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WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT OUR FREEDOM?
Near the end of this month, families all across the country gather together to partake in a delicious feast and are encouraged to start thinking about all they are grateful for. In preparation for my own Thanksgiving celebration, I’ve discovered that the thing I’m most grateful for this year actually has nothing to do with Thanksgiving and everything to do with another important holiday, which takes place a couple weeks earlier: Veterans Day. I came from a big military family. My dad served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, one of my grandfathers served in both the Navy and the Army during the Korean War, and my other grandfather served in the Army near the end of WWII. While I wasn’t able to talk to him about his experiences during the Second World War, I did name my oldest son Jake in his honor. While the premise of Veterans Day is to honor all military men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s important to remember that by recognizing them, we are showing appreciation for the sacrifices they made to preserve our freedom. Freedom is an important and often overlooked concept, but, as a criminal defense attorney, I consider personal freedom on a daily basis.
Few parents realize that school administrators have more power to question their children than law enforcement does and that when your child gives information to the school, it can be passed on to law enforcement for prosecution. In that way, even if your teen agrees to cooperate with the school, he or she can still face severe consequences from the legal system. It’s important that you let your children know they don’t have to incriminate themselves in front of school administrators. By refusing to talk, they might receive
discipline in school, but that’s preferable than dealing with the legal system, wherein even an allegation can drastically impact your child’s life long term.
“While we should feel grateful for the rights birthed out of our forefathers’ fight for freedom, I have noticed that many of those freedoms either aren’t being taken advantage of or are being curtailed, particularly in the teenage demographic.”
Another right that I see being curtailed particularly for this subset of the population is the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. In the legal field, we are seeing a shift away from protecting speech and, instead, more speech is being labeled as dangerous. This occurs most often on social media, where speech is more exaggerated. While it’s difficult to ascertain whether something said on social media is true, kids often read a post, report it, and then the original poster has a police officer show up at their home. Generally speaking, people will push speech boundaries far more often online than they would in person. But it’s important to note that while our First Amendment right is being curtailed, it is still a freedom we maintain. As you prepare to observe both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving this month, when you start making that list of all the things you are thankful for, I encourage each one of us to take some time to think about freedom and our government. When we ask our government to protect are freedoms we are honoring the sacrifices of our veterans.
The sociopolitical discussions involving freedom going on right now often stem from some kind of controversy surrounding the flag. But when you are able to weed through the complexities, the flag symbolizes our human right to be free from an overbearing government presence. It’s how America got its roots, after all. And in the years since, we’ve traveled all over the world to fight against other types of governmental tyranny as well — all in the name of freedom. While we should feel grateful for the rights birthed out of our forefathers’ fight for freedom, I have noticed that many of those freedoms either aren’t being taken advantage of or are being curtailed, particularly in the teenage demographic. For example, I was talking to a parent recently about how their child was doing in school. As parents, we want our kids to obey both their administrators at school and the law in general, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk to them about the rights and protections they have in the event they get in trouble.
–Kim Keheley Frye
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