Freedom, Rights, Comfort, and Privacy


I’ll never forget a statement I heard in a high school civics class: “I am free to do anything I want, but my rights end where the next person’s rights begin.”

So it’s okay to crank up the stereo just as loud as I want–until it’s loud enough to bother my next-door neighbors. And I can mow the lawn any time that pleases me–unless it’s at a time of day or night when other people are reasonably expected to be asleep. And the garbage collectors can empty the bin at the Arby’s behind us whenever they like…as long as they don’t wake us up doing it.

So it would appear that there’s no such thing as absolute freedom. Except maybe for the only resident of an otherwise deserted area.

But even that person isn’t free to start a reckless fire that might spread outside his privacy zone. Or launch missiles at aircraft passing overhead. Hmm. Looks like even his freedom is limited.

Something else I was taught in high school is that no one is free unless everyone is free. The rights of minorities must be protected in order to protect the rights of everyone else.

But minorities’ rights have restrictions, too. If the majority isn’t free to harm a minority, neither does a minority have the right to harm the majority.

Looking back on the issue of prayer in public schools, I find it interesting that my conservative Christian parents weren’t overly upset when prayer was first banned. By their reasoning, banning Christian prayers also meant banning satanic prayers, Muslim prayers, and no telling how many other kinds. So what the Christian majority thought of as a loss was actually protection from practices by various minority groups.

And those groups would’ve insisted on expressing their rights sooner or later–and they have. For Christians to be free, they must tolerate minorities they might actually despise–tolerate and honor the rights of.

All of this seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?

The problem is that lines must still be drawn. Protecting minorities is no more important than protecting the majority. Not if we are all to be free.

But the whole thing seems to have gotten out of kilter, largely because of political correctness. I expressed my opinion of that in a previous post, so I won’t go there again right now.


Transgenderism confuses and disturbs me. Not because I think ill of anyone who genuinely thinks he or she was born the wrong gender,  but because of the push to allow those individuals to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms of their choice. If they don’t feel “comfortable” in the facilities that correspond to their birth genders, they’re being deprived of their rights.

Hmm. I’m thinking about junior high phys. ed. at the moment. And having to shower and change among guys in various stages of pubescence. (I’ll bet the girls experienced the same problems.) I dare say a number of us felt uncomfortable doing that. But did we feel that our rights were being denied?

Nope. The right to feel comfortable? Where’s that in the Constitution, anyhow? But neither did most of us feel afraid.

I don’t believe the public outcry–in general–is directed against the transgendered themselves, but against the perverts who would do some unspeakably awful things to women and children while pretending to be transgendered and using restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms that don’t match their genders.

The boycott against Target is but one example of America’s decision to stand up for the rights of those who may not be physically able to protect themselves. Women and children who have the right to PRIVACY.

Perverts’ rights end where other people’s rights begin. Privacy–and the freedom from fear–is one of the rights that needs to be protected.

In no way do I condone anyone who picks on or purposely treats a transgendered individual improperly. But if transgendered individuals must suffer some discomfort to protect the rights of others, I’m afraid that’s just the way it has to be.

What are your feelings on this subject? Please leave a comment.


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Best regards,

Smoke Gets in My Face

Some of you are old enough to recall the song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” It was written in 1933, long before I was born, but I have a recording of it by The Platters.

I don’t know about YOUR eyes, but smoke in my eyes is a problem–and actually only a small part of the problem.

I didn’t used to be allergic to tobacco smoke. In fact, I smoked a pipe and an occasional Swisher Sweet cigar for some years in my early young adult years before deciding I didn’t need to do those things anymore. The smoke itself was never an issue.

The same was true when my desk was just across the aisle from the normally open door of the assistant office manager, who was permitted to smoke in his office.

But somewhere along the way, my body started reacting to cigarette smoke. My head would get all stuffy, and I’d get a whopper headache that only a good night’s sleep could get rid of.

So I took full advantage of the “No Smoking” areas that restaurants were finally required to provide. I soon learned which  restaurants didn’t adequately separate the two areas and avoided them. And–boy!–did I rejoice when restaurants and other businesses were finally prevented from allowing smoking inside at all.

So you would think my problem with smoke has gone away.

I wish!

Many is the time I’ve had to close my window or sun roof because of the smoke drifting in from the car next to me at a red light. If I’m running inside a store for just a few seconds, I’d rather not bother to close windows or roof, but I’ve learned that people standing around the parking lot near my car can leave it stinking pretty badly.

This problem came to a head recently when I approached the drive-through at my neighborhood Sonic Drive-in just as the person in front of me tossed her cigarette–not the butt, but two-thirds of a whole cigarette–to the base of the intercom pole, where it burned its way lazily while I sat there with my window down waiting for someone to take my order.

It was certainly not Sonic’s fault that they were super-busy at the moment and it took several minutes for that to happen. But that meant I had to keep my window open–else I might’ve missed hearing the request for my order–and try to keep from breathing the smoke that seemed to prefer my car interior rather than the open air.

When I got to the window to pick up my order, I mentioned the incident to the young lady inside, and she said smokers frequently end up blowing smoke in her face while picking up and paying for their orders. Ugh! I conceded that she had it worse than me.

My mother suffered from emphysema without ever having smoked a day in her life. But she grew up with a father and brothers who did smoke. I’m thankful there’s so much concern now about secondhand smoke.

But smoking laws should be stricter still. Smokers should  be limited to closed in areas that affect only them. No smoking around children or adults that way.

Smokers’ rights? Ask me if I care. Their rights end where mine begin.

If you’re a smoker, this post is nothing personal. Not against you. Just against your habit and the way many smokers affect the rest of us.

I’m not pretending to have presented a balanced view of smoking. If you have a comment, please leave it.


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon. Look for it HERE.

Best regards,