Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Freedom Sometimes Fizzles Out

There are a lot of ways to lose your freedom.

At the beginning of World War II, the Polish lost theirs in about three days by force of arms. It can go very quickly.

After 9/11, the Americans lost a lot of their freedoms to the pre-concocted "USA PATRIOT" Act, passed through Congress in a matter of days.

In Canada, it's a much slower process.

First, Parliament passed an ill-conceived anti-terrorist bill.

Then we handed over to the Americans an innocent guy named Arar who was sent to Syria and tortured.

Then our military decided that it had the right to send our soldiers in to wars even when the populace and Parliament had decided against it.

For their latest trick, the Conservative government has decided to shut down the display of records regarding invocations of the Access to Information Act.

By itself, is this a big deal? Not precisely. The Access to Information still exists. You can pay your five dollars and request any government document you want. What this (now defunct) database did was announce to everyone, publicly, what documents had been requested. After all, if you don't know that a document exists, how could you request a copy?

It's a test. It's a test of the populace. Do we understand the fundamental essence of democracy? Do we understand that our government can not be permitted to have secrets from us? Do we realize that if we let the wealthy rulers of our country chip this little piece away, they will be encouraged and chip away more?

I don't know that we'll pass this test. We didn't protest nearly hard enough about the way in which our property values are secretly decided. We didn't protest when we found out that our military was sent to Iraq against our wishes - or in to Haiti to topple the democratic government there.

Does anyone care enough to understand what makes a free society?

Democracy: the granite rock in the middle of an endless, miserable chaotic rapids of slavery. Every little chunk that falls away from the rock will drop in to the river and fizzle away.

This is how our freedom will die, one little fizzle at a time.

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