All Maine Matters

February 2006



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Still the Land of the Free?
By Joseph Nugent III

Or is that a concept that we, as Americans, now pay only lip service to? Has our mainstream media done us any favors lately, or do they only report the news that the powers that be want us to hear?

I grew up in the 70's and 80's during the hot, but yet tail end of the cold war, often barraged my poor mother with all kinds of questions about Russia, Communism, and the threat of potential nuclear destruction due to the Cold War, which was so common a fear when the, then two world superpowers were racing to build competing nuclear arsenals. I remember my mother devoutly defending our heritage of a free America. My mother would tell me things like, "Your country is better because small towns and cities educate the majority of our children, and if you don't want to send your kids to public school you don't have to, ..." Then there was always the "but in Russia ..." answer," outlying how the Soviet government educates all the children, they tell them what they're going to learn, what subjects they'll study, what they are going to do for work; even where they are going to go to school, and the parents have little if anything to say about it.

My mom was careful to explain many other reasons why I was fortunate, in her opinion, to be an American. It's my hope that from time to time, in my writing I might be able to share some of the other quips and philosophies she shared with me and how they shaped my young mind. I'm not sure she even intended for them to take hold the way they have, or that they would ever result in my cherishing the liberty were are supposed to have in America. She might be shaking in her grave if she knew that so many of the pieces of wisdom she bestowed on me, so easily, might have the result that I would mention them in articles this many years later, but they are all pieces to cherish. They are who I am. They are part of a mother's legacy to a son; an only son. Yes, even the baby.

One of the other pieces that my mother described to me, in relating how fortunate I was to be an American, was that we have what she described as "Freedom of the Press." From time to time, she would expound, as I would ask her questions while she was driving me to the mall for school clothes in August or something, when I would rather be swimming in the marshes near my house with my friends or jumping off the train trestle, enjoying those precious last days of summer. "Toddy," as she was called, or "Ma," to an entire neighborhood of well fed fans, told me that in other countries, careful to mention that not just in Russia, but even in England, Ireland, the rest of Europe, and even in Canada, Americans had the right to say what we thought, write what we thought, and believe what we want, without the fear or repercussion of being held in jail for it. I think she was careful to point out examples such as, "... like the English used to do to the Irish."

Ma was always careful to remind me, at an age when I should never have been concerned about such things or perhaps even known them, "In the United States they can't hold you for more than 48 hours without charging you with a crime." She would explain that we have a country to be proud of, one that others aren't so fortunate to have because, in the United States of America the police can't just hold someone in a cell for days on end to rot like they can in other countries. "They might want to," she'd say, "but you're an American, so they can't."

It was stories like that they caused me to be proud to be an American, proud that I was able to grow up here and yes, curious to see the world, and to search for clues as I got older as to how things were done in other countries.

Curiosity led to travel, and travel led to answers, but the answers didn't add up to everything I thought I believed. Questions turned into witness, witness turned into mental and experiential references, and references became evidence. Evidence with my own eyes only led to more questions, much like the one I've chosen as the title of this article.

A mother's love and honesty turned curiosity into free thinking, and free thinking into analysis. Analysis became conclusion. Is our media really as free as it was in the days of Bernstein and Woodward fame, that filled schools of journalism across the nation in the early 1970's during the days of an ending Vietnam War when it was cool to question authority? Has the merger and acquisition craze that took over the country and its bastions of investment and capital during the 1980's only led to a consolidation of the media into the hands of a small elite who only tell us what they want us to hear and believe? Has that consolidation of the media led to a marginalization of the voice of the American public, which now has to endure minimization, as a media held by a limited segment of our population seeks to circumvent or shape public opinion?

Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, an outnumbered Green, or a free thinking Independent, you are effected by freedom issues, including this particular issue of a limited, somewhat government controlled media. The fact that you picked up this newspaper and read this article shows that you probably care about freedom, free thinking, and freedom of thought. It's our hope that you'll pass this along, or take another to hand to a like-minded cohort. In an upcoming issue we plan to tackle the fallacies of political parties and perhaps touch on some of the warnings relating to them that were left by our Founding Fathers. Thank you for reading this.

Joseph Nugent is a 30-something free thinker, who was fortunate to get an education at a private school that encouraged a discerning perspective of the world around him. He continues to view the world as he sees fit. He's an entrepreneur, and occasional investor who's penchant for politics, freedom, and truth occasionally gets him into trouble. He's still proud to be an American, and always open to ways to keeping America the free place it was meant to be. He can be reached at - comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

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