Prime example: Flag-desecration… An incredibly potent symbolic process involving the destruction of inanimate matter into another form of heaping inanimate matter… highly charged, “heated” topic, if you will, because of the belief in the meaning behind the flag… and yes, incidentally belief in meaning has a lot of power.
And the argument goes: “Why desecrate the flag of a country that allows you to exercise freedom of speech? The very act of desecrating the American flag is itself a display of freedom of speech — and therefore you should value this American right, and not burn the flag!”
The problem with this argument, aside from the obvious hypocrisy in saying shut the fuck up if you value freedom of speech, is that freedom of speech [in fact, any freedom] is not, and cannot be, owned. America does not own the rights to “freedom of speech.” No one can. Freedom, by default, by definition, by absolute necessity, is free. In the same sense that, er, truth is true. Or chocolate is chocolaty. Freedom cannot be chained, owned, bound, or it isn’t free. By nature. If you are of the party that the word “freedom” isn’t meaningless, nonsensical, purely propagandistic jargon… if you are of the party that “freedom” isn’t a word owned by the government or the insane… if you are of the party that there is a such thing as oh, I don’t know, a human capable of not utterly tyrannizing and persecuting their fellow man, violating their freedoms… then you are of the party that freedom can exist. And, if freedom can exist, then… Freedom. Has. Meaning. Freedom is free. And that is precisely why, for example, sociopaths are culpable for raping and/or torturing and/or killing others; because they don’t have to be evil, because they have free will. And same goes for the government. For if you say “freedom can’t exist because the government has total control,” you a) deny the fact the that the government is perfectly free to stop being tyrannical but merely refuses to, you thereby b) deny the accountability of the government for not ceasing said tyranny and you c) submit in the face of perceived futility. A beautifully toxic combination. How can you strive for freedom if you deny its existence? So, for god’s sake, don’t utterly submit to being a slave to a corrupt, morally bankrupt [yet fiscally flourishing], sociopathic corporatocracy. The worst tyranny is the voluntary surrender of freedom.
“Freedom isn’t free.” … To that I say, and “you obviously aren’t you, your sanity is actually insanity, and your words aren’t words.” No freedom is free, but it is also highly valuable; and that is where the confusion is derived.
So if freedom is… itself, and therefore cannot be owned–we reach the crux of the argument, therein exposing the inanity and stupidity of the censorship of flag-desecration. To defend freedom of speech by saying it is some sort of gilded American sanctity, and that those who are not American, who are un-American, or who oppose America, are somehow undeserving of freedom of speech… is absolute hypocritical, mindless, narcissistic, destructive, and above all dangerously contagious idiocy. Simply because America pioneered [albeit imperfectly] valuing this freedom, does not justify its revoking this very same freedom. If a country for the first time in human history eliminated all of its citizens’ rape and murder, it would not in any fucking logical way follow that this country should then instate laws that punish the unpatriotic with rape and murder. That makes as much sense as saying Elvis was such a good singer, he might as well rip out his vocal chords. …It doesn’t make sense.
Freedom is not a limited, quantifiable commodity; it is not a commodity at all; it cannot be owned. The American government does not hold a monopoly on freedom of speech; we are not more deserving of this freedom of speech that those outside of this country, nor are some Americans more deserving of this freedom than others. Those in countries where they have been stripped of freedom are not less deserving of freedom. That is utterly backwards. Those speaking out against a power-tripping, exploitative, tyrannical American government [perhaps by desecrating a flag] are not less deserving of freedom. That is utterly backwards.
And in the end, any right, any freedom, exists… Not as a fabricated, overly idealistic, bed-time story fed to the naive, innocent, and gullible to spare them of the harsh reality of absolute futility and surrender. Nor as a bastardized version of itself, the propagandistic lies using terms that sound appealing [hope... change...] but that have no bearing on the actual intention of the speaker. Nor, does it exist arbitrarily, divinely ordained with incomprehensible reason that only the priest can decipher. No, any right, and freedom, exists because functionally, in reality, it has been proven to work. Because it has been proven to be desirable and beneficial to the human psyche. Any freedom, right, exists because it is the “should be” that can be, has been.
Some say that because freedom hasn’t been perfectly achieved, it is merely an idea that humans, in their folly, have fallen in love with, but will never have. By that same token you could say tyranny doesn’t exist at all because not every human in existence has experienced it. Both are bullshit.
In the end, human rights are inalienable, but they can be violated, which is why they need to be defended in the first place. They are real, but not tangible, and not confined to a country. They are limitless, they are free, and yet, they are attainable. That is the delicate balance.
And America not only does not own these rights, it falls very short of exemplifying them.