Freedoms We've Lost

Nice post here: 101 Freedoms & Rights The Progressive Left Doesn't Want You To Have. The list ranges from the vital
1. The Right to participate in the political process by donating money to causes you support (like Proposition 8 in California) without being harassed by radicals
2. The Freedom to work in a shop without belonging to a union.
3. The Freedom to use a secret ballot when voting to unionize.
23. The Freedom to join with others to criticize a politician within 30 days of an election.
24. The Right to own a firearm.
to the humorous
The Freedom to publish editorial cartoons with monkeys in them.
It's quite the list --I was tempted to just re-post it in its entirety without comment. But then I read the first comment on the post and the discussion that follows, which includes this choice observation:
Yes, some people do flinch under the oppression of compassionate, sensible living. It’s funny to me that so often the Conservatives who bleat on about their lost rights and freedoms (disregarding that “rights” are largely legal and are supplied by our governments which also gift things to us we’re happy to take as if we’re entitled) are the same people who are happy to participate in religions full of commandments.

That literally saddens me. Someone needs remedial help in conceiving herself as a person rather than a creation of the state.

Anyway, that brings me to this post last week from The Anchoress, who had an interesting conversation with an immigrant Afghan cabbie. He says America is no longer free. One example of what he means:
this country used to be about freedom. You work, you pay your taxes, and you are left alone to live your life. That was freedom. Now America is all about little laws, I am being nagged to death with the little laws. I work on cars like a hobby. I always keep my cab covered, out of regard for my neighbors. Then I am told, ‘you’re not allowed to cover your car’, I think because they wonder what is under it. So I don’t cover it, and then I get told it must come off the street because it is an eyesore, but I am not allowed to cover it.

I do nothing but work and work and I work very hard, and I feel like every day America is finding new laws, more laws, and no matter how much I want to just live my life and keep to myself, America is making so many laws that we all cannot just live anymore, now we have to always answer to someone. I don’t like it.
Similar thoughts from an Aussie veteran, so it's not just us.

It seems to me it's a true cultural, not just legal, change. That is, it's not just that (in the U.S.) the federal government years ago started using the commerce clause to regulate every bloody thing and states and localities followed suit to keep up. We also became more litigious, so companies and institutions (like private schools) self-regulate to avoid lawsuit (no dodgeball, no monkey bars, no tree climbing, limited outside play). When Mr. W. was at HUD right after 9/11, some poindexters in NJ, I think it was, refused to allow Muslims in low-income housing to have a mourning service for relatives lost in the towers --didn't want to run afoul of regs preventing establishment of religion, as this was gov't property. The Secretary had to send a memo assuring the mid-level bureaucrats people don't lose their right to free exercise because they live in HUD houses, for the love of pete.

Instead of having one crabbed, nosy neighbor (or even a clique of 'em) who's part of the fabric of your community and sort of gets on everyone's nerves --that's just life-- you feel (or I feel anyway) that most of your time in public you're being watched to see if you're abusing your kids and listened to lest you should say something incorrect and be proven a dangerous hater. We don't call the posse out for murder, theft or dishonoring a white woman anymore. Now it's for growing corn in the front yard or cutting down your own tree or parking your cab in front of your own house or daring to believe that homosexuality, whatever its origins, does grave harm to its practitioners.

Communities --as opposed to state and federal governments-- have the right to band together to set standards. Even the much-mocked (including by me) gated communities I defend on the ground that no one has to live there. The rules may be dumb, but you know when you move in you're agreeing to live under the watchful eyes of the homeowners association, which knows with certainty that property values will decline if your brass kick plate exceeds 11 inches or the color of your shutters varies in any degree from its original hue.

In a true community, however, the trade-off for having nosy neighbors and the occasional stupid regulation preventing you from doing as you please is that you're known. Don't show up at church or don't lift your shades just so or miss your morning constitutional two days in a row and someone will investigate to see if you've "fallen and can't get up." Your kids can play outside because the watchful eyes of an entire community are on them lest they be interfered with (nor will they get away with playing with matches). Go on vacation, your neighbors will report the strange man lurking on your porch while you're away. The further away from your actual life the regulatory body gets, the more it destroys genuine community.

We're seeking the good life and security more and more now in multiplication of rules with little of the give and take and self-giving it takes to actually have such a life. Nosiness and pecksniffery (is that a vulgar word? I hope not) we have always with us. But they used to be moderated by respect-- if not affection-- for our fellows. We need a new version of the golden rule: do not regulate in others what you would not yourself have regulated.