2. Which is More Important, Liberty or Security?

We all want to be safe. But sometimes, people in power try to convince us that we need to trade our rights in order to feel safer. When our Founding Fathers wrote our Constitution, they did not intend for us to compromise liberty for security, so why do we let this happen today?

Key Terms 

  • Rights: An entitlement to have, do, or believe something that nobody can take away from you 
  • Tempestuous: strong and turbulent or conflicting emotion

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Connor: Hey Brittany.

Brittany: Hey Connor. How you doing?

Connor: I am good. And this is like our first official episode. We did an introductory episode if you’re just tuning in, make sure to go back and listen to that one. So you learn a little bit more about Brittany, learn about what we’re trying to do, but here we are gonna talk about a really important idea. And I wanna think I wanna ask you a question first, Brittany, to start. So let me ask you all right.

Brittany: Alright! Ask away.

Connor: This is kind of a silly, simple question, but do you like to feel safe?

Brittany: I mean, of course I do. Who doesn’t right!

Connor: So what if in order to stay safe, I told you that you have to give up or give to me some of your rights.

Brittany: So explain a little bit more. What exactly do you mean by rights?

Connor: Okay. That’s a good question. So those who have read our Tuttle Twins books probably have read this, especially in things like The Road to Surfdom or The Learn About The Law. So hopefully you kids have heard about rights or your parents can talk to you about it. As individuals, we have certain things that we can do certain rights that we are born with. In other words, there are things that I can do and no one else is allowed to tell me that I’m not about to do it. So for example, I have the right to do free, have free speech. I can do this podcast and it would be wrong. If anyone else to say Connor, I don’t like those ideas. I’m gonna ban you from, you know, not doing the podcast. You can’t do any free speech.

So that’s a right that I have. I’m allowed to do this. No one can stop me from doing, I’m not hurting anyone, right? I’m being very peaceful about it. Even if our ideas might be a little bit controversial sometimes. But that is a right I have something that I’m allowed to do by virtue of being me by virtue of being a human. So here’s the issue, Brittany, that sometimes there’s an emergency that happens. There’s like a crisis or something goes wrong. And the people in power, the people in government they’ll often try and take away our rights to make us feel safer.

Brittany: Hold on a second, though, these people are put into power, right? They’re supposed to kind of make the rules and help us know what to do. So shouldn’t, we let them tell us that we should take away some of our rights if it’s for our own good?

Connor: That’s a good question. Okay. So there, I’m gonna use a, a big word here. There’s a quote that I like from Thomas Jefferson and he says, I’m gonna put my thinking cap on cuz it’s been a couple years since I came across this, but I wrote a book called Feardom and I use this quote and he says, I would rather be exposed to the tempestuous sea of Liberty. So if you think of a Tempest, it’s a really big storm, right? You’re on the sea of liberty. You’re out on the ocean, in a boat and this Tempest is coming. So Thomas Jefferson is painting this picture in our minds that, you know, when you have Liberty, when you have freedom, sometimes it’s kind of, you know, turbulent, you’re like rocking in a boat a lot. It’s this big Tempest.

So he says, I would rather be exposed to the tempestuous sea of liberty than to, I’m gonna try and remember the other side of the quote. It’s like the, you know, the bondage of safety or it’s something to that effect. So he is talking about that. It’s, you know, freedom when we have freedom, it doesn’t mean that everything will be safe all the time.

I mean, here’s another example, Brittany, I have the right to self-defense, right? I should.

Brittany: What does that mean?

Connor: So that means if you wanna punch me, even though you and I are, on the other side of the country right now, but if you were next to me and you wanted to punch me, I have the right to stop you. I have the right to, you know, maybe punch you back if that’s what it takes to get you to leave me alone.

Or if let’s say a robber comes into my home with a gunwhich happens, right? I have the right to have a gun and to shoot back so that I can save my life. It’s the right to self-defense no one has the right to take my life from me or to hurt me. And so if they’re going to try to do that, I have the right to put a stop to that. Now I have a gun, I own a gun because I have the right to self-defense. Now, Brittany, let me ask you this question.


Brittany: Has anyone ever done anything bad with a gun before?

Oh yes. All the time we hear about it all the time on the news.

Connor: Right? And so there are people, as you know, in the government who look at those stories and they’re like, oh, hang on. These people are robbing stores or they’re shooting in malls or schools or all these horrible things are happening with a gun. So, you know what we ought to do, we ought to just tell people they can’t have guns, you know, certain types of guns or things like that. And so they start to restrict people’s freedom because they say, we gotta keep you all safe, right? But Brittany, let me ask you a follow up question. When people pass, when politicians pass those laws and they say you can’t have these guns anymore do you think the criminals obey those laws?

Brittany: Well, criminals don’t obey laws, right? Isn’t that? What makes sense?

Connor: That’s that’s why they’re criminals. And so, what it does is that it restricts the rights of peaceful people like you and me, but the people who are actually causing problems are often still gonna go and, and do those bad things anyways, right? And sowhat you’re asking about Brittany, about, you know, shouldn’t those in power, be able to take away some of our rights, if we’re in trouble or danger, let’s do a little role playing exercise. Let’s imagine that I’m the president and I’mI have a lot of power, but like a lot of people in power, I want even more power and I don’t want, you know, Congress to tell me what I can’t do. And I don’t want judges to tell me what I can’t do, because I’ve seen how cool it is to be president and make a lot of decisions.

And I wanna do it more often cuz I’m so used to making all these decisions. When someone tells me I’m not allowed to, I’m gonna be like, well, I’m the president. I can do what I want. Right. So I want more power. And this happens whether you’re a king or a dictator or a prime minister or a president.

So here I am and I’m the president. And I say, you know what? I don’t have enough power or these people are doing things I don’t like. I want to be able to make them stop. If I just go and do that, they might be like, well, no, like I have the right to do it. I have the freedom to do it, right? But what do you think the dynamic would be? Brittany, if I told you, Heythere’s an enemy right now. There a problem. There’s a crisis. There’s a situation. And it’s for your own good that you’re not allowed to, you know, have free speech or go places or, you know, buy certain things or have a gun or, you know, fill in whatever restriction it is. But if I’m a politician and I say, something is bad is happening, I need to keep you safe. What do you think your response might be in that situation?

Brittany: I think I’d be a little concerned. And to be honest, it sounds a little familiar because a couple weeks or you know, months ago we were dealing with all this coronavirus stuff in the beginning, people were a little bit angry. They were told they weren’t allowed to do, you know, peacefully assemble and talk about how they felt about coronavirus. And they were being told that if they would, they would get fines or even thrown in jail. So, is that kind of what you’re talking about?

Connor: That is in fact, I saw a video, right? When the coronavirus stuff was happening, there was this business owner and the business owner thought, you know, I have the right to open my business and she had shut it down for, you know, several weeks. But it got to the point where she couldn’t feed her family for employees, you know, were needing money. And so she got to the point where she said, you know what, I’m just gonna open my business. This happened, I believe it was in, in Texas. And

Brittany: In Alice, I think,

Connor: I think you’re right. And so this business owner just said, I’m gonna open up. And she got put in jail as a result, the judge sent her to jail. There was another situation I saw where a business owner said, I’m gonna open my business. I think I have that right. There were a group of other people who agreed with them and they showed up to kind of do a little bit of like a protest or a rally at the business. But in a supportive way, cuz they’re like, Hey, we have our freedoms and you should let us know.

Brittany: It’s not a scary protest, right? Nobody hurting

Connor: Anybody. Wasn’t Nope. And so these were all peaceful people. And so they showed up and you know, who else showed up? The police showed up. They had a big tank. I saw this video online. They showed up with a tank. The police officers had their guns drawn, pointing at the people in this little rally, you know, who had their hands up. And they’re like, oh my gosh, what is happening? But, but their freedoms were being taken away and they wanted to exercise those freedoms. And then here was the government saying, you know, no, you’re not allowed to do that. So it makes sense why people who have had their freedoms for a while and then they lose their freedoms would be pretty upset about it. How, how would you, I mean, imagine Britney, you’re a business owner and now you’re losing your business. That you’ve worked so hard for years to build. And now the government says you no longer have the right to be open. We’re gonna make you shut down. What thoughts do you imagine going through your mind if you’re in that type of situation?

Brittany: I would be sad. I would be frustrated and I would be nervous because just like everybody else, I would have to feed my family too. And if I couldn’t feed my family, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d be a little bit concerned. I think, I’d probably do what that store owner did and open back up anyway.

Connor: I think that’s right. You know, and it’s a struggle because we have seen so many examples throughout history where the government says here’s a problem and people feel scared about it. Maybe it’s like terrorists, right? Or maybe it’s an economic problem where a lot of people are losing their jobs or there’s a lot of inflation happening or the banks are, you know, losing money, things like that. So it could be an economic problem. What we saw with coronavirus, it could be a health problem where they say, Hey, anyone out there can be sick. You might all have it. We just don’t know because some, not everyone kind of shows it, right? And so it can be any number of these problems. And then the government steps up and says, I’ll save you now the problem Brittany, as I see it. And, and tell me your thoughts here is that we don’t have a lot of information, right? So, if the government tells you Brittany like, Hey, here’s this threat, here’s this problem. I need you to change your behavior in these ways. And for these reasons, how are you gonna know any different? If you don’t have the information, right? You don’t have the studies.

Brittany: I don’t have the why. I don’t know why.

Connor: Right. And so the average person probably just feels like, oh, well I better do what I’m told. Right? So that’s a struggle. I think we all face is that as families, we have very limited time. We have very limited knowledge. And so when someone in a position of power who supposedly does have access to the information and the experts, when they tell us something, we often believe them, right? Because clearly they have all the experts and they must have studied this and they must understand. And so Brittany, it’s very clear that when these problems happen, we should trust the experts because they’ve never lied to us. Right?

Brittany: I don’t know that’s true. I know even sometimes teachers don’t even say things that are true. And I was a teacher. I had, my students have to correct me sometimes. And it was fun to see them correct me cuz I saw that they were keeping up with what I was saying. I don’t think the government and the experts are always right.

Connor: That, and that’s tough because if we don’t learn that if we don’t learn examples of when the government has been wrong and not just wrong, it’s one thing Brittany, as you being a good teacher to like make a mistake or say something that happens to be wrong. But it’s another thing to intentionally deceive people to lie to people.

Brittany: So to purposefully tell them a lie?

Connor: To purposefully do it. There are so many examples in the past when our own government has purposefully lied to people and hidden the truth in order to get them to change their behavior in a way that gave the government more power it’s happened throughout history. And so the question Brittany, for you and I, and for all of our listeners is when bad things happen in the future, you know, tomorrow, next week or two years from now or whatever are we naturally going to trust the government and the experts? Or should we be thinking about things critically ourselves.

So maybe let’s spend a minute there. Brittany, when you see on the internet, cuz you’re go on these, you talked about in the last episode, you go on these treasure hunts to, and find the truth to try and find knowledge. So when you go on these treasure hunts to try and understand the way the world works to try and understand what’s happening, how do you know like what’s your process or what tactics do you use to be able to understand what is true? Because there are so many people who are maybe intentionally lying or maybe they’re very biased. And what that means is that they’re kind of like

changing what they’re saying in a way that supports their point of view, because they want you to believe like they do not, that they just want to give you the truth and let you think, you know, whatever you want. How do you go on these treasure hunts for the truth when there’s so many voices out there who want to kind of manipulate us and have us believe what they do?

Brittany: Well, it’s always good to read, you know, articles and people’s opinions, but just like you said, people’s opinions. Aren’t the truth. Now this is kind of a word that I’ll explain. There is a word called primary documents and it’s a word you’re going to hear in college someday, if you choose to go over and over again, but it’s a word where you have to track down the original source. So a lot of times people don’t realize that every time for the most part, a government document is put out there or a law is passed. You can go look up that law. So one reason where the Liberty security thing kind of popped up for me when I was in college is that I looked up something called the Patriot act, which was a piece of legislation passed in the early two thousands that took away a lot of our liberties in order to protect us or supposedly protect us from terrorism.

So when you read these documents, you’re not getting anybody’s opinion, you’re getting actual truth on things that the government or those in power have done or laws that they’ve passed. And that will help you get some idea because once you see the actual writing, then you can form your own opinion from that. And I think that’s really important. You do need to read some opinion articles just to see what’s out there. But the most important thing you can do is go read these laws yourself, and there’s gonna be big words in them, even for most adults. They’re big words and sometimes I think they do that on purpose, but, it’s really good to just maybe have a dictionary with you or have a parent with you and to kind of study these things and find out why, what these laws really are doing. That’s really important.

Connor: I think that’s smart. The way I think about Liberty and security is, you know, like a pendulum that kind of goes back and forth, right? It’s kind of swinging back and forth. And on, maybe over here on one wall, you have a big word painted on the wall security and on the other wall, across from it, you have Liberty and here you’ve got this like heavy ball, this pendulum constantly swinging back and forth between the two. And that’s how I often think about this is like on the one hand we could have total Liberty. We could just, everyone does whatever they want or whatever. And then, but maybe you run into a little bit of problem where you don’t have security. You know, you, you more easily have bad guys coming after you or whatever, right? But on the other hand, if we switch over to security, if the pendulum switches all the way over to the other wall, we wouldn’t have Liberty.

Let me ask, put it on you, Brittany. And then I’ll share a thought. So if the pendulum is all the way on security, what do you imagine a world might look like in which we had total security because everyone wants to be safe, right? We all wanna be safe with coronavirus. It was, we don’t want anyone to die. Anyone to get sick with terrorism, with 9/11, it was, you know, we don’t want any plane hijackings again. You know, all these incidents that happen. It’s always, we gotta keep people totally safe. So the pendulum switch is all the way over to, to security. The world has now totally shifted because we’ve prioritized keeping everyone safe. What do you imagine that type of world might look like?

Brittany: Well, I know that during the quarantine, there were a lot of things that people didn’t anticipate happening. We all stayed inside and then nobody was able to do business. And a lot of businesses had to close and people lost money. So I feel like maybe if that happens, there’s gonna be a lot of negative things that happen too. And maybe the negative things aren’t worth the feeling of security that we had.

Connor: Yeah. You know, I think this might be a silly example, but some of our listeners right now are probably driving in the car. They’re going to, you know, work or school or errands or, whatever. In my mind, if we prioritized total security, that means the government would take away from us. The freedom, the right to travel. We would no longer have cars. We would no longer maybe even have plans because people die. People get hurt. People even use cars to intentionally run into other people, destroy buildings, hit pedestrians walking by on the road. If we wanted a society in which we had total security and safety out of all the changes that would happen, you know, maybe we would no longer have the cars we take for granted cuz so many people, I mean, people get, drunk and then they drive for example, right? That happens a lot. We might have video cameras everywhere on all the street lamps on all the buildings in some countries it’s actually kind of bad in London. For example, in England, they’re pretty bad about this. They have cameras all over the place. China is actually really bad. They’re always recording people as they’re coming in buildings and walking around in the public, does

Brittany: It keep them safer?

Connor: And so that’s the argument, right? Is that they’re told this is for safety. It’s if there’s any criminals among us, you know, we want to be able to find who they are. But on the other hand, while that may be true, what happens is you’re giving all this power now to the people in charge where they have this system where they can track all the people all the time. And so if you’re a bad guy, you love systems like that because it gives you all this power to find where people are going and to restrict them and stop them. And you know, what to know even what people are doing, you can spy on their phones. You know, who’s emailing people and who’s texting people and you’ve basically become this. Like all-knowing you know, powerful being where you can control everyone else below you in China, for example, they, do this. They reward people points based on their behavior. And if you’re, if the government says you’re doing well, pat you on the head, you’re doing good things. They’ll give you points. And then they allow you with those points to travel and to buy things and do things. But if you’re doing what the government doesn’t like, and they’re watching you and they see you on all the cameras, then you get negative points and then you’re not allowed to maybe board a plane or board go on a bus and things like that. So

Brittany: That sounds terrifying!

Connor: Sounds terrifying. There’s actually a type of book Brittany, that I love to read. I’m sure you do too. And by love, I mean, you get depressed when you read it, but it’s so important to read because this is the kinda world we’re living in right now. It’s called Dystopian Fiction. And so there’s utopia, which is kind of like the world is perfect. Everything is great. That’s utopia, but dystopia D Y S dystopia is kind of the opposite. The world is a mess. And there, the government has all this power and…

Brittany: It’s like, like hunger games or Kinda like things like that. Okay.

Connor: Yes. Yeah! Kinda like hunger games. That’s a great example. And so, you know, if the pendulum switches all the way over to safety, that’s a great, everyone’s gonna be safe. But in order to do that, you have to give the government so much power and get rid of all your Liberty. That you’re basically like a caged bird, like, yeah. Okay, great. You’re, safe from the cat, but you’re never gonna be able to fly and you’re not fulfilling the purpose of your creation your life. If you’re just always trapped and confined safety is not the point of our lives. Like we all want to be safe. We try our best to not have risk, right? Like Brittany you, you step out, you know, side to go on a walk and chances are, you might be thinking like, okay, what are the problems I need to avoid? And where am I gonna go today? And how am I gonna do so safely? But you can’t control other people. Someone might swerve into you with their car. So, you know when you’re 10 feet down the road and you that’s out of your control, but if you wanted it in your control, you would have to tell the government, Hey, ban everyone from driving because I don’t want anyone ever hit me. But all of a sudden, what would the world be like if we didn’t have transportation, right.

Brittany: Wouldn’t be a good place at all. We couldn’t get to where we needed to go or do the things we needed to do.

Connor: So Brittany, how, as we kind of conclude here, how should our listeners be thinking about this? They’re listening this right now. What should be kind of the takeaway message that they think about? We’re talking about Liberty on the one hand security on the other. What’s the one thing that you want our listeners to remember about our discussion?

Brittany: I think it’s important. Like you said to remember that just because we have these safety rules in place, for example, if nobody was allowed to drive, that doesn’t mean bad things wouldn’t happen. It seems to me like maybe bad things do happen and they will happen. And sometimes they’re out of our control. So to take away all of our liberties to have this kind of like illusion, like this false sense that we are safe, isn’t a very wise thing to do. And maybe we should be more cautious when government does it. And maybe we should say something.

Connor: I think that’s right. I want to end where I at least began and correct myself cuz while we were talking, I looked up that quote that I was trying to share and I totally butchered it. I, I butchered half of it. So here’s the correct half Thomas Jefferson said, you know, he compared on the one hand, the tempestuous sea of Liberty, right? If we have freedom, the box, the boat is gonna be rocking and things are gonna be turbulent and crazy. But on the other hand, he called it the calm of despotism, right? In other words if you go out on the ocean, there are waves, but you know, you can go to like this man made, you know, ocean that we can now control and there’s no waves, but you can’t explore the natural sea and the natural wonders, but it’s calm and you’ll be safe. And there’s, you know, lifeguards and it’s only actually three inches deep. So nothing will go, you know, bad if you fall off, that’s what the government does is they, when people say we want it to be calm they can manufacture. They can create those circumstances, say, oh, now you’re safe, but then we’re also not free. Brittany, you, remember a time when we used to fly on planes without the TSA?

Brittany: My goodness. Yes. It was so much easier. And we could check our bags as soon as we get out of our car and just hop on, yeah!

Connor: Yeah, and now we have to go through these machines that scan us and kind of see us with kind of our clothes off in a way you can kind of see through clothes

Brittany: And our friends can’t walk us to the gate. They have to leave us by security used to be able to walk all the way up to the gate.

Connor: That’s right. And what often happens to me is all, instead of going through the machine, they’ll do a pat down where someone will like feel my whole body, which I think

Brittany: Is that doesn’t seem right.

Connor: Very intrusive. And, and so the government does this cuz it’s like, oh look, once upon a time, some bad people, you know, used a plane to fly into some buildings and some people die. That’s horrible. We all feel so bad. That’s wrong. No one ever wants that to happen again. And yet, is it right? That forever millions and millions and millions of people are going to have their bodies padded and their bags gone through and everything else because we wanna be safe or is that pendulum maybe swinging a little too far towards security and we need to bring back some of those liberties. So I think that’s something for us to think about. Brittney is certainly relevant to what’s happening in our day. And as you and I have seen certainly the, the parents listening right now, it’s something we’ve seen throughout history that whenever something scary or bad is happening inevitably the government says I’ll protect you, just surrender these freedoms and, and give us more power. And maybe we’re gonna end up in the hunger games before too long. If we keep letting that pendulum swing in the other direction.

Brittany: I hope not!

Connor: I hope not either. Well, thanks guys. For our first full issue episode, make sure you check out TuttleTwins.com/podcast, where you can find all the past episodes we’ve recorded. Make sure you’re subscribed. Brandon and I have a long list of ideas that we’re excited to talk about with you guys. So we’ll see on the next episode, see you later, Brittany!

Brittany: See you next time! See ya.

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