There aren’t just 10 commandments in the Pentateuch. There are hundreds — such a host of them that by tradition, without anybody giving us permission, we’ve decriminalized many of the later and “lesser” ones, or reduced them from felonies to misdemeanors.
With some, such as the instruction in Exodus 22:18 to kill all the witches we come across, we’ve learned, even the inerrantists among us, to look the other way, and, with a discreet cough behind the hand, to move on, pretending it was only a milkmaid or debutante that rocketed by so brazenly on the besom.
It’s pretty much the same story with the freedoms that we celebrate on the Fourth of July. Only a few of the basic ones, such as the right to pack and the right to petition the government for grievance redress, are specified in either the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights.
But there are hundreds if not thousands of others that we have come to take for granted, some inferred by our judiciary, others acquired by way of emancipation, democratization, patient longsuffering, executive order, or legislative mandate, or by dint of pure grit. They go virtually unremarked in the trendier blogs or by starlets or by activists other than Libertarians, and many aren’t even recognized as freedoms at all.
So let’s do this. Instead of giving over another Fourth to fireworks, the Sousa din, bombast, and cornball riverside booth-cavorting with hacks, let’s salute or at least give passing mention to some of those neglected load-bearing freedoms that have become the Republic’s struts and girders here in its twilight. For example.
The freedom to ask you not to bring your dog to my wedding.
The freedom to jostle back.
The freedom, when you can’t think of anything else, to pooch kick.
The freedom to cartoon graffiti onto the haloes of holy men and “I’m With Stupid” shirts onto their attendant apostles.
The freedom to inject toxic substances into your bodily tissues in the hope of making them look poutier.
The freedom to torture anybody who’s a terrorist, a suspected terrorist, or just a jerk, or “different.”
The freedom occasionally to sit out one of the idiot stampedes.
The freedom to boldly go where no one has gone before, or to Branson.
The freedom to read them the Riot Act, knowing exactly how much attention they’re going to pay.
The freedom to make somebody in custody with you who’s weaker and saner than you are your bitch.
The freedom to take the road less traveled by, or the other one.
The freedom (expressed by the founders as the pursuit of happiness) to make it up as you go along, or most of it anyhow.
The freedom after fair warning to treat intruders to a little dancing music from Betsy.
The freedom, when the right thing and the expedient thing aren’t necessarily the same thing, to choose.
The freedom to cattle-prod dawdlers who are holding up the line.
The freedom to hope out loud that the next time Dick Morris is having his toes sucked the prostitute bites one of the sons-a-bitches off.
The freedom to read whatever I want as long as it’s been properly redacted and there’s somebody keeping tabs.
The freedom to deplore whoremongers as sternly as St. Paul did and to expand the definition considerably.
The freedom to stomp boll weevils, but only the insect kind, not the congressional kind — or, well, OK, the congressional kind, too.
The freedom to peaceably assemble, as long as it’s with reputable people and not coup-plotters, whistle-blowers, dabblers in the occult, or others adjudged by the authorities to be up to no good.
The freedom not to breathe your tobacco smoke, having had enough trouble overcoming the enduring addiction to my own.
The freedom to determine for myself when it’s time to pull the plug, and to delegate that authority without putting a friend or loved one at risk.
The freedom to continue noting and publicizing reptilian markers in the descent signatures of televangelists.
The freedom first proclaimed by Moe Howard to honey your scrambled eggs or whipped-cream your baloney if that’s your hankering.
The freedom to advocate that media bloviators regularly be put into stocks to have large quantities of overripe produce flung at them by sensible people.
The freedom to speak freely, confident that you haven’t been tapped or bugged by a psychotic vice president whose other hobbies are outing his own country’s spies and shooting his hunting companions.
The freedom to make a Perry Mason defense when the testimony isn’t going your way — that is, to object on the ground that it is incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial.
The freedom to slurp when there’s just no couth way to get the final few drops of liquid out of the cup.
The freedom to garden in the nude like Big Boss Man.
(I know which one’s your favorite.)