Still land of the free?

July 3, 2008
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Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, a celebration of America’s birthday and all the freedoms we have as American citizens. The U.S. is the “land of the free,” but it sometimes feels like it’s slowly turning into the “land of the free – in certain circumstances.”

We are afforded certain unalienable rights by our Constitution, but is one of them the right to smoke? Smoking bans are happening across the country. Depending on where you live in Indiana, you may not be able to smoke in any public building or smoking bans may be limited to those buildings that admit minors. What justification does the government have now for limiting people’s rights to smoke a cigarette when 50 years ago, people could smoke in the workplace, on television, and just about anywhere they pleased.

States have passed laws telling us that we can’t use our cell phones when driving or we are only allowed to use a hands-free set. States argue it’s for the safety of everyone on the roads, but then why aren’t there laws banning applying makeup while driving, eating while driving, or singing at the top of your lungs to your radio? Those things can be distracting to drivers as well.

Some laws may have good intentions – to protect minors from obscene material – but are overbroad, such as the law struck down Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. House Enrolled Act 1042 wanted to protect kids and communities from materials that are considered obscene, but the law actually violated First Amendment rights, according to the judge on the case.

Then there are the people who protest Victoria’s Secret stores’ displays of mannequins wearing lingerie. The protesters believe these scantily clad plastic figures erode the morals of society and negatively influence their children. Instead of either avoiding the store when they are with their children, explaining that the mannequins are dressed the way they are because it’s a lingerie store, or actually discussing the birds and the bees with their children, the protesters want the government to step in and cover up the mannequins.

How far is too far for the government to step in and begin to micromanage Americans’ lives? Are we still the land of the free or are we less free than we were when the country was founded?

The IL staff will be out of the office for the Fourth of July, but we’ll be back Monday with a new post.
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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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