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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

Freedom does not 

mean "like us"

Freedom is such a dangerous concept. It is a two-edged knife that severs the restraints on our behavior - both good and bad.

When most of us think of freedom we think of America. We think of a hard fought revolution fought more than 200 years ago. We think of noble ideals that are brick and mortar of the American system. We think of the First and Second Amendments.

We think of our system of government - universal suffrage, equal rights, and equal treatment under the law.

But being free does not imply a desire for democracy, or equal rights for women, or the protections of a Constitution, or a fear of a state church.

Free means exactly what it says - free. Free to do or not to do.

When we speak of nations and cultures, it means the right to choose a system of government and laws, or anarchy for that matter.

Supposedly we deposed Saddam Hussein so that the people of Iraq could be free.

As the brief war concluded we as a people seem amazed that the Iraqis are not erecting statues of Thomas Jefferson, making it illegal to discriminate against another Iraqi just because he practices a different brand of Islam, or falling over themselves to make sure that Iraqi women have the same political rights as men.

I have bad news.

It is not going to happen.

Iraq is not America.

For better or worse the cultural values of Iraqis are not the cultural values of Americans and it is from culture that government flows.

The Bush Administration has stated that when the dust settles the new Iraqi government will be a democracy.

Well, it may look like a democracy, and taste like a democracy, and smell like a democracy, but it still will not be a democracy.

Democracy is a form of government that only functions when it is put in place by the people who are governed.

It is a choice. Just as our ancestors chose chieftains, clan leaders, kings, high priests and eventually presidents and legislators.

Today, in America, we choose democracy. That is why it works. We choose it of our own free will.

Free will is the oil that makes the machinery of democracy turn. With out the oil, the machine freezes up.

If Iraq is going to emerge from this as a free country, the people of Iraq are going to have to choose a form of government that suits them.

Right now, it looks like if you held an election the majority of the people would vote to create a theocracy - a theocracy based on the tenets of the conservative side of Islam. Probably Iraq's government would look like Iran's.

Apparently such a government is not acceptable - it would not be free.

Which brings up an interesting question:

"What do you call a country governed by a democracy that was installed and is maintained at gunpoint?"

Free does not quite fit.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

No-show legislators deserve a pink slip

If most Texans did not show up for work for a week or so there would be a pink slip waiting for them the next time they darkened the door at the salt mine.

For most jobs you are hired to do specific tasks at specific times. Newspaper reporters, plumbers, teachers and roughnecks all have a job to do at specific place and time.

Even the politicians we elect to run our government offices have to show up for work.

Apparently the work ethic does not run deep in the Democrat side of the Texas House of Representatives.

Having lost the majority that allowed them to rule Texas since the dark ages, the Democrats have apparently decided that if they cannot get their way with votes they will take their marbles and go home.

That would be fine except that the House of Representatives cannot do business without two-thirds of its members present.

According to an Associated Press report yesterday 53 House democrats failed to show up for work yesterday in a planned walkout.

That was enough to shut down the House.

It is not how business is supposed to be done at our House of Representatives.

It is the equivalent of not showing up for work. In similar circumstances most Texans would be fired.

The people of Texas ought to hand this bunch their pink slips at the next election.

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