Billy Davis Column

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2008

Freedom’s flip side means some win, some lose, some drive to nowhere

Ever notice how we see the world when we’re enjoying the view from our own automobile?

In front of us, the slow-moving grannies and putt-putting tractors always get in our way, and always seem to slow down on the curvy section of road. They always seem to block our progress when we’re running late and have somewhere else to be.

When no one is blocking our path, the road in front of us seems open and inviting. Then in our rearview mirror we see the impatient jerk. Here he comes roaring toward us in his big shiny truck and deafening pipes. Then he rides our bumper until he can pass and ruins what promised to be a nice, quiet country drive.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Individual freedom is a lot like that. We view freedom through our own eyes, like:

•The freedom that allows a father to purchase a new hunting rifle for his son

•The freedom that allows a homeowner to protect his home with a shotgun when a burglar crawls through his bedroom window.

•The freedom that allows Bubba to purchase cold Budweiser at the local liquor store.

But freedom has a flip side. A wet county that allows beer means your beer-drinking neighbor could chug some beers while mowing his grass or he could chug some beers while beating his wife.

The flip side of freedom is that, for every man that wins, someone else loses.

Last week, a landmark 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld The Constitution’s Second Amendment right for individuals to own firearms. In the narrow decision, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that had struck down a long-time handgun ban in Washington, D.C.

In the nation’s capital, local elected officials had long ago stripped away an individual’s right to keep a handgun in the home on the insane premise that it would make the city safer. But homicides spiraled during the 1990s and I presume the law-abiding homeowners depended on a baseball bat to protect their families.

Compare that scenario to Mississippi, where legislators have decided that your right to defend your family extends far beyond your bedroom window.

In Washington and in Mississippi, when someone wins, someone else loses.

The Supreme Court’s gun ban decision brings up still another freedom, which is the right to be uninformed, uninterested, uninvolved and uncaring.

I’m afraid that too few people have learned about last week’s Supreme Court ruling, or learned about the California Supreme Court decision in May that recognized same-sex marriage.

And that is your right. But by remaining ignorant about decisions that affect the drivers in front and behind you, you do damage to the freedom enjoyed by your family, neighbors friends.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” Thomas Jefferson said.

Vigilance should be a shared burden of the people, not dependent on your congressman and Katie Couric.

Isn’t it ironic that, 232 years after our forefathers told King George to stick it, the freedom that has made our country a great republic has also created a self-absorbed, dumbed-down citizenry that is taking a nice country drive to nowhere. Somewhere up ahead is a nice, deep cliff.