Those of us in the United States consider it one of our most cherished rights. Freedom is something worth defending, something worth fighting for. Freedom is worth the ultimate sacrifice we can make.
In short, freedom is the ability to exercise free will to make choices and/or engage in behavior without duress or coercion. We recognize, however, that there should be some limits on freedom, namely that our right to free will doesn’t extend as far as hurting someone else or depriving them of their rights.
For example, my right to design, build and own cages doesn’t extend as far as locking another person in a cage without their consent.
I also can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater. My right to free speech is trumped by the possible injury and danger to others. (Thankfully, though, it is still acceptable to yell “movie” in a crowded firehouse.)
Freedom is a great thing and I truly love and embrace the concept. On the other hand, freedom can sometimes be downright fugly.
For one thing, freedom means that if someone doesn’t like you, they can go on the internet (perhaps the orgiastic marketplace of ideas known as Craig’s List) and say some downright nasty things about you. Oh sweet delicious freedom! By the way, if you are ever curious about how truly vile and contemptible and just plain insane humans can get, go to Craig’s List sometime and check out the “Rants and Raves” section. Good clean fun to be sure! It will curl your hair! Speaking of people who should be in cages…
Or how about another quite popular expression of freedom? The smoking of cigarettes. Thank God for freedom, eh? As a non-smoker, what are the myriad of ways that this particular freedom enjoyed so much by others directly impacts me on a daily basis?
I wake up in the morning and find cigarette butts on my driveway. My wife and I don’t smoke. Where could this human flotsam possibly be coming from? I’m assured that my aunt and son (both smokers) aren’t responsible. If that’s true, then the answer must be that passerby using the sidewalk in front of our house like to fling their butts up my driveway. I guess I should be grateful they don’t like to smoke poop.
I drive to work, open the car door, and put my feet on the ground. I’m standing on more cigarette butts.
We go to a county park for a picnic. We set up our Coleman chairs to eat and enjoy some nature and watch wildlife in the river. Near our feet are a plethora of cigarette butts. We walk down to the river’s edge and find a fire pit. It’s full of butts. Incidentally, we paid our day use fee to use this park. We couldn’t use the garbage can, though, because it was overflowing. I took a peek and saw four Hungry Man microwave dinner boxes and a giant box of white rice. Methinks someone had a weird picnic or one of the locals is using the park’s garbage can rather than paying for their own garbage. That’s the way people roll around here.)
Anyway, when it comes to cigarette butts, I think might be starting to get the picture. They are ubiquitous and found everywhere I go starting with my very own driveway. There is nothing quite like stepping out of your own front door and being impacted negatively by your fellow man within five seconds. Just by setting foot outside of my door – and while still on my own property – my freedom and pursuit of happiness is seriously impacted. I’m curious – which one of the founding fathers is going to materialize and stick up for me?
I can’t walk into and out of my own home, a grocery store, restaurant, place of business, or even drive my car down the main street in my home town without being assaulted by the smell of everyone else enjoying their own freedom. Cigarette smoke is everywhere. And even in areas where smoking is not allowed these days, like restaurants, elevators, and the workplace, I still get physically assaulted by the odor of smoking that clings to certain people. It’s like having an ashtray rubbed in your face. (I’ve read some new studies that say second-hand stench may be dangerous just like second-hand smoking. The way some jackasses smell may go beyond mere offense. It might just be physically injurious to those around them.) Freedom!
I want to close out this post by telling two quick stories both relating to my freedom.
- I bought a 1,000 sq. ft. house setting on one-fifth of an acre. It actually had a very nice sized backyard. (It seems huge compared to my current lot which is a 5,000 sq. ft. postage stamp. That means you could fit almost nine of my current lots into my old lot. I call this sort of thing Santa Claus development because he could easily leap from rooftop to rooftop.) Ah, home ownership! Living the dream! What could be more uniquely American than that? I then went out to sit on my own patio in my own home and enjoy my own backyard. What do you think happened next? Yep. The neighbor’s lung waste toxins floated over and impacted me enjoying my own patio. Freedom!
- I may have mentioned before (ha!) that my new home is about 10 feet away from my neighbor’s house, who just happen to be the super-special jackasses of our neighborhood. They are constantly in front of their house smoking their guts out. As far as I can tell, next to parties and ignoring their kids, it is their favorite thing to do. Naturally all of that smell comes to our property to hang out. Our air conditioner recently broke so I opened the sliding glass door in the dining room and the window in my office to get a nice cross-breeze going. Can you guess what’s coming? Yep! The neighbor’s lung waste toxins fly right into my window like moths to a flame and those toxins physically attack me. My wife says if we keep that window open my office is going to smell like a Las Vegas casino. Freedom!
What is it about smoking that demands it is a “right” that has to travel most everywhere smokers go? I have the right to have sex in my bedroom, but that right doesn’t automatically extend to everywhere I go. I can’t legally get jiggy with it on the sidewalk or city-owned parking lots. Why does smoking have more rights than sex? Again, I can pee all I want in my own bathroom. But I can’t legally mark my territory everywhere I go, like on the sidewalk, in an alley, at the park, or on a beach. Why does a bodily function have less rights than smoking? What makes smoking the most special activity of all time? And even if kept to personal property, as I’ve clearly shown, it can still impact the mother fucking shit out of other people. Will this ever end?
I’m on the wrong planet. There was some major fuck up in Galactic Baby Assignment. I should have been sent to a planet where idiots don’t blow up their own lungs and shrapnel everyone around them with collateral black tar damage.
Where do I go to request a planetary transfer? I wish to immigrate.