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    Liberty and the Patriot Act

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    I am having writers block. This is what I have so far. I just need four paragraphs. Two of which sums up the rest. Please help!

    What is freedom? People usually relate freedom to equality. The United States is the land of the free, the home of the brave. Freedom is defined differently depending upon who you are asking. According to different cultures, freedom varies. Freedom is important to everyone. Freedom is the right to privacy, free speech, to vote, to a fair judicial system, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches. These rights are known as civil liberties. These civil liberties are what our members of the armed forces fight to protect. Religion and educational background could also affect one's idea America is a symbol of freedom throughout the world.
    Many members of our armed forces have died defending these and other freedoms. Many of our ancestors have died defending freedoms as well. This is one reason why it could be said that freedom isn't free. The root of the word freedom suggests that it is. But because so many have died defending freedom, we know that freedom does have a cost. Also, freedom isn't absolute. Free speech doesn't mean that one is free to say whatever they want. For instance, you cannot yell bomb in a public place. Making false bomb threats carries heavy consequences. So, it can be concluded that freedom does carry limitations.
    Simply put, freedom is the ability to say, act, and think what you want. This is, of course, within the limitations of the law. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term as "The state or fact of being free from servitude, constraint, inhibition." This would seem like there are no limitations. Freedom is not the absence of rules or restrictions but rather the freedom to live without being controlled. Undoubtedly, no one enjoys being controlled. Thus, people long to live without excessive restrictions. It's natural that laws must be followed, but without regulations, there would be chaos. In order to be free, one must submit to authority as well. Freedom involves obedience and not the nonexistence of boundaries.
    Freedom is a right that everyone is granted in the United States. And most other countries. The constitution gives us the right to be free. Freedom has a different meaning to everyone. This makes it hard to define freedom in a clear and concise manner. When one looks up the definition of freedom words like independence, autonomy, privilege, sovereignty and immunity are used. Freedom grants certain privileges but in some countries dictators make choices for people. In the United States, we are free to make our own life choices.
    According to Baker (2015), lawmakers are authorized to weigh the conflicting interests of security and freedom. Americans "want and need to be safe" (Baker, 2015). Freedom has a distinct relationship with the law. The fact that we have law enforcement and armed forces makes this ever more evident. According to Rosen (2011), "freedom's relationship to law is complex." This is because laws are in place to protect freedom but they also place restrictions on freedom as well. Without restrictions, America would be a very chaotic place. Freedom is, at best, a very difficult word to define. It's very complicated to define it in certain terms. Freedom can be interpreted in a number of ways because there are many freedoms available to people. Freedom is a very important part of American society.
    America would be filled with fear if freedom did not exist. The government has implemented certain controls to ensure freedom is safeguarded. American citizens are free to enjoy freedoms that many countries do not have. Everyone wants freedom to do certain things and they also want freedom from certain things as well. Everyone enjoys freedom of speech as they enjoy freedom from invasion. Laws are in place to maximize and protect people's freedoms to and from certain things. We live in a society where we have to give up certain things to make America function. We sacrifice on a regular basis to maintain our freedoms.
    Baker, P. (2015). In Debate Over Patriot Act, Lawmakers Weigh Risks vs. Liberty. New York Times Online. Retrieved December 16, 2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/us/politics/in-debate-over-patriot-act-lawmakers-weigh-risks-vs-liberty.html?_r=0
    Freedom Definition. Oxford English Dictionary Online. 3rd ed. Sept. 2011. Oxford UP. Web. 26 Sept. 2011.
    Rosen, K. M. (2011). freedom. Alabama Law Review, 62(5), 1023. Retrieved from the TUI Library

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    SOLUTION This solution is FREE courtesy of BrainMass!

    You've done some good brainstorming here, but I suspect your writer's block issue has to do with not really having a clear thesis. One way to start would be to have a first paragraph that links together your main themes which appear to be freedom and the patriot act. You might start by invoking John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" which is one of the central philosophic texts used to argue about the limits to freedom. Some of the repetitive definitions of freedom sound like filler (I tend to mark down grades to filler -- I suspect your teacher would do the same). The key to completing this essay is to set up a clear structure, so that you cover different areas in each section.

    Thus you might start out by saying:

    While in a universe in which only a single person existed, freedom would mean that person being free to do whatever he or she pleased, in a world of some 7 billion people, our actions are constrained by the need to co-exist with others. As posited in John Stuart Mill's seminal work, "On Liberty", our freedoms are always constrained by the "harm principle." In other words, we are not free to act in a manner that harms other people or constrains their freedoms. After introducing this issue, you would need a transition paragraph saying that you would apply the harm principle to a discussion of the issue of freedom in the context of how it applies to the Patriot Act.

    Your second paragraph would talk about the harm principle. You would point out there there seem to be certain cases where opinions are fairly uniform across cultures. For example, all contemporary cultures have laws reflecting the principle that one's freedom to murder people is constrained; other people's right to enjoy their lives is considered to take priority over the desire to murder. Similarly, most legal systems presume that a person's right to their own property takes precedence over other people's desire to steal it. Similarly, one's freedom to drive wherever and however one wishes is constrained by the need for a orderly traffic system. Here you should insert your points about America being chaotic without laws. For us to live with other people requires limits to our freedoms.

    Next, you might include your material on the specific definition of freedom which holds in the United States as set out in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Certain freedoms, such as those of peaceful assembly, free speech, and freedom of religion are enshrined in these documents. However, we also accept that there are numerous constraints based on the harm principle, and that the Patriot Act is an example of such a constraint. Here you might use your example of "freedom of speech" being limited in cases where the speech incites violence or panic or is an example of libel.

    Next, you would want a paragraph summarizing the Patriot Act. You would want to discuss which specific freedoms it limits. As this act has been very controversial, you should offer up both sides of the discussion, those which say that it is justified by security concerns and those which say that it is both ineffective and oppressive. I've provided references below to important sources on each side of the issue.

    Your conclusion should focus specifically on whether you think that in light of the issues you have discussed the Patriot Act is justified by the harm principle (that it constrains certain freedoms to prevent demonstrable harms).

    By narrowing your focus and looking at specific details of the Patriot Act, you will actually have an easier time than just trying to think up general statements.

    Patriot Act (Pro): https://www.justice.gov/archive/ll/highlights.htm
    Patriot Act (against): https://www.aclu.org/infographic/surveillance-under-patriot-act

    Reference: John Stuart Mill. On Liberty. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/34901/34901-h/34901-h.htm

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