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Is the U.S. in danger of losing its freedoms?

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, Wisconsin Business Alliance Board President Brad Werntz and conservative columnist David Blaska offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

Yes, but some folks only worry about their own freedom.

By Brad Werntz

Freedom is relative. My dog feels freedom at the dog park. He’s off leash, outside, and far from his crate. He runs along the fence that defines the perimeter of the park, but doesn’t recognize it as the limit that it is.

Many conservatives today run along this same fence. They say the current administration is freedom from the “tyranny of Obama,” or protects the “freedoms in the Second Amendment” from Hillary, or gives us “freedom” instead of “some of Bernie’s’ socialism.”

News flash: None of these people are president. What they did — what they might have done — aren’t real now. If our definition of freedom depends upon how it compares to things that will never happen, we’re all in trouble.

The First Amendment has never been more threatened. The free press has been declared an “enemy of the people,” and “false news.” Freedom of assembly — our right to protest — is being legislated against in 37 states. The same people who (legitimately) complain about free speech infringement when right-wing speakers can’t speak on campus say nothing when entire divisions of scientific research are shut down on that same campus.

The Second Amendment only exists to protect the First. Once the First Amendment crumbles, the assault on the Second will start. It will begin when groups that aren’t allowed to speak aren’t allowed to own guns. If we accept one, the other will be easy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracked more than 300 hate groups not long ago, and today there are over 1,200. Hate crimes increased 22% in 2016. Minorities, women, and LGBTQ people aren’t feeling particularly free today. My brown kids, my daughters, and my gay brother and his husband feel less safe in public today than a year ago. That’s not freedom.

So if freedom is defined by a white male being able to stand
in public holding a gun with his favorite talk radio program streaming through his headphones, we’re good. Maybe he doesn’t see the fences that surround him, or notice that all the guns on them point in his direction.

Freedom is relative.

Brad Werntz is a small business owner and the founder and past board president of the Wisconsin Business Alliance,


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