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Taken from the book "Under the Influence" edited by Preston Peet.
[Selections from] On Cognitive Liberty, Part i by Richard Glen Boire, Esq.
Freedom's Invisible Landscape
The right to control one's own consciousness is the quintessence of freedom. If freedom is to mean anything, it must mean that each person has an inviolable right to think for him- or herself. It must mean, at a minimum, that each person is free to direct one's own consciousness; one's own underlying mental processes, and one's beliefs, opinions, and worldview. This is self-evident and axiomatic.
In assessing what rights are fundamental and thus entitled to the most stringent legal protection, the US Supreme Court has stated that fundamental liberties are those "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," such that "neither liberty nor justice would exist if [they] were sacrificed." Under another test, fundamental liberties were characterized by the Court as those liberties that are "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition."
Slightly over seventy years ago, Justice Brandeis acknowledged in a landmark privacy case that cognitive freedom was one of the principal protections designed into the Constitution:
"The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred as against the Government, the right to be let alone - the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized man."
But, while certain justices have, at times, pointedly acknowledged the fundamental nature of cognitive freedom and the nefarious nature of government (or other "outside") interference with the intellect, this important freedom remains only obliquely defined within the US legal system. Ironically, the lack of a comprehensive treatment may be because cognitive freedom is SO self-evidently a basic human right. Whatever the reason, without a coherent cognitive liberty jurisprudence, present and future infringements on cognitive liberty risk passing unnoticed or unremedied.
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-------------------- "What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"
"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer
Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln
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