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Thursday, 06 November 2014 09:34

When Freedom Becomes Just Another Word for Selling Products, It Isn't Freedom

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afreedommural(Photo: the unnamed)

I was at the Seattle Airport (Sea-Tac) over the weekend, having just gotten off a flight on Southwest Airlines - which uses the word freedom as an associated branding word to such excess that the airline even has a "freedom shop" on their website - when I observed banners in the airport for a Mexican restaurant chain (Qdoba) that heralded "freedom tastes like guacamole." 

Given the jingoism and underlying assertions of so-called "American exceptionalism" in Tuesday's election, the concept of a food selection at a US chain of Mexican restaurants representing freedom struck me as symbolic of how we as a nation have trivialized the word freedom into sloganeering. When freedom becomes just another word for selling products, it isn't freedom.

The use of freedom in polishing up the brands of consumer items and services appears endless, once you begin to notice it. Banks, automobile companies, clothing manufacturers, appliance brands - and so many more - promote the idea that purchasing a product will give one more liberty.

Meanwhile, the advocates of fear and the permanent war on terrorism support an exponentially increasing encroachment on our actual freedom and privacy as individuals by the national security state, which functions in secrecy. 

What is more important to a democracy that truly values personal freedom: the individual right to dissent and maintain one's privacy or a lump of a guacamole at a US chain of wannabee Mexican restaurants?

Our freedom has been turned into a carnival barker's call to increase our consumption of things that we don't even need, but are somehow induced to believe will make us "freer" if we buy them.

If you blow the whistle on the surveillance state that spies on people in the US (think Edward Snowden), then you end up in exile in Moscow - or in prison.

A car dealership in Dallas offers this beguiling slogan on Google: "Visit Freedom Chevrolet: The Journey Ends With Freedom."

Maybe freedom is what ends when we define it by the car we drive or the guacamole that we eat.

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