Answers to Reader Questions About The Frightened Americans Post

The post about frightened Americans, generated over 500 emails, 160 comments, and 35,000 visits.

Many of you asked for the context of the post and I will give it to you, but first I want to share what I learned from your response.

Except for a small minority, most respondents agreed that we are indeed losing our freedom and that few people stand up and challenge authority.

But what is far more surprising is that the post resonated across political lines. Many people of different political classifications responded – Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, Capitalists, Environmentalists, Socialists, Communists, and Fascists.

While almost everyone lamented our loss of freedom and the apparent cowardice in the face of oppression, the most interesting thing is whom we blame.

The Republicans blame the Democrats
The Democrats blame the Republicans
The Liberals blame the Conservatives
The Conservatives blame the Liberals
The Socialists blame the Capitalists
The Capitalists blame the Socialists
The Fascists blame the Socialists
The Socialists blame the Fascists
The Environmentalists blame the Capitalists
The Capitalists blame the Environmentalists

Can you accept the possibility that all of them are right? Imagine the implication of that. We are all trying to take each other’s freedom away because we have our own agenda, but the law of unintended consequences takes over, and we all lose our freedom. Is it possible for us (the human race) to stop trying to control others and become more accepting of one another?

You asked what inspired the post
1. A conversation about a victim of a botched no-knock police raid, her problems with PTSD, and how she has lost all trust in the system.

2. A story about K-9 police conducting a random sweep of our local public High School while the kids were in class. What really needled me was how they searched six lockers because they smelled like tobacco. When did we decide to violate a teenager’s civil rights because her locker smelled like tobacco? This is police state insanity. If we don’t speak out about these small violations, why do we believe we will have the courage to speak out about the big violations?

3. My office mates and I had a lunch conversation about the fun we had with Lawn Darts as children. Everybody at the table had played with them. Later I realized – our parents clearly saw that Lawn Darts were dangerous, but they trusted us and accepted the risk, something too many parents refuse to do today. Many parents believe they can eliminate risk without eliminating freedom. How will our children learn that responsibility is the cornerstone of freedom when we don’t trust them with real responsibility?

4. My recent immersion into the writings of Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Robert Pirsig, and Brad Warner reinforced just how insane our laws have become. Allan Watts talked about how young people in the 1960s were criticized for taking risks, but he countered the fear saying almost everything that is fun, creative, or worth doing is risky. Our attempts to eliminate risk result in more fear and paranoia not health and safety. Can’t we allow our young people to be brave explorers and stop conditioning them to be fearful automatons? Reading about and remembering the 60s, 70s, 80s, put our current situation into context. In daily life, the change seems subtle, but if you compare today to the past the loss of freedom is dramatic and it isn’t working – even with the recent growth in Minnesota’s prison population, people do not feel safer. As Nneka wrote at the Balanced Life Center, we can be safe and free. When will we realize that we need to be responsible and conscious if we are to have both?

You asked for details about the no-knock raid in which the police removed a school teacher from her home:

Our local paper reported the incident.
The article doesn’t have first hand accounts of the raid. I heard those while listening to people in the community. The repairmen told the police it was a misunderstanding before they entered the home, but the police still raided the home! There was no cause for the action and there was no recourse for the victim. It’s baffling.

I didn’t list the details about this event simply because I knew it would destroy the flow and readability of the original post.

With the recent events in Virginia, either we can sink deeper into fear or we can view this tragedy as an opportunity to stand up proud and free showing courage in the face of terror. I pray we do not overreact. Attempting to find a rational answer to this insanity is like arguing with a drunk. Our rational minds are wired to make sense of events. And as we try to make sense of senseless things, we will find there is no sensible reaction to madness. Reaction to madness usually leads to more madness. We could work toward eliminating madness, but is that possible? Isn’t that like working to eliminate the nighttime because we prefer the daytime?

15 thoughts on “Answers to Reader Questions About The Frightened Americans Post”

  1. We all want the same things, and now everyone is saying the same thing. It’s a matter of days (according to salesman I knew) that we start going for it. Responsible for and aware of the choices we are making.

    In Spirit,

  2. Even in light of the VT killings, your original post was spot on. It’s just we can’t do much about it and we all sit back waiting for the world to change, as John Mayer expressed it.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Your recognition of the Blame Game above when it comes to the laws reminded me of yesterday’s daily quote from Abraham-Hicks:

    “Every law that you have on your books today, whether it’s a religious or a secular law, has come about because you’re trying to get somebody else to do something that will make you feel better.”

    My answer to your question about whether or not we will ever stop trying to control each other is a resounding: I sure hope so, or we all are (well, you know)

  4. Kyle,
    I think there is something we can do about it. We can focus on our thoughts and hearts on freedom and liberty and avoid overreacting to our fears. In America many of us do not focus on where we would like to be, we focus on what we don’t want, and we always seem to get it.

    It may sound trite…
    But I do believe change happens one person at a time.

  5. Truth often sounds trite. That doesn’t make it less true.

    My answer to your question – no. We won’t. At least not for longer than any of us want to think about.

  6. Although it’s true that liberals blame conservatives and conservatives blame liberals, these two don’t just cancel each other out. We have to remember that our country is unique in all history, for the power we have and for the good we do. I was re-reading the Declaration of Independence yesterday to prepare for writing a post. What we need (in my always humble opinion) is to get back to our fundamentals as a nation and a people–i.e. get back to what our founding fathers were trying to accomplish. The original intent of our founding fathers has worked great so far!

  7. Lee, well said, sir! The trouble is there are too many people who don’t understand that the Founders put the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in place guided by and having EXPERIENCED the tyranny of an increasingly oppressive government. This wasn’t guesswork for them. They saw the decline of freedom in England and lived under oppressive government, egregious taxation and religious persecution. They saw it all develop over time and as a result, they KNEW exactly how to frame this new nation with documentation that would prevent the same things from happening again…

    …that is, until this new nation’s people became so far removed from the American Revolution that they misguidedly began to think the ideals and concepts of the Founders were “outdated” and “unnecessary to modern life” and such. To doubt, second-guess or think oneself wiser than the Founders is to walk on thin ice. This sort of arrogance and lack of wisdom endangers the freedom of the individual, the sovereignty of this entire nation and everything America was built upon.


  8. I’d like to comment on the no knock raid. I was a cop for a number of years and it was the most difficult job I ever had. It’s easy for anyone to arm chair quarterback the situation in hindsight; especially people who’ve never done the job. But you are seeing the story reported by someone who was told something by someone else and then you read about it in an article.

    Whenever I showed up at a scene, especially one wich you think may be a potential hostage situation, everyone is a suspect until you sort it out. I remember in training we did a scenario of a bank robbery where who I thought was the ‘bank’ manager came out and identified himself as such. I took his word on it, let him pass, then he pulled a gun and shot me and my partner in the back. The scenario was based on a true story.

    The other problem is if you don’t do something and it turns out to be a real situation then you end up getting the brunt of the blame. You weren’t there so you don’t know what the repairmen said to the police. And just because the repairmen tell you something as a cop, it doesn’t mean it’s the truth. For all you know it could be someone involved in the ‘hostage’ situation acting as a repairman.

    My point is, if you weren’t there you’re going on partial parts of a story (I’m sure they don’t report the complete picture), written by a reporter, as told by an eyewitness whose story is never 100% accurate.

    Some cops do abuse the power. Based on my firsthand experience, they are in the minority. It doesn’t take many bad apples to spoil the bunch.

    On the school sweep: I don’t know about you, but when I went to school I never heard of anyone having a gun in their locker. Do you know how much drugs and weapons are found every year in school lockers? Even at the Junior High level. Times change. If a kid gets killed at school by a handgun, the first thing the parents ask is, “Why don’t the police and school system keep the guns out of the schools?” Do something (sweep) and people complain, do nothing (no sweeps) and people complain.

    “When did we decide to violate a teenager’s civil rights because her locker smelled like tobacco?” When there is a law that states possession of tobacco by someone under the age of 18 is illegal. (It’s not a violation of civil rights) The smell of tobacco indicates probable cause that tobacco exists in the locker. How do you know beforehand the smell is just residual from the clothing? I also think they are talking about K-9 dogs hitting on the scent, not people. Therefore it allows entry to the locker; Just like the smell of marijuana coming from a car at a traffic stop indicates the presence of marijuana. I’ve pulled many illegal guns from cars due to a search based on the smell of marijuana. I’m sure they’ve found them in school lockers.

    I do find myself trying to not say stuff like, “Don’t do that you might get hurt” and “Be careful cause you’re gonna fall” to my three year old son. I realized I give so much negative feedback (can’t do that, don’t do that, etc.) to my children that I wondered if it will have a negative impact on their courage to take risks. I think my reflection on it was based on an article I read here. (Something about tens of thousands of negative comments by the time we are 20.)

    Overall on your article I think there is a balance between freedom and safety. Too much of one leads to not enough of the other. I remember not too many years ago complaining about how liberal the court sytem was and how people were suing and winning the most rediculous cases. (ie:McDonalds coffee spill) It becomes like a pendulum swing where we overshoot one way, then the other as we try to find equalibrium – but equilibrium doesn’t exist because of the dynamic nature of life.
    I enjoy reading your blog.

    Ken D

  9. I read that and was not too concerned but it did require quite some thought. I like this post as it clears the air and puts it all into context. As to control, well that is now becoming a nasty word!

  10. Ke D,
    I’d love to comment on all of your points. But I will just say this…

    When I campaigned for the Minnesota House of Representitives, a group of older police officers supported me (not the union). One of them said the biggest problem they faced was an inability to use thier own judgement about a situation. They talked about how drastically it had changed over the years and made the job dangerous and miserable.

    I believe that is the problem in both the bogus hostage situation and high school sweeps, the actions of authority in both situations defy common sense. While the law may state that possesing tobacco under age 18 is unlawful, searching people’s personal property because they SMELL like tobacco is nuts. Remember, a significant percentage of High School students are over the age of 18. Maybe they had a cigarette legally on the way to school. Maybe their parents smoke. Maybe an 18 year old friend smoked in the car on the way to school. It is nuts… just nuts. I can’t understand how anyone would justify this. Even a cop.

    Have you heard about LEAP? Plenty of cops think this drug war is nuts too.

  11. You omitted one group from your listing of groups playing the blame game – that is the libertarians. This is the one group that recognizes the essence of what you are concerned about – the sacrifice of the values of individual freedom and liberty to statist interference, whether for the purported benefits of health, safety, security, control, religon, etc. That group recognizes the value of government for common security purposes, and to protect individuals from the violence of others, but sees little role for the government and its ever more intrusive laws for any other purposes.

    If you want to trace the roots of the loss of freedom in the U.S., you can go back to the 1920’s and 1930’s when the Supreme Court caved to popular pressure and lost sight that the Constitution was a document granting limited powers to the government – any power not expressly granted to the government could not be exercised by the government. This limitation was chipped away at and lost, until there really are almost no Constitutional limitations on what government can do and regulate in the U.S. With those in power now having a blank check to do whatever they want free of Constitutional limitations, that explains why parties and interests will spend so much money and energy to capture those levers of power.

    The delineation of the tension between liberty vs. health and safety is an important element to understanding how individual liberty is being lost. It is not the only line of attack on liberty, but it is an important one and bravo to you for educating your readership about it.

    Chuck R.

  12. Steve, I got too long-winded in my original reply so here’s the basics: I think there are 3 groups of people in general–the first is a group whose lives revolve around controlling the actions of others; the second is a group who doesn’t mind being controlled by others because it makes life easier; the third is a group who think the first group are tyrants and the second group are wimpy sheep–but only being 33% (much less, actually) tend to find themselves at the mercy of the first two groups until enough people gravitate to their way of thinking. When that happens, the describing term is ‘revolution’. It is the threshhold when being controlled is more painful that taking the steps necessary to throw off that control.

    @Ken D:

    The points concerning searches of lockers and vehicles are valid in the context of today’s laws. The broader question that is being asked here is where the line for governmental intrusion into the lives of individuals lies. I have lost the right to decide for myself whether smoking pot is something I want to do or not. Someone in government presumes to know more about how I should live my life than I do. I’m supposed to wear a safety belt when I’m in a car whether I want to or not–because a group of legislators think I’m too stupid to evaluate the benefits vs. the drawbacks.

    We’ve given over too much control to the nanny-wannabes.

  13. Chuck R,
    I’m aware of the Libertarians. As you can tell from my blog I lean heavily toward libertarianism. I didn’t include them in the blame game because they aren’t trying to take anyone’s freedom away, the rest of those groups are to one degree or another.

    Steve J,
    IMHO we are nowhere near justifying a revolution and I am sure you agree. I think the day for revolution comes when people like us get arrested for our “dangerous” opinions. That is where I’d draw the line. As long as I can still tell people that things could be different… very different, I feel free enough. When ideas are supressed by the government under threat of imprisonment then we’ve got a real problem.

    Ken D,
    I appreciate you and your different view point. That’s why I have comments turned on, I want thoughtful comments from people like you, and I don’t care if you agree with me. Actually, I’m glad you don’t, if we all agreed the discussion would be boring.

    I understand the police have a difficult job, that’s is why I wish we would quit asking them to do so much. I believe we ask them to fix problems they can’t fix.

  14. @ Steve Johnson – I agree I focused on specifics and lost sight of the point Steve was making. I emailed him and told him to delete my posts if he felt they diverged too far from the original point.

    I’m on the fence about government being too intrusive in writing laws. Some of the laws are, and some aren’t. Sodomy being illegal in many states is an example of a stupid law. (But some people love that law)

    You use the example of seatbelts. We could just as easily use the example of drinking and driving. They wrote that law , but how many people are ‘too stupid to evaluate the benefits vs. the drawbacks’ of drinking and driving? Even with the laws, thousands of people are killed each year because those who drink and drive don’t have the ‘capacity to effectively evaluate it.’ For some interesting facts: . Take a look at those numbers. And on the ‘let me do drugs’ issue: Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths.

    I don’t want someone killing me or my loved ones because they thought they should be able to do drugs.

    If you were in a car wreck and that seatbelt saved your life, and the only reason you were wearing it was because of the law, maybe you would be happy the law was there. Do you not wear your seatbelt then proceed to not buckle up your kids? If you buckle them up and not you, why? (assuming you have kids)

    I think you are assuming those laws are in place to control those who are smart enough to effectively evaluate the benefits vs. the drawbacks. I think those laws are there because of the idiots who can’t. Those who can never have to worry.

    We used to laugh in the police department. Every time a new policy and procedure was put it, it was because someone did something stupid and they now had to write a procedure to stop other idiots from doing the same thing.

    You may own a gun and you may never bring it onto school property. Good for you. But there is an idiot who would. Now they make a law to punish that guy for doing it. Intrusive? Maybe not intrusive to you, and not intrusive to me, but definitely intrusive to that guy who feels he has the right to do it.

    The question really becomes one of where do you draw the line? Maybe you want to drink and drive if you feel like; it and you don’t want the government to tell you that you can’t. Does that make it acceptable in society as a whole? Should we allow our kids to carry guns and pot into their schools because they (and maybe their parents) think they should have that right? Maybe adults should be allowed to smoke pot but not kids? (Looks a lot like the tobacco laws) We all want the freedom to do whatever we choose to do, but we also expect some level of protection by those who govern.

    No problem with them telling food suppliers to keep their food sources clean and healthy. But there is a problem when they try to regulate us? Those businesses are run by people; some of whom don’t want the government telling them what to do. But I know I don’t want human feces in the food I buy at the store. (There’s enought crap in them already lol)

    @ Steve. Thanks. It’s nice to come to a place where so many different people can voice divergent opinions and it is welcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *