"When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly.... [However, now] there's a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there's too much freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it."
by:
Bill Clinton
[William Jefferson Blythe III] (1946- ), 42nd US President
Source:
MTV's "Enough is Enough" 4-19-94
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=49995
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Reader comments about this quote:
"Radical amount of freedom"? Who will determine the 'right' amount of freedom? The government's job is to protect our Freedom, and the People's job is to limit government's freedom -- strictly. Wake up people, they are trying to pull the ol' switcheroo!
 -- E Archer, NYC
 
There are so many things wrong with this statement, I do not know where to begin. Most importatly, the Constitution and Bill of Rights did not 'give' any 'freedom' to Americans -- the Constitution is the rule book for the government, not the People. Secondly, the government has no authority to limit Rights specifically enumerated in but not limited to the Bill of Rights except by adding an Amendment to the Constitution that specifically repeals those articles.
 -- Chicago
 
Right on! The Bill of Rights was a very radical idea in the 18th century. It was added to the Constitution to limit the power of the Government, guaranteeing certain rights of the People. It is sad to see them being eroded today in the name of "Security".
 -- Jack, Green, OH
 
Our government is the most irresponsible of any group of people in this country. There isn't too much freedom ... there is too much government.
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI
 
'Chicago' has it precisely correct. This is a dangerous perspective to adhere to but popular with 'police' powers of all stripes.
 -- Terry, Occidental, CA
 
"When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it." ... and I guess these all-wise, all-knowing politicians are just the ones to limit it. That is such elitist crap, it makes me want to puke. The politicians are the ones abusing personal freedom by stealing it from the people.
 -- Mike, Mount Holly, NC
 
Yes, the Bill of Rights and Constitution were extremely radical for their time, but not radical in terms of need and justice. And it is not irresponsibility on the part of the people causing great harm today, it is the perfidy and violation of rights by a coterie of corporations and government controlled by the greedy. The only abuse of liberty is by this cabal of corporate gangsters, not the people.
 -- Dick Trice, Fort Worth
 
There is only one political party in this country. If you want to see any of this change you should demand the existing campaign finance laws be repealed and then work ardently for true ballot access for third paries. Fail to open up our gov't system to more than the single existing party and you are supporting the movement toward one world gov't, and the lowering of our standard of living and the loss of our freedoms required to make this happen. If you remember nothing else, remember there is no difference between the "two" political parties - they are one and the same, a single party, and this is the root of our gov't evil, as it were.
 -- Erik, Springfield, MO
 
The last line is taken out of context. Clinton is saying, "a lot of people say..." He is not endorsing the idea!!! Slick. Would be interesting to see the rest of the quote.
 -- Dave Ogilbee, Yorba Linda, CA
 
Seems like only a partial quote, and thus it deserves a low rating until such time as a more accurate reproduction of the statement can be made.
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US
 
The quote is accurate. Here's the sentence following the quote above. "That's what we did in the announcement I made last weekend on the public housing projects, about how we're going to have weapon sweeps and more things like that to try to make people safer in their communities." President Bill Clinton, 3-22-94, MTV's "Enough is Enough" A more complete quote doesn't make me feel much better. There always seems to be some elite politician with Secret Service protection trying to make things "safer" for the little guy by taking away his right to self-defence.
 -- Anonymous, Allyn, WA
 
This is part of one of the quotes which demonstrates that Clinton does believe that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is indeed about being free, and that gun control is about restricting and removing freedom.
 -- Gray Wanderer, Arizona
 
I think this sums up the opinion of the Clinton family on freedom - they are opposed to it. It is almost as bad as Bush's quote - "The Constitution is just a Goddamn piece of paper!"
 -- Jeremy, Houston, TX
 
Those of you who suspect this quote has had key elements conveniently removed are right. He wasn't talking about the government, he was talking about the breakdown of families and communities. Here's the full missing piece: "That is, when we set up this country, abuse of people by Government was a big problem. So if you read the Constitution, it's rooted in the desire to limit the ability of—Government's ability to mess with you, because that was a huge problem. It can still be a huge problem. But it assumed that people would basically be raised in coherent families, in coherent communities, and they would work for the common good, as well as for the individual welfare. What's happened in America today is too many people live in areas where there's no family structure, no community structure, and no work structure. And so there's a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it." Just another typical distortion from the Clinton-haters who brought you this war in Iraq...
 -- Anonymous, Philadelphia
 
Typical diatribe of a tyrant! It scares me that this is the person Hillary apprenticed! Maybe someone should limit his freedom to be arround women, after all, he did abuse it. Lying is abusing the freedom of speech. Maybe some should limit his freedom to talk. What a hypocrite!
 -- Jimmy, Satsuma
 
what a freakin commy
 -- "BJ" bills worst nightmare, boston
 
What part of "Congress shall make no law" don't they understand? I love these trials we have day in and day out debating the "definition" behind the phrase "Right to bear arms." I'm sure he had fun listening in on people's phone calls with Project Echelon. Not to mention he was the one who signed an executive order giving S4 (aka Area 51) the legal right to dump toxic wastes into the ground so that they wouldn't be tried under a pursuing law suit, which, of course, was soon dropped due to the order. But keep this in mind guys...his wife is even worse. Check out the late great Bill Cooper. Know your enemy!
 -- A Patriot, USA
 
The fascist mind at work is an ugly thing to behold.
 -- Bob, Sacramento
 
 -- Anonymous 
Radical amount of rights? What is so "radical" about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?!
 -- C Morgan, Greenville SC
 
Hey! Look what Oliver Cromwell said so long ago about this very thing: "It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it."
 -- B. Serious, Anytown, USA
 
The only thing radical is politicians like Clinton that dismiss the constitution they swore to uphold.
 -- J. Allen, Arlington, Va
 
 -- Crisy, Sarasota 
“Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.”
― Ron Paul
 -- JAB, Plano TX
 
 
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