October 07, 2014

Adam's Corner: Freedom is...confusing?!

What image best represents freedom in the United States? Is it the flag, football, hot dogs or hamburgers? I would assume there is a decent population for whom that symbol is the Bald Eagle. It graces our currency and holds the honor of being our national emblem. I'll admit my ignorance as to how this creature was initially recruited to represent our national creed but nonetheless, it is cemented in the hearts and minds of countless individuals as the symbol of America's brand of Freedom.
Unfortunately life hasn't always been easy for the aerial harbinger of sweet liberation. In the mid 20th century mankind released the pesticide DDT ad nauseam that in turn led to a biochemical response within the eagle community. DDT caused eagles to generate eggs with structurally unsound shells which where crushed by brooding mothers. Generations of eagles were lost as a result (coupled with habitat loss and poaching). This placed our 'symbolic' freedom in peril and the eagle was declared an endangered species. DDT stopped being sprayed everywhere (but is still found in bug repellents) and the 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act was amended to criminalize trading of any facet of the eagle, alive or dead, and up the penalty for those who disregarded the law. There is however one exception...

Permits may be maintained from Native American groups to capture and kill the eagles with the intention of harvesting feathers. This leniency was granted to historically disenfranchised group as a means to prevent legal interference with religious practices. This summer a federal appeals court revived a religious-based challenge to the law. The challenge originating from a group in Texas (including a local church) argued that the law violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of exercise (religiously that is). Sounds like a pretty straightforward legal issue doesn't it? Let's take a step back and put a legal-layman spin on the overarching theme of this particular matter.

There is a group of Texans arguing for the Freedom to capture/kill the American representation of Freedom. Sure I'm a huge animal rights person but I just couldn't ignore the hilariously ironic sensibility of this claim. Only in the US of A could a contingent of fellows whine that they are so oppressed that can't bust a cap in the symbol of...liberty from oppression.

So go out and hug an eagle before it's too late. If the law is overturn in favor of these folks' agenda more bald eagles will end up dying...along with our sense of pragmatism.  


  1. I've known people who complain about government oppression and their rights being infringed upon, and while I'm not saying that that never happens, the fact that they're able to make the complaint is only due to our government and freedom of speech. And of course they're never willing to admit that there are a lot of positive things about living here and that is one of them.

    I can see how this issue would be tough for a court, though. I took a class (Legal Aspects of Communication) and it was a bit of a shock how incredibly complicated our legal system is (as I'm sure you and Kate are fully aware). Sometimes there is no decision that doesn't infringe on anyone's rights.

  2. Agree with the commenter before me... It's kind of like some people never learn to pick their battles, so to speak. The "professionally oppressed" are those with more liberties than they seem to understand, not the least of which being their ability to even complain about their "oppressors"!

    Anyway, you bring up some good points. Of course I have no ideas or suggestions or anything like that, but some food for thought is always worthwhile!


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