14, 1938
Liberty exists in
proportion to wholesome restraint; the more restraint on others to keep
off from us, the more liberty we have. Daniel Webster,
Speech, Charleston, S.C., May 10, 1847.
Live free or die. State
Motto of New Hampshire
Extremism in the defense
of Liberty is no vice. And let me remind you that moderation in the
pursuit of Justice is no virtue. Senator Barry Goldwater,
July 14, 1964
By Liberty I mean the
assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes
his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, customs,
and opinion. Lord Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity,
Liberty has never come
from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of
government. The history of Liberty is the history of resistance. . .
The history of Liberty is a history of the limitations of governmental
power, not the increase of it. . . When we resist . . . concentration
of power, we are resisting the powers of death, because concentration
of power is what always precedes the destruction of human liberties. Woodrow
Wilson, Address, New York Press Club, May 9, 1912.
The condition upon which
God hath given Liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if
he break, servitude, is at once the consequence of his crime and the
punishment of his guilt. John Philpot Curran, Speech upon the
Right of Election of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, July 10, 1790.
It behooves every man who
values Liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in
the case of others. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Dr. Rush,1803.
Freedom of thought and
freedom of speech in our great institutions of learning are absolutely
necessary for the preservation of our country. The moment that either
is restricted, Liberty begins to wither and die and the career of a
nation after that time is downwards. Illinois Governor John Peter
Altgeld: to George H. Shipley, September 25, 1897.
He who opposes the public
Liberty overthrows his own. William Lloyd Garrison, William Lloyd
Garrison: The History of His Life.
It is a common
observation here [Paris] that our cause is the cause of all mankind,
and that we are fighting for their Liberty in defending our own.
Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Samuel Cooper, 1777.
Experience should teach
us to be most on our guard to protect Liberty when the government's
purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to
repel invasion of their liberty by evil minded rulers. The greatest
dangers to Liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal,
well-meaning but without understanding. Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting,
Olmstead v. U.S. 277 US 438 (1928)
Men fight for Liberty and
win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip
away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.
D. H. Lawrence.
The true danger is, when
Liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts. Edmund Burke.
L'Arbe de la Liberte' par
le sang des tyrants. Bertrant Barere de Vienzac, Speech, National
The love of Liberty is
the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves. William
Hazlitt, Political Essays.
The people never give up
their liberties but under some delusion. Edmund Burke, Speech, 1784.
Liberty and good
government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons
why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher end. It
is itself the highest political end. Lord Acton, The History of Freedom
in Antiquity, 1877.
And ye were now turned,
and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his
neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is
called by my name. Jer. XXXIV:15