Murphy\’s Bye-Laws

Law #4: Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it. –H.D. Thoreau

A Free Person Has No Privileges

Posted by PintofStout on October 26, 2007

Here in this country, which is supposed to be “free” and “of the people,” the police are allowed to set up checkpoints under the guise that they are keeping us safe from drunk drivers. What they are really protecting us from is more akin to outdated paperwork, uneventful evenings, and timely arrivals. As Jim Bovard points out in his article Drunk Driving Checkpoints: Every Driver Guilty, “These checkpoints, supposedly started to target drunk drivers, have expanded to give police more intrusive power over citizens in many areas.” A report of results from checkpoints in November of 2005 in Pittsburgh confirms that about 650% more citations were issued for vehicle inspections than for DUI. Confirming what Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said in a dissent of a checkpoint case brought on 4th Amendment grounds (also from Bovard’s article), “The evidence in this case indicates that sobriety check points result in the arrest of a fraction of one percent of the drivers who are stopped, but there is absolutely no evidence that this figure represents an increase over the number of arrests that would have been made by using the same law enforcement resources in conventional patrols,” the Pittsburgh checkpoint made 13 arrests for DUI while 14 were made from normal patrols.

Pittsburgh is at it again with “[t]he region’s largest DUI checkpoint” to be set up on a “major highway” in the area sometime between now and November 5 (from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In the midst of this article is a core justification for such police-state tactics in the course of “keeping the peace.*” Cathy Tress of the Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence Association has this to share, “Driving in Pennsylvania is a privilege, not a right. Consequently, drivers have a responsibility to themselves, their passengers and other people who are sharing the road.” But free people have no privileges, I say.

Privilege is something that is granted by some superior or controlling entity. Kids are given privileges by their parents. Slaves are given privileges by their masters. Free people have no superiors to grant such privileges; a free person has only rights restricted by the equal rights of those around them. By implying that driving is a privilege, Ms. Tress is implying that there is some controlling entity granting that privilege, presumably the State. Of course, words mean nothing, especially when spoken by governments.

If this country was what we are told it is, then the only privilege-granting entities would be the mythical “People,” granting privilege to government officials. Through verbal jujitsu the government has turned this around. But words mean nothing, and if we purport to be free, we can’t be granted privileges. Instead, we exercise rights.

In a similar vein, like the one that popped out of my head when I saw Regurgitation, freedom is not a privilege. If someone has the power over you to grant you “freedom” then you are not free. The picture was taken at the Canfield Fair this year in the education building. Some school in Mahoning County, Ohio has the nerve to teach children this garbage. I…um…it is….um…what the….um…I have no words. I weep (and rage) for our futures and the lives we are feeding into a carnivorous system.



*Do we have any Peace Officers anymore or are they all Storm Troopers?


11 Responses to “A Free Person Has No Privileges”

  1. RecessiveGenes said

    I had to shake my head when I saw that image. Privilege implies exclusivity, as if only the upper echelon of Americans are entitled to freedom.

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  4. It implies exclusivity and it implies that someone grants it to you, placing them in some higher authority than you. When I saw that display, I think I tasted my funnel cake again.

  5. thesofine said

    I love that paradoxical display.

  6. Sunni said

    Arrgh! Reading this may have undone all the warm fuzzies I got this morning, reading the comments on a “news report” about freed-market cheese makers being arrested.

    And, um … I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but geography was never my strongest suit in school: even though I’m a Buckeye by birth, I’m not sure where Mahoning county is. (If you prefer, an email reply would be fine.)

  7. Sunni,
    Mahoning County is Youngstown and its vicinity on the far east of the state. It is 60 or 70 miles east and south of Cleveland and 50 miles north and west of Pittsburgh.

    Sorry about the bummer.

  8. Sunni said

    Thanks, but I’m a big girl and can handle disappointment. I’ve been to Y-town a time or two, but you’re on the other side of the state (and a bit up) from where I misspent my youth.

  9. Ohio Oracle said


    First time I had a chance to read in a while. That recent, massive DUI check point was set up to “honor” that state trooper from Hopewell who got murked last year.

    I think you are right on about the cops & dui check points. As far as that pavillion you showed the picture of, many of the teachers I know would probably say the same thing. “Sheeple” they be.

    I just think that your idea of virtually limitless freedom does not translate well to the education field. It is impossible to obtain an education, whether state-mandated or not, without first checking some of your freedom at the door. Some actions are just not conducive to learning. Freedom may not be a privilege, but it does carry with it certain responsibilities.

    In order for an individual to recognize and embrace the idea of liberty, I think he or she must first willingly give up some of that liberty to better be able to aprreciate its true nature. Like all concepts that involve dualities, there can be no good without evil, no light without dark, and thus no freedom without slavery.

    Or whatever. I enjoyed the piece and I try to educate my students to think freely partially because of your influence on my own personal value system.


  10. Nostradumbass,

    It gives me great joy to know that my rantings and ravings, whether logical and sensible or otherwise, have had some effect on your own views. I know it was your arguments and challenges that prodded me beyond orthodoxy, dogma, and the shallow positions that I came into this mode of thinking with. To be able to eventually return the favor is icing on the cake.

    I never implied anywhere, ever, that freedom doesn’t carry with it responsibilities and consequences (as all things have consequences). As soon as contact with another being is made, the “limitless” freedom we may have in a perfectly isolated state starts to diminish. I’m not sure what you mean by having to check some freedoms at the door to be educated or the degree to which you wish to carry that out. Do you mean one should be respectful to the teacher and the others in the class kind of check on freedom, or do you mean having to consent to invasive searches or surrendering the right to self-defense kind of check on freedoms?

    Your other statement about needing to surrender liberty to appreciate it all the more bothers me as well. By creating the dualities, it helps to hold the concepts up in contrast in order to make them more vivid. It is also an assignment of value. By calling the one condition good, it is implied that the opposite of that value also exists, but it does not create the condition itself. The existence of slavery certainly makes the condition of liberty more vivid, but I don’t believe one is required to make the condition of the other exist. How that ties in to education and giving up liberty for the sake of education depends on what liberties you propose giving up.

  11. Ahh the Canfield Fair – next time avoid the “educational” displays and stick with funnel cakes and the demolition derby…

    I think the govt gets a discount if they buy their jack-boots in bulk…

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