Pubdate: Tue, 06 Jul 2010
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The Daily Iowan


As Iowans, we certainly believe it to be fitting that the Declaration 
of Independence, a document we all spent the weekend celebrating, 
cherishes, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Over the last two years, it's been to our delight that we've watched 
that liberty, particularly here in Iowa, grow. We at the DI Editorial 
Board feel it is important to remember, always, that our democracy is 
a means to those most specific of ends and that our democracy is not 
an end in and of itself.

Case and point was the April 2009 unanimous ruling by the Iowa 
Supreme Court that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in our 
state. And again, with the recent realization that legal medical 
marijuana has a real possibility of being part of Iowa's future.

Polling has shown that majorities of Iowans are opposed to both of 
these changes to law, one actual and one potential. Yet, we are 
reminded that democracy is only a means to an even more precious end: 
liberty. We are reminded of this ourselves, every day, as a 
newspaper. Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said, "If I had to 
choose between a nation without newspapers or newspapers without a 
nation, I would prefer the latter."

Without tooting our own horn, we recognize that as a newspaper, we 
serve the function of safeguarding liberty, as does the very form of 
our government. A democratic republic fused to a dual federalist 
system (by which we mean state and federal governments) was 
instituted with the hopes of preserving liberty. This doesn't even 
take into account the separation of powers, which has recently proven 
to be the ultimate guardian of life, liberty, and the pursuit of 
happiness, as largely impartial courts (both here in Iowa and other 
states in the Union) have taken issue with laws passed by more 
prejudiced legislators.

While at face value, Independence Day is a celebration of our 
successful exodus from the British Empire and of the liberties 
ingrained in our founding documents, on a deeper level, it is perhaps 
the celebration of the American spirit, that inexplicable trend 
toward more liberty: for men without property, for blacks, for women, 
for immigrants, for gays, and so on.

We celebrate the transfer of power from those who have much to those 
who have little, not because of any personal failing but because of 
some deviant, immutable component of their identity.

We celebrate the responsibility and respect inherent in liberty but 
also recognize that liberty, and indeed freedom, are not free.

Yet, we're proud to report that the forces of expanded personal 
liberty are again on the move. In the last year, it's become evident 
that medical marijuana, which some contend has proven medical merits, 
could be legalized in the near future. And, perhaps in time, the drug 
itself, which has been shown in studies to be less harmful than 
alcohol, stands a chance of being ushered into the mainstream.

And even though the Iowa City City Council, with the recent passage 
of the 21-ordinance, is certainly infringing on the liberty of 
responsible adults to enjoy downtown nightlife, we have high hopes 
for this November and are confident that our peers will participate 
in one of the most important safeguards of liberty: our democratic process.

So if you have any leftover contraband (i.e., fireworks, another 
classic example of infringed liberty) from this weekend, we recommend 
celebrating one more time. This time, grace the skies in the name of 
liberty. Celebrate that eternal creed, that cherishing of life, 
liberty and the pursuit of happiness, once more. And even though 
we're a few days late, we hope you had a happy Independence Day.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart