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...)



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.