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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Liberty finds its origins from the Latin word lībertās, liber meaning free and the suffix tās, denoting the civil status of a free man. It also finds its relatives with the Anglo-Norman libertee meaning freedom from constraint or necessity and the Middle French liberté coming from livrer, meaning to set free and release. [1] All the early definitions of liberty were associated with slavery. For at least three thousand years, liberty in any nation, meant simply to be free from slavery. Slavery was present from the very beginning of Western civilization. Slaves existed as early as the 18th century BC in Babylon and still exist today. In fact, before 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, America was a slave nation. Only until two years later in 1865, did Abraham Lincoln have the power to pass the Thirteenth Amendment and end slavery throughout the rest of America. Slavery still exists in Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle East and various pockets throughout the world. [2]

In North America, liberty has begun to lose its connotation with slavery. Today, liberty can generally be divided into two main categories: national liberty and personal liberty. National liberty is an issue seen all over the world today. Take for example, China and Japan’s dispute over the Senkaku Islands. The fight for these islands erupted over the political and economic gains associated with oil reserves on the islands. Unfortunately, national liberty is the excuse used for the dispute. [3] In fact, national liberty is always the scapegoat broadcasted to the general public today. We see this repeated again a few years earlier with the USA “War on Terror”, where they accused Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction and then invaded their oil reserves. [4] Though the word national liberty is being thrown around a lot, it is rarely used truthfully or appropriately. A more honest example of nation liberty being threatened is in Iraq and the surrounding Middle Eastern countries where their sovereignty is being invaded by the occupation of American forces. Further examples can be seen with the current crisis in Gaza between the Israelis and the Hamas. [5]

Personal liberty is another point of debate that has appeared in the recent years. Though these issues affect us directly and are more personal, they still exist on a national and at times, global level. A current controversy has been sparked regarding the USA Patriot Act which allows the US military not only power to monitor citizens without their knowledge but also to indefinitely detain them without a right to trial. [6] This is a clear violation of personal and civil liberties. It infringes on constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, and the right to habeas corpus. [7]

1. "Liberty." Home : Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/107898?rskey=QIqXrh&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid (accessed November 21, 2012).

2. "HISTORY OF SLAVERY." HistoryWorld - History and Timelines. http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/plaintexthistories.asp?historyid=ac41 (accessed November 21, 2012).

3. "Why Are China and Japan Sparring Over Eight Tiny, Uninhabited Islands in the East China Sea?." Daily Nature and Science News and Headlines | National Geographic News. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/10/121026-east-china-sea-dispute/ (accessed November 21, 2012).

4. Shah, Anup. "War on Terror — Global Issues." Global Issues : social, political, economic and environmental issues that affect us all — Global Issues. http://www.globalissues.org/issue/245/war-on-terror (accessed November 21, 2012).

5. "BBC News - Gaza crisis: Hamas says ceasefire 'imminent'." BBC - Homepage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20413625 (accessed November 21, 2012).

6. "USA Patriot Act." Welcome To FinCEN.gov. http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/patriot/ (accessed November 21, 2012).

7. persons, other, and in the event that those abuses. "Constitutional Rights, Powers and Duties." Index. http://constitution.org/powright.htm (accessed November 21, 2012).

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