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The Many Faces of Freedom? Essay

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The Many Face of Freedom?


Freedom is a concept that people are often willing to die for and it is the cause of much fighting. However, few people ever claim to dislike freedom. This raises an interesting question: how can people fight over what is generally considered to be a positive idea? Does this mean that someone must be against freedom? The answer is that people cannot agree on what freedom is, thus numerous groups can claim to be "for freedom" while strongly disagreeing on the means by which to achieve it. These groups often argue vehemently and passionately, trying to convince the majority that their side is right. However, emotion is only one part of deciding who is more persuasive. I offer two examples of disagreements regarding freedom, as proof that freedom is neither tangible, nor a singular idea.

An example of a disagreement about freedom between two larger groups is offered in Michael Rossman's account of a student protest in "The Wedding Within the War". Feelings between students and the administration came to a head in an argument regarding tables set up by student organizations to meet new members and pass out information. The administration first restricted the students' rights by forcing them to move the tables from the heart of campus to the edge of campus, further from the majority of students. Then, a few years later, the students were told that they were not allowed to have the tables at all (102). Since their campus is a microcosm of the larger government of America, this limiting of their rights frightened them, causing them to react. As a result, they held a demonstration to make these concerns heard. Their main point, as presented in "Catch-801" by Marvin Garson was that "the University Administ...


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...s to be a singular concept. The personal quality of an individual's definition of freedom is also the reason why the students were able to be more persuasive. Their writing contained a sense of personal concern, that decisions made regarding freedom would impact each one of them individually. In contrast, political speeches, although concerned more with the majority, spoke more in terms of abstract freedom, which is much less persuasive.

Works Cited

Garson, Marvin. "Catch-801." Takin' It to the Streets. New York. NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Reagan, Ronald. "Freedom vs. Anarchy On Campus." Takin' It to the Streets. New York. NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Rossman, Michael. "The Wedding Within the War." Takin' It to the Streets. New York. NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus. New York. NY: Bantam Books, 1968.


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