Northside Sun - April 10, 1980
As I See It Freedom said messy, dangerous, demanding By Sam Warren (The following is a guest column column on the subject of the First Amendment) by Barbara Fiti Vromaa Freedom is messy. Any woman who has watched her baby pour orange juice in his hair and mash peas on his highchair tray can tell you how messy it is to allow the child to learn to eat on his own. Any totalitarian dictator will tell you how much easier it is to get rid of drug addicts, prostitutes and enemies of the state in a country where there are no First Amendment-type Amendment-type Amendment-type Amendment-type guarantees. In a totalitarian totalitarian state, things can be done quickly and with order. You would never have to put up with Nazis marching through Skokie. Freedom is dangerous. Many parents feel a certain sinking sinking of the heart the first time they hand over the car keys to their 16-year-old. 16-year-old. 16-year-old. 16-year-old. 16-year-old. He or she could get killed in that traffic jungle out there. Totalitarian dictators understand well how dangerous freedom can be. Free ideas can threaten the plans of the state, so the press must be controlled. controlled. Free assemblage must be curtailed for the same reason. Travel must be restricted, for citizens might try to escape the rigors imposed imposed by the other curtailments or might bring back undesirable ideas. Freedom is demanding. The "now" woman wants the dignity and benefits of equality. She finds she cannot have freedom without giving up dependency and a measure of safety. Freedom demands demands risks and the assumption of responsibility. The totalitarian ruler knows how demanding freedom is. That is his trump card. He promises order, security and release from the uncer- uncer- tainty and terror of freedom. The masses are promised an even slice of the communal pie whether their effort is shek or diligent. (Never mind that the diligent soon become so discouraged they too become slack, and the communal pie has to be sliced in thin slices.) What does the First Amendment mean to me? It means that I have the freedom from being forced to fit into someone someone else's preconceived plan of what I should do or be. It means that I have the freedom to explore my own avenues and enticements. The First Amendment gives me the freedom to enjoy the success of my efforts. It allows me the responsibility, responsibility, as well, of facing my failures so that I may learn and grow from them. The First Amendment protects protects ideas, and everything in the world -from -from the buttons on my blouse to Social Security -begins -begins as an idea in somebody's head. When you hamper a man's ideas, or the expression of those ideas, you hamper his soul, the very essence of his being. By guaranteeing the free exchange of ideas, the First Amendment Amendment ensures that I will live in a society fermenting with change and innovation. The First Amendment is my guarantee of messy, demanding, dangerous, exhilerating, creative, productive freedom. And, as any parent can tell you, freedom is the only route to full development of human capacity. Barbara Fitz Vroman, a freelance author and mother of four children, lives on a farm near Hancock. Wis. This column won first prize in the national essay contest on " What the First Amendment Means to Me" sponsored by Newspaper Association Association Managers Inc. and the Ohio Newspaper Foundation.