We Americans sometimes take our high level of personal freedom for granted. Only when a story from outside our borders rattles our sensibilities do we even notice how very different we are. Here are some recent examples:

  • A 15-year-old girl in Iceland is suing to use her real name – Blaer – which means “light breeze”. The problem: Blaer is not among the 1,853 government-approved girl names;
  • A French ban on full-face burqas has been upheld by a European Human Rights Court;
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning all swearing in films, television broadcasts, theaters and the media;
  • British shoppers are to be banned from buying eggs by the dozen [this is Metric System creep if you ask me];
  • A French [yes, the French again] law bans employees from checking their e-mail after 6 p.m.;
  • The European Union has quietly approved a ban on large vacuum cleaners;
  • A Chinese law bans reincarnation without prior state consent;
  • An Australian law bans pornography featuring women with small breasts;
  • Greece has banned advertisements for children’s toys between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. [30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy put it best, “Since inventing democracy those guys have been, uh, coasting.”].

It is hard to imagine an American legislature passing laws like these. It is even harder to imagine an American court upholding them.

The United States Constitution is the oldest and shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world. An interesting fact, especially when one considers our relative youth.

Americans are not bound by symbols, by class, or by hidebound tradition. No, we are bound by an idea and an ideal of freedom. And it has served us well.

God Bless America.

– Bob Gagliano

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