Lanterns: What Is Freedom?


What Is Freedom?

To kneel or not to kneel? To respect or disrespect?

That seems to be the question of the hour much due to the latest dust-up on the football field.Should players, or anyone for that matter present stand for the National Anthem and pay respects to the flag? Or should they be free to opt out

One side says you are free to opt out and pay no respect whatsoever, and in doing so, in fact, show disrespect. (And your freedom to do so should be respected)

While the other (very grudgingly) admits you may do so, but you’re a piece of sh%t if you do. 

Ultimately, what we’re asking, arguing, debating over is the very nature of freedom itself.

What IS freedom? And what does it mean?

The former contends that this is a free country and that means you can essentially do whatever the hell you want without harassment or censure. At its heart, it’s anarchy, and that’s what they’re arguing for.  And so goes their logic. If you wish to censure or bar that, then you’re a fascist and you wish to herald the entrance of the new tyranny of society.

The latter contends that freedom is the freedom to live rightly, FROM tyranny. It’s a very popular refrain I contend with daily, even from other veterans...which frankly tests my ability to restrain myself and not knock their teeth out that we served and fought for their right to disrespect the flag if they wish. Because, after all, it’s a free country.

And I call bullsh$t. 


I served not so someone has the right to spit on my flag or burn it, but rather, so I could come home to a country in which that very act never even entered a man's mind. Americans simply didn’t do that. That was the bailiwick of communist hippies and hostile foreigners. And if you DID disrespect the colors, prepare for a little of what we in the military call, wall to wall counseling.

So, are we free to be Immoral? Or are we free from immorality? 

The answer lies within the very fabric of the society, We, the people, the patriots, built. 

You see, we believe and so contend that with freedom comes MORAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.  We have laws, and if you break those laws, you are illustrating by your actions that you cannot be trusted; you are irresponsible, and thus, according to the law, you go to jail, and you LOSE YOUR FREEDOM. 


And it is my contention that if you wish to opt out paying respects then you also should opt out of living in this country freely.

Get out!


We don’t want you here. To remain is to show yourself a coward. That’s right—  you are a coward because you wish to reap all the benefits of a free society while accepting none of the responsibility. You’re a leech, you’re a parasite. 

You wish to hide under the very protection that flag provides, and reap its benefits while accepting none of the moral and social responsibility it asks of you in return.

This is America, and it belongs to patriots, not godless cowards, and parasites. 

It is the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

Or did you forget that last part?

Written by Ben Coleman

Freelance author, historian and Navy veteran. Find him at

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