So dinner conversation with a friend.... America is really, really big on personal freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the correlated right to say what you want without fear of persecution. The thing is, though, that other countries don't really have this. Which is what leads to organizations like Amnesty International, and if you don't know it then they organize massive letter-writing campaigns to officials in countries where activists are being held prisoner and, yes, do have a record of successes.

But anyway. Anyone from here would be totally horrified to go to a place like, say, Iran and try and understand how they deal with what's going on. (Read "Persepolis" and "Persepolis 2" if you want to see what the worst of it is like.) The thing is, though, that other countries simply don't see these things the way we do.

And vice versa.

For instance, a public holiday in Greece equals strike. You can't use the transportation; and even in supposedly enlightened countries like France, you have to be ready for the possibility of a random strike. Which does not happen here. The trains run on time in America, and they're run by happy free-to-speak-but-maybe-not-to-go-see-a-doctor conductors.

I guess it's just a matter of what you're used to. America was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and being a whiny bitch. European citizens, with barely any peace until recent times and autocratic rulers, have different expectations--namely, a guarantee of personal safety with the expectation that change happens through riot; and the Third World, which had to deal with the horror of colonization, is oddly content with whatever it can get. The day they realize that they can ask for any freedom they want and Team America will do its very best to invade and screw around until they've got a perversion of it....

But it's hard to imagine it any other way. I like being able to say and read whatever I want.

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