"By liberty I mean the assurance
that every man shall be protected
in doing what he believes is his duty against
the influence of authority and majorities,
custom and opinion."
by:
Lord Acton
[John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton] (1834-1902), First Baron Acton of Aldenham
Source:
The History of Freedom in Antiquity, 1877
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Reader comments about this quote:
the perfect way to define it.
 -- Nate Johnson, Nebraska     
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    Of course, within reason ;-)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike is right, and the we are no longer reasonable. It is good only if he is referring to government. The only protection from the consquences of your actions otherwise is to protect the person from first use of violence against him. It should not be the realm of government to protect an individual from being treated by others according to his actions. For example, if I disagree with "in your face" homsexuality (which I do), the government has no right to limit my responses other then to restrict violence. We are well into the nanny-state syndrome with this.
     -- helorat, Milton     
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    The primary threat to such a notion is where individuals 'draw the line' to protect the rights of others with whom they disagree. Helorat may wish to 'respond' to homosexuality for the purposes of prohibiting it, while the free homosexual may wish to defend himself against helorat's judgement by promoting his rights publicly. We must remember that a free society is multifaceted and full of variety often in conflict with itself. The only real purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of the people -- it is not to protect us from 'dangerous ideas' or those that flout society's conventions. It is the same as it ever was -- we will be only as free as we allow others to be free -- and we are not free because we still insist on others conforming to 'our' version of morality. There is NO universal code of morality that our country was founded upon nor that we all have agreed upon -- we have only agreed that we have rights that cannot be taken away by any law or decree, and unless we are willing to extend that to EVERYONE (including those we hate) then we will pay the price with our own rights.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Just to be clear, I do not wish to prohibit homosexual behavior at a federal level, but I also do not accept it as a "natural" or "God given right" as accepted by our founding documents, to promote it as such would be ludicrous at best. Archer is quite correct in that government should not be able to remove rights at the whim of the majority, however to limit my ability to display disapproval, disgust or abhorance is just as limiting. And to have government confer special rights on constructed groups is even more costly to individual freedom. Western culture does share a vast amount of moral universality, to deny that is to deny historical truth; and it is superior to other cultures. NO culture has ever given moral or social equivalence to any same sex association as it has heterosexual marriages. And that is as universal a moral concept as you could hope to find. If homosexuals choose to be so, and act so, so be it. But it is not the prerogative of government or any individual or group to force me to accept it as normal behavior, or allow that concept to be taught to my children, any more then it would be for pedophilia or zoophilia, which are no doubt next. Regardless, we all know the push for homosexual rights is merely an attempt to get a piece of the welfare state for their group.
     -- helorat, Milton     
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    It is a peculiar tendancy of the 'moral majority' to lay claim to the power to force their dogma upon the 'unbelievers.' (Wasn't that the initial reason for colonists to come to America -- to get away from religious persecution?). What consenting adults put in their bodies is private and non-commercial (therefore none of the fed's business -- or anybody else's for that matter). The neighbors do not have the right or power to prohibit access to alcohol, sex, vitamins, tobacco, food, etc., but under the 'general welfare' and 'commerce' clauses, puritans have twisted this authority to impose their 'moral' behavior upon others. Prohibition does not work -- especially when the supposed criminal and the victim are the same person. I do agree that having homosexual marriage recognized by the state is simply a way for getting special dispensations from the government -- for the same reasons, an aunt and niece living together and taking care of each other ought to receive benefits that married couples would receive (i.e. insurance benefits, etc.). In truth, we do not need anyone's permission to marry or to live with whomever we wish -- what the hell is a marriage 'license' anyway?! The state has usurped its power because of moral majorities whose conscience allows them to persecute others. Such blind faith has killed millions (and imprisoned much more) -- for their own good of course. I think such moral crusades are much more dangerous than the supposed evil they are trying to rid from themselves. My humble 2 cents. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, they were fleeing national government persecution, and then created a system that allowed the states to have a state sponsored religion, but not the federal government. They wanted no Religion of the United States, but had no problem with religion playing a major role in all areas of life including government at all levels. Separation of church and state is is a ficticious modern construct. Society, and individuals do have a right to guard against behaviors that impose a cost on that society or individual. Whether that is pedophilia which destroys the coming generations, ingesting substances like crack or PCP which engender far more then the norm of homicidal behavior, or two guys doing the bone dance with mister sphincter which is exceptionaly hazardous in spreading an incurable, expensive to treat, disease (spreading communicable didseases used to be a crime, and rightly so). It is the same as people eating themserlves to death while demanding health care, you must actually care about your health before you can legitimately even think of such a demand. All societies have set mores and enforced them. An aunt and a niece living together ought to receive what they can negotiate from a commercial provider, nothing more, nothing les, without government interference or assistance either way. Morals are a societal and individual imperative. All societies have them and enforce them and you really do not want to live in a society without them. Amoral societies Hitler's, Stalin's, Mao's, Rome, etc. are the most dangerous. I would prefer to face the crusaders then the legion, the gestapo, or the KGB any day.
     -- helorat, Milton     
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    Just for the record, Hitler (and others of his ilk) had the Christians on his side while implementing non-smoking bans and other 'moral' programs designed to 'purify' the country -- they were all too quick to gather up the 'dirty' Jews with pleasure. I am afraid helorat's argument is popular enough to prevent true liberty in the world -- I fear that people like him would go to great lengths to 'save' us from ourselves. Religious fundamentalism and Liberty are at absolute odds with each other -- it was Jefferson who coined the term 'separation of church and state' and I am in agreement with him. Only a religionist can believe that without religion no one would have any morals or honor -- honesty and compassion are not the exclusive property of religionists, and Reason is a definite enemy of all belief systems.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Just for the record, just because someone calls themselves a Christian does not make them such any more then calling myself an astronaut would make me one. To make such an error of logic is foolishness or a blatant attempt at propagandistic spin. One must judge the actions not the words. The popularity of my argument is irrelevant. I have no desire to save you from anything. I desire to save myself and the the culture I believe to be superior to all others in the world. True Christianity and Judaism are not at all at odds with liberty because they are not by nature coercive religions. Many, including me, believe the Rennaisance and the Enlightenment could not have happened without the strong influence of Christian ideals. Anyone can pervert an idea as you have attempted to tar religion in general with the negative fundamentalism label which can mean many things to many people. When Jefferson coined that phrase it was in a letter to a minister, and if you had actually read it and Jeffersons other writings, you would know what he was referring to as the church was a national church, not a separation of religion and state or a separation of faith and state. HE was a very cogent and concise writer as most of the founders were. If he had meant faith or religion he would have said it, and regardless it is not in the Constitution. Congress shall make no law preventing the free exercise of religion is in it. Just because you and some dictators in black robes have chosen to try to make this interpretation does not make fact, or logical any more then calling Hitler's minions Christians makes that true. Logic, not religion, dictates that if the only fear of retribution a person has is being caught and punished by his fellow man, then as long as he feels he can engage in some behavior with out getting caught and/or punished there is no disincentive to engaging in that behavior. Hitler's Germany is an example of an amoral society with many who had no fear of divine or terrestrial retribution, it was better to go along to get along. Infinite examples of this validate the logic. Your arguments are specious, your thinking turbid, and your arguments are based on loose language and looser imitations of logic. Reason is completely compatible with Christianity. Archer, as sure of myself as I am, I am not so egotistical or illogical as to make as sweepingly foolish a statement as your last one. I bow before your knowledge of all belief systems...NOT!
     -- helorat, Milton     
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    The last diatribe just goes to show that religionists will never stop pushing their beliefs on others (or the 'culture') because they 'know' what is moral while the rest are fools because they have "no fear of divine retribution". If fear is the guiding principle of religion, it is no surprise that burning dissidents at the stake became as popular as crucifixion in Roman times. It is the same old tired argument. Too bad few truly spread the 'good news' -- the Truth is liberating not oppressive. Religionists claim to know the true 'morality' while those that disagree are among the 'lost' and 'amoral'. Of course, when shown their own immorality they simply declare 'well, we are all sinners' or 'well, [so-and-so] was not a real Christian'. Poppycock. That kind of thinking has justified more wars and persecution than anything else. Such arrogance can be counted on among religionists because to face the possibility of being wrong is a burden too great to bear. I will rest on that as I am sure helorat must get in the last word. Give it your best shot.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    A key here is how the concept "protected" is applied. In the de jure representative republic, it no longer existing, protected meant the servant (individually or in concert) could do nothing the individual sovereign could not do. The duties of the servant were not to be directed at the sovereign personally but rather, at the sovereign's rights which are equal to all sovereigns - thus protection. Further protection was had, by strictly limiting the servants job description to life, liberty, and property as was specifically defined in the Constitution (if it was not specifically defined in the Constitution, the servant couldn't do it.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I would have added the word ..."lawful" duty... Good reply Archer...
     -- Robert, St. Emilion, France     
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    As to a land of liberty, there is not one on planet earth (the concept of protecting liberty also no longer exists in any official capacity). As to helorat and Archer's discussion above, a lot good was said by both. The current religion (atheistic socialism) as has been made the national establishment of religion by default, defies all concepts (actual or falsely attributed) of Jefferson's separation of church and state. For a few examples, out of an almost innumerable list, the default national establishment of religion is identified by its applied dogmas and canons: feeding the hungry / clothing the naked / caring for the needy / financing the impoverished; and, enforcing its sacramental ordinances such as marriage; and, sacrificing the unborn to the gods of pleasure and anti-responsibility.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Lord Acton was no doubt speaking of government. Mike, reality does not seem to strike a cord with those that appose themselves. your observation of a national religion is spot on. Threskeia religious practice is as old as the hills. Superficial in nature, and by way of default has established itself through mob rule. A simple show of the flesh, vanity nothing more. Threskos religion ( pure ) as stated in ( James1:26,27 ). helorat, Milton, Me thinks you are spot on also. Taking a stand of faith in God. Showing an upright conversation. Of which all neutral naturalistic viewpoints stand in doubt of the whole truth. Wishing to condone a reprobate mindset, thinking peace when in all actuality bringing about destruction of a moral society. For the sake of the dollar !
     -- Ron w13, Yachats Or     
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    My Brethren, have not the faith of our lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.( James 2:1 ).
    GOD STANDETH in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. ( Psalm 82: 1 thru 8 )
     -- Ron w13, Yachats Or     
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     -- jim k, austin tx      
     -- Mike, Pleasant Hill      
    make brain get quote comes only from the heart
     -- tolani, lagos     
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