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What is your definition of 'freedom'?

Every now and then we all question our own sense of freedom and what it is to be 'free'. How it is to live in the 'land of the free'. As much as it can sometimes be a little deep to talk about with peers, I thought this would be the best place to propose a discussion on your personal opinion of what it is to be 'free'.

See, a lot of people I've asked define 'freedom' as the opportunity to do what ever you want... I then follow this with asking, 'If everyone did as they wished, you'd then be bound by a constant fear of the actions of others, would you not? Then how 'free' would you feel?'

I simply want to start this conversation not because I believe 'freedom' is a definable concept, but because everyones' opinions of the idea is different and it's interesting to hear those opinions.


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    Apr 25 2013: good question ..
    well, for me, I think freedom is the ability to do whatever you want ,however , without hurting the others by your actions.
    for example,a murder is something unacceptable ,because you're not allowed to do something that hurts the others, however, hurting the others isn't always a matter of material things.I mean a person may hurt the others morally , for instance, when a person makes fun of others beliefs, religions, races, prophets .. that's can't called "freedom" because that behavior hurts the others.
    • Apr 26 2013: what about when the practicing of one religion hurts the people who practice a different religion? should they stop?
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        Apr 26 2013: They should stop hurting, not practicing. Religion does not hurt. It's what people do with it.

        I would compare religion with fire. One can use fire to cook dinner or to burn his neighbor's house. Technically, it's fire that hurts. Shall we deem it harmful?
        • Apr 26 2013: for some it does. invoking the name of one god is blasphemy against another. a person should be as free to practice a religion as another is to mock it.

          i would agree with your fire analogy, however you get a problem when one fire user insists his neighbour not be allowed to use fire because it offends him.
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        Apr 26 2013: You raise an interesting question. Generally, I advocate tolerance, i.e. respecting choices and freedom of other people. But how far should the tolerance go? Shall we tolerate hate speech and slander and protect them as "free speech"? Where is the line where we stop tolerance towards things we consider wrong and immoral?

        Some people don't tolerate teenagers walking with their pants around their knees. Some don't tolerate homosexuality. Some are offended by nudity. Tolerance is one side of the coin. On the other side, how far should our conformity to the rules dominating in a society go? Should people be allowed to walk naked in the streets? If we object to public nudity and want to force everyone to cover their bodies (at least, some parts), why would we object to forcing women wearing hijab?
        • Apr 26 2013: Consider this, then; if one is free to object (violently even) to your paradigm you should be free to defend it equitably. If burning my house meant burning yours we both would have a vested interest in finding an alternative method to express our discontent lest we both become homeless.
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        Apr 26 2013: @ Stacey Harris

        Interesting. So, do you advocate "an eye for an eye" (which leaves everyone blind)? How about forgiveness and turning the other cheek?

        How about cases when one side is overwhelmingly more powerful than the other (by means of physical force, weapons, or influence)? I.e. cases when the weaker side cannot really object without facing dire consequences? Does it mean that the stronger side is free to impose its rules as it pleases?

        If someone mocks other people's religion and the people have violent protests in another part of the world harming the innocent - was the person mocking the religion free to do so given the consequences? Are the people committing violence in response to mocking justified in their actions?

        I don't think, these questions have logical answers. This is a vicious cycle. It's best for everyone if it never starts at all and, if someone starts it, stopped right away. I'd say, both sides are equally wrong in this situation.
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        Apr 26 2013: In case of "offending by nudity", "an eye for an eye" seems to be absurd. If I go naked in the street and someone is "offended" he can go naked too and "offend" me.

        Oh, boy. Discussions of morality are better left alone... There is no logic in why we consider things "moral" or "immoral". It's all seems to be about beliefs and emotional responses.
        • Apr 27 2013: arkady you've made so many brilliant points! i really think you're getting somewhere though so i don't think you need to conclude that it's impossible.

          i wonder if we can find a line between hate speech and slander? i have no problem with hate speech, the same as any debate even if we completely disagree we all learn something from having heard the other side. maybe it only becomes a problem when certain criteria are met, say doing it in a shopping mall rather than a speakers' area, or deliberately spreading falsehoods (by which case then it'd be deception that was the problem, not the speech itself).

          you really got me thinking with the being offended by nudity bit. i would be bothered if a bunch of people were walking about naked in public, but i don't think i'd be offended, it'd be more of a lack of manners thing, like i'd feel they were trying to impose on normal people just trying to go about their business. i'd feel the same way if someone was wearing a "fuck the police" t-shirt or spitting or defecating in public too though. i mean it's not that a person can't say whatever hateful things are on their mind or can't go about naked or wear what they want, because there are places designated for those things.

          similarly for religion, for freedom's sake, people need to practise it in their place of worship and leave others alone, and if any mocking is to be done that too should be in the proper place, eg not right in front of the place of worship.
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        Apr 27 2013: Ben, Re: designated places for hate speech. I like the idea. You said, you live in Japan. I've heard, some companies there have special rooms for employees with a rubber dummy of their boss where they can vent their frustrations. Is that true or is it an urban legend? Might be a useful idea. Some people believe, we need to vent out negative emotions once in a while rather than cook them inside.

        I'm trying to actively oppose negative attitudes and avoid blame games of any kind. "Just say 'no' to negativism" as I read on a bumper sticker the other day. It helps.

        Strange that you think I made brilliant points. I thought, I am confused myself and confusing everybody here :-).

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