Limitations of a Freedom
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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
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 by Laramie Boyd
        We need to keep in mind that the only freedoms the citizens of America have are the ones the government gives us. We have also learned that they giveth and they taketh away. And often neither our elected representatives nor the courts are sure how and why the "inalienable rights" usually work or when they might need to be brought "up to date" or redefined.
        Just recently, Janet Hasson, publisher of the Journal News, placed an article in her paper that included the names and addresses of all the gun permit holders in some New York cities, and a map of their locations. This was clearly a response to the Newtown, Connecticut devastating school attack and a call for tighter gun controls, with questionable legal authority. In response, Christopher Fountain, a lawyer, posted a blog containing the addresses and phone numbers of the Journal News staff, clearly a response to the Hasson posting. It was tit for tat. A lot of people feel that neither of these responses were called for, let alone justified by the 2nd Amendment.
        Superior Court justice Louis Brandeis once talked about transparency in government when he said "If the broad light of day could be let in upon men's actions, it would purify them as the Sun disinfects." Brandeis championed more access to health, legislative, and government data. The Hasson-Fountain volley seemed to miss the point of the judge's proclamation as there certainly was no purification in the actions of the publisher and lawyer. Isn't it lawyers that come to the defense of newspapers when legal issues come up against the news media?
        Internet reaction to the privacy issue was swift and to the point. One blogger asked, "Was this an example of enlightened civic dialogue, or fierce partisanship involving possible public endangerment?" The postings were both obviously intentional provocation. Another said "Transparency lends itself to a tool of democracy and a partisan weapon."
        Should names and addresses of people on public assistance be posted so we know where some of our tax dollars are going? Would this be another example of invasion of privacy? Publishers and the media have been known to give out information, in the guise of the public's right to know, that has ruined lives. Most people feel that the media should report the news, not create it. Too often they seem to be searching for ways to keep a story going just to increase circulation. The media loves disasters. "Listen to the glee in their voices when they report on fires, floods, killings, and wars", one blogger wrote.
        "If someone knows you have an expensive coin collection, should their name and address be posted as public information?" And "If known gun owners are listed, couldn't thieves simply avoid these homes and target the gun-free homes with no fear of being shot at?"
        Arguments are always included that guns kill, people don't. Alcohol kills. Drugs kill. Cars kill. Cain killed Abel and didn't use a gun. Should all devices that are potential killers be outlawed? Should people with a mental illness be included in postings? Surely the Newtown killer was psychologically unbalanced, as were others who were responsible for recent mass murders. If the names of potentially dangerous people were made public, what might have been avoided, and how?
        But every gun owner is not a potential killer, even though one blogger proposed that statistically a gun owner is more likely to kill himself or someone else. "And the NRA", one anti-gun citizen suggested, "is in the business of killing, to end life in some form." A final thought on the subject: humans are the only animals who destroy their own habitat. It doesn't appear too likely that the gun-ownership controversy will go away soon. And we will all suffer for it, both pro- and anti-gun zealots. Can't someone rise up and find a workable solution that is not tainted with political rhetoric and self interest? We need someone like that soon.