Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Those of us who worry about such things like the US Patriot Act (like Penn and Teller [Cardhouse]) are likely to agree with this quotation about liberty by Benjamin Franklin:
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Speaking of quotations on liberty, the following quote is the official motto of my local newspaper:
A nation may lose its liberties in a day and not miss them in a century. ~Baron de Montesquieu
Ok - can someone help me out here? Maybe its the months of sleep deprivation, but I can't understand the gist of this quotation.

This is how it reads to me: 1. it is possible for a nation to lose all their liberties in one day; 2. but if you only need your liberties once every 100 years, then what's the big deal?

Now, I know I'm reading this incorrectly. This is a pro-liberty quote. It wouldn't be the motto of a newspaper if it wasn't (granted, we are talking about the Windsor Star here...)

Anyone?

3 comments:

jodi said...

Sounds to me like, if they disappear that quickly we'll eventually get used to it and in a hundred years we won't even remember we ever had liberties.

I'm sure that's a misreading as well. People who think they may be quoted sometime in the future should choose their words more carefully, perhaps. ;

amanda said...

huh. i can't even tell you how many times i read that and i'm still stumped. maybe it means something to the effect of -- you only miss your liberties when you need them (and you might only need them every 100 years). or something.

i'm unconvinced.

Art said...

i seem to remember reading somewhere that Montesquieu was concerned about the lack of participation in democratic processes, and that the quote was to be a reminder not to take democracy for granted. but yeah, it seems to undercut its own message, maybe it should be treated more like a koan.