Those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~Benjamin Franklin
I don't really know much about Benjamin Franklin, but apparently this quote is out of context; it was one statement in a letter to a colleague that some people have descended upon to make their own (saw it posted on Twitter). I take issue with the way it's been used and/or misunderstood. If you give up freedom for security, you don't deserve freedom or security. This is simplistic and, I believe, short-sighted. Also, I don't appreciate when people make proclamation of what others "deserve".
[the paragraph below has been struck-through because I was mistaken about a lot of things regarding Franklin, but his many and varied accomplishments, and his character, are actually not relevant to the quote since it IS out of context and my issue is not with Franklin, but with a misinterpretation of what he meant... I kept it so others reading this blog would understand some of the comments below]
First of all, I heard Benjamin Franklin was kind of an asshole, and this seems like the kind of thing an asshole would say (Founding Father or not). I don't really care who made this statement because I think it's incorrect, and I don't have blind reverence for anyone (especially when they rip off people like Nikola Tesla)*. He seems to be one of those people who was credited for more than they deserve, like Christopher Columbus (who was also an asshole). My point is: I don't care who said this, it's patently absurd.
The last 24 hours has been a testament to the fact that giving up some freedom in order to "obtain a little temporary safety" is completely necessary, reasonable, and good. People weren't allowed to leave their homes; they were not free to roam their city because they might have been caught in the crossfire, gotten in the way, or been taken hostage... among other awful scenarios. But everyone happily gave up freedom, temporarily, so those trained to handle this precarious situation could do their job unimpeded and prevent the loss of more life. To say they didn't "deserve" safety because they gave up freedom is just nonsense. It's laughable... and smacks of Tea Party rhetoric at its worst. Ben would've fit in nice with those assholes. Like attracts like.
To top all of that off, we constantly talk about FREEDOM ('merica!!) as if it's something we can actually attain. What does it mean to be free? Well, most think it's the ability to do whatever one wants to do. But we're not free to do whatever we want, nor should we be. Criminals are criminals because we've made laws to prevent people from doing certain things like murdering each other, stealing, raping children, polluting the environment, driving drunk, etc. There are things we shouldn't do, and will be prevented from doing, if it's harmful to others and the planet. We've all collectively decided it's better to restrain people from doing whatever they want because we all feel entitled to a measure of safety. Restricting freedom is NECESSARY to security.
Does this mean I agree we should have our phones tapped or voices silenced? NO. Does this mean I'm okay with the government getting involved in my personal life, and making choices for me it has no business making? NO. We should be free to do whatever we want AS LONG AS IT HARMS NO ONE ELSE. We should be responsible for our actions.
Basically, I think the general American idea of Freedom is flawed, and an illusion. And the quote above is the nonsense confusing people about what it means to be safe AND enjoy a measure of freedom.