Quoting "Thomas R. Wier" <[log in to unmask]>:

> > I, apparently unlike many Americans, do not feel that "freedom" is
> > necessarily a good thing. I'm all for banning smoking in restaurants,
> > for instance.
> The question is not whether "freedom" as such is good; the vast
> majority of people both in Europe and America agree that it is.
> The debate only arises when you specify what *type* of freedom
> you favor.  In the US, the political culture is such that people
> tend to favor more often economic freedom from the ability of the
> state to regulate and to tax; these same people, less frequently,
> also are less concerned about how the state interferes in non-
> economic behavior, though opinion varies widely. In Europe, opinion
> also varies, but the same questions are usually asked.  There the
> political culture tends more frequently (but again, with great
> diversity) to be sceptical about the merits of economic liberty,
> and yet they are ardently opposed to notion of state-sanctioned
> executions, or the illegalization of drugs like marijuana. In both
> continents, particular issues have strong historical roots, and
> thus the state exercises restraint or control where it would
> otherwise not do so.  In America, the extent to which the government
> is deemed to require separation of church and state befuddles many
> Europeans as excessive, while in Europe people frequently don't get
> upset if the state forbids proselytizing of most religions (as in
> Germany) or outlaws the descration of national symbols (as in France)
> or if (as in Denmark), marriages must be registered at the state
> church no matter what religion (or lack thereof) you identify with.
> All of these strike many Americans as a shocking lack of freedom.
> So, again, you can't speak broadly about which continent is freer:
> both are, and both are not.

I didn't speak a word about which continent was freer.

Smoking in restaurants was poor example. What I'm really getting at is that
the concept of "freedom" appears to have to the average American a very strong
positive charge it does not have to me. Additionally, the concept appear to
have a much larger significance in American mentality than in (most) European
ones - at least American politicians are more likely to go all glazy-eyed and
extol on the virtues of freedom than are European.

Incidentally, excessive separation between the state and church is pretty long
down on the list of illiberal sins I'd associate the US with. Swedish media
regularly complain about the excessive christianity in American politics.